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January 21, 2011 6:23 PM   Subscribe

After 8 years as host of Countdown, Keith Olbermann calls it quits. The final sign-off.
posted by empath (142 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
It appears that he was fired, and without much warning.
posted by empath at 6:26 PM on January 21, 2011


I really want to rant about this but I'll bow to the master.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:26 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


His new book is called Pitchforks and Torches? How 'bout that?
posted by fixedgear at 6:27 PM on January 21, 2011


I just finished watching the amazing ESPN documentary June 17, 1994, and I gotta tell you, seeing Keith Olbermann like this considerably undercuts his gravitas.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:28 PM on January 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


I can't imagine it is a coincidence that the Kabletown acquisition was approved 3 days ago.
posted by Justinian at 6:28 PM on January 21, 2011 [32 favorites]


I wish he could go back to SportsCenter, but he burned his bridges there, too.

I wonder what happened here...
posted by jnaps at 6:29 PM on January 21, 2011


Can't say I'm surprised. Or that I care. Talk about an overblown, self-important Edward R. Murrow wannabe.... In the end, he's no better than Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck; he's just a left-leaning grandstanding twit instead of a right-leaning one.

Okay, I know, I know, flag and move on....
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:30 PM on January 21, 2011 [16 favorites]


What bugs me is they're apparently moving O'Donnell to 8pm and Ed Schultz to 10pm.
They're both okay, but O'Donnell rubs me the wrong way (not in a legally actionable sense) and Schultz still has too much of the AM radio host about him.
If it were my network, I'd have Maddow from 8 to 10, hire away Jon Stewart to do the same thing he's doing now but from 10-11, and hopefully get Colbert for the 11pm slot.
posted by uosuaq at 6:30 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Historians of the declining years of the American empire will judge him far more kindly than his contemporaries - whatever his excesses.

I'll miss him.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:32 PM on January 21, 2011 [74 favorites]


it'd be hard to get stewart or colbert as their whole focus is the 24 hour news cycle and the awfulness of it. for them to join one of the news networks would really be against everything they've done.
posted by nadawi at 6:32 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


In the end, he's no better than Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck; he's just a left-leaning grandstanding twit instead of a right-leaning one.
Right, because being pissed off that the federal government spies on citizens without warrant is just like being pissed off that Hu Jintao speaks Chinese.
posted by Flunkie at 6:33 PM on January 21, 2011 [183 favorites]


Fox News should hire him and take him off the leash like they did with Beck. It would be epic. Fox just needs to think about profit instead of ideology for a minute.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:33 PM on January 21, 2011 [16 favorites]


It'd be a little more convincing if they didn't still have the tag at the top advertising his program M-F.
posted by Leezie at 6:33 PM on January 21, 2011


I don't think they can afford Jon Stewart.
posted by empath at 6:33 PM on January 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


You mean Rachel Maddow now has to be the exact equivalent of Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Malkin, Coulter, Hannity, et al all by herself?

I guess Michael Moore can still help out every now and then.

Seriously, best of luck to you, Mr. Olbermann, and don't let these whiny-assed "reasonable liberals" get you down. You're one of the good guys, and you'll be missed.
posted by Legomancer at 6:34 PM on January 21, 2011 [18 favorites]


Fox News should hire him and take him off the leash like they did with Beck. It would be epic. Fox just needs to think about profit instead of ideology for a minute.

No, no, no.

Beck & Olbermann -- Sundays at 9.
posted by empath at 6:35 PM on January 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


They're both okay

I find Schultz completely unwatchable. Somebody explain why CNN and MSNBC keep filling the airwaves with goofy bombasts. Schultz, Rich Sanchez (before canning), Jack Cafferty, Don Lemon, that Cenk guy on MSNBC now. I can't take it.

The appearance of any of the above prompts me to immediately switch channels.
posted by Justinian at 6:36 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


I remember seeing O'Donnell on talk shows in the lead up to the 2004 election (so old) and wanting to marry him. But didn't he have some wrongheaded anti-gay thing recently? So, whatevs. And I never liked Schultz even when he WAS a AM radio host (although I admire his spirit).
posted by DU at 6:36 PM on January 21, 2011


Variety:

There was immediate speculation that Olbermann's departure was connected to the pending takeover of NBC Universal by Comcast Corp. But MSNBC insiders strongly denied that speculation, asserting that Comcast execs had "nothing to do" with Olbermann's departure and were informed of the decision on Tuesday after the FCC and Justice Department gave the regulatory approval to the merger of Comcast and NBC U. Discussions between Olbermann and MSNBC brass had been going on for some time, even though the anchor had at least two years to go on his existing contract.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:37 PM on January 21, 2011


Knew it was coming ever since the Comcast merger was announced. Maddow's days are numbered, possibly in the single digits.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:37 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Beck & Olbermann -- Sundays at 9.

Eh, I don't know. I'm cool with Glenn Beck getting his face physically chewed off, but I've got a bit of sympathy for Olbermann. Pairing Glenn Beck up with a chimp would be much more effective, anyway.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:38 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


goofy bombasts. Schultz, Rich Sanchez (before canning), Jack Cafferty
Jack Cafferty will always have a special place in my heart due to this.
posted by Flunkie at 6:39 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


i'd watch an all rachel maddow station...

"and now rachel maddow counts down her favorite music videos - after that the rachel maddow reality show. today we follow her to the grocery store where she buys oranges!"
posted by nadawi at 6:39 PM on January 21, 2011 [33 favorites]


Keith Olbermann introduced me to MST3k on SportsCenter. For this I will always love him.
posted by charred husk at 6:40 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


He went over the top at times but his heart was usually in the right place and he's been one of the few progressive voices on TV for a long time. And I just can't see how you can say that he's no better than Limbaugh or Beck, he gets overly excited but he's not crazy or evil.
posted by octothorpe at 6:40 PM on January 21, 2011 [34 favorites]


In the end, he's no better than Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck...

Really, can we can it with the false equivalence? Just from his activities in the last week or so, Rush has proved himself to be a flaming racist (not to mention his long history of questionable race-related rhetoric); Glen Beck has urged his supporters, with respect to left-wing politicians and media stars "You're going to have to shoot them in the head." (and whatever you think of how "serious" he was in that statement, you have to admit it's chilling in light of recent events).

Whereas Olbermann, even if you don't like him, is just pompous and doesn't know when to shut up. Can we please distinguish that from being a hateful eliminationist? Please?
posted by rkent at 6:40 PM on January 21, 2011 [137 favorites]


Pairing Glenn Beck up with a chimp would be much more effective, anyway.

THAT IS SOLID GOLD. We need to get a facebook campaign going. Let's make this happen.
posted by empath at 6:41 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here's to hoping CNN gets some balls back and fires Jane Valez Mitchell and Nancy 'booze and hotpants' Grace. They'd do well to pick up Olbermann, and Maddow (if it comes to that).
posted by deezil at 6:41 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why would Comcast have anything to do with it? They are a corporation so of course they aren't crazy about liberals but they aren't Rupert Murdoch. It's not like General Electric is full of ideological liberals. They went with the liberal format because Olbermann got ratings.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:43 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


The NYTimes finally has some news up on this.
posted by tula at 6:44 PM on January 21, 2011


"As I sign off tonight, I invite America to kiss the most stentorian part of my ass."
posted by boo_radley at 6:44 PM on January 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


At long last sir, have you no job?
posted by Ad hominem at 6:47 PM on January 21, 2011 [33 favorites]


In the end, he's no better than Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck; he's just a left-leaning grandstanding twit instead of a right-leaning one.


Wow, I'm beginning to envy the Russians under Soviet rule, at least they KNEW Pravda was bullshit.

Looks like Pravda couldn't hold a candle to our corporate media.
posted by Max Power at 6:48 PM on January 21, 2011 [19 favorites]


I raise my glass to you, sir. You are, indeed, one of the good guys. Good night, and good luck.

(Oh, and to all the bottom-line, weaselly, money-worshiping corporate overlords everywhere: Die in a fire.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:52 PM on January 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


Disagreed with most of his ideology and his over-the-top indignation ("How dare you, sir!") REALLY got tiresome and aggravating -- and haven't watched him actively in a couple of years -- but he was very good as an on-camera presenter, and was great with words and delivery on straight news.
posted by davidmsc at 6:53 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're both okay

@Justinian: I find Schultz completely unwatchable.


Well, yeah, me too, which is why I haven't watched him for more than about 10 minutes, which is why I was trying to be kind.

My suggestions for replacements stand.
posted by uosuaq at 6:54 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's not that Olbermann is "as bad as" Limbaugh, it's that the role and importance of "pundits" in the current media landscape is a net negative for progress and clear communication. it doesn't matter if we're talking about Limbaugh, or Olbermann, or Dan Carlin: it's not the people who inhabit the role, or their ideology or methods, it's the role itself. It's also not really a new problem, but it does seem to be egregiously bad at the moment.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:56 PM on January 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


In the end, he's no better than Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck...

Honest question: have you watched an entire Beck broadcast or listened to an entire Limbaugh radio show?

Not the same. Not even close.
posted by Cyrano at 6:59 PM on January 21, 2011 [16 favorites]


See you later, Mr. Olbermann. You weren't always as measured as I would have liked but anyone who compares you to Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, et al. is a dirty liar.

Thanks for fighting for the people, by the people.
posted by lumpenprole at 7:00 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Next up at 9PM: COMCAST Countdown with Orly Taitz!
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:00 PM on January 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


They are gonna replace his show with Seeking Solutions With Suzanne.
posted by fixedgear at 7:03 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, I think it matters if we're talking about Limbaugh or Olbermann or Dan Carlin. And I say that as someone who thought Olbermann an egotist who was too quick to hit the outrage button. It's not the role; it matters more whether you tend to be right or wrong.
posted by uosuaq at 7:04 PM on January 21, 2011


dunkadunc: "Pairing Glenn Beck up with a chimp would be much more effective, anyway."

empath: "THAT IS SOLID GOLD. We need to get a facebook campaign going. Let's make this happen."

Be careful what you wish for.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:07 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, shit, it has come to this.

He was awesome when trying to cope with the Bush Administration and the effects of it: in legislation and on society (giving idiots power is a major mistake no matter how you look at it).

After Obama got elected and we saw how much of Bush's policies would carry over, I, and I would think he would realize the pointlessness of voicing opposition on a corporate funded airway.

Question is can an effective phone banking campaign on the scale of Oragnizing For America's HCR thing be constructed robustly (meaning, made, and will not be dismantled by extreme effort by some party) to regain our 4th amendment rights (one of his big targets), because that process showed me that calling a congress person directly enough can get them to switch votes... (this is clearly dependent on a few other things, lobbyists for one). 300+ calls I made for HCR, maybe 50 or so pick ups directing the pickupper to call their congress person, and combined with the rest of the team I was working with I think there was some good work done with fruit to show for it.

But I digress. To the topic of the thread and to reiterate, I frankly think that the show was becoming the stress ball of dissent against questionable policies from DC. It lacked, and could not have, a consistent directive to get on the phones and call, or snail mail, or knock on doors to get people to directly ask congress to get stuff done. It may have been an inspiration during the Bush years, but even then, not much of a directive.

Hopefully this isn't too much uninformed rambling. I'm going off of what I have seen of the show since I stopped watching regularly a while back.

...and generally, I am frustrated with how the show degenerated and how his crafted words, no matter how well they were, did not translate into action to reverse course from the awful direction the US government is going in.

Keith, I hope you have found some fruitful work to replace this.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:09 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was a pretty good sign-off.
posted by localhuman at 7:10 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Disagreed with most of his ideology and his over-the-top indignation ("How dare you, sir!") REALLY got tiresome and aggravating

His indignation was no more tiresome than Brian Williams', David Gregory's, Anderson Cooper's, Nancy Grace's, Jane Velez-Mitchell's, Rick Sanchez's, David King's, Chris Matthews', Brit Hume's, Sean Hannity's, or that of any number of other modern-day cable-news talking heads.
posted by blucevalo at 7:11 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Keith Olbermann introduced me to MST3k on SportsCenter. For this I will always love him.

It should be noted that Olbermann has had TV's Frank on twice for comedy bits.

I don't think Olbermann is just as bad as the right-wingers, although he is a bit bombastic.
posted by JHarris at 7:11 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


To say he's no better than Rush or Beck is quite the unwarranted insult. He is however, a self-important Edward R. Murrow wannabe. That's kinda why I got turned off from him. I'd like to see him back in sports I don't see how that's gonna happen.
posted by dead cousin ted at 7:11 PM on January 21, 2011


For the record, after all the timeslot shuffling, the new host MSNBC is adding with Olbermann out is Cenk "Young Turk" Uygur, so no net loss for the liberals. Still, I haven't watched the Big O in many months and found the most pleasant surprise on MSNBC's schedule to be Dylan Ratigan at 4PM. The guy nails the Establishment Left as hard as the Establishment Right. Now that's a NON-False Dichotomy.

And buying him out of 2 years of his 4 year $30million contract? That's paying $15million to drop your ratings 10-30%. Real good business move. Unless they got a discount in exchange for letting him sell himself elsewhere. But where? There is a whole lot of story not being told here.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:14 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Damnit. Now I'm going to have Europe stuck in my head all night.
posted by Phlogiston at 7:15 PM on January 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


Why would Comcast have anything to do with it? They are a corporation so of course they aren't crazy about liberals but they aren't Rupert Murdoch.

The subtlety here is that Olbermann may have rejected Comcast/NBC, not the other way around.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:16 PM on January 21, 2011


Yeah, it was pretty good. It's just too bad that the last two words in it were "Tim Russert."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:19 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obligatory, following from Phlogiston's comment.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:20 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


THAT IS SOLID GOLD.

LOL @ GOLD
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:22 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


The subtlety here is that Olbermann may have rejected Comcast/NBC, not the other way around.

Maddow is on Bill Maher's show tonight, and he said to her "Keith Olbermann quit" (paraphrasing, but he did say "quit") and she said, "Yeah!"

She followed by saying it was "between Keith and the company," but didn't have much more to say beyond that.
posted by zerbinetta at 7:22 PM on January 21, 2011


He was in no way, shape, or form , "as bad as beck". The only way he could have been is if he tried to rearrarange conservative's names into the word "fascism" on a blackboard or cried while talking about the America of his youth. His outrage was, however , incredibly mannered, and not very appealing to the America of today, who base all things on gut instead of reason.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:23 PM on January 21, 2011


Pairing Glenn Beck up with a chimp would be much more effective, anyway.

THAT IS SOLID GOLD. We need to get a facebook campaign going. Let's make this happen.


What did chimps ever do to you?
posted by Daddy-O at 7:25 PM on January 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


He is however, a self-important Edward R. Murrow wannabe.

And who isn't?
posted by blucevalo at 7:26 PM on January 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think that it can be entirely fair to say that Maddow and Olberman are no better than Limbaugh and Beck, when you're talking about their role in the media.

Certainly the ideas that Maddow and Olberman express are better, the things they get angry about are warranted. But, when we're talking about what the media has done to the quality of discourse, the effect is the same from both directions.

And I'd argue that the damage Limbaugh has done by vilifying measured debate, impartial consideration and critical thinking is greater than the damage he has done by directly spreading vile ideas.
posted by 256 at 7:27 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


They are a corporation so of course they aren't crazy about liberals

Yes, of course the corporation doesn't like liberals. It's a corporation, and all corporations are anti-liberal by definition.

See, we can all agree on some things. A fertile little seed of agreement for us to start growing our saner and brighter future for the corporations.

Seriously, get to work on that.
posted by dglynn at 7:29 PM on January 21, 2011


Something suspicious in the "MSNBC Hosts" Twitter stream...

About an hour before the show, Keith did his usual half-dozen "ShowPlug" tweets, including:
ShowPlugLast: And back where we started on Fridays with Thurber: The Peacelike Mongoose.
...which was NOT the story he closed out with. In fact, just before air he tweeted:
ShowPlugSupplemental: We will have a slight change in the Thurber selection tonight.
Either a last minute change to a story he considered 'more appropriate' or he was dealing with less notice than he let on.
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:30 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that it can be entirely fair to say that Maddow and Olberman are no better than Limbaugh and Beck, when you're talking about their role in the media.

Certainly the ideas that Maddow and Olberman express are better, the things they get angry about are warranted. But, when we're talking about what the media has done to the quality of discourse, the effect is the same from both directions.

And I'd argue that the damage Limbaugh has done by vilifying measured debate, impartial consideration and critical thinking is greater than the damage he has done by directly spreading vile ideas.


Just to be clear: are you saying that "quality of discourse" is something independent of (a) better ideas, (b) warranted outrage, (c) vileness of ideas spread? Are you also saying that Limbaugh does less damage by spreading vile ideas than failing to promote "measured debate, impartial consideration and critical thinking" to an audience that already lacks (if it isn't positively resistant) to those things?

I ask merely for information.
posted by uosuaq at 7:39 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Worth reading just for this hilarious gem. Can't stop laughing. Thanks Flunkie!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:43 PM on January 21, 2011


He could be annoying sometimes, but I've liked and respected him ever since his Katrina commentary. I remember watching that while evacuated to my relatives' house in Houston, pumping my first in the air.
posted by brundlefly at 7:44 PM on January 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


If you think Olbermann is equivalent to Beck, you are either being deliberately disingenuous, insane, or on significant amounts of psychotropic drugs.
posted by norm at 7:46 PM on January 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


Hm. Good hair, nice speaking voice, widely recognized, lots of money... maybe he'll go into politics? Always seemed like the kind of guy that wanted a bigger bully pulpit.
posted by Ritchie at 7:51 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dunno, significant amounts of psychotropic drugs and Glenn Beck sound like a real bummer of a combination to me.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:51 PM on January 21, 2011


I started watching Keith when what he was doing was new, and it was really exciting and somewhat brave at the time. But his failure to ever have a guest on who disagreed with him really hurt him. O'Donnell and Maddow are *much* better about this. Witness Maddow's interview with Steele last night -- he was obviously delighted to be there even though he shares no politics with her. Even Bill O'Reilly isn't afraid to have a ding dong with a hostile guest.

I hope Keith turns up somewhere else once his MSNBC exclusivity window expires but he really needs to re-invent himself or be seen as still fighting the last war.
posted by unSane at 8:00 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear: are you saying that "quality of discourse" is something independent of (a) better ideas, (b) warranted outrage, (c) vileness of ideas spread? Are you also saying that Limbaugh does less damage by spreading vile ideas than failing to promote "measured debate, impartial consideration and critical thinking" to an audience that already lacks (if it isn't positively resistant) to those things?

I'm saying that the fact that Limbaugh is spreading vile ideas on the radio is a lesser concern than is the state of public discourse.

And if, as you so uncharitably claim, Limbaugh's audience was devoid of any shred of good faith before he got to them, then so much worse Olberman's crime, no?

Regardless of the root cause of the who-can-shout-louder-to-those-who-already-agree-with-them national dialogue, Limbaugh, Beck and Olberman have all been contributing to it and keeping the bar low. That damns them all in my book, regardless of their politics.
posted by 256 at 8:05 PM on January 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Will miss his views; which at times seemed to be the opposite polarity of Limbaugh. Some of their sentences were even identical except for word choice of who to put ?the blame? on. Hilarious.

Reminds me of the old Star Trek episode where there were two guys that were black and white on separate but different halves of their bodies; and each fighting each other over who was correct. Lazarus something or other.

So much for some amusing political commentary; hope to see him carry on soon.
posted by buzzman at 8:11 PM on January 21, 2011


I always thought that Olbermann was decent, but I wasn't a daily watcher by any means. I also never thought Olbermann was really all that dangerous to anyone.

Until tonight.
posted by rollbiz at 8:13 PM on January 21, 2011


I bet it's a trick!

Or is it an illusion?

*sprays lighter fluid everywhere*
posted by dirigibleman at 8:15 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember watching that while evacuated to my relatives' house in Houston, pumping my first in the air.

You're rather younger than I expected, brundlefly.
posted by Malor at 8:16 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how you separate spreading vile ideas on the radio from the state of public discourse, so I'll pass on that one.

I'm not claiming Limbaugh's audience is devoid of good faith. I'm sure they have a lot of faith, some of which is probably quite good. I'm claiming they're not receptive to measured debate, impartial consideration, and critical thinking. Case in point: they listen to Rush Limbaugh.

I don't think the quality of argumentation is the same on both sides, even though (as I hope I mentioned) I think Olbermann was often over the top with his invective. I don't buy into this imaginary law of physics that keeps both sides equally wrong and reprehensible all the time. If they're all damned in your book, I hope your book is the Inferno, and some levels are lower than others.
posted by uosuaq at 8:18 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Olbermann's no Beck. Olbermann is, however, the exact flip side of the coin of O'Reilly. If you believe differently, you're just more sympathetic and forgiving to members of your own team. It's the truth.
posted by xmutex at 8:21 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I take it from the sign off clip, he gave his 2 cents, quit, AND THEN READ THURBER!? Fuck you Olbermann. That's why people hate you. You are on the right side of most every issue, but you come off like a smug prick. You have brains and a certain charisma, but for the left's message to compete with the time slot, we need a better advocate than you.
posted by greasy_skillet at 8:24 PM on January 21, 2011


"Fox News should hire him and take him off the leash like they did with Beck. It would be epic. Fox just needs to think about profit instead of ideology for a minute."

No furiousxgeorge, profit is the ideology.
posted by Relay at 8:29 PM on January 21, 2011


I once saw Al Franken speak, this was before he announced his campaign for senate. He had quite a thing going with Bill O'Reilly at the time and had some pretty interesting things to say about media punditry. You can talk about how evil these guys are, how sound bites and echo chambers have made us so much worse off, but if there aren't at least *some* forceful intelligent people willing to get down in the mud and fight these guys point-by-point, with the same kind of urgency, and bombast, and righteous indignation then we've lost far more. There's a prevailing opinion in middle America that liberals are weak, that they can't fight, they can't articulate an opinion; this is what makes them suspicious. The Wal-Mart rednecks want a winner, someone who knows right from wrong, and if they aren't given an alternative, they will keep voting against their own best interests. Everyone can name 5 or 6 racist asshole pundits like this but Olbermann was the only progressive out there with his own national show that really got that it's not just about being right, it's about making the argument and crushing your enemies.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:35 PM on January 21, 2011 [54 favorites]


Never seen Ed Schulz on the tube, but, on the radio, I find his voice indistinguishable from Rush Limbaugh's voice. Not just the timbre: the 'tude. C'mon, guys, tone it down. Olbermann's attitude isn't...sorry, wasn't much more nuanced, but, then, these are tough times, and perhaps we need over the top commentary now and then, given the scope of our problems.
posted by kozad at 8:38 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I take it from the sign off clip, he gave his 2 cents, quit, AND THEN READ THURBER!?

What, is that a crime against humanity or something?

You are on the right side of most every issue, but you come off like a smug prick.

Again I say, who doesn't? I'm not with this viewpoint that Olbermann is somehow uniquely atrocious, when there are so many smug pricks to choose from.
posted by blucevalo at 8:42 PM on January 21, 2011


What, is that a crime against humanity or something?

It's a crime against cable tv!
posted by greasy_skillet at 8:45 PM on January 21, 2011


greasy_skillet: "...You are on the right side of most every issue, but you come off like a smug prick. You have brains and a certain charisma, but for the left's message to compete with the time slot, we need a better advocate than you"

Sadly, I have to agree with this. Ben Affleck created* a monster.

*30 sec. ad precedes video clip
posted by Room 641-A at 8:49 PM on January 21, 2011


Never seen Ed Schulz on the tube, but, on the radio, I find his voice indistinguishable from Rush Limbaugh's voice.

That's his entire schtick. He's the Liberal Limbaugh. And please note Limbaugh doesn't do TV (and hasn't since he bombed in the '90s).
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:56 PM on January 21, 2011


Maddow:Steele was a good interview; it is rare to see any civil discussion about disagreement or the hows and whys of why they work for the teams they do. Stuff like that has been lacking since the Brinkley "This Week" era. What remains is either muck throwing or clownshows.
posted by buzzman at 9:28 PM on January 21, 2011


I'm saying that the fact that Limbaugh is spreading vile ideas on the radio is a lesser concern than is the state of public discourse.

I'd argue that Limbaugh is contributing a little something something to the state of public discourse.
posted by ambient2 at 9:30 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm genuinely confused about the speculation behind his leaving. At the very beginning of the clip, he says:

"I think the same fantasy has popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I've been told, that this is going to be the last edition of your show."

That unequivocally implies he got fired, doesn't it? I suppose there's a slim chance you could read it as "who has decided to quit his show and therefore was informed that this would be his last broadcast," but the wording and Network fantasy seem to bely that.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:30 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Being an asshole for all the right reasons doesn't make him not an asshole.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:36 PM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


it's about making the argument and crushing your enemies.

Don't forget the part about hearing the lamentation of their women.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:18 PM on January 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's been said, but comparing Olbermann to the well-known fearmongers on the right is total hyperbole. However his main failing, if we all agree that "poisoning the discourse" is the traditional sin of those in partisan political media, is indeed doing that which those he tore down practiced constantly. He has a certain charisma, but the sense of urgency he tended to communicate too often could be interpreted as fear, at the very least. At worst he sensationalized issues that were completely undeserving of anything approaching a frightened tone. He was not always a calming presence, you could say. But in reality his failures were the exception rather than the rule, and the need for some to point to a blowhard on the left in order to falsely equalize the debate about our "poisoned discourse" between the two sides has I think tarnished him for otherwise reasonable people who are unfamiliar with his show outside of random clips (never a good representation) and Ben Affleck's impersonation. His show wasn't constantly under some dark cloud of imaged fascism and could actually be fun and lighthearted (though Maddow is the master of fusing serious intelligent discourse with a lighter atmosphere). His contributions to our culture greatly outweigh any negativity.

All are free to disagree, but I wanted to get my thoughts out as a sort of post-mortem. As an avid online MSNBC watcher I'm sad to see it go but I'm not devastated like I'd be if Maddow went off the air (please please let her do two hours).
posted by palidor at 11:40 PM on January 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Olbermann is, however, the exact flip side of the coin of O'Reilly.

Oh I agree. NOT viciously abusing your guests is the flip side of viciously abusing your guests. NOT peddling the same made-up-facts over and over again when miles of newsprint have been devoted to debunking them and even your best friends change the subject rather than support you is the flipside of, y'know, doing that. Having some actual facts and history at your disposal is the flipside of talking out of your ass. NOT repeatedly and falsely claiming to have won one of journalism's most prestigious awards is the flipside of doing so. The list goes on and on.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:07 AM on January 22, 2011 [18 favorites]


Being an asshole for all the right reasons doesn't make him not an asshole.

But being a warrior for the right reasons is a good thing, and there's nothing wrong with lacking the fairness and reasonableness of Jon Stewart in the current environment. The pomposity is a different problem.

What we need now is a new Mike Royko.
posted by msalt at 12:11 AM on January 22, 2011 [8 favorites]


That unequivocally implies he got fired, doesn't it

Pardon the faux pas, but TMZ is reporting that Olbermann got fired by the higher-ups at Comcast. Deadline more or less confirms this report.
posted by phaedon at 12:20 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I get it. This is blisteringly subtle and on-topic commentary in the form of satirical performance art. Um, it is, isn't it?
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:42 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the end, he's no better than Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:30 AM on January 22


I'm no huge fan of Olbermann, but I have to say, with as much understatement as I can muster, that this seems to be an unfair and unbalanced remark. It smacks of the same lazy lack of perspective and ill-considered dismissiveness that allows certain people to declare that the New Atheists are just as bad as religious fundamentalists. I dislike it greatly.
posted by Decani at 1:05 AM on January 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Olbermann is, however, the exact flip side of the coin of O'Reilly.

xmutex, that's a perfect comparison. Neither is completely out there, but they're both basically pompous and ill-informed cheerleaders. I have to agree with those who have stated that the comparison to Beck and Limbaugh is unwarranted, because Limbaugh is a total fucking asshole, and Beck is a freaking lunatic.
posted by Edgewise at 1:10 AM on January 22, 2011


Manwich is the brand name of a canned sloppy joe sauce produced by ConAgra Foods, Inc.

It was interesting to see Anderson Cooper spend a half hour of his show discussing Olberman's firing/quitting. Seemed pretty inside baseball to me. Competing network devoting that kind of time? Another weird media navel-gazing moment. They even woke up Howard Kurtz for comments, though it was probably past his bedtime.
posted by fixedgear at 2:22 AM on January 22, 2011


MSNBC fired Phil Donahue way back when he had the highest-rated show on the network for saying things that were not 100% patriotic about the Empire's decision to invade Iraq.

Now, Olbermann mysteriously disappears. At almost the last possible minute before his new boss would have been Comcast.

Whether he quit or was fired or a little of both (I suspect that he quit in the same sense that a person walking the plank on a stereotypical pirate ship with a sword's pointy end at the base of their back "quits" the ship by jumping into shark-infested waters), this is a huge loss for American journalism. Gigantic. I imagine that someone will say that Olbermann's criticism of Sarah Palin after the Giffords shooting had something to do with it, but I think it's probably more of an excuse that'll get dragged out at some point - I think Comcast had this in mind for a while.

Olbermann was right when he tweeted right after Jon Stewart's False Equivalency March on Washington that there is a moral difference between standing up for the powerless and standing up for the powerful. Too many modern American liberals forget that, imagining that gay marriage, listening to All Things Considered, and the right to get an abortion on demand are the fullness of what matters.

There's messages being sent here, loud and clear - DON'T FUCK WITH THE POWERFUL. Ratings won't save you. We'll do what it takes to get rid of you.

Meanwhile, the Obama White House is filling with executives from JPMorgan and GE, and Peter Orszag goes straight to Citibank. The Tea Party considers itself the victim of the Giffords shooting, the GOP decides its top priority is making sure that private insurers get to deny patients with pre-existing conditions the insurance they need to save their lives, and Sarah Palin gets angrier and creepier and more proto-fascistic. The world keeps warming and the economy's not out of the woods yet.
posted by jhandey at 4:42 AM on January 22, 2011 [42 favorites]


Sadly, I have to agree with this. Ben Affleck created* a monster.

Yeah, Affleck was on point with that portrayal. I believe that if you look up the word "bloviator" in the dictionary, you'll find Olbermann's picture. Not that he didn't have some valid things to say; he was just too hyperbolic for my tastes. Maybe now he'll take some time to re-evaluate his approach.

I'd argue that Limbaugh is contributing a little something something to the state of public discourse.

Sure, if a little something is to lead the pack in demonstrating how pathetic it's gotten. Apparently going on the airwaves and asserting bigoted baldfaced lies is about where we're at now.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:16 AM on January 22, 2011


Pairing Glenn Beck up with a chimp would be much more effective, anyway.

It's been done...
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 5:47 AM on January 22, 2011


I found Olbermann's attitude towards Julian Assange's sexual assault accusers pretty revolting. After he got called on it, he behaved in a very condescending manner and tweeted the real names of Assange's accusers. This indirectly led to their receiving death threats. If you're going to engage in unprofessional behavior towards those who point out a mistake you made and reveal the names of women who have probably been sexually assaulted, I have no use for you.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:18 AM on January 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


In the end, he's no better than Rush Limbaugh

Unlike Limbaugh, I have never seen Olbermann do a disgusting Mickey Rooney-like impression of a Chinese man. Unlike Limbaugh, I have never seen Olbermann shake and roll on-air to make fun of someone with Parkinson's disease.

So, basically, until there's some footage that gets released showing Olbermann doing things like this, this kind of Jon Stewartesque false equivalence is just a big load of steaming bullshit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:25 AM on January 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


Also known as the Lucas-Roddenberry fallacy.

That's properly cited as Roddenberry-Lucas.


Argument ad Romulan.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:38 AM on January 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Here is the difference: Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Beck, the lot of them, are always outraged about things the "left" *might* do, or could do, if their current policy or decision is taken to its illogical extreme.

Olbermann and Maddow are outraged by things the right actually does.

I am not a big lefty. I vomit with rage at the Air America crap just as much as the Limbaugh and O'Reilly stuff. But whenever I (rarely) watched Olbermann, he always struck me as making sense. When he was enraged or indignant, so was I.

Hopefully he will move on to bigger and better things. If CNN had any brains, they would hire him.
posted by gjc at 6:51 AM on January 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


How must Jay Leno feel upon waking this morning to the realization that he is now the least funny gray haired man on television?
posted by activitystory at 7:04 AM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


For the record, after all the timeslot shuffling, the new host MSNBC is adding with Olbermann out is Cenk "Young Turk" Uygur, so no net loss for the liberals.

It's worth noting that Uygur is a fervent Armenian Genocide denier -- I for one see that trade as a big net loss, whatever one may think of Olbermann.
posted by drpynchon at 7:25 AM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read the headline of the post and assumed that the US show "Countdown" was the same as the UK show "Countdown", and wondered what all the fuss was about.
posted by memebake at 7:31 AM on January 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


How must Jay Leno feel upon waking this morning to the realization that he is now the least funny gray haired man on television?

Also, how must Jay Leno feel upon waking this morning to the realization that he has cornered the market on being the least funny gray haired man on television and they pay him what, $1/second, 24/7 for it?
posted by juiceCake at 7:48 AM on January 22, 2011


[Bunch of comments removed. Welcome to mefi, gideonswann: don't do that again if you actually want to be here.]
posted by cortex at 8:00 AM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


[Thanks for the comment, cortex--for a minute there, I thought I had had an early-morning hallucination.]
posted by box at 8:18 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rumor has it, he's going back to sports.
posted by empath at 8:21 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love how people don't like Olbermann because of his passion, then go and chide the Democrats for not having any backbone.

You're a real bunch of pips, you lot.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:22 AM on January 22, 2011 [29 favorites]


Insider chatter seems to be that this was likely two way. Olbermann has been vocal about his dissatisfaction, which likely intensified with the departure of his protector Jeff Zucker, and the prospect of working under a more restrictive Comcast environment. It's thought that he got a pretty cushy going-away package.

I take my hat off to the guy. He spoke out and took strong stands when no one else would. When he started, the landscape was depressingly bleak: Tucker Carlson, Dan Abrams, Chris Matthews, Rita Cosby. When no one else on TV anywhere had the temerity to offer anything more than a pallid, watered-down criticism of the Bush administration, the Iraq war, Fox news, etc ad nauseum - there was Keith. And it started long before that when he began calling out GOP and media excesses over impeachment and the blue dress. For many years, he was one of the few lonely liberal oases on television.

His success paved the way for Maddow, O'Donnell and others. Olbermann was the first and for one to give a forum to most of the liberal TV journalists who are now well known and jockeying for their own show - many of whom we got to know when they guest hosted for him.

I will miss greatly him, even though I got tired of his overly dramatic special comments. I think Ad hominem hit it with this: "His outrage was, however , incredibly mannered, and not very appealing to the America of today, who base all things on gut instead of reason."

As for those who compare him to Beck, Limbaugh, O"Reilly - that is just absurd. He may be opinionated and sometimes stridently so, but he operated from facts and detailed research. He never just made things up the way they all do.

Olbermann had Howard Dean host a few times. I love Maddow and I like O'Donnell. The rest of the crew is weak and I don't see anyone with star power, unless MSNBC starts tapping some non-office holding pols the way FOX does. Or maybe some bloggers. I'd love to see Josh Marshall & crew get a show.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:54 AM on January 22, 2011 [10 favorites]


Eating is a good thing.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:01 AM on January 22, 2011


"Being an asshole for all the right reasons doesn't make him not an asshole."

Yes, but being an asshole doesn't make him wrong, does it Sys Rq?
posted by Relay at 10:05 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, but it sure makes the things he says easy to dismiss.

That's the problem.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:15 AM on January 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, the serious well behaved liberals at NPR have grand influence over our discourse...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:25 AM on January 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Victims of governmental heartlessness in Arizona"? Where does he get that?
posted by SLC Mom at 10:25 AM on January 22, 2011


There's messages being sent here, loud and clear - DON'T FUCK WITH THE POWERFUL. Ratings won't save you. We'll do what it takes to get rid of you.

Ratings and profit don't count. Glenn Beck is subsidized by his network boss-owners. All the good advertisers have been driven away. His show is a net loss to the company.

Beck exists so that a billionaire can fuck with the nation's democracy to his advantage. Beck is a tool he uses to drive the nation's politics.

The stark reality of the situation seems to fly right over most people's heads.

Sociopathic billionaires are fucking with social and political control. That never ends well.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:47 AM on January 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sociopathic billionaires are fucking with social and political control.

Facebook?
posted by phaedon at 11:22 AM on January 22, 2011


Sociopathic billionaires are fucking with social and political control. That never ends well.

Whenever you point this out, the retort is always, somewhat ridiculously, "George Soros". Someone rather better clued in than I am really needs to publish a list of right-wing billionaires currently invested, either personally or through their well-funded foundations, in manipulating the narrative that we hear every day. It'd be even better if we could get a picture of the amounts of money and the corporations involved. I think Mr Soros is a drop in an otherwise nearly empty bucket compared to the sloshing oceans of money from the right, but this information needs to be organized in a pretty punchy way if anyone but a wonk is going to be able to use it to push back.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:32 AM on January 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hey George, along with names we might also want to post lists of home addresses, perhaps photos of where these people have last been seen. Working hours, if available, and perhaps one of their assistants can leak their daily calendar?

/sarcasm
posted by Shit Parade at 11:36 AM on January 22, 2011


I seldom agreed with what he said but he said it well.
posted by TDavis at 11:43 AM on January 22, 2011


I'm not real clear on the angle of your sarcasm there, Shit Parade. There are reasons to be informed about who's spending how much, where, to pull which strings, other than to threaten them.

Though I suppose your take would be a popular retort among talk show hosts who'd rather the backers of their masters kept their anonymity -- impugn the motives of the persons asking and vaguely imply terrorist intentions. Well done.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:50 AM on January 22, 2011


I usually agreed with what he said but didn't like his delivery.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:50 AM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I stopped watching when Richard Whiteley died.
posted by the cuban at 12:30 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sociopathic billionaires are fucking with social and political control.

I keep hoping that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett will step up to the plate to balance things out a bit.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:32 PM on January 22, 2011


Dude, America is largely a subcortical nation. Present facts and make rational arguments and you may get half of the white college educated populace to listen. You don't bring frontal lobes to a limbic fight.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:40 PM on January 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hey George, along with names we might also want to post lists of home addresses, perhaps photos of where these people have last been seen. Working hours, if available, and perhaps one of their assistants can leak their daily calendar?

/sarcasm



Weird. For a second there I thought you were talking about abortion providers.
posted by trondant at 12:42 PM on January 22, 2011


box: [Thanks for the comment, cortex--for a minute there, I thought I had had an early-morning hallucination.]

Great, now I have the sneaking suspicion that I missed something awesome.
posted by JHarris at 12:46 PM on January 22, 2011


Dude, America is largely a subcortical nation. Present facts and make rational arguments and you may get half of the white college educated populace to listen. You don't bring frontal lobes to a limbic fight.

I mostly agree with this, but I am not really sure what bearing "white" has on the situation.
posted by naoko at 1:22 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


[Great, now I have the sneaking suspicion that I missed something awesome.]

[Nah. Longtime lurker ponied up strictly (by his own admission) to attack someone. For reasons I couldn't make sense of since he never said anything on-topic. Then got fighty with all comers, still without remembering to say what his actual point was regarding anything under discussion. It wasn't even entertaining. Good delete.]
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:26 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, but it sure makes the things he says easy to dismiss.

That's the problem.
posted by Sys Rq


It's a problem if you pay more attention to how something is said rather than what is being said.
posted by Relay at 2:11 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Victims of governmental heartlessness in Arizona"? Where does he get that?
posted by SLC Mom at 10:25 AM on January 22


Because our state is embarrassingly, pathetically broke, we have moved on from gutting our children's education system to the bone and instead slashed benefits for people enrolled in Arizona's state Medicare system, known as AHCCCS, which stands for Arizona Healthcare Cost Containment System and is pronounced "access." One of the benefits cut was coverage for organ transplants. As a direct result, several people have died because they could not afford to pay for their own transplants.

Keith Olbermann covered this heartbreaking issue several times on his show, highlighting some of the patients affected and some of the ordinary Arizonans trying to help them, and issuing pleas to help raise money.

So. Bombastic or not. Bloviator or not. Overblown or not. I for one certainly can't think that his departure is anything but a terrible loss.
posted by kjh at 4:18 PM on January 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's a problem if you pay more attention to how something is said rather than what is being said.

If people paid any attention to what pundits were actually saying instead of the way it's being said, Glenn Beck would be out of work.

And, really, I think that's why MSNBC aired Olbermann's show in the first place; if a certain segment of society agrees with anything some pundit says just because said pundit seems to be really passionate about what he's saying, then, hey, maybe those people can be pulled over to the Left. It's a nice idea, but frankly I'd prefer that such unthinking people would go back to just taking cues from Steven Seagal movies.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:25 PM on January 22, 2011


Personally I like Olberman, but I can understand where Sys Rq is coming from. While his outrage was directed at actual atrocities rather than fantasy fears and he tried (and mostly succeeded) at conducting himself with professionalism, when that outrage - as it constantly did - collided with his speaking style (read: hyper-erudite, hyper-enunciated) it could definitely appear to be like the theatre of disgust rather than actual passion. In this way he made himself an easy target of false equivalence to something like Beck's crying jags.

That said, I don't think Stewart deserves the blame for the "false equivalency" game. His politics are well known, the grand majority of his attacks are against the right, and everyone at the Rally understood it to be a counter to Beck, not to anyone in particular on the left. Even the few Republicans I met at the rally made a point that they were there because Beck was making them look bad.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:45 PM on January 22, 2011


And what the hell am I going to do without the Oddball segment? C'mon, I loved Oddball.
posted by Ber at 6:53 PM on January 22, 2011


Drag. Comcast can suck my white ass, right along with Emmis Communications.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:37 PM on January 22, 2011


I think I remember reading somewhere, something about some higher up fatcats at GE or maybe NBC (I don't remember!) that didn't quite cotton to that Olberman fella, and wanted to do something about it. This is pure speculation on my part, but I imagine that Keith probably would not have responded too well to their constructive criticism. Thus a rift, then problems, then Keith wanting out of his contract... (again, I have no background on any of this, I am just stone cold making shit up).
posted by jefbla at 9:25 PM on January 22, 2011


Can we think of the REAL victim here? Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson no longer has anybody to whole heartedly agree with twice a week.
posted by billyfleetwood at 11:59 PM on January 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Witness Maddow's interview with Steele last night -- he was obviously delighted to be there even though he shares no politics with her.

That's true, but to be fair Michael Steele looked delighted anytime he got enough time on camera to really ham it up.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:10 AM on January 23, 2011


It's always easy to dismiss whatever you don't want to hear. It could be sung by angels and people wouldsay they're just the next generation of Morton Downey Jr.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:41 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's always easy to dismiss whatever you don't want to hear.

Indeed, and doubly so if it's delivered in the style of a stern lecture from a middle school vice principal who's just quit smoking.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:53 AM on January 25, 2011


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