Sunday, January 23, 2011

So Long, Keith

KeithOlberman.jpg (15837 bytes)Well, he surprised us all. I went to Facebook after Keith Olbermann's surprising announcement at the end of last night's broadcast that he would not be returning.

I did a Google search on "Keith Olbermann" and found a live Twitter feed with post after post after post of people just as shocked as I (and no doubt thousands of others) was.

Some of them were of the "good bye and good riddance" type, but most were bemoaning the loss of Olbermann, who was the leading personality on MSNBC and succeeded in raising the ratings for that station.

I'm not sure how I feel about it all. My first reaction was one of shock and disappointment and wondering what happened. My second reaction was wondering what Rachel Maddow thought about it (she did not host her own show last night and was pretty much noncomittal on Bill Maher later that evening).

My third reaction was to wonder what happened. Within seconds of the end of Countdown, MSNBC issued a pretty bland statement that said "MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of Countdown with Keith Olbermann will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

Whatever that means.

I watched Bill Maher, disappointed (but not surprised) to find it was barely mentioned. Then I watched Anderson Cooper, who had quite a long segment about it. Nobody he interviewed seemed surprised, hinting at Olbermann's volatile nature and problems with the network for some time, the kicker (perhaps) being the upcoming takeover of MSNBC by ComCast, which would not put up with his temperamental nature.

I have to admit that when MSNBC gave Lawrence O'Donnell a show, I thought it rather odd (now he's taking over Olbermann's slot). Was this in the planning stages all along?

After a long hiatus from regular news, I discovered Countdown with Keith Olbermann during the 2 year old campaign for the presidency. I became a real fan of Olbermann and of Chris Matthews and watched them religiously. Matthews did not suffer fools gladly, and Olbermann said all the things I was thinking, only more eloquently (I'm sure O'Reilly and Beck fans feel the same).

Olbermann gave some commentaries that were so beautiful I taped them. They appears on YouTube and went viral overnight. Keith was taking our frustration, putting it into words that we hope would be heard by our leaders (they never were).

But then something happened. There was a point awhile ago where I got the distinct impression that Olbermann was starting to believe his own press. I hated it when he went on the rampage against Fox News. Sometimes it seemed that half the show, if not more, would be directed against O'Reilly and Roger Ailes. And when he gave his commentaries now they seemed more scripted than from the gut, the way the earlier ones did.

He did good things. He got his viewers (me included) to contribute money to put on free clinics for people around the country without insurance, in need of medical care. He hoped it would show our legislators how strong the need for health reform was. That didn't work, but lots of people at least got to see a doctor or a dentist.

Walt stopped watching him. As soon as I turned on Countdown he would go upstairs to watch The McLaughlin Group. but I kept watching because when he was good, he was very, very good. I gave up on Chris Matthews because I just hated how he manipulated people into saying what he wanted them to say and wouldn't let anybody get an original thought. He is a big windbag and I don't care how smart he is, I don't have to sit there listening to him yelling at people.

I will miss Keith Olbermann...sort of. He was the right person in the right place at the right time. But maybe his "time" is not "right" any more. I'm finding, 24 hours after the fact, that it doesn't seem to leave as big a hole as I thought it would. I haven't watched Lawrence O'Donnell and Rachel, the only newscaster I really enjoy watching now, is still around. Along with MSNBC I wish Keith Olbermann well. I'm sure he has so much money now he can rest on his (considerable) laurels for a good long time.

I didn't watch Fox news after his announcement. I imagine there was a lot of chortling and high-fiving going on over there. I didn't want to see it.


Mary Z said...

Thanks for expressing my feelings about Olbermann so well, Bev. Only difference is that we've never watched Chris Matthews. And even John will watch Rachel Maddow.

Harriet said...

Fortunately for me, I don't watch MSNBC much anyhow. Fortunate because, if Comcast bought it, U-Verse will probably lose it. Comcast is trying very hard to win back the customers it lost to U-Verse, and this seems to be the method that they're using.

But U-Verse gives me access to channels I couldn't get on Comcast without upgrading -- and it's still costing me less. Oh, how I hate the way some companies do business!