Saturday, January 22, 2011

Keith Olbermann is out!

Keith Olbermann sleeps with the fishes.

Keith Olbermann and MSNBC ended their contract Friday night. There were rumors that the Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal would mean that Olbermann would either leave or have his wings clipped. So this is not completely surprising but it is somewhat unusual in its abruptness.

NEW YORK – Keith Olbermann was MSNBC's most popular personality and single-handedly led its transformation to an outspoken, left-leaning cable news network in prime time. Despite that, he often seemed to be walking on a tightrope with his job. Friday night, it snapped.
Olbermann returned from one last commercial break on "Countdown" to tell viewers it was his last broadcast, and read a James Thurber short story in a three-minute exit statement. Simultaneously, MSNBC e-mailed a statement that "MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract." The network thanked him and said, "we wish him well in his future endeavors."
Neither MSNBC President Phil Griffin, Olbermann nor his manager responded to requests to explain an exit so abrupt that Olbermann's face was still being featured on an MSNBC promotional ad 30 minutes after he had said goodbye.

The right wing is of course applauding and doing backflips.  They’ve been after his scalp for a long time and now it looks like they may have gotten it. Of course this could just be the normal corporate story of a new administration wanting its own team in place. Or it could be more personal.  I don’t think there will be a huge difference politically in the emphasis that Lawrence O’Donnell puts on certain stories compared to KO.  KO is said to be hard to work with and perhaps this is what underlies the move.  O’Donnell is also much more of an insider that Olbermann ever was or evidently wanted to be.

I liked Keith Olbermann.  He crossed the line sometimes – I thought bringing in Michael Musto to mock Carrie Prejean or other women was over the top- but no one is perfect.  To my mind he was a necessary corrective to a lot that’s wrong with media discourse today.

So what do you think? If you watched his show will you watch his replacement? If you despised him does this make you any more likely to watch MSNBC?Are you saying to yourself "Keith Who???"
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