Friday, January 21, 2011

Thoughts on Keith Olbermann's Departure from MSNBC on the Day COMCAST Takes Over

We don't get MSNBC, so - unlike many friends and relatives - we never got into any sort of regular watching of a person who crafted a persona that sought to compare himself to Edward R. Murrow. Progressive Alaska has published as lot of video clips from the show, though, as Olbermann's relentless pursuit of getting the truth out on Sarah Palin's vast shortcomings resonated all across the liberal and progressive Alaskan blogosphere.

He usually struck me as over-rated on foreign policy. He completely avoided many important issues. If you watched Olbermann, the following important events didn't happen:
• Operation Cast Lead
• The inept and deadly interception of the MV Mavi Marmara
• The Obama-approved coup in Honduras
• The Obama-backed militarization of the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border
• The reaction of some European countries (particularly Iceland) to the 2008-2009 financial crisis - actually prosecute banksters
• Virtually any meaningful coverage of union issues in other countries (he wasn't wild about covering U.S. union issues, either)
Olbermann was one of the few U.S. commentators to question the ongoing torture of PFC Bradley Manning. Even two of my favorite Alaska blogs, The Mudflats and the Immoral Minority, haven't, to my knowledge, dared to go there, as much as they loved Olbermann.

On other domestic issues, Olbermann was light on coverage of continuing erosion of union rights. He was fairly good on covering Islamophobia, and gave more than lip service to the growing dangers of Christofascism.

Unlike the roster at FOX, I never caught him in a lie. In that sense he was like Murrow. Unlike Murrow, Olbermann was unable to get some major politicians to appear on his show. That wasn't Olbermann's fault, though. It was MSNBC's, and also due to the way American politics has devolved in the 50 years since Murrow was on prime time.

Had President Obama agreed to appear on Olbermann's show next week, instead of O'Reilly's, Keith would still have a job.

People who expect MSNBC to be a viable progressive news source, or think that it actually has been or is, need to ask themselves, "Compared to what?" Compared to FOX, it is far more liberal. Compared to CNN - somewhat. Compared to Democracy Now, GRIT TV, The Young Turks, RT TV, it certainly is not.

Under COMCAST, MSNBC will get more like FOX. It will replace the existing lineup - with the exceptions of O'Donnell and Tweety - within a year. O'Donnell will move to their prime spot, as he manipulates the departure of others. Obama will be his first guest after O'Donnell throws Maddow under the bus.

Some of my friends have speculated that Olbermann is having to leave MSNBC to accept the job opening as Obama's Press Secretary.

Dream on, Obamabots.......


wendy isbell said...

Really Phil? With the few progressive voices have, you felt the need to rip one of the best apart? Now your predicting the end of Maddow by Mathews? I'm done Phil, as I had said before, your hardly a progressive. Libertarian perhaps, jealous more likely. I am taking your site off my computer. I will no longer support your musical compositions, I no longer support you. Enjoy the irony.

Philip Munger said...


I did not rip Olbermann apart. I praised some of his work. He might even agree on some of my points.

But I guess you won't get this message.

Anonymous said...

So much of the fun of watching Keith was the combination of his big head and his big heart. And the man has a goofy sense of humor, which he displayed constantly. Keith is an honest, generous liberal. I like him, big head and all. He certainly did not cover all the news, but then, he never pretended to either.
The ironic thing is that last night was the first night of my vacation from Keith. I had decided to take a break and just watch a dab of straight news each night (Brian Williams), instead of a diet of political news. I have politics fatigue and I need to build up my strength for the 2 year election slog. So imagine my surprise when I heard it was Keith's last show. Good thing I record it.

Anonymous said...

Call me cranky here, but I'm getting aggravated that conversation in general has shifted so far to the right that the fogline on the right hand side of the road is now considered the centrist view.
I don't have TV and have watched only a few of Mr Olberman's Countdown shows online so I can't weigh in seriously about all his stances but I think it is obvious he's not much left of center.
That is fine in and of itself, it's a real place.
I hope he keeps his voice strong - it has a real place.
That being said, I am most concerned about the further concentration of so much of the so called mainstream media in so few hands which the impending Comcast takeover of NBC will add to .

Anonymous said...

On Jan 19th, Keith called Joe Lieberman a "delusional liar" several times on his show. On Jan 20th the Feds approved the Comcast NBC deal. Comcast was started and is still run by the Roberts family. A powerful, well-connected Jewish family. I think this was payback from the Roberts' for their buddy Joe Lieberman.

Philip Munger said...

anon @ 8:30,

I doubt his criticism of Lieberman had anything to do with the buyout of his contract. Things have been uneasy there for him since the suspension.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous - Jan 22 8:30am
Yes, that makes good sense. I was wondering about the political leanings of the key influencers of Comcast..
Sure gives me hope that MSNBC will continue to hold SP accountable for her cross-hairy politics and her blood libelly religiosity. :)

Anonymous said...

I am hoping to see him join Oprah's OWN. It just might be the best move for both.
But it would be good to see a slightly toned down Keith who does not suggest the political battlefield he projected during the 2008 primaries.. you know.. two people go in the room - one come out. That make me drop MSNBC. I was just about to add them back on after I saw his recent pledge to tone down rhetoric. But somehow the charming person has been missing in action lately.. and his scowl has taken over, making him less than pleasant to watch. I hope he gets good R&R and returns some place that I'd want to tune into.

libhom said...

When even a centrist like Olbermann gets removed from Comcast's new acquisition in a Stalin style purge, that shows how determined this corporation is to censor the media. They have been attacking Net Neutrality in order to censor web content and already have censored emails sent to their customers.