The heartless Capitalist system recently claimed another victim, in the person of declining-ratings MSNBC’s voice of progressive outrage Keith Olbermann, who was eased out the door (severance package in hand) by Comcast.
Bill Schmalfeldt draws upon his own industry experience to describe the probable final moments.
To say that Olbermann’s departure from MSNBC was a “mutual agreement” strikes me as being “mutual” in the same sense that executions are “mutual.” The state agrees to put the needle in your arm, the prisoner agrees to be strapped to the gurney, have the needle inserted, and die without a great fuss.
My reasons for coming to this conclusion? Been there. Done that. ...
It’s Friday. You’ve just wrapped up your show and are tying up loose ends to get ready for the weekend. The program director pops his/her head into the bullpen and tells you the station’s General Manager wants a word with you. You and the program director walk, together, to the GM’s door. You enter first. The PD shuts the door. Everyone sits.
The GM has a grim but friendly look on his/her face. And it begins.
“Bill, we couldn’t be happier with the job you’ve been doing for us, but we’ve decided to take the station in a different direction. So we’re going to have to let you go. Rest assured this doesn’t reflect on your performance, you did a wonderful job. But you just don’t figure into our future plans.”
As the condemned man, you try to ask why… to plead your case… but the GM cuts you off.
“Bill, Bill, Bill… the decision’s been made. Please turn over your office keys to the program director and thank you for your service.”
You give your keys to the PD, he/she shakes your hand and wishes you good luck. The PD opens the office door and you see the cardboard box that the station secretary has filled with your personal effects while you were chatting with the GM. As the PD marches you to the door, you hear the station loudspeaker airing the promo about the show that will be replacing you starting Monday in your time slot. The door shuts behind you and the cold wind blows, chilling your skin.
And Howie Carr, in the Boston Herald provides the definitive obituary.
We all know the real reason why Comrade Keith sleeps with the fishes. Gore Vidal wrote what could serve as his epitaph years ago.
“No talent is not enough.”
Especially when you combine no talent with no ratings. And now “Countdown” is down for the count.
Not that his replacements at the cell, I mean network, will be any improvement. Lawrence O’Donnell is a hater of the barstool variety. And then there’s Ed Schultz, known variously as “Sgt. Schultz” or “Special Ed.” And Rachel Maddow — you’ve seen her crewcut type before, in Jamaica Plain, driving around a beat-up Volvo with a bumper sticker that says, “Hatred is Not a Family Value.”
All of them are alumni of Air America, which failed when the funds that were being siphoned off from the Boys and Girls Clubs finally ran out. What a novel programming strategy for GE: Put failed radio hosts on TV and expect . . . ratings magic!
Every morning the overnight numbers came out and someone high up in TV got a tingle up his leg. Only it wasn’t Comrade Chris Matthews, it was Roger Ailes, the boss of Fox News. The further left MSNBC and CNN veer, the wider Fox’s lead became.
Isn’t it ironic that Olbermann was crushed by a fellow alumnus of Ch. 5 — Bill O’Reilly. What did Olbermann used to call O’Reilly — the Worst Person in the World?
People forget sometimes that Olbermann started out in sports, as a run-of-the-mill homer, a high-pitched screamer, a Chris Berman wannabe. In other words, he had the exact same background as Sarah Palin, although in her case MSNBC wants you to think that proves she’s a lightweight, not to mention another of the Worst People in the World.
As for Olbermann’s career as a rah-rah boy — nothing to see here folks, move along.
Whenever I’d watch him (very briefly, as I desperately searched for the remote control) pontificating on some issue he had absolutely no clue about, I’d think about Hunter S. Thompson’s attorney in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”
He hears John Lennon on the radio singing “Power to the People – Right On!” The lawyer shakes his head sadly and delivers another epitaph, not just for John Lennon, but for Comrade Keith, the ex-ESPN shill.
“That poor fool should have stayed where he was. Punks like that just get in the way when they try to be serious.”
At the end, Olbermann had dispensed with almost all the usual TV production values. He’d just sit there on the set and spin out his paranoid, hate-filled fantasies. Talk about vitriol. Not to mention boring TV — Fidel could get away with four-hour speeches because no one in Cuba had anywhere else to go. I heard Comrade Keith did a 12-minute, spittle-streaked screed last week right out of the box. By the seven-minute mark, even Barney Frank had changed the channel.
Stuart Schwartz serves up a massive helping of schadenfreude over Keith Olbermann’s increasingly tenuous position at ratings-impaired MSNBC. The liberal news channel is experiencing such a trouncing at the hands of Fox News that speculations are being heard that MSNBC may go the way of Air America, Al Franken’s bankrupt liberal AM radio outlet.
“As the Spittle Flies” is nearing the end of its run.
This cable news soap opera—a.k.a. “Countdown With Keith Olbermann”—is alienating viewers as quickly as the angry and demanding diva has pushed away friends, family and colleagues over the course of his tumultuous career.
When will the show end? Hard to tell. But the increasingly wild-eyed Keith is drawing rubberneckers in the same fashion as a six-car crackup beside the interstate. One media columnist observes a “creeping mania” brought on by plunging ratings and terminal jealousy.
According to TV by the Numbers, the foam-at-the-mouth commentator seems determined to do to his audience what a bio-toxin does to a small town in Iowa in the recent hit zombie movie, “The Crazies”—empty the homes. February saw ratings plunge beneath last year by 43% among 25-54 viewers and 29% in total viewership.
At the same time, FOX News continues its “mammoth growth.” Olbermann’s envy of all things FOX is palpable, screaming “I loathe fox,” Fox News President Roger Ailes deliberately attempts to “(inspire) fear” in people, he claims, and is out to get me!
And that’s just the beginning of the rant-whimper-scream-sob-sob that daily spills from Keith’s fourth floor corner office and permeates the oh-so-Manhattan headquarters that MS-NBC shares with parent NBC. He is typical of our progressive political and media elites, whose cardinal rule is simple: I do what I want, and you do what I want.
And so he does. And when NBC executives and others seek to remind him of life’s little burdens (you can’t verbally abuse women in the office, you can’t verbally abuse women out of the office, etc.) he sometimes hides under his desk, as progressive men are wont to do.
At other times he sits, gnashing his teeth at a view across Sixth Avenue marred by a FOX News headquarters where Bill O’Reilly continues to attract viewers; how dare O’Reilly exist, whines Keith, continuing an obsession that has been variously called “creepy” and, by FOX host Greg Gutfeld, “homoerotic.” ...
The on-air anger sprays from the television. Crude sexual hand gestures. Crude sexual slurs. Crude sexual graphics. Meanwhile, the viewers disappear. And so Keith Olbermann continues this week to experience death by a thousand clicks, the sound of remotes switching from MS-NBC to…well, anywhere, but mostly FOX.
And the rage builds. Even the Los Angeles Times, its editorial offices a haven for aging leftists sympathetic to his rants, noted his increasingly visible “frustration and anger and volume and core meltdown.”
Core meltdown, indeed. The rants have grown increasingly vicious and disconnected from reality, causing even long-time allies to wonder whether, in fact, Keith’s mother was right: her son may be a few pixels short of an image.
Even a progressive brother-in-arms, Comedy Channel’s Jon Stewart, sees him as devolving into “baseless name calling” while a growing number of NBC executives complain that he is “out of control and causing increasing problems.” They see him as “a loser for the network,” his increasingly erratic behavior, both on and off the air, “ratings poison.”
When Saturday Night Live ridiculed Sarah Palin, the Alaska Governor agreed to appear on the program and with remarkable patience gamely endured further partisan abuse, then demonstrated her good sportsmanship by playing along with the gags.
Michael Calderone reports that Keith Olbermann’s reaction to being ribbed was just a little different.
Ben Affleck, who’s hosting “Saturday Night Live” this week, was rehearsing a skit this afternoon mocking Keith Olbermann when Olbermann himself got past security to watch, according to a source with knowledge of the incident.
A source described the skit as “savage,” in portraying Olbermann as a deranged person living at home with his mother. Affleck, said a source, became uneasy with Olbermann in attendance at the 3 p.m., closed-set rehearsal.
But Olbermann, through a spokesman, was complimentary on his first time being mocked on “SNL” — a position his MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews has been in over the years.
“I’m not Sarah Palin,” Olbermann said. “I know how valuable it is to me. And it’s funny.”
Brent Baker, at Newsbusters, reports that the left sees the Imus Affair as the model for further media lynchings. Watch out, Rush Limbaugh!
Keith Olbermann opened his Wednesday MSNBC show by displaying video of Rush Limbaugh on screen as he smeared conservative talk radio as “racist,” asking, “Why have none from the racist right been protested, boycotted or fired?” He then delighted Thursday night when guest Sam Seder, of the far-left Air America Radio, predicted “the next time Limbaugh slips up, which I think is inevitable, I think you’re going to see this sort of same type of reaction.” A pleased Olbermann exclaimed: “It’s the best thing I’ve heard in a couple of days. From your lips to God’s ears!” Olbermann had asked Seder: “How does Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage get away with worse than what Don Imus said?”
With “SELECTIVE OUTRAGE: Imus Was Not Alone” on screen, Olbermann teased Wednesday’s Countdown by wondering: “Where’s the other outrage? Rush Limbaugh calls Barack Obama ‘Halfrican-American.’ Michael Savage says the Voting Rights Act means ‘a chad in every crack house.’ Neal Boortz says Cynthia McKinney looks like a ‘ghetto-slut.’ Why have none from the racist right been protested, boycotted or fired?” He soon cued up race-hustler Jesse Jackson: “Why are there not efforts to remove them from the air?”
Olbermann’s crusade to remove conservatives from the air matched the spin forwarded Tuesday night on CNN’s Paula Zahn Now, as recounted in Matthew Balan’s NewsBusters post. Zahn set up an April 10 taped piece: ”Conservative Rush Limbaugh, who has offended just about every minority group, drew special criticism for attacking actor Michael J. Fox.” After regurgitating that controversy, Zahn moved to the very same quote highlighted by Olbermann: “Limbaugh later apologized. But the criticism for that low blow hasn’t stopped him from lashing out at presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, calling him ‘Halfrican.’” Viewers then heard audio of Limbaugh: “Barack Obama has picked up another endorsement, Halfrican-American actress Halle Berry. As a Halfrican-American, I am honored to have Ms. Berry’s support, as well as the support of other Halfrican-Americans.” Zahn proceeded to highlight the same Boortz comment about McKinney as Olbermann would do 24 hours later.
And, sure enough, leftwing Media Matters is today calling for further bloodletting with a list of alleged speech crimes by Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, Michael Smerconish, John Gibson, and Rush Limbaugh.
Keith Olbermann put “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” on his stereo, turned the volume up on high, and proceeded to explain to MSNBC’s viewers that Donald Rumsfeld was being McCarthyite by criticizing defeatism, and that Rumsfeld’s urging courage and endurance made him like Neville Chamberlain, while persons outside government, demanding appeasement, retreat, and surrender in the face of militant Islam were really all courageous Churchills.
Rick Moran already has performed the obligatory task of shredding Olberman’s nonsense in detail.
I will just observe mself that Olberman’s rant was delivered in a tendentious and partisan tone, and included insolent rhetoric, absurd allegations and expressions of wildly subjective opinion utterly and completely incompatible with the role of a supposedly objective commentator.
Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages, to the entire “Fog of Fear” which continues to envelope this nation – he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have – inadvertently or intentionally – profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.
And yet he can stand up in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emperor’s New Clothes.
The spectacle of another empty-suit talking head climbing atop his electronic soapbox, and striking heroic poses, while insulting a variety of individuals in the current administration who left seven figure jobs heading up major business organizations to work in government as “profiting and benefiting, both personally and politically” from a syntactically confused melange of leftwing paranoid fantasies was particularly contemptible.