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.
â€œNo talent is not enough.â€
Especially when you combine no talent with no ratings. And now â€œCountdownâ€ is down for the count.
Not that his replacements at the cell, I mean network, will be any improvement. Lawrence Oâ€™Donnell is a hater of the barstool variety. And then thereâ€™s Ed Schultz, known variously as â€œSgt. Schultzâ€ or â€œSpecial Ed.â€ And Rachel Maddow â€” youâ€™ve seen her crewcut type before, in Jamaica Plain, driving around a beat-up Volvo with a bumper sticker that says, â€œHatred is Not a Family Value.â€
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 wasnâ€™t Comrade Chris Matthews, it was Roger Ailes, the boss of Fox News. The further left MSNBC and CNN veer, the wider Foxâ€™s lead became.
Isnâ€™t it ironic that Olbermann was crushed by a fellow alumnus of Ch. 5 â€” Bill Oâ€™Reilly. What did Olbermann used to call Oâ€™Reilly â€” 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 sheâ€™s a lightweight, not to mention another of the Worst People in the World.
As for Olbermannâ€™s career as a rah-rah boy â€” nothing to see here folks, move along.
Whenever Iâ€™d watch him (very briefly, as I desperately searched for the remote control) pontificating on some issue he had absolutely no clue about, Iâ€™d think about Hunter S. Thompsonâ€™s attorney in â€œFear and Loathing in Las Vegas.â€
He hears John Lennon on the radio singing â€œPower to the People â€“ Right On!â€ The lawyer shakes his head sadly and delivers another epitaph, not just for John Lennon, but for Comrade Keith, the ex-ESPN shill.
â€œThat poor fool should have stayed where he was. Punks like that just get in the way when they try to be serious.â€
At the end, Olbermann had dispensed with almost all the usual TV production values. Heâ€™d just sit there on the set and spin out his paranoid, hate-filled fantasies. Talk about vitriol. Not to mention boring TV â€” 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.
Time to go back to sports, Keith.