January 22, 2011

The Passion of Keith Olbermann

"MSNBC said late Friday that the cable network and host Keith Olbermann "have ended their contract," and that his show "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will no longer appear on the network after the current broadcast." That message was in my inbox 20 hours ago from Politico Breaking News. 

The malignant handling of Olbermann's departure appears to have been written up as a memo on a piece of used toilet paper by a renegade hobbit on crack.  The show rode on Olbermann's persona, his passion, his convictions of right and wrong (and well, me personally, thought he was right pretty much most of the time) While Maddow is the epitome of considered school-teacher calm (and often more coherent) it was Olbermann who spoke so much from the heart. He said all what I would have liked to say on so many topics.  

We weren't even given a chance to lament properly before the rug was pulled out under our feet.  It's like the show was buried without being dead.  Countdown has been killed off in the prime of its medial life.  If I hadn't known about it before listening to the podcast, Olbermann gave no indication whatsoever during the run up to the bombshell minutes before the end.  He handled himself with incredible grace, generosity and professionalism.

What shocks me more than anything else is the fact that a show which has heaved MSNBC out of the basement of 24 hour cable news hell, overtaking the patient zero of 24 hour news overkill -  CNN -  "to position it as a liberal alternative to Fox News"  has been booted off the air with incredible sang froid.  Countdown was the highest rated show on the entire network. The staggeringly awful corporate blundering machete thrashings of NBC, GE and the newest mush head of the kraken corporation - Comcast - is unbelievable in its creepy ineptitude.

Strange in this context to quote a known right-wing racist, but the semantics fit: "The Essential American Soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer."  D.H. Lawrence. The show has been killed of without so much as an iota of decorum or a regard for those who enable MSNBC to exist: the viewers.

Keith Olbermann and Countdown's sudden departure I find especially painful for his was the first political show I listened to on a regular basis. For over two years,  since September 2008, I have listened to every single episode. I feel like I have been kicked in the head. So much of what I know about US politics, I have learned from him. I have been thrown into purgatory of political anomie.

"American TV needs a @KeithOlbermann - whether you agree with him or not, he's got passion. And that's always a good thing."

Piers Morgan, whom I find to be a bit of a pompous wanker, is right though. Without passion, there is nothing. Keith Olbermann: please come back soon.


Laura Molina said...

This has been a shocker. When I watch television at all, I stop what I am doing and fire it up at 5:00 PM PST for Countdown. Now it's gone and I am at a loss. : (

Veronika said...

me too , ( seriously, feel like I've lost a friend.