Monday, January 24, 2011

Squeaky Wheel

Mad as Hell

“I think the same fantasy popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I have been told: this will be the last edition of your show. You go to the scene from the movie ‘Network,’ complete with the pajamas and the rain coat, and go off on a verbal journey of unutterable vision and you insist upon Peter Finch’s guttural resonance and you will the viewer to go to the window, open it, stick out his head and yell. You know the rest. In the mundane world of television goodbyes, reality is laughably uncooperative.”
—Keith Olbermann, out-of-work commentator,
ousted from his MSNBC “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” show,
days after Comcast took over NBC-Universal.

(See John Nichols, “MSNBC drops Keith Olbermann,” The Nation, Jan. 21, 2011)

Editorial Comment: The squeaky wheel gets the . . . ax?

NEWSnote: PULITZER: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power—Biographer James McGrath Morris discusses lessons from Pulitzer, Morris Media & Society Lecture, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 9-10:15 a.m., ESLC 046, USU Campus.

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  1. Thanks for including this, Ted. I know I’m feeling “mad as hell,” and worry that this may be the first of several removals. Progressives need a strong voice in prime time, and Keith and Rachel are the best in discussing alternative viewpoints with integrity and humor. My partner and I were stunned when we heard Keith announce the news Friday night.

    My fear is that the squeaky wheel, indeed, gets the ax.

    Vicki Englich
    Winona, MN

  2. I always enjoy an adage refreshed well. Yours this morning was perfect.

  3. Hi Ted –

    A personal comment on Keith Olbermann, one of the most annoying people on television today: I agree with pretty much all his politics. I looked forward to his guests (except the comedians in the closing minutes). I can’t stomach his ego, his narcissistic steering of discourse always back to him. It was about his comments, not about the issues themselves, about his feuds with O’Reilly or Beck or whomever, about his forced little jokes to close each interview—in the end, let’s mock our opponents. The guests had to reward him with a chuckle. As offensive as the gun-sighting right, he fed lefty partisanship no less myopically. His phony humility and modesty, and the fealty of his guests, brought it all back to … him. He’s no journalist – he’s a staff-propped popinjay preening himself with current affairs. His comments were fat and pedantic to the point of self-parody – up with more of which I will not put. As you can see I’ve watched a lot of Countdown. My wife and I watched it enthusiastically for a year leading up to November 2008. The magnitude of the news sufficiently minimized Olbermann. After the election when events turned to governing his true self oozed out and our household turned him off. When for whatever reason we occasionally tuned back in we were reminded why we stopped, and wished for more from the guests. We even tuned him in last Friday but clicked away before the sudden announcement at end – Keith seemed a little dyspeptic – and had the thrill of reading surprising news in the paper Saturday morning. All things considered Olbermann was part of the problem. He wasn’t uncivil – just unendurable. One hopes MSNBC keeps the guests coming and that Lawrence O’Donnell doesn’t get too full of himself in Keith’s time slot. I’m so glad Olbermann is gone, for however long the respite lasts.


  4. Such extreme arrogance needed to go. If nothing else, pity the poor colleagues. This will be turned into much that it is not.