Thursday, December 18, 2014

Keith Olbermann is Gone from Current TV, and the Progressive Movement is Poorer for It

I originally wrote this article back in 2012...

By all accounts I’ve read that don’t come directly from him, Keith Olbermann is a pain in the ass to work with. His exits from ESPN, Fox Sports, MSNBC, and now Current TV all have the same thing in common – in the end, he hates them, and they hate him right back (and if the often anonymous sources are to be believed, for good reason).

That being said, Obermann’s departure from Current TV is terrible for the so-called Liberal Media that supposedly controls America’s communications network. It’s a blow for real journalism, too. What other national new show put stories like the Occupy Movement, the Trevon Martin murder, the Rupert Murdoch Fox News spy scandal, the Obama administration’s constant capitulation to the Republican party (under the guise of “compromise”), and the constant stream of bullshit coming from the Right, night after night, long before the Mainstream media got a clue about what’s happening?
Despite the editorial visits from mediocre comedians, the often inane Sanity Breaks, and the OK-if-you’re-into-that-sort-of-thing “Fridays with Thurber,” Countdown was a critical antidote to the corporate-sponsored news media that dominates America’s airways, a counterpoint that wasn't couched in the guise of comedy or parody. And, like it or not, Olbermann was the driving force. This Special Comment from August 2011, where he reacts to the controversial national debt deal Obama made with the GOP, captures what made him so effective: passion and rage focused by intelligence and eloquence...

There’s no proof that Olbermann’s August 1 editorial had anything to do with the beginning of the first Occupy protests one month later in New York City, but it wouldn’t surprise me if someone, somewhere heard these words and was moved to do take action.

Current TV’s current pundit lineup pales in comparison to what Countdown offered. Eliot Spitzer has all of Olbermann’s ego but none of his charisma. Jennifer Grandholm is too much of a wonk – very few people care about the minutiae of the political process as much as she does, and in the context of a national news show, that’s not a compliment. Cenk Uygur sounds like he would be more at home hosting a morning sports talk radio show.

For all his self-destructive faults, Olbermann was the only national news figure on ANY network who lived up to the journalistic ideals that so many in the media industry claim to admire, and didn’t mind doing it loudly and persistently. In that context, in that incarnation, he will be missed.

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