Are we so heartless that we let the rich live and the poor die and everybody in between become wracked with fear - fear not of disease but of Deductibles? ... What, on the eternal list of priorities, precedes health? What more obvious role could government have than the defense of the life of each citizen? ...Government's essential role [should be to] facilitate it, reduce its cost, broaden its availability, improve my health and yours... ~ Keith Olbermann in an program-length special comment, "Health Care Reform: Saving American Lives", Countdown 10/7/2009.
Even if you aren't a huge Keith Olbermann like I am, you may have heard that Keith abruptly parted ways with MSNBC on 1/21/2011, ending his highly rated news-commentary program for unspecified reasons. From what I've heard differences of opinion with management were to blame.
When Keith and MSNBC agreed on 2/16/2007 that Countdown would continue to air through the 2012 presidential election - MSNBC president Phil Griffin proclaimed, "Countdown is our signature program" and that, "Keith Olbermann is at the core of MSNBC's current success". With this statement Phil Griffin appeared to acknowledge the fact that MSNBC would be nothing without Olbermann. Before Countdown MSNBC had settled on the idea that they should try to be another CNN. It wasn't until after Keith's program proved so successful that MSNBC decided they should become a Left-leaning alternative to Fox.
Given the fact that the success and growth of MSNBC can be directly attributed to Keith Olbermann, I think Mr. Griffin exhibited extremely poor judgment and total lack of appreciation for everything Keith has done for the network. According to Nielsen, Countdown was the network's top-rated program (with 1.1 million viewers). But, instead of doing whatever it took to keep his star happy, Mr. Griffin was apparently looking for an excuse to jettison Keith. Things came to a head after Keith was suspended for making campaign contributions to several Democrats. Phil Griffin told Keith's manager that they were "at war".
Personally I didn't have a problem with Olbermann's donations. Mr. Olbermann isn't, nor does he pretend to be, a non-partial facts-sans-opinion political reporter. Countdown was a political-commentary/opinion program. Phil Griffin realized that the success of Countdown was due to Keith's decidedly Left-leaning opinions, which is why MSNBC added Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz to their lineup. It is also why they replaced Keith with Lawrence O'Donnell - a self-described "practical European socialist" who reportedly said, "I am a socialist. I live to the extreme left, the extreme left of you mere liberals".
One of the rumors regarding Keith's departure was that the "Comcast honchos did not like Keith's defiance and the way he played in the sandbox" (TMZ 1/22/2011). Comcast purchased a controlling share (51%) in NBC/Universal (MSNBC's parent company) on 1/28/2011. An LA Time Business article from 1/21/2011 says, "conspiracy theorists [are] speculating that Olbermann jumped before he was pushed by his new bosses".
The Comcast/NBC-Universal merger needed approval from the FCC due to the huge media monopoly the union created. The lone FCC dissenter, Democrat Michael Copps said he thought the deal was "damaging and potentially dangerous" because it "opens the door to the cable-ization of the open Internet [and creates] the potential for walled gardens, toll booths, content prioritization, [and] access fees to reach end users". His conclusion was that, "a stake in the heart of independent content production is now very real".
Given the fact that the MSNBC lineup is still very much Left-leaning, I'm going to conclude that Keith did not leave MSNBC because the Comcast bigwigs wanted him gone. That said, I oppose monopolies and am very disappointed that the FCC approved this merger. I believe this merger threatens Net Neutrality and that Mr. Copps' fears will prove to be accurate.
Some of the haters have stated that the reason they dislike Olbermann was because he has a "big ego". According to what I've read so does Phil Griffin, which is why they clashed. It's my opinion that Phil Griffin (for this reason) was a poor choice to lead MSNBC. Whether or not Keith has a "big ego" - I frankly do not care. The only thing that mattered to me was that I found his program highly enjoyable. When I watched Countdown I was convinced that Keith is a very principled, moral and humble person.
I based this conclusion on a number of observations, the primary one being his strong advocating for government intervention in making sure all Americans have access to quality health care. Keith shared with his viewers his dismay that the only reason he was able to pay for his father's health care needs was because of his good fortune. He made it clear he is truly concerned that so many Americans go bankrupt or die for purely financial reasons, and how wrong it is that health care insurance is a for-profit industry (when, in every other industrialized nation health care insurance is not-for profit). This is why Keith used his MSNBC platform to raise money for free health clinics.
Keith Olbermann is a man with deeply held convictions regarding right and wrong. Like myself, he has sided with the political party that best represents his worldview. The Republican Party opposed (and continues to oppose) the social safety net programs championed by (a majority of) the Democratic Party. The Republican Party hates Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and any flavor of health care insurance reform (as illustrated by the Paul Ryan budget).
Because these things require that the wealthy elites whom they represent pay slightly more in taxes. European socialism, which has worked so well for our friends across the Atlantic (citizens of those countries don't go bankrupt due to medical bills) is somehow "evil". I categorically reject the notion that a higher standard of living for everybody is "evil". Over the years (of watching Countdown) Keith has made it clear to me that we are on the same team. This is the team that opposes oligarchy and is working to build a "we" society, not a "me" society.
This brings me to the reason why I composed this post and put up my webpage dedicated to all things Keith. The "Moderate Independent" blogger Willis Hart is one of the Olbermann haters I mentioned earlier. It appears as though one of the primary objectives of this blogger is to relentlessly bash Keith Olbermann. According to this individual, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann is the most biased news program in television history". Biased in favor of a government that acts in the interest of a majority of it citizens and not just the wealthy elites, I say. Which, in my mind, is a good thing.
I did a Google site search and counted a total of 32 anti-Olbermann posts on his blog. The first was on 02/14/2008 and the latest (but undoubtedly not the last) was posted on 05/15/2011. Also, after examining the 32 posts Google returned, I counted a total of 26 unique insults Mr. Hart hurled at Mr. Olbermann (see list below). Is it just me, or does anyone else find the shear volume of disparaging posts and insults more than a little odd? Especially given that many of the posts reference events on specific episodes? Clearly Hart is (or was before it stopped airing on MSNBC) a regular viewer. There are a number of Fox News pundits which I do not like - which is why I don't watch them (not very often, in any case). So why is William obsessed with Keith Olbermann?
He watches, and criticizes Fox pundits like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, but to nowhere near the extent he criticizes Mr. Olbermann. In fact, early on (back when I did not realize the exact extent to which he loathed Mr. Olbermann) I made some comments defending Keith. That resulted in a post critical of both Keith AND myself (8/27/2010). William accused me of not being a free thinker, and asserted that I was a part of "the problem" due to the fact that I only listened to Olbermann - because he reaffirms what I already believe.
To these accusations I say, baloney! While it is true that like Olbermann because I agree with him (or he agrees with me), I also watch and listen to other commentators who invite guests on their programs who disagree with them. People like Thom Hartmann (who Willis has also bashed). I believe discussion, debate and independent investigation are all valuable methods of arriving at the truth. And I also agree that it is a "big part of our problem these days" that some people only listen to political commentators they agree with - and never consider alternate points of view. Especially given the fact that a lot of these pundits are lying to them (Fox Nooze scumbags).
By the way, the "shrine" to Keith is partially tongue-in-cheek. I don't actually "worship" him. Also, the reference to my "man-crush" comes from a comment made by a rabid Liberal-hating Conservative that frequents Hart's blog (a particularly fulsome individual who calls himself "Rusty S"). He accused me of having a "man-crush" on Keith Olbermann (which I do not). I simply admire Keith (for the previously mentioned reasons) and look forward to his return on Al Gore's Current TV on Monday June 20th 7pm Central time.
After Keith was "fired" I'm sure many on the Right rejoiced. On 1/21/2011 Rusty commented, "Looks like Olbermann Leaned Foward and fell out of the building. Comcast takes over NBC, next day Keithie is gone" (and then he added, "Is fat Ed next?"). Well, now "Keithie" is BACK, so in your face! Not only that, but I heard MSNBC paid him his full salary of 7 million dollars for each of the two years remaining on his contract. If MSNBC had a legitimate reason to "fire" Keith, would they have paid him 14 million to NOT do his show?
Regarding his move to Current TV Mr. Olbermann has said, "I wanted to go to a place where journalistic integrity and analytical honesty would never be compromised by corporate synergy. A place where no one would ever proclaim the ultimate dishonesty: that balancing a lie for every truth was somehow fair. I found that place in Current TV. And even though they told me I'd be in charge, and they gave me a title and an equity stake... I have still been delightfully startled at the free hand I've been given to assemble the finest staff ... in television news".
So, mark your calendars for an event you most surely will not want to miss. You can tape Lawrence O'Donnell's program. The new program will still be called "Countdown with Keith Olbermann". According to Keith the show will "retain it's edge and the pointedness of it's commentary". This sounds like a program that Willis will "love to hate" even more (I suspect he'll be riveted to his set every weeknight at 8pm Eastern time). In the meantime, please enjoy my shrine to Keith Olbermann. Please feel free to share your thoughts regarding this post and my shrine. To return to the shrine in the future please click on the picture of Keith Olbermann on my sidebar.
- Insults hurled at Keith Olbermann by Willis Hart
- Blankety-blank (10/22/2009)
- Blowhard (10/02/2009)
- Bush derangement syndrome, sufferer of (01/16/2009)
- Coward, Flat-out (06/14/2010)
- Cowardly (08/17/2010)
- Creep, Total (5/31/2009)
- Creepy (10/22/2009)
- Dishonest (08/17/2010)
- Douche-Bag (9/26/2014)
- Full of shit (09/13/2010)
- Guttersnipe (10/18/2010)
- Ideologue (05/31/2009)
- Mean-spirited (01/16/2009, 08/17/2010)
- Nasty (08/17/2010)
- Numb-nuts (04/17/2009)
- Paranoid (10/22/2009)
- Partisan Hack (4/17/2009)
- Partisan, Over the top (12/28/2010)
- Partisan Stooge (4/19/2009, 09/26/2010)
- Sanctimonious (12/28/2010)
- Self-righteous (12/28/2010)
- Shameless (11/15/2010)
- SOB (11/5/2009)
- Son of a bitch (5/31/2009, 6/13/2009)
- Stooge (3/06/2009)
- Thin-skinned, Increasingly (11/15/2010)
- Thin-skinned lunatic (10/22/2009)
 Keith Olbermann's Special Comment: The Republican Response (a work of satire) by TribeApologist, The Daily Kos 10/8/2009
 Health care reform: Saving American lives - An extended special comment by Keith Olbermann, Transcript from the 10/07/2009 airing of "Coundown".
 Books authored by Keith Olbermann on Amazon.
Video: Senator Al Franken opposed the NBC/Comcast Merger; warns that the merger will lead to higher bills for consumers.