Monday, June 20, 2011

Countdown to Keith Olbermann

Stop organizing life around the people who don't get the joke. Fuck them if they don't get a joke ~ Bill Maher (dob 1/20/1956) American stand-up comedian, television host, political commentator, author and actor on the 1/21/2011 episode of his HBO program "Real Time", referring to Keith Olbermann's Worst Person in the World" segment and his departure from MSNBC earlier the same evening.

The detractors of Liberal pundit Keith Olbermann cheered when he announced he was leaving MSNBC on 1/21/2011. Loyal fans such as myself were shocked at the abruptness of his departure. Yes, I was aware of his clashes with management, but I also knew that Countdown was MSNBC's highest rated show, and that Keith still had almost two years left on his contract.

After a few miserable weeks mourning the loss of the awesome progressive pundit word leaked that Mr. Olbermann would be returning to his role as champion of the American people via Al Gore's Current TV. I (metaphorically) jumped for joy upon hearing the news! The only question that remained was HOW LONG would Keith be off the air? MSNBC would probably prohibit Keith from jumping back into the fray for as long as they could; because they knew that the sooner Keith returned the more viewers they would lose; they wanted time to build an audience and acceptance for Keith's replacement, Lawrence O'Donnell. I admit I like Lawrence's show, but I'm going to follow Keith to Current TV.

In case you did not know, Keith makes his triumphant return TODAY (Monday, June 20, 2011) on channel 358 on DirecTV and channels 196 and 406 on Dish Network. The program will still be called "Countdown" and the time slot will also remain the same... 7pm Central time. Be sure not to miss this historic event! I like Lawrence's show OK, but I'll tune into Keith first and catch the repeat of "The Last Word" later.

150 days will have passed since Keith Olbermann announced he was leaving on 1/21/2011 until his return on 6/20/2011. 105 of those days were weekdays on which new episodes of Countdown COULD have aired. Seeing as the name of the program remains the same, I'm assuming that the format will also remain the same. This means fans can look forward to the return of Keith's insightful and passionate "Special Comment" and the intentionally hyperbolic "Worst Person in the World" segment. Regarding the Worst Person segment - his critics seem to not get it. Either intentionally (so they have something to bash Mr. Olbermann for) or because they are just that dense.

Following are some comments regarding the aforementioned segment I pulled from a blog dedicated to hating on Mr. Olbermann, the first from the blog proprietor...

Willis Hart: For years, Keith Olbermann has been doing this idiotic shtick entitled, "Worst Persons in the World". He claims that it was never meant to be taken literally, that it [is] in fact a metaphor. Never mind the fact that the tone of his voice, his self-righteous indignation, etc., made it actually SOUND like he means it... (1/20/2011 AT 4:26pm).

And just recently another commenter on the same blog voiced a similar opinion regarding Keith's Worst Person segment.

Dennis Marks: Olbermann is one of those human cartoons. How can anyone take him seriously at all when he goes on about how someone is the "worst person in the world" for being a talking head on another network who happens to beat him in ratings. [An obvious reference to Bill-O.] (6/18/2011 AT 2:38pm).

The proprietor of Contra O'Reilly, who believes Keith Olbermann to be "a mean-spirited, cowardly, paranoid son of a bitch whose forte is strictly to throw bombs/hyperbole from the comfort of his studio", says Keith Olbermann's Worst Person segment is ad hominem. But Keith Olbermann has made it clear that the title "The Worst Person in the World" is not intended literally and is intentional hyperbole.

Keith Olbermann has explained where the idea came from.

KO: They aren't really the worst persons in the world, of course... The epithet tracks directly to [among others] George Carlin... who startled me decades ago by the simple but irrefutable argument - the astonishing observation hidden inside the safety of a joke - that by the process of ranking, there truly had to be, somewhere, the worst doctor in the world. More terrifying still, he noted, "Somebody has an appointment to see him tomorrow!"...

When I pointed this out to the WTNP Blogger he said, "I have seen many of Mr. Olbermann's worst persons segments and for a lot of them he clearly ISN'T kidding around - he's pissed". This is a prime example of what I was talking about when I suggested that Keith's critics are "just that dense". Only the TITLE of the segment is a "joke", the actual offenses being highlighted are VERY real. The targeted individuals have actually done things which most people (or Liberals, at least) will find objectionable.

The individuals named aren't murders or rapists, so they aren't literally the Worst Persons in the world, but neither are their offenses a "joke". I think anyone who has seen the segment and isn't a idiot should be able to understand what the joke is. But obviously, for whatever reason, the Keith haters still use this against him. I agree with Bill Maher who said, "fuck them if they don't get a joke".

Also, the charge that the Worst Person segment is ad hominem is blatantly false. Wikipedia says that an ad hominem is "an attempt to link the truth of a claim to a negative characteristic or belief of the person advocating it". In the Worst Person segment Keith is highlighting outrageous and despicable things said and done which NEED to be highlighted. has never concluded that anyone is guilty of doing something despicable because, for instance, they're a fat drug-abusing hypocrite (in the case of Rush Limbaugh).

He may have called Rush a fat drug-abusing hypocrite, but that charge was NEVER used to "prove" Rush was the worst person in the world. I think anyone who describes this segment as "ad hominem" doesn't really understand what "ad hominem" means. The Worst Person charges always stand on their own and have never been "proven" with ad hominems.

Finally, there is one additional accusation from Blogger WTNPH that I'd like to address: on 11/23/2010 the Hartster said...

Willis Hart: Edward R. Murrow covered the London blitzkrieg in 1940 - out on those very same London city streets, day after day after day. What, folks, has Mr. Olbermann ever covered (other than his ass, I'm saying)? I mean, seriously here, has he ever even been out of the studio? That, me-buckos, is at least one major distinction between these two news "reporters".

In response I said, "this is, by far, your lamest anti-Olberman argument yet. He hasn't put his life in danger to cover a story, so he isn't a "real" reporter? [Olbermann's program is] a political OPINION show - and a damn fine one at that. Formulating political opinions doesn't require you to put your life in danger. For you to suggest otherwise is completely idiotic".

Also, while Keith is a fan of Edward R. Murrow, he does not consider himself the "reincarnation" of the man (another charge that that has been leveled on the WTNPH blog). Being a fan of someone BUT not emulating their life exactly (even if you happen to work in a similar news-related profession) does not make someone a fraud. When Keith Olbermann started Countdown he said...

KO: Our charge for the immediate future is to stay out of the way of the news.... News is the news. We will not be screwing around with it... As times improve and the war [in Iraq] ends we will begin to introduce more and more elements familiar to my style.

Clearly Keith Olbermann does not view himself as a serious news reporter on par with Edward R. Murrow. He's a pundit who puts forth his opinion regarding the political news of the day. Frankly I believe Mr. Olbermann does a fantastic job in his chosen niche. He does not need to do a damn thing to gain credibility as a serious news reporter because he isn't trying to be a serious news reporter! He's a political pundit, nothing more - not that there is anything wrong with that.

After Keith left MSNBC, Willis claimed that Keith Olbermann's "nightmare has just begun", and that "never again will he ever get a format like this; a show in which he doesn't have to debate people [and can engage in] hit-and-run style journalism". Hey, I acknowledge that Current TV probably has a smaller audience than MSNBC, which has a smaller audience than Fox Nooz. I'm sure the Keith bashers will bring this up frequently following the re-launch of Countdown on the Al Gore (and Joel Hyatt) network. None-the-less WTNPH was dead wrong because KEITH IS BACK - and I'm confident that his presence on the network will boost it's ratings significantly.

My prediction is that hiring Keith Olbermann was a smart move by the Current TV executives that will pay significant dividends.

Note: For the record this post, in tribute to the Worst Person segment, contains some hyperbole. I, for instance, do not truly believe that the re-launch of Countdown is "historic". As to what else is hyperbole versus what I genuinely believe... I'll leave that intentionally ambiguous.

SWTD #83, wDel #5, KO #2.

2 comments:

  1. as for the Olbermann haters not "getting" the worst person segment of the show, part of it is the supporters of the wingnut party seeing their people highlighted night after night and that is embarrassing to them. But what do they expect?? We should leave them alone to do their evil deeds and not talk about it?? Hell NO. They talk about Obama every time he uses the bathroom and doesn't wipe the way they think he should! (I tried to keep it clean, w!)

    Sadly I won't be watching Keith, I have basic cable and am thankful for having MSNBC at least!

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  2. (hey Sue, demand that they put Current in your package!)

    This is the only post I've read today celebrating Keith's return, and you sound almost as excited as I am!

    When you look around the dial and see nothing but posers and hacks from channel to channel, you have to appreciate people like Olbermann and Maddow who tell it like it is. NBC is dropping talent like a drop plane unloading rice to refugees... not sure how long Rachel will hang on in that environment, but I hope if she leaves the folks at Current make an offer. I'm DVRing this first episode! Making a margarita, might even roll a fatty!

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