Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Olbermann Exit

The news of Keith Olbermann's abrupt exit from MSNBC last Friday garnered quite a bit of chatter on all sides of the blogosphere this past weekend, and while I meant to chime in much sooner, I figured better late than never given the amount of posts I've devoted to his various commentaries (special or otherwise) over the years. While initial speculation lingered on Olbermann being forced out in a purge orchestrated by NBC/Universal's new owners Comcast, that one was pretty thoroughly debunked in the intervening 72 hours. The picture that's emerged thanks to the intrepid reporting of Bill Carter (a.k.a. Late Night Man on the Scene), is that the split was welcomed equally by the man himself as the folks signing his cheques.

For me personally, while I agreed with Olbermann on many (though not all) things, and always enjoyed hearing his perspective on the issues of the day, Countdown had long since moved past the "must see" position it once occupied for me. That speaks less to any perceived drop in quality, but is instead testament to the solid block of programming that Olbermann almost singlehandedly ushered onto MSNBC's lineup, whether Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz or Dylan Ratigan or, of course, Lawrence O'Donnell.  While all are ostensibly "liberals," they still represent a spectrum of opinions and points of view that went virtually unrepresented on cable news a mere five years ago.

As to the post-Olbermann spread at MSNBC, I've long been a fan of Lawrence O'Donnell, both for his political commentaries on The Huffington Post as well as his creative work (he shepherded The West Wing following Aaron Sorkin's exit), and I'm glad to see him take over the higher-profile Countdown slot (and the exposure that comes with it).  As to Olbermann, I have no doubt that the brand he's built for himself so successfully over the last eight years will be put to use in new and interesting ways, and I look forward to seeing where he inevitably ends up on the flip-side of his contractually obligated exile.

For a roundup of reactions to Olbermann's departure, click past the jump.

Here's Lawrence O'Donnell from Monday's Last Word, on the impact Olbermann had on the medium and on his own broadcasting career:

Here's Rachel Maddow from Monday:

And lastly, here's Jon Stewart, addressing the Olbermann departure very succinctly before launching into another comedic piece that reminds us what the host served as a contrast against:

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Anonymous said...

Olbermann was still a must see for me. I guess he was to me what Jon Stewart is to others. I will miss him greatly (until his return, in whatever form that will be). While he was sometimes thought of as bombastic, that very quality was a catharsis for me. A way to vert my rage against stupid political hacks. There is a big hole in my TV viewing now (maybe not a bad thing)

Moose Ninja said...

I enjoyed his perspective on things. Even though I wasn't always in agreement with him, I admired his passion and (forgotten) art of incorporating actual facts into his on-air shenannigans.

Heck man, I remember his days at ESPN and thinking "this guy is too. . . big?. . . for this?"

Can't say I'm a Rachel Maddow fan in the least. I know this post has nothing to do with her, but you did mention her name and post her video clip, so that there warrants my ranting opinion of whom I have dubbed "the unfunny, unwatchable one."

She's a silly twat.

Hope that got yer' dander up, Z!

Great post as always.

Amira said...

I was looking forward to a post from you on Olbermann's exit!
I particularly missed him during last night's SOTU coverage, but life (and news) goes on.