On Keith Olbermann

Ken AshfordRight Wing and Inept MediaLeave a Comment

SanFran Gate:

Keith Olbermann just needed to find his voice. He’d been a droll sportscaster, a serious news anchor and a bickering critic of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. But none of those personas really clicked.

Then he found one. A little over a year ago, as the White House fumbled and botched the Hurricane Katrina recovery, Olbermann finally blew up.

He concluded a broadcast of his MSNBC cable news show, "Countdown,” with an indignant rant in the rat-a-tat-tat cadence of his idol, Edward R. Murrow. He called it a "Special Comment.”

And just like that, Olbermann found his voice — the angry everyman. He became a liberal counterpoint to conservative media ranters like O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, and an Internet star, too.

The result has been a cultural earthquake.

"Here’s what happened,” Olbermann said in a phone interview this week. "Five years ago (on Sept. 11), 50 percent of the country went quiet. There was this self-imposed censorship. Suddenly it became unimaginable to criticize the administration. And no one else was brave or stupid enough to say, ‘I don’t remember signing that document.”’

Today Olbermann is hot, in every sense of the word. He likes to say that the first step to creating one of his blistering editorials is to "get pissed off,” and that’s certainly how he sounds.

But there’s something more to it, too. Conservatives may hate his attacks, but no one doubts that he comes across as one of the smarter guys in the room. When he laid into then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Aug. 30, he threw in references to Neville Chamberlain and the policy of appeasement. Let’s see NBC network anchor Brian Williams pull that off.

Not that he would try it.

"Broadcast networks are not interested in the controversy,” Olbermann says.

Well, maybe they’d better start thinking about it.

Read the whole thing.

I’ve found all this to be true.  He is becoming a bit of a cultural phenomenon.  I’ve become aware of people who are not news or political junkies who have turned into Olbermann and heard his "Special Comments" and been moved.  The comparisons to Ed Morrow are common.  He’s got a good gig, and I hope he keeps it up.