Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Olbermann saga

If you just can't get enough of the whole Olbermann thing -- his sudden departure from MSNBC last Friday -- be sure to check out the latest from the NYT's Bill Carter (here along with Brian Stelter). It looks like it wasn't really so sudden, at least not to those on the inside:

Many people inside the television industry are astonished that a cable network's highest-rated host, whose forceful personality and liberal advocacy had lifted MSNBC from irrelevance to competitiveness and profitability, would be ushered out the door with no fanfare, no promoted farewell show and only a perfunctory thanks for his efforts.

But underlying the decision, which one executive involved said was not a termination but a "negotiated separation," were years of behind-the-scenes tension, conflicts and near terminations. 


The fact is, Olbermann made MSNBC what it is, which is to say, relevant (and more watched than CNN), and while he may be temperamental, and difficult to deal with, so what? He was one of the very few liberals who responded to Fox News and the rise of conservative media, and the rising extremism of the Republican Party, not by cowering in fear but by fighting back with all the strength of his convictions, with all the strength of justice on his side.

Yes, maybe it was time for him to go, and maybe he was partly responsible for what happened. But we need him back on the air, somewhere, soon.

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  • The sad part of this whole fiasco is that there is no one to replace him, to step into the trenches, to provide a voice and flame of illumination in contrast to the far right -- no balance.

    And, without Olbermann, how many will continue to tune into MSNBC and stay for the rest of the line-up on a regular basis?

    Is this cutting one's nose off to spite one's face? Is this missing sight of the money and influence because no one can play nicely in the sand box? Sometimes, cleaning house gets rid of the baby with the bath-water... and that is never a wise thing to do.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:37 PM  

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