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TV Pundit Keith Olbermann Resigns


 

I thought the on-air personality who resigns on the air and never comes back to the show was something we only see on fictional TV. But tonight it happened on (technically) real TV. Keith Olbermann, MSNBC’s star personality, announced a few minutes ago that this would be his last episode, and NBC confirmed it.

The reasons for his departure will start to be talked about soon, but for now, given the timing, he has to be considered the first casualty of the NBC/Comcast merger.

(Update: Comcast says it had “nothing to do” with forcing him out. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen in response to the merger, though. Also, Olbermann said he was “told” to leave, but it’s still unclear whether this means he was fired or simply that NBC wouldn’t let him stay past this episode once it was decided that he was leaving.)

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I have no idea if the new NBC management wants to move the network to the right, but the idea of MSNBC as a liberal equivalent of Fox News — it wasn’t, but it was the only thing that resembled a liberal U.S. cable news network — seems to be over.

Olbermann’s impact has dulled somewhat since the Bush administration ended, or maybe even before that. Countdown was a fresh and surprising show in the mid-’00s, simply because it was doing something nobody else was doing on U.S. news. Battered by competition from Fox News and reading Bush’s re-election (as well as the disastrous launch of Air America radio in 2004) as proof that the U.S. mostly wanted conservatism, CNN and, yes, MSNBC generally moved to the right, or at least away from having anyone who was too “shrill” in criticizing the Bush administration; you could turn on cable news and see a mix of conservatives and mushy centrists.

I don’t know what Olbermann’s ideology is, or even if he has one, but after Bush got re-elected he recognized that there were a lot of people out there who really didn’t like the Bush administration and wanted to hear “shrill” criticism. So he did it, and people watched — not as many as on Fox, but enough to improve MSNBC’s performance. He was a key figure in making it acceptable to engage in criticisms that many “respectable” pundits dismissed as uncivil, and to criticize Democrats and liberals from the left rather than the right.

I think Rachel Maddow, whom he supported, does it better, partly because she actually is an open ideological liberal and therefore, like many Fox pundits, she has actual policy positions you can agree or disagree with; Olbermann’s schtick is largely about emotion. But he really did do some important work in helping to revive the possibility of actual liberal media, as opposed to “the liberal media.”


 
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TV Pundit Keith Olbermann Resigns

  1. I am delighted this blunder bust, loud mouth is gone.

    • I wish you wingers could speak English.

    • Too bad you didn't learn anything watching Countdown- you know, like the meaning of words, or how to spell.

    • So maybe it's nice for you but I'm alarmed at the thought that conservative Comcast has begun to remodel MSNBC into a more Foxlike network. That is truly a frightening prospect and should be for anybody of any political stripe. The idea that there might be no room for progressives and liberals in a democratic nation should strike terror in the heart of all Americans and the fact of Keith's leaving doesn't calm my fears of that but feeds them.

    • Its too bad MSNBC has made this decision, Keith was the main reason why i first tuned in to you guys 6 yrs ago, you guys have made a negative decision and will lose moderate minds that can't stand people like this irrelevant person nancy, He speaks for alot of people, This is Stephen Hopkins in Hawaii and i welcome any contact and will defend Mr. Obermann to anyone.

      • What I find amusing is that he criticized as being 'too emotional'. This traditionally has been used to sideline women. If there's room for two Fox's, America is truly doomed. Fall of Rome analogies will be exhausted.

    • As they would.

  2. Who's next? Shutting down dissent, RAdio done, TV soon, Internet next.

  3. This is the most upsetting News in Years. This is becoming a CLASS country. Today Keith. Tomorrow pushing NJ Fatty Chirstie toward the WHITE HOUSE. They are White washing the Nation. SAD SAD SAD. When need balance. If you don'e like then turn your station. This is scary times. The FLOODS gates are open. The Bell has rung, shi is flying. I will follow you Keith push forward you have a strong following. KIM

  4. Let us know where you go. We will follow. It has been a fun ride. Will miss the show. It is getting harder and harder to find more left focused talk. Even the President seems to be sliding center and beyond.

  5. I almost choked when you said you didn't know what Olbermman's ideology was !!!! Anyone watching his show has absolutely no question which side of the fence he sits on . If you can't even be honest with yourself and your readers about such an important detail , how can you expect anyone to take your reporting seriously !!! Give me a break!!!

    • Well, ideology is different from party affiliation. I'm pretty sure he votes Democratic. I have no idea what he thinks about on most policy issues. Whereas with Maddow, or most conservative pundits, you know not only what party they like but what policies they would like to see enacted.

      • From your own blog post: "He was a key figure in making it acceptable to engage in criticisms that many “respectable” pundits dismissed as uncivil, and to criticize Democrats and liberals from the left rather than the right."

        I think it's pretty clear, in part judging from who is most sad to see him leave, and from your own remarks, that he occupied the left side of the political spectrum.

        • What's left wing? In the U.S. universal health care is considered socialism.

          • Left-wing is left of right-wing, Jan. God.

          • To you left/right is written in stone somewhere, but to most of us it remains subjective.

          • Was there a point there, or are you just up to your old left-wing agitations?

            For some reason, the left never wants to say that they're left, and that they're proud of it. Why? Never mind.

        • This just implies that he sometimes criticized Democrats from the left, not that he always did or did so in a consistent manner. "Ideology" suggests an entire theory of government and politics, rather than simply whom one votes for. It is perfectly reasonable to say that Olbermann was Democratic-leaning, but that we do not know what his true ideology was (e.g., if given the opportunity, would he have supported Canadian-style health care or would that have been a bridge too far?).

          • It's been my experience that conservatives are proud to be conservatives, but liberals aren't proud of their leftist leanings, or don't want to appear as though they have any.

            Just from this blog post and comments section it's quite clear that he was on the left. He only attacked conservatives. Left-wingers love the guy. Yet here you are trying to tell us that he had no ideological bone to pick. Why is that?

  6. How could you fire Keith?!! He was worth watching. All we get from CNN and Fox is right and disgustingly right. Keith was great and you are going to lose a ton of watchers. This was dumb, dumb dumb. __What did you do, knuckle under to rightest Comcast? You should be ashamed!! BRING KEITH BACK NOW!!!!!____And quit with the prison shows. Nobody watches them.

  7. There is a TV God. Good riddance. Hopefully Madcow will me next!

    • you know, if Maddow is disliked by people like you, then that's a point in her favour.

  8. I like watching Keith's show it is very informative and is very straight forward unlike Fox News which many of you foolishly watch even though you know you are being lied to makes me think of the war in Iraq a war started basically on lies and was proven so yet we continue to fight there JUST DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE.

    I respect Keith's journalism so much that I got hooked onto his show i was flipping through the channels a year and a half ago seeing what all the major news networks are talking about off course Fox news just made me switch the channel right away then same thing happened with CNN but not as swift as fox I then turned to MSNBC watched the whole episode of "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" and was immediately hooked not only can I see the true sense of journalism from this guy I can also see what he was bringing to the show was the Truth something foxnews is the opposite of.

    I am very disappointed with Keith's decision cause hes one of the last few real journalists around that will tell it like it is much less so with Jon Stewart who although chooses the satirical route with his show yet he tell you the news without covering up the truth like foxnews yes foxnews. One thing that comes to mind that may be the reason for his sudden unfortunate departure might be the Gabrielle Gifford's shooting and the not surprising post response from our very patriotic politicians. I couldn't be more disgusted when Sarah Palin and the likes thereof acted like they had no accountability for what happened even though she proudly used terms like RELOAD! I can see why Keith might not want to be any part of such a corrupt and atrocious system of government where blame is passed onto each other instead of claiming accountability like Keith did and surprisingly John McCain. Although they are not directly responsible for the Arizona shooting they stood up and said something out of their hearts instead of their behinds like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, & Rush Limbaugh have been doing.

    I wish Keith all the best kind of like how i did the same with Dan Rather who was also a journalist I had huge respects for its a shame how we just keep sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss where the truth is very hard to come by its all up to Jon Stewart Now.

  9. Good riddance. He's a total misogynist and the airwaves are better off without him. Hope he stays gone.

    • 'Misogynist'?? Noooo

    • Misogynist? I've never gotten that impression.

      Examples?

      • Why encourage them? Why? Why? What in your experience makes you think this poster will respond with something pertinent and thoughtful and on point?

        • Fair enough, you make a solid point. I've certainly seen little of value from him ever, on any topic.

          But his silence alone is illustrative. And if he were to reply, it would probably be to quote Olbermann saying something snarky about Sarah Palin, the Holy Perpetual Victim of the American right. And that would be illustrative too.

          But it would probably be of zero value. I've wasted my time with this one before.

          • My "silence" is illustrative of nothing more than a busy Saturday not spent at the computer.

            The examples are numerous and easy to find, whether it's calling women a "mashed up bag of meat with lipstick", suggesting that female presidential primary candidates be beaten to death, or stalking or abusing female co-workers. There's lots more than that. You know how to use google. I'm not your monkey.

            Your problem is that you believe that only conservatives are capable of misogyny. I can't help you on that score.

          • Well, I'm a woman and I've never heard him be mysogynist, but I stand to be corrected if you could provide some proof. I don't feel the onus on on me to back up your claim. The right wing has not gone out of it's way to stand up for our rights, so you'll pardon us if we don't think you have our back.

          • Google it. "Keith Olbermann misogyny". No quotes. You'll find all the examples above and more on the first search page. Even his supporters acknowledge it.

          • What do you think I am – your secretary?

          • Wow – good points on Olbermann, thanks for the tip. I'll never shed a tear for that hatemonger Malkin, but there are other examples and I think your point re: Olbermann is fair.

            As for "illustrative" silence, I think it was "illustrative" last week when you claimed that the "left" participates in as much violent rhetoric as the "right". You quoted an unknown regional columnist and challenged me to quote Beck, Savage and Limbaugh. When I did, you scuttled off.

            "Your problem is that you believe that only conservatives are capable of misogyny"

            This is too stupid to merit a response.

          • Fair enough. Your answer surprises me, most of you lefties laugh off this kind of stuff when it's pointed out against one of your own. I retract that statement.

            I asked you 3 times to post examples in that instance, and scuttled off when you didn't bother. If you posted them later, what took you so long?

            But then again, I hold out Olbermann as a counter example to you as well of the kind of hate that's prevalent. You didn't know about any of this stuff. Fair enough…I'll hazard a guess you don't read many right wing blogs so I don't hold that against you. Why do you think the mainstream gives a man who has such a serious problem with women so much leeway? Do you think Beck or Limbaugh would be given the same leeway?

  10. I am saddened by this news because Keith had the extraordinary ability to synthesize information and present the gist of it to viewers in a very astute and thought-provoking way. He spoke the truth as he saw it which resonated with me. I hope he resigned because he really felt the need to go, not because he was forced out because of the merger and the network's wish to participate in covering truth up.

  11. kEITH, WE WILL FOLLOW YOU.

  12. i will miss olbermann. his show was great comedy and also a delightful demonstration of how awful the liberal media had become.

  13. I must protest. We need the Oldermanns and Madows since God knows we have too much of the other nonsensical blather.

  14. The right hated him, his audience was all left,

    his hateful (yes hateful) rhetoric against conservatives was among the most repugnant.

    He was a raving hateful leftist, which is why the media gave him a pass. He was more or less on their team.

    He spewed the "correct" form of hate.

    The kind of hate that is so overlooked it is barely even noticable to the left.

    That the usual far leftist commenters here lament his going off the air says so much about our…..

    tolerant progressive left.

    • Oh Kathy, when you chastise the right for it's hate as well, then we'll listen.

  15. People kill me! (Oops maybe I shouldn't use such harsh language the politically correct police might come and get me) The left want to say that the media is controlled by the right, the so-called right want to say the media is controlled by the left. The perceived bias is relative to what ever your point of view maybe. Keith Olbermann a journalist? Are you serious, he is no more a journalist than Sean Hannity. Most of these cable news commentators are nothing more than glorified entertainers who are pushed up by these major media outlets as distractions to real journalism. People need to stop relying on these loud mouth pseudo entertainers from these so-called un-bias news outlets and research the information for themselves. The majority journalist today are nothing but glorified emotional pied-pipers slanted to their relative position of truth, which is more often a warp presentation of the truth! Good ridanncce to Keith Olbermann! If these news outlets, especially the cable networks MSNBC, CNN, and Fox want to really make a statement get real journalist that report the truth and leave their individual slants at the door.

    • The generation that gave us Peter Mansbridge and Peter Jennings will soon be gone. The journalistic dictum that today's so called "journalists" violate today is that the journalist should never be part of the story. However, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, as well as Keith Olbermann, are the story. In the words of Marshall MacLuhan: "The medium is the message."

    • Todd & Tony, you are both so right. Glenn Beck even called himself a "rodeo clown". These American newspeople don't try even pretend they are objective. Sometimes they state beliefs that are so ridiculous that I wonder if they are even serious. When Ann Coulter suggested Muslim people should take flying carpets instead of airplanes, it occured to me – she doesn't believe the things she is saying. She says these things to sell books and get airtime. The problem is that there are people out there who believe that these celebrity newspeople are serious. They eat up this stuff. MSNBC is not quite as obnoxious but their bias is just as blatant. I always feel the CBC is a little left leaning but CTV is better balanced.

  16. He'll move on to the Huffington Post, MoveOn.org., Perez Hilton or anyone of a hundred Canadian newspapers. One and all bastions of objective journalism.

  17. The denial and rage on display here are delicious.

    • Well, there's not much one can do about chet. He is entitled to his rage and opinions.

    • From what I can tell by looking at you, your problem is you think everything is delicious.

  18. For a serious and enlightening perspective on the Olbermann event, please see "Hope 'n' Change" http://bit.ly/fcEE7W

    • Thanks for more proof — as though more were needed — that conservatives are (with precious few exceptions) incapable of political humor.

      • Actually, it was a pretty accurate satire of his style of commentary… the comic strip was pretty lame though. A cheap take-off on one of the oldest jokes in the world.

  19. The same thing that happened to Keith Obermann happened to Ed Schultz and Randi Rhodes. Liberals who get too loud in the United States end up being shown the door. Talk radio in the US is dominated by neo-cons like Rush Limbaugh. Air America, which gave the world Schultz and Rhodes, ended up having to fold for lack of listeners and sponsors. MSNBC would rather let itself be emasculated than offend anybody, with the result that Glenn Beck and Sean Hanratty rule the television waves.

  20. What a tragedy for all except the Right Wing Morons who were his critics!!! The man can write. His special comments were brilliantly done. If MSNBC is going Right wing, they will not have me as a viewer!!! If and when he resurfaces, that's where I will be watching. Certainly not the crap shows about prisons etc. Shame on you MSNBC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Keith burned his bridges at ESPN in the 1990s, and then with his first go-around at MSNBC from 1996-98, followed by his failed stint (and more torched bridges) at Fox Sports. That's what Olbermann does. That's what he's always done because that's who he is — an incredibly self-destructive personality due to an ego that alienates his bosses and co-workers, irregardless of his ideology (not that ideology and Comcast's purchase of NBC may not have been a factor, but clashing egos played a far bigger role).

    Olbermann and Glenn Beck had the only two cable shows that went one hour with no dissenting viewpoints allowed. That may make your followers happy, if you're a conservative in Beck's case, or if you're a liberal in Keith's case. But in both cases what it does is eventually create an uncontrollable 800-pound gorilla. Why should Keith have to listen to criticism from his bosses if he can say anything he wants on-air without ever being asked to defend his point of view by any guests? Even Hannity puts people on who disagree with him and his Fox News show's virtually unwatchable because of all the softball questions he tosses at his conservative guests (the only time it is watchable is when Hannity is forced to defend his claims by the occasional liberal panelist).

    Allowing a talking head to say anything without ever having to face on-camera criticism just breeds a hothouse of meglomania that results in the battle over campaign contributions Olbermann had with Phil Griffin last fall that led to his suspension, and eventually, to his departure (my guess is Beck and Fox News will be heading for the same nasty divorce a few years down the line because Beck is developing into the same sort of Louie XVI Sun King as Olberamann when it comes to telling his bosses to pound sand. But Beck's only been on the air for two years on Fox compared to Olbermann's seven, so he's still a little ways from the Point of No Return).

    • Steaming pile of "let's forgive all the BS–after all, it's entertaining." Can we please stop rewarding malodorous liars? Why do they deserve attention at all? Because they feed our need to feel superior? Superior to whom?

  22. Without checking the context of the above, I would agree that some of these statements are sexist in nature. But there is a line between sexism and misogyny. None of this is advocating violence.

    There is a world of difference between saying that the news is "chickified" and saying that "someone should take Hillary Clinton into a room, and only he comes out", or suggesting that a women being punched in the face "is not the worst thing that's been done to her face" while putting up a graphic calling her a slut. That's far beyond anything you listed above.

    • Assuming Olbermann said those things, you're right, that's worse than those Limbaugh quotes and completely indefensible.

      But seriously, you keep making these claims that Limbaugh and Beck would never say hateful things or call for violence, and that if they did, they would never get away with it. I suggest that you need to seek a wider variety of sources.

      Beck: "I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out — is this wrong? I stopped wearing my What Would Jesus — band — Do, and I've lost all sense of right and wrong now. I used to be able to say, "Yeah, I'd kill Michael Moore," and then I'd see the little band: What Would Jesus Do? And then I'd realize, "Oh, you wouldn't kill Michael Moore. Or at least you wouldn't choke him to death." And you know, well, I'm not sure."

      Limbaugh: "I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough so we can have two on every campus—living fossils—so we will never forget what these people stood for"

      Savage: "Smallpox in a blanket, which the U.S. Army gave to the Cherokee Indians on their long march to the West, was nothing compared to what I'd like to see done to these people"

      These three blowhards dominate American airwaves, reaching ~50M people per week. Olbermann was lucky to reach 1M viewers per week. And I *think* he's the only national figure on the left with a record like this.

      Again, I don't disagree with you about Olbermann, and thanks for making it clear just how obnoxious he is. But I think you're missing the overall picture of hateful and violent rhetoric in the US.

      • Olbermann reached about 1M per night.

        But you and I can argue about this till we're blue in the face (or fingers as the case may be) and it doesn't amount to a hill of beans. You bring up Michael Moore…I could take your approach and excuse any slurs made against that obnoxious twit, as you did for the slurs against Malkin, but I won't. Beck should not have said what he said.

        Look at their reputations in general. Limbaugh and Beck are regularly villified by the mainstream. You would think that they were the devil himself. Olbermann gets to spout stuff like this, on and on over the years, and Anderson Cooper calls him "a pretty fair talent" when discussing his departure, while agreeing that someone will hire him quickly because of said talents. He calls him controversial, but doesn't say why. This is what I'm talking about when I say Olberman gets leeway.

        But I refuse to take this argument about violent rhetoric seriously until the mainstream demonstrates that they are not being partisan about it. The only reason we are talking about violent rhetoric was because the media saw an opportunity to tie Palin to the Giffords shooting and hurried to do so before the evidence that her rhetoric had nothing to do with it emerged, as they knew it would.

        • Got it – you refuse to change your view of the issue until the media comes around to your view of the issue.

  23. Another classy commie 'raising the debate'.

  24. David Frum would be an excellent choice to fill his time spot. Give the conservatives a show on MSNBC who's incredibly smart, and is willing to call the right on their own hypocrisy and partisanship.

  25. BOYCOTT…..BOYCOTT……BOYCOTT,,,,BRING OBERMAN BACK

  26. MSNBC doesn't need the Comcast threat in the background.

    Consider the shabby treatment of Phil Donohue and Ashleigh Banfield for
    its' courage under feeble fire. Liberal indeed.

  27. They been the age of reason, the age of enlightenment, and so forth. Oberman's resignation just affirms and continues our Age of Ignorance.

  28. Oh no boo hoo

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