Olbermann’s Exit

Rich Trzupek is a veteran environmental consultant and senior advisor to the Heartland Institute. He is the author of the new book Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry (Encounter Books).


Now that Keith Olbermann packed up his one man hate show and hit the road again, the far left will be hard-pressed to find someone who can spew out progressive vitriol with anything close to the same consistency. And make no mistake, it was Olbermann’s ability to hate with passion night after night that made him such a darling of the far left. All of the leftist talk about “toning down the rhetoric” is just that: talk, intended to silence the most effective voices on the right. The hypocrisy of their position is evident in the fact that Countdown was the highest rated show on MSNBC and, it can be argued, but for Olbermann the network would have folded. Although  KO’s ratings never came close to those of his nemesis Bill O’Reilly over at Fox, he did enough to keep the network limping along. The popularity of a guy who – until very recently – offered viewers a daily “worst person in the world” segment was all the proof one needs to show that hateful, strident rhetoric sells on the far left.

Oddly, it was Olbermann’s success that created the conditions that led to his abrupt dismissal. Both Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell owe their positions at MSNBC to Olbermann and those two, along with Ed Schultz, have built up a sufficient base of viewers they can call their own. This is turn allowed management to get rid of Olbermann without having to worry about suffering too much of a hit in the ratings wars.

Ironically, it wasn’t the continuing stream of venom that Olbermann spewed on a nightly basis that got him canned. Nor was it his blatant partisanship. Rather, it seems that his bosses couldn’t stand dealing with the man any longer. Olbermann has always been described as someone who is difficult to work with and, given the narcissism that he displays to the public on a regular basis, that’s not too difficult a charge to believe.

It’s reasonable to expect that Olbermann will be off the air for a while, for whatever agreement that he and MSNBC came to in order to buy out the last two years of his contract, the deal surely included provisions for Olbermann to refrain from taking another job in the media for some period of time. The far left is already lamenting Olbermann’s departure from the scene and I’ll submit that conservatives and libertarians should lament it as well. There are few better examples of over the top, out of control, hate-filled leftists than Keith Olbermann. KO never tried to sugar coat his radical views or to disguise his contempt for anyone who might dare to disagree with him. He exposed leftist thought for what it truly is in other words, in a far more revealing way than your typical “stealth progressive” working at CNN and the big three networks.

As annoying as Olbermann’s rants were, they also served to disabuse the notion that MSNBC was anything approaching an unbiased media outlet. His attacks against then candidate, now Senator, Scott Brown before the Massachusetts special election in 2009 were classic examples of Olbermann unhinged. Brown was and is – at best – a very middle of the road of the Republican and – at worst – a RINO on a lot of issues. Certainly a guy like Olbermann would be expected to oppose Brown in the special election because at the time it appeared that Brown’s election would effectively kill Obamacare. But, for Olbermann to call Brown racist, sexist, homophobic, an abuser of women and to basically portray him as the craziest far right reactionary the nation has ever seen was patently ludicrous. That episode was another example of Olbermann’s blatant partisanship as much as it was his ideological fervor. More than anything, KO was trying desperately to achieve a partisan end: retaining “Ted Kennedy’s seat” for the political party that Olbermann loves. It was such a ridiculously strident performance that even Jon Stewart called Olbermann out afterwards.

Olbermann’s successor, O’Donnell, along with Maddow and Schultz are as every bit true believers in leftist dogma as KO is, but I doubt that any of MSNBC’s new “big three” will have the same sort of appeal or success that Olbermann enjoyed. O’Donnell usually alternates between seeming sounding befuddled and disinterested and whatever passion he does bring to the table from time to time seems manufactured, as though he’s remembering his producer’s instructions to “up the energy level”. The combination of Maddow’s permanently affixed smirk and her smarmy, condescending style make for a ghastly, almost unwatchable show. I suspect that there’s a significant portion of true believers on the far left who – though they might agree with Maddow’s positions in almost every particular – cannot stomach listening to her explain those positions. As for Ed Schultz, one could reasonably expect to find his picture in the dictionary under the definition of the word “blowhard”. Schultz isn’t going to dazzle anyone with the power of his intellect, even among those with whom he aligns himself politically. Leftists love to believe that they’ve got the super-smart on their side, a characteristic that a slick pseudo-intellectual like Olbermann played up to masterfully. Schultz’s “everyman” persona, on the other hand, isn’t likely to have much staying power on the left. In the long run, Schultz will eventually become another intellectually-challenged novelty act on the left, much like Bill Maher.

Thus, while it’s unlikely that Olbermann’s departure means the end of MSNBC anytime soon, it may very well signal the beginning of the networks slow demise. It’s hard to imagine someone else bringing the same mixture of passion, showmanship and ideological commitment to the table. Ultimately of course, Olbermann was a fool. He wasted his talent in order to prop up an unsustainable political cause and to feed his monumental ego. His run at MSNBC followed the pattern of a classic Greek tragedy and, as is always the case in a Greek tragedy, his ultimate downfall can be expressed in a single word: hubris.

  • LaD

    A typical right wing tactic. Accuse an opponent with your own sins , bad natured, hateful ways and …
    Or is it a biblical thing? The splint in the eye yoour enemy a beam in your own?

    And now you will attack me for getting this all wrong and that it's the so called "socialists" (ha! there ARE none in the States!) that are the hatefull ones etc etc . What a waste of energy.
    I wonder why?

    • Gary from Jersey

      Yours is a bizarre form of infantile paranoia. Get help. The real world’s passing you by.

    • Kenett

      You're an idiot. Please go away.

    • Jim

      Lad,
      Your nmae certainly fits because you obivously don't have the intelligence of a grown man. You are a moron.

  • http://apollospaeks.townhall.com ApolloSpeaks

    THE ASTONISHING AIR AMERICA/KEITH OLBERMANN "COINCIDENCE

    After close to six years of struggling to compete with Rush Limbaugh and Conservative talk radio, and coming just two days after Scott Brown's shocking victory over Kennedyism in Massachusetts, the Air America Radio Network announced its dissolution and demise. The date was January 21, 2010 exactly one year to the very day when Keith Olbermann would call it quits on MSNBC. Amazingly, Air America began broadcasting on March 31, 2004 with the Al Franken Show. Amazing beacuse Air America's launch date fell on the first anniversary of Keith Olbermann's roll out of Countdown…..

    Click my name and continue reading.

  • Huffer115

    KO could be a very successful commentator, if it were not for his lack of logic and common sense! He has well groomed good looks going for him but then good looks are just skin deep. He has never learned how to place himself in another persons shoes. He, and all the other Marxist left winger's, have never actually lived in a dictatorial society that coddles the elite at the expense of the masses.
    These people sit on the same branch they are trying, so hard, to saw from the tree. When they crash to the ground, they look amazed that it happened and will blame the conservatives for not propping up the branch…!

  • Wesley69

    I feel no remorse at seeing Olbermann. Nor would I feel sorry if MSNBC had to fold up shop. It is the Leftist media, the newspapers, TV,s three major networks that are the attack dogs for this administration. That a majority of Americans listen to the Fox network and Conservative Talk Radio indicates why the Left wants the Fairness Doctrine reimposed. They want to force viewers to listen to their newsspeak. They are the ones who lost the most entertaining voice of their insanity.

    When John Lennon's Double Fantasy came out, listeners found that a John song was followed by a Yoko Ono song, then a John song, then another Yoko Ono song. This was done so that people would have to listen to Ono to get through the album. Like many listeners, I would get up and move the phonograph needle over Ono's track to the next Lennon track. To this day, I have never heard the Ono tracks.

    The point is that Americans pick what they want to hear politically. We don't like things being forced upon us. We make our own decisions and don't need some elite telling us what we should or shouldn't listen. So, Maddow, O’Donnell and Schultz, I hope you fill Olbermann's big shoes. If you don't I won't sweet it. I'll be watching Fox News anyway.

    • Questions

      Me too!! I only listened to the John tracks ("Watching the Wheels," "Starting Over," etc. but I never really listened to the Yoko tracks. I still can't remember a title to her songs on that record.

  • Wesley69

    I feel no remorse at seeing Olbermann leave. Nor would I feel sorry if MSNBC had to fold up shop. It is the Leftist media, the newspapers, TV’s three major networks that are the attack dogs for this administration. The vitriolic rhetoric is to be found there. Olbermann was the main man when it came to that. Such a pity that the Left lost this champion of the nasty word, a gifted orator of their insanity.

    That a majority of Americans listen to the Fox network and Conservative Talk Radio indicates why the Left wants the Fairness Doctrine reimposed. They want to force viewers to listen to their newsspeak.

  • Sprinklerman

    I cannot think of a better example of a "useful idiot". Good riddance.

    • StephenD

      You're right of course, but there are still plenty out there. I happened upon a George Lopez stand-up comedy act. It was disgusting in its partisanship. Anyone that didn't vote for Sotomayor for the Supreme Court was racist against Latinos. You couldn't be against her record or self-proclaimed superiority ("…a wise Latino woman rather than a white man…."), you MUST be against her because of race. This same "comedian" gets an invite to the W.H. Slinging Sh*t for the W.H. gets rewarded.

  • alan g

    Maybe KO will be picked to replace Robert Gibbs as Obama’s press secretary. It all makes sense now.

  • USMCSniper

    ALBANY, N.Y. — MSNBC pundit Keith Olbermann, who spotlights misbehavior nightly with his "Worst Person in the World" recognition, owes New York state for unpaid business taxes, according to a tax warrant notice. Olbermann, the host of "Countdown," owes New York $2,269.50, according to a tax warrant obtained by The Associated Press. State Tax and Finance Department spokesman Tom Bergin said the debt recorded against the TV host's Olbermann Broadcasting Empire Inc., based in Los Angeles, is still open.

  • tah73

    Ed Schultz makes Olberman sound like a Reagan republican. One down, hundreds to go.
    Loved his Worst Person of the world. Rapists and drive by shootings, child molesters and political beheadings. But the Worst person in the World? Glen Beck, of course.

    • Questions

      True enough. Ed Schultz is even further over the top than Olbermann. I saw him live at a Rev. Al Sharpton event a year or so ago (in his element, so to speak) and he was screaming, raving mad. Big Ed could have passed for Rev. Jim Jones, so great was his desire to combat "racism" among his fellow whites.

  • BLJ

    Olberman is a bitter, angry man. He fancies himself a second Edward R. Murrow. I am sure someone will be stupid enough to hire him at some other media outlet.

  • Thomas Stork

    MSNBC is an interesting network. They have basically sold their sole to the far left, but at the same time they can't really go back now. Republicans and more right of center individuals watch Fox. That is why Glenn Beck didn't get his current level in popularity until he got a show on Fox. We live in a partisan news age and when it comes to Cable news Fox has won. MSNBC will be attractive to far left individuals, but is a dying network. There likely won't be MSNBC in a few years. Some basic cable packages have quit carrying it.

  • debarrio

    Now it's just KO, his mother, and Precious Perfect. A sad ending to a pitiful existence.

  • USMCSniper

    When he appeared at NFL broadcasts, He has no mind for the game, is completely inept at highlights, and the banter between him, the NFL explayer commentators, and Bob Costas is awlward and completely forced. Also, the "Worst Persons in the NFL" thing is lame. He's a candy ass loudmouth, not a football guy, and he had to go there too.

    • BS77

      NOt to worry KO will never replace Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, John Madden or any of the other colorful NFL experts and fan favorites. Why he was put in a commentator role for NFL is beyond me….. Doubt we will see him next season…..

      • Martel64

        No, Baseball was always the sport he's supposedly a big know-it-all on, so watch out! MLB might allow the megalomaniac to reappear on some of their broadcasts,like NBC and FOX used to, from the mid '90s to about 2000.

  • QSuzy

    I'm glad he'[s gone, couldn't stand his bitchiness. I hope the other bitchy entertainer, Sean Hannity, will also part soon. I like O'Reilly, Schultz, Mathews, Cabuto and the most appealing anchor on Fox News, Shepard Smith.

  • "gunner"

    i'm fortunate, i've never watched or listened to any of these people, and now i still won't have to. goodbye keith, i never knew you, nor cared to.

  • BethincorruptMD

    Great news, another idiot off the air… Don't worry Olbie baby, Teddy Turner will hire ya. He has a motto, :if you're an idiot, you're the person for him"! Good luck clown !
    My very very worst wishes..

  • BS77

    Keith Olbermoron has left the building. Anyone notice?

  • Jay Howard

    Yea, I'm so glad KO is out! Now I can listen to Glenn Beck and Hannity and Rush without fear that I might be accidentally swayed into believing the wrong things. I'm so totally dependent on the right-wing talking heads for my opinions, and more importantly, what to hate, what to like, that anyone with strong opinions tends to influence me.

    So thank GOD Olberduddy is gone. One less influence to confuse me. Heaven forbid I ever read a book or even look up a word in the dictionary! Heck no! Why bother when I know that my pals at fox news and AM radio have my best interests at heart. Especially when they try to sell me gold coins all the damn time. It's not because they're paid to sell that crap, they're just looking out for my economic interests in the coming socialist economy. And you'd better do the same!

    My favorite comment:

    "He, and all the other Marxist left winger's, have never actually lived in a dictatorial society that coddles the elite at the expense of the masses. "

    HAHAHA! Holy jumpin jehovah! Whichever critical thinker wrote this apparently hasn't been paying attention to the recent tax battle (in which the dems caved) that protected the richest 1% in the US…. AT THE EXPENSE OF ALL THE REST OF US. This is the truly strangest issue for the "right wing" (whatever that really means anymore), because cutting taxes DOES NOT A BALANCED BUDGET MAKE.

    The talking heads (including KO and all the media blowhards) have you guys so mixed up on what it means to be a "conservative" that they just hand down marching orders and no one questions a damned thing. Way to be a bunch of tools.