Saturday, June 11, 2011

Looking Forward to Olbermann's Return to Countdown on Al Gore's Current TV

Great interview with Keith Olbermann posted in Rolling Stone a few days ago.

As I've written here often over the years, I was no constant fan of Olbermann on MSNBC.  I often found him abrasive, over the top, even trivial (for example, in his critique of 24 as Bush-driven, and in his incessant lampooning of Bill O'Reilly).  But I also found him refreshing, surprising, original, and, at his best, a most needed passionate voice for the progressive point of view.   As he says in the Rolling Stone interview, Olbermann was responsible for putting MSNBC on the map as the progressive counterpoint to Fox's conservativism.

I was therefore not happy when Olbermann was suddenly shown the door at MSNBC earlier this year, by the same or equivalent tone-deaf corporate execs he had dragged kicking and screaming into relevance and eloquence.   And I'm therefore eagerly awaiting Olbermann's return to Countdown on Al Gore's Current TV on June 20.

As Olbermann makes clear in the interview, he does not see Countdown on Current as a graceful swan song - even though Current TV now has at best no more than 10% of any cable all-news audience - but rather as a no holds-barred challenge to Fox, CNN, and MSNBC.   Olbermann's new Countdown will be on at the same time as the old one - 8pm Eastern - which means he'll not only be competing against Bill O'Reilly on Fox, and but against his incisive, keenly rational replacement on MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell.

In many ways, I like O'Donnell more than Olbermann, in particular O'Donnell's targeted logic and real political experience, in place of Olbermann's passionate showmanship.   But if only to punish slow-witted MSNBC for its treatment of Olbermann, and, more, because I think the progressive view can be well served by another powerful voice on another station (Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly still outnumber the progressives on the air), I will be watching and rooting for Olbermann to shake up television, once again, as hold forth from the station run by the man who at very least won the popular vote for President in 2000, and has himself carved out a unique place for himself in our history.
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