Keith Olbermann abruptly gets the boot from the anchor’s chair, and already the news scene in America is all the worse for it.
I have no use for the ignorance and above-it-all piousness of those who would deride him as the liberal answer to Bill O’Reilly. For one thing, Olbermann was never hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit for telling a girl he wanted to tickle her vagina with falafel.
Olbermann’s critics would charge him as narcissistic, bombastic, melodramatic and self-important. He could be all of those things at times, some more often than others. He clearly saw himself as the modern day heir to Edward R. Murrow’s throne, as a voice speaking truth to power, the lone dissident standing tall against a crushing wave of injustice.
Much more often he could be literate, engaging, eloquent, uncompromising, funny and honest, and he will always have to his credit the distinction of being the only major newscaster with the foresight and fortitude to yell STOP during the execution and immediate “Mission Accomplished” aftermath of the Orwellian-named “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Olbermann’s relentless campaign demanding accountability from our government was cut whole cloth from the Murrowian tradition.
In the cacophonous quagmire of cable news, where interchangeable talking heads drone or bellow the latest talking points from the beltway or the heartland, Keith Olbermann was every bit the iconoclast: alternatively snarky and sincere, whimsical and weighty, deadpan and dead-on. Here was someone who ran the gamut, who could break down the latest ridiculous YouTube video with the inimitable snark and slickness he perfected in his SportsCenter days, who could share with you pains suffered and inspirations felt during the last days of his father’s struggle with colon cancer, who could just as easily end a show with a blistering evisceration of a target as he could with a grandfatherly reading of a fable.
I proudly claim his style, warts and all, as an influence on my own in writing this blog. I strive for candor, I aim to entertain, I make an effort to inform. I take no prisoners, and I can go too far. I like to think I’ve hit on some genuine erudition here and there. I’m
always sometimes full of myself. I may have even gotten a thing or two wrong along the way. (maybe)
For a long time now Countdown With Keith Olbermann was a weeknight mainstay for me. I’d tune in at 8:00 PM to learn, to laugh, to get angry, to be heartened. Tonight was the last time I got to do that. In typical Olbermann fashion his sign-off was rife with gallows humor and the idiosyncratic references and experiences he’s picked up along the path of life.
I will miss him very much. At least he’s still got a blog.