John Walker's Electronic House

Olbermann: The Next Level

by on May.15, 2008, under Television

Olbermann’s position is interesting. Maddeningly, as soon as he gained any popularity (about two years ago) absolutely everyone stopped capping the programme for the rest of the world to see, and MSNBC’s site chops it into fractured, confusing lumps. So the only way we get to see what he’s doing are through his occasional Special Comments when they appear on YouTube.

I’ve posted a bunch of these, along with 900 million other bloggers, and they’re all wonderful. But it’s interesting to see how much further he’s pushing them, and I wonder, while rejoicing in his words, if he’s gone too far now to justify the “Good night and good luck” at the end. His rants are wondrous, and I agree with his position, his rhetoric, his passion. But there’s not even a hint of “news” about them now. Now he’s taking advantage of his position on a news channel to let off personal steam.

Again, I adore that he does. But I wonder if anyone other than those like me are listening. Is his fury, his barely controlled rage, going to be respected by anyone in opposition? This is no longer someone speaking out within a tight news format to make remarkable statements against the ill-actions of the government. This is now Keith Olbermann doing the Olbermann bit at the end of the show, where he gets to lose his rag and call the president a shit.

None of this stops me from wanting to weep with pride for him in the final two minutes of his latest Special Comment. I just can’t quite see the Bush supporters being convinced when he’s yelling that Bush should “Shut the HELL UP”.

Thanks to Tim for the link.

4 Comments for this entry

  • Thomas Lawrence

    Olbermann’s becoming one of the left’s few equivalents of O’Reilly and his ilk: a place to go for Opinion porn, but the sort of thing that the other side of the fence is only going to use against you.

    Well, ok, I don’t feel he’s actually as objectionable as an O’Reilly type, but then is that just my political bias speaking? (No, no it isn’t). But certainly this sort of thing is just for lefties to gush over, not to persuade the centre ground.

  • km

    John, I think that you’ve touched on what it is that’s making me lose my passion for him. It’s not that I’ve stopped agreeing with him or appreciating that his voice is out there.
    It’s two things really. One, he’s become more mainstream. He’s showing up as clips on TDS and being mocked. He’s a commentator for the election coverage. Again, I’m glad his voice is there. But then, like you said, it’s like the time at the end of the show where he’s allowed to play his character. I miss how I felt when he first started doing the special commentaries. Even his passion feels scripted.

  • sinister agent

    Reminds me of Penn and Teller’s Bullshit – there’s a feel of preaching to the converted with it (although P&T do it with a bit more coherent argument), but it may be partly to get around slander issues. If you call someone a liar, you can get sued. If you play a clip of their claims and say “bullshit! Shut up, you asshole!”, it’s merely verbal abuse, and not grounds for a lawsuit.

  • Martin

    Any thoughts on Olbermann’s savaging of Clinton for her assassination gaff, John?

    I was slightly nonplussed by this one – I perhaps don’t appreciate the weight that referencing assassination has in the US, but, to me, the suggestion that Clinton was just pointing to that as an example of a lengthy primary contest seemed reasonable and not particularly offensive. The idea that she was saying she should hang around just in case Obama gets popped seemed absurd… And then I saw this:

    Oh my…