Keith Olbermann’s secret: Get really pissed off

Like a growing number of cable TV news watchers, we’ve become fans of MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. Hell, we liked him when he was an acerbic sportscaster but we enjoy him even more as an acerbic news anchor on his nightly "Countdown" show.

We especially enjoy his periodic commentaries, delivered in a no-holds-barred style at the end of some newscasts.

His secret. First, he says, he has to get pissed off. Then the rest flows naturally.

Writes C.W. Nevius in The San Francisco Chronicle:

Keith Olbermann just needed to find his voice. He’d been a droll sportscaster, a serious news anchor and a bickering critic of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. But none of those personas really clicked.

Then he found one. A little over a year ago, as the White House fumbled and botched the Hurricane Katrina recovery, Olbermann finally blew up.

He concluded a broadcast of his MSNBC cable news show, "Countdown," with an indignant rant in the rat-a-tat-tat cadence of his idol, Edward R. Murrow. He called it a "Special Comment.”

And just like that, Olbermann found his voice — the angry everyman. He became a liberal counterpoint to conservative media ranters like O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, and an Internet star, too.

The result has been a cultural earthquake.

"Here’s what happened,” Olbermann said in a phone interview this week. "Five years ago (on Sept. 11), 50 percent of the country went quiet. There was this self-imposed censorship. Suddenly it became unimaginable to criticize the administration. And no one else was brave or stupid enough to say, ‘I don’t remember signing that document.’ ”

Today Olbermann is hot, in every sense of the word. He likes to say that the first step to creating one of his blistering editorials is to "get pissed off,” and that’s certainly how he sounds.

23 Responses to "Keith Olbermann’s secret: Get really pissed off"

  1. krissyderic  November 14, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    Keith Olbermann is ~~ MY HERO !! TRUTH to Power.
    I am a devoted fan of Keith Olbermann, never missing a night, DVRing his program and listening to his Special Comments over and over.
    Actually “Countdown” is the only Network ‘News’ Program I can tolerate and actually enjoy.
    I am ecstatic that he found his Voice and the voice of the majority of Americans.
    We DO owe him greatly and need to spread the word about his refreshing program.

  2. Doubtom  November 14, 2006 at 8:43 pm

    Olbermann is assured of a spot alongside of greats like Edward R. Murrow. He may not have started out to be “voice of the times” but he developed into a first rate Murrow by insisting on speaking truth to power. May his name finds its way to that revered spot reserved for the truly courageous journalists/commentators of our time. He deserves it! America’s problem is the acute shortage of Olbermanns!

  3. Barbara  November 14, 2006 at 8:55 pm

    I have also be a fan of his for quite awhile but his “Special Comment” segments have made me want to stand up and applaud. He has said what many of us have been thinking for a very long time. His comments, in my opinion, address the core of what Americans — at least a majority of us — believe in. Bravo, Keith, bravo.

  4. David  November 14, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    I agree. Though it’s clear there’s a bit of ego involved in his Special Comments, he’s earned it, since nobody else got up there and spoke unvarnished, unabashed truth. His challenge now will be to “adapt” to a new rhetorical landscape in which Congress itself may provide a counterpoint to Bush Administration offenses…And to hold that Congress responsible if it fails to do so.

  5. David  November 14, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    I agree. Though it’s clear there’s a bit of ego involved in his Special Comments, he’s earned it, since nobody else got up there and spoke unvarnished, unabashed truth. His challenge now will be to “adapt” to a new rhetorical landscape in which Congress itself may provide a counterpoint to Bush Administration offenses…And to hold that Congress responsible if it fails to do so.

  6. David  November 14, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    I agree. Though it’s clear there’s a bit of ego involved in his Special Comments, he’s earned it, since nobody else got up there and spoke unvarnished, unabashed truth. His challenge now will be to “adapt” to a new rhetorical landscape in which Congress itself may provide a counterpoint to Bush Administration offenses…And to hold that Congress responsible if it fails to do so.

  7. David  November 14, 2006 at 10:56 pm

    I agree. Though it’s clear there’s a bit of ego involved in his Special Comments, he’s earned it, since nobody else got up there and spoke unvarnished, unabashed truth. His challenge now will be to “adapt” to a new rhetorical landscape in which Congress itself may provide a counterpoint to Bush Administration offenses…And to hold that Congress responsible if it fails to do so.

  8. Marcia Tippett  November 15, 2006 at 1:21 am

    Please call his attention to an article inNov 3 issue of TheWeek magazine Page14 re: Bush 41 buying 100,000 acres in Paraguay .Jenna Bush visited there and Paraguaydenied it then recanted denial. George Busw may be brought to trial over war crimes & Parag. may give him asylum.

  9. Marla  November 15, 2006 at 2:19 am

    Isn’t MSNBC the network that canned Donohue for speaking out? If so, how is it that they suddenly find the guts to let Olbermann speak? Sensing a little change in the wind and trying to cover themselves?

    The MSM tends to give us just enough truth to salt down their lies. They don’t deserve our trust.

    Good for Olbermann but don’t trust the network.

  10. isthistheendofrico?  November 15, 2006 at 3:13 am

    It’s truly sad that it has come down to one lonely sole to provide some counterbalance to the rightwing spin machine–propagadists posing as journalists–everybody on Fox for instance.

    All the left has is Keith and Jon Stewart.

  11. South Point Man  November 15, 2006 at 3:46 am

    “All the left has is Keith and Jon Stewart.”

    …and Stephen Colbert. I remember when the BIG mistake was made of inviting Colbert to speak at a dinner that Bush the Lips was also at. While everyone else was doing the vacantly sycophantically smiling and being brain-dead diprepublicans, Colbert ripped Lips a new hiney hole. I was so proud of Colbert at that moment. In a scene of otherwise total stomach-churning simpering grotesqueness, there was Colbert being anything but sycophantic. Way to go, Stephen!

    With Colbert, you have to pay at little more attention to catch the satire, but it’s worth it.

    Stewart does the affable approach of satire. Colbert does the rip-a-new-hiney-hole style. I enjoy both their ways of saying things that need to be said.

  12. Gerald Sutliff  November 15, 2006 at 4:39 am

    I, too, am a Keith Olbermann fan. He doesn’t suffer fools which is why his program isn’t always “balanced”.

  13. Donald V. Greenwalt  November 15, 2006 at 5:30 am

    Now, he must hold the new Democrats feet to the fire, he needs to remind them that we still have not yet had an honest and open investigation of what really occured on 9/11, or what was really going on in the secret meeting chaney had with the energy big wigs soon after getting into power, you know, when it seemed all of a sudden they started making obscene profits with no accountability or oversight.
    KEEP IT COMING KIETH!!!!!!!

  14. Howard  November 15, 2006 at 9:27 am

    Now if we could only persuade him to run for president :)

  15. dionysis  November 14, 2006 at 3:52 pm

    In spite of the wingnut effort to demonize Olbermann through their usual personal invective, Olbermann’s ‘Special Commentaries’ have provided a voice for so many people in this country. That he is unafraid to speak ‘truth to power’ should be a cause for celebration among all who cherish our First Amendment right and who prefer objective reality to neo con fantasies. It is fitting that his popularity is growing while that of nasty clowns like O’Reilly is falling faster than a schoolboy’s underwear in a Republican NAMBLA meeting.

  16. mewman  November 14, 2006 at 4:03 pm

    i have been a fan of the show for a long time,and now just never miss it,even if it is DVR’d for later.

    it is the combination of honesty,of having one guest at a time on(so we don’t have to hear everyone yelling at once),who he talks to in a serious way,without ambushing(even when we’d like him to).

    it is also the relief from the hard core stories with some fun stuff(he does have a great sense of humor),and then of course those amazing moments when he is “our” voice to power(i usually have to rewind and watch them twice in a row).that all makes one hell of a news show,unlike anything else on tv…

  17. gigi  November 14, 2006 at 4:25 pm

    The first time I saw Mr. Olbermann was on a ‘YouTube’ Post. My mouth dropped, and I was absolutely thrilled. I thought it was high time a media personality spoke out in the “Edward R. Murrow” stride of saying it like it is. I,like may Americans, have been pained that this country had become unconscious in the face of this current administation. I felt the ‘enemy’ had become us. We carry the “Light” for the rest of the world and we, as Americans, have a responsibilty to maintain this position. I congratulate Mr. Olbermann for saying what many of us have been deeply feeling. Gigi

  18. Jimbo  November 14, 2006 at 4:54 pm

    I just love the guy and I don’t even have an active tv, only a DVD and VHS recorder players. Friends tape his Special Comments for me. He is a wonderful breath of fresh air….real air from the lungs and the heart and the brain. Three cheers for Keith O. Jimbo

  19. mooseman  November 14, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    Re: Mr Olbermann – - -

    “If you build it he will come.”

    Mr Olbermann has given us all a playing field of honor openness and courage.

    We are in his debt.

  20. neondog  November 14, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    You can also catch Olberman on ESPN radio. I have heard some lively discussions between Keith and Dan Patrick, covering sports, political and social commentary..

  21. Maxine Adams  November 14, 2006 at 6:03 pm

    Keith Olbermann, you are the man. There are many of us out here who’ve been waiting for someone like you. Someone who would not be afraid to stand up to this administration. Before you, there was no-one; not CNN; MSNBC; CNBC; ABC, CBS, NBC.

    I’m telling all my friends/co-workers to turn to MSNBC at 8:00pm

  22. Mike Ashley  November 14, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    Keith is the best, I watch him all the time.

  23. Sandy Price  November 14, 2006 at 7:51 pm

    I can only agree with all of the above.

Comments are closed.