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Olbermann, who fancies himself as a cross between news legend Edward R. Murrow and Howard Beale, the mad prophet newsman of the black comedy movie “Network,” went after former MSNBC general manager Dan Abrams Wednesday night, claiming Abrams had been fired and had a grudge against the network.
The tirade left NBC executives red-faced because Abrams, a lawyer, is still employed by NBC as a news analyst on legal issues.
Olbermann castigated Abrams in a new segment of his show “The Countdown Hall of Shame,” which replaced the tired “Worst Persons in the World Segment” that had turned into a nightly tirade against Fox News personalities Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck.
Obermann named the media website Mediaite — founded by Abrams — as runner up in the Hall of Shame Category because it reported on the Tea Party calling Obermann out for his claim that the grassroots movement lacked diversity when MSNBC anchors are mostly whitebread.
Perhaps the reason that Mediaite took a Tea Party’s word for it is that this is the same site of a fired MSNBC employee. And in his attempt to implant his bitterness toward this place, to plug or weave it into his website, he has wigged out. He would like us to sweep his failure under the rug as if it were a bald-faced lie, or there will be hell to pay.
Mediaite managing editor Colby Hall responded:
I’m surprised that MSNBC bookers and Today Show producers haven’t got the memo that [Abrams has] been fired. More importantly, the opinions and sentiments in all of Mediaite’s pieces have been those of the editors and writers of Mediaite.
The whole scenario reminds one of an aged stand-up comedian who hasn’t updated his material in years, but is still somehow content playing to a half-filled room at the West Topeka Chuckle Hut. At some point it’s no longer funny, nor even fun. It’s just sorta sad.
Sadly, Keith Obermann has lost it.
Oberman may have lost more than his credibility with the inaccurate attack on Abrams. Some in the NBC power structure wonder if Olbermann is a loser for the network. Despite his claims of viewership gains, Obermann’s ratings lag far behind right-wing powerhouses like O’Reilly.
Andrew Malcolm at The Los Angeles Times say Obermann is sinking fast:
In the most desirable TV demographic of 25-54, which Keith will soon outgrow himself, “Countdown” lost 44% of its audience from the beginning of President Obama’s term until this year. It could have been worse — say, 45%.
Olbermann averaged 268,000 viewers last month in that sector. That’s just several thousand sets of those eyes more than Campbell Brown over on CNN. According to one count, Keith even finished in that time slot behind Nancy Grace. Nancy Grace!
Writes Jeff Bercovici at Daily Finance:
There are also more subjective signs that Olbermann’s stridency and lack of proportion are alienating some of his natural allies. Quite a few eyebrows elevated last week when Jon Stewart, in a parody of one of Olbermann’s “Special Comment” segments, called out the newsman for going way over the top in his denunciations of Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts. The criticism was all the more remarkable, given that Stewart and Olbermann usually take the same side on most issues, especially when it comes to Fox News and the Republicans.
Olbermann’s overheated rhetoric also drew a sharp response from Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s house conservative, who called his fellow host’s attack on Brown “reckless” and “sad.” The exchange (and a few earlier, similar incidents) inspired network president Phil Griffin to issue a stern memo admonishing his charges: “We do not publicly criticize our colleagues. This kind of behavior is unprofessional and will not be tolerated.”
Olbermann, a one-time sportscaster and pitchman for the faltering Boston Market restaurant chain, has bounced from network to network, alternating between sports and political commentary. He hosted a nightly MSNBC show that focused on the Monica Lewinsky affair during the Clinton years then left for a brief return to sports broadcasting with Fox before returning to MSNBC to bash the Bush administration.
Writes Mark Memmott for National Public Radio:
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann strongly disagrees, but one of the memes of the day seems to be that Countdown with Keith Olbermann isn’t doing so well ratings-wise and might soon be history.
“Keith has a habit of flaming out,” says one NBC producer. “It’s happening again.”