Keith Olbermann, MSNBC’s pied piper of partisan political punditry, may be starting to wear thin with the very people who made him a star — the political left wing.
After trumpeting a meaningless ratings win over right-wing Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly, who was on vacation, Olbermann’s tiresome self-promotion act went into overdrive.
Despite the packaging, Olbermann is not a newsman. He’s a sitdown comic, little more than a left-wing hyperbole-driven alternative to O’Reilly’s right-wing bitterness. Those who consider the pap that Olbermann dishes out each night on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" news don’t want news but only a left-wing alternative to conservative propaganda outlets like Fox. Like O’Reilly, Olbermann is a partisan who substitutes opinion for fact and bias for objectivity.
Journalism is not served by partisan pundits on either side of the political spectrum. It is cheapened by the Sean Hannitys, Geraldo Riveras, Rush Limbaughs, Bill O’Reillys and Keith Olbermanns of the world.
When a journalist takes sides, the public loses beause those who accept a partisan pundits ravings as news get only part of the story.
Which is why some are taking a second, harder look at what Olbermann pedals as "news."
Writes Howard Rosenburg in The Los Angeles Times (hardly a bastion of conservatism):
It seems like a couple of centuries since His Holiness Pope Walter reigned as God’s deputy on the airwaves. Even longer if you think about leave-’em-laughing funnyman Keith Olbermann.
The leer, the smug histrionics, the relentless needling, the shameless self-puffery, the accusatory rants excoriating Bushies and other Republicans as well as cable competitor Fox and its temperamental bully, Bill O’Reilly. And, of course, the comedy.
"Countdown With Keith Olbermann" is the bean ball between "Hardball With Chris Matthews" and "Verdict With Dan Abrams" in MSNBC’s weekday lineup. This trio has spent the election season heckling Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton from deep inside Sen. Barack Obama’s hip pocket and hammering Sen. John McCain since Day One.
Olbermann and Matthews co-anchored MSNBC’s coverage of this year’s party caucuses and primaries, and when Obama clinched the Democratic nomination this week, calming down these guys would have required a defibrillator. But the low point was New Hampshire, when they spent probably 15 minutes giggling at and making fun of the speech McCain gave after topping that primary’s GOP field.
All right, McCain couldn’t give a good speech even if he were lip-syncing Obama. Yet inept as he was, the news nihilism of Olbermann and Matthews was worse. And Olbermann hasn’t let up; he’s now attacking McCain’s grammar.
While right-wing blogs and news sites have long questioned Olbermann’s tactics and objectivity, the left-wing is chiming in. Notes Radar:
Has Keith Olbermann always been this aneurysm-inducing, or is he feeling extra bombastic after his narrow "victory" over a vacationing Bill O’Reilly? We have no idea why MSNBC wants us to feel sympathetic toward Katie Couric, but a couple more monologues like this and we’re starting a damn fan club.
Writes Rachael Sklar on The Huffington Post:
I find it a bit rich that Keith Olbermann would chastise anyone on the subject of "separating the hype from the news" or "the nonsense that Senator Clinton was a victim of pronounced sexism." And yet he did just that last night in naming Katie Couric his "Worst Person in the World" for speaking out about the sexism evidenced in some of the media coverage of Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign. Nonsense? Really? It took a while but geez, even Howard Dean has figured it out.
Time Magazine notes that "Olbermann is edging ever-closer to self-parody, or, worse, predictability."
Adds Danny Shea of The Huffington Post:
Many have questioned the appropriateness of Olbermann — and his primary-night partner Chris Matthews — anchoring election night coverage while espousing strong opinions of his own. During coverage of the Montana and South Dakota primaries, Tom Brokaw chided Olbermann on air for alleging that Hillary Clinton was "trying to shoe-horn her way into" the night of McCain’s and Obama’s speeches. Brokaw would later claim that the press drumbeat for Clinton’s exit from the race — of which Olbermann was a major part — was "inappropriate," and it was "commentary disguised as reporting."