MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is not going to take it anymore

By A. James Memmott

June 23, 2008 at 6:17am

It’s official. Keith Olbermann is mad.

Mad as in angry, irritated and grumpy.

The New Yorker’s Peter J. Boyer made Olbermann’s state of mind clear in a detailed, fascinating profile that asks whether Olbermann is changing TV news.

Olbermann, 49, the host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann on cable news channel MSNBC, is a departure from the neutral, straight-down-the-middle news broadcaster.

Brian Williams reports on what President Bush said today; Olbermann tells the president to “Shut the Hell Up!”

Olbermann argues that opinion has always had a place in a newscast, just as editorials and columns have a place in a newspaper.

Others argue that he’s eroding the NBC News brand, making it seem more like the voice of the Democratic party.

The debate has special relevance now with the death of Tim Russert, the host of Meet the Press and the network’s most visible political analysis.

It can be argued that Olbermann, who takes part in election coverage in addition to his Countdown duties, is now NBC’s political voice, a mixed blessing for the network.

The liberal Olbermann draws in viewers, but he also drives away viewers. On election night, people may yearn for someone who hasn’t already taken a side.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann began on March 31, 2003. The hour-long show airs five nights a week, broadcasting first at 8 p.m. EST.

The program amounted to yet another rebirth for Olbermann. A veteran sports broadcaster, he had been a ratings king at ESPN, co-hosting Sportscenter with Dan Patrick.

But Olbermann managed to irritate most of his co-workers, creating hard feelings before his departure in 1997.

Five and a half years later, he posted on an apology to everyone at ESPN, attributing his bad behavior to insecurity, inflexibility and other neuroses.

Before ESPN, Olbermann, a Cornell University graduate, worked in sports on stations in Boston and Los Angeles and on CNN.

After ESPN, he worked briefly at FOX Sports. “I fired him,” Rupert Murdoch has said. “He’s crazy.”

Olbermann has not surrendered any bad feelings he may have toward Murdoch, whose News Corporation owns Fox News and Fox Sports.

Indeed, Countdown thrives on ridicule of Murdoch, Fox News and Bill O’Reilly, the conservative host of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News.

Olbermann continually names O’Reilly “The Worst Person in the World,” a nightly dubious honor.

O’Reilly has fought back, a move that only seems to have helped Olbermann, who, though gaining, still trails far behind O’Reilly in the ratings.

This last Thursday, O’Reilly had 2,547,000 viewers; Olbermann drew 1,221,00 viewers.

On Thursday, Olbermann named Paula Froelich, a reporter for the Murdoch-owned New York Post, that night’s Worst Person.

He singled out Froelich, for preparing an item for the paper’s gossip section reporting that Olbermann and Chris Matthews, another MSNBC host, have been lobbying to become Russert’s replacement on Meet the Press.

Olbermann denied this and ended by saying, “I don’t even consider myself qualified for (the job).”

Undeterred, Froelich went ahead and published the item. In a subsequent interview, she called Olbermann, “infantile” and “narcissistic.”

Not surprisingly, Olbermann then named her his Worst Person for the second straight night.

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  • #1.   Sylvia Luker 06.23.2008

    I absolutely can’t stand Keith Olbermann. When he appears I immediately change the channel. What I can’t get over is the fact how funny he thinks he is. There are too many excellent journalist’s to replace him and we would’t miss him in the least. Please consider replacing him.

  • #2.   Greg 06.23.2008

    Re:Olbermann analysis : ” people may yearn for someone who hasn’t already taken a side.”

    Just because he more overt does not mean he is less objective . With most Jurnos - the objectivity is only smile deep -anyhow .

    Besides, a lot of people ,especially me ,are tired of “he said she said journalism” .We want facts- not middle of the road namby pamby BS. Olbermann deals in facts and eventually that matters.

  • #3.   jc 06.23.2008

    Mr.Olbermann is a terrible representative for MSNBC and NBC. He lacks class and integrity. Also, he’s unable to get to the bottom of the truth. Olbermannn scans the liberal websites to get his stories and then interjects his opinion instead of fact. Journalism 101 teaches you………NO MATTER WHAT YOUR POLITICAL OR PERSONAL VIEWS<<<AN OATH IS IN PLACE TO ABIDE BY THAT PROMISE! I’ve never heard a newsperson tell a sitting president to “Shut the hell up”…….I don’t care whether a Dem or Repub is the president…..we as a nation MUST maintain a level of respect for the office. It’s frankly disgusting the things that come out of Olbermanns mouth. He’s so negative and one sided that he creates animosity on both sides. I would venture to say,,,,,,Obama doesn’t care for this type of talk either. If I’m to take Obama at his word……Olbermann’s demeanor and lack of respect along with malicious opinions,,,is something Obama wouldn’t be able to condone.

  • #4.   ObserverDan 06.24.2008

    Olbermann gives a solid 180 degrees of every story. Never, EVER, a benefit of a doubt to a non-Democrat. It’s appalling that he considers his show a”News Hour”. It’s obviously a “enemies list”. Nothing more.

  • #5.   Tom 06.25.2008

    The only sane, non-anti-American viewers Olbermoronn has in his pitifully tiny audience can be found at Enjoy….

  • #6.   Elaine 06.25.2008

    I used to be a fan of Keith’s. Even though I’m as liberal as they come, his show has become a parody of itself. And Keith has become all too enamored of his own personna in that smug, self-satisifed way that Bill O’Reilly is. He may be a champion for the liberal cause but I think his favorite cause is himself.

  • #7.   sean 09.23.2009

    Keith has got to be the biggest Idiot Id ever seen onTv.I try tp sot 7 see what His views & him were all about but after five mins I quickly came to a answer He is just too full of himself & Bs.The fact he is so jeolus of Bill O reilly high ratings is wow supriseing I wouldnt be suprise if His wife dont stay drunk all the time just so she can put up with the Jerk.I serious think Keith needs to take sumin for his Male PMS..I bet you know who his friends are osama bin ladin & Iran Presdent
    someone needs to shut him up I look forward to one day seeing him get fire or Mr Bill O Reilly just shuts him the heck up .

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