Saturday, January 22, 2011
Goodbye and Good Luck
I'll make this quick because it's my last full day with Inara and I'd rather spend my time with her than think about anything involving TV news or politics.
Keith Olbermann is out at MSNBC because he's an uncontrollable, incorrigible, monumental pain in the ass; he typically refuses to be appreciative of or beholden to his bosses or the network's interests in general and somebody at the top finally realized he just wasn't worth all the trouble, particularly not with the Comcast deal now unforgivably rubber-stamped and the most "vampire squid"-like media monolith in history about to become a reality. The Comcast people are cleaning house at NBC as it is; it wouldn't surprise me if they made it clear to Phil Griffin that Olbermann needed to be off campus by nine o'clock Monday morning and that his local draft board would be informed that he was eligible for military service. No, I don't think there was some kind of secretive corporate cabal working against him behind the scenes; I leave that sort of conspiratorial ruminating to the Glenn Greenwalds of the world. It's probably more that he's a thorn in the side of just about everyone and, as I said, from a cost-benefit perspective, his bullshit just wasn't worth it anymore.
I'm not saying that all of this isn't a shame, because it certainly is. Olbermann's is an unapologetically progressive voice that shouldn't be silenced. His narcissistic drama queening is surpassed only by his intelligence, wit and sheer balls, and they'll be missed, at least until he finds some other outlet for them (although off the top of my head I can't imagine what that might be). While it's true that he helped to put a machine in place at MSNBC prime time that can probably now function without him, it won't function as well as it would have with him. Love him or hate him, he's a singular personality and despite the fact that he's a self-centered asshole -- as many true talents are -- what he brought to the table shouldn't have been easily dismissed. Or, in Olbermann's case -- after years of tumult and mutual acrimony with the NBC News mothership -- not so easily.
Whatever their differences, NBC and Olbermann should've been willing to compromise for the sake of a mutually beneficial relationship. But as anyone who's ever tried to make it work with a whack-job or a control freak knows, sometimes you just can't.