Just about a year ago, Keith Olbermann recorded his first major victory over Bill O’Reilly.
Over the first week of June, 2008, Olbermann beat O’Reilly in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic for the first time.
“We’re growing, and he’s regressed,” Olbermann said to the New York Times in an email.
Like most of what he says, that turned out being wildly inaccurate.
Contrasting Olbermann’s struggles, Fox News is dominating more than ever. FNC has ranked fifth or higher for 24 straight weeks among all cable channels in prime time, while MSNBC ranks seven spots below the Food Channel. A typical ratings score looks something like this one from June 22: O’Reilly – 2.9 million, Olbermann – 1.2 million.
Olbermann’s uncritical coverage of Obama is one reason some liberals are starting to turn on him.
During last year’s campaign, liberal Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald noted the hypocrisy of Olbermann’s fire-breathing reaction to Bush over the FISA bill--“Now it begins to look like the bureaucrats of the Third Reich.”—versus his rationalization of Obama’s support of the bill, praising Obama for “refusing to cower even to the left on the subject of warrantless wiretapping.”
Is that really what anyone wants -- transferring blind devotion from George Bush to Barack Obama? Are we hoping for a Fox News for Obama, that glorifies everything he says and whitewashes everything he does?
The viewers have answered that question, and KWolfman over at the Daily Kos chimed in on July 18 as well. Wolfman points out that Olbermann’s show is now devoid of politics and consists entirely of Republican bashing.
Countdown's coverage of the "horse race" between Obama and McCain gradually became less and less about substantive politics and more and more about "calling out" the nameless, faceless blowhards shouting racist crap at McCain/Palin rallies. Countdown became 60 minutes of redneck-bashing. … At one point, he spent the last five minutes of the show yelling at McCain for "aiding and abetting" terrorists. ...
The show has degenerated completely, now resembling nothing more than the left-wing equivalent of Fox News politico-pop. Keith loves to mock Bill O'Reilly's ridiculous shtick and arrogance, but it is increasingly difficult to see the stylistic difference between KO and Bill-O.
Wolfman laid out a pretty accurate lineup for what a typical Olbermann show consists of, for any of you who have not yet been subjected to the inhumanity:
Item #5 will always be on the biggest news item of the day. … Item #4 will be about the latest baseless talking-point laid by Dick Cheney. … An "expert" will come on and fervently agree with Keith… Items #3 and #2 will be pretty much repeats of Item #4… Finally, there's item #1 … which usually highlights -- you guessed it! -- the latest baseless political talking points laid by a cranky obsolete conservative.
Wolfman accompanies his post with a poll asking if Olbermann has lost it, and a plurality of the Kos community has actually voted that yes, Olbermann has lost it.
Tom D’Anoni, writing for the Huffington Post, agrees that Olbermann—and MSNBC as a whole—has degenerated past the point of news.
Many progressives are avoiding Keith Olbermann altogether because there is no news on his program, just endless coverage of what the Republican party is doing, clips of Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney like any of that was relevant to anyone in the real world.
In fact, D’Antoni notes, MSNBC wasn’t even offering any coverage of the Iranian protests last weekend:
While the world was watching the conflict in Iran, MSNBC was showing you cop video and convicts.
He even went so far as to commit liberal heresy:
All of a sudden MSNBC fell off the map. Even Fox was better. Even Fox.
It’s not just Olbermann’s utter lack of any real news coverage, his mean-spiritedness is riling some Daily Kos bloggers, too. In fact, Larry Wohlgemuth agrees with Joe Scarborough that Olbermann has been getting a twisted amount of satisfaction out of Sanford’s improprieties.
I don't like Mark Sanford nor do I like his politics. To me he is the worst of what the Republican Party has to offer and the antithesis of anything this country might need. The sooner we rid this country of his ilk the better. But Keith Olbermann made Rush Limbaugh look like Albert Schweitzer tonight on his program. Have you no decency man?
It must hurt Olbermann to be compared to Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, and Fox News by one of his own. I must say the comparisons do have some validity but for one crucial difference: ratings.
Olbermann, the fragile ego he is, was in fact hurt by the comparisons and attempted to offer a response to Wolfman’s post.
After getting through lines of his insipid pseudo-poetic prose, you get to the meat of his post:
I would be delighted to invite you to conceive, create, and perform a version of what you want, on broadcast or cable television, and make it also fit the business’s requirements (profit-making), while dodging rocks, every day, from all sides. If anything the task is more difficult now because so many believe that those who would use the media to buttress the regressive cause simply vanished with last year’s vote. They didn’t. Death threats are up, not down. Corporate pressure is up, not down.
If corporate pressure is up, perhaps that’s because unprecedented government takeovers in business are making executive nervous.
Or maybe it’s simpler than that. Corporate pressure is up on Olbermann for the simple fact that his ratings are down 26% since last year.
UPDATE: Olbermann has responded to Wolgemuth’s post about his coverage of Sanford, and, as with his earlier response, it doesn’t address the complaints at all:
I preface this by saying, got a complaint about me, go ahead. Diarize, comment, whatever (actually those first two are your only choices - there is no 'whatever'). There's a chance I'll ignore it…
Um, no, I’m pretty sure there’s no chance whatsoever Olbermann is capable of ignoring anything written about him. Just to remind you, here is how Olbermann responded to Ann Coulter’s article mocking his Cornell agriculture school education.
Olbermann then mentions a conspiracy theory that seems all too prescient:
However, be forewarned: you may be part of a plan to make it look like I'm under siege by the Left.
Step 1: Trollish person writes over-the-top critical diary (in this case, on the Mark Sanford email reading).
Step 2: Lots of defense of your undersigned diarist (thank ye).
Step 3: RW website writes piece quoting this here site: "By Wednesday, even critics on the left said Olbermann had gone too far."
Step 4 might be: Olbermann writes a blog post about the situation and quotes NewsMax.