Olbermania: Why is This Man on Television?

July 28th, 2006 5:40 AM

The fact that Jason Leopold doesn't have a television show is a significant reason to believe that there is some sanity within the TV news business. However, the fact that Keith Olbermann still has one after years of failure does make one wonder about the mental acuity of the folks at MSNBC.

When you think about it, aside from its host, "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" has a lot of things going for it. It's got nice graphics, some different music to it, and a snappy pace. Far left bloggers routinely urge their readers to watch. It never fails to get good press from liberal journalists whose greatest fantasy is Roger Ailes getting hit by a bus--which may explain why so many of them have been taken by a guy whose bizarre antics, strange demeanor, journalistic ineptitude, and ridiculous pomposity should have gotten him laughed out of the news business in under three months.

It's probably safe to assume that Olbermann is aware of all this. How else could one explain his latest desperate ploy for attention, donning a mask of Bill O'Reilly while doing a Nazi salute? Now, via Olbermann Watch, we learn that NBC and the "Countdown" staff planned the entire thing.

Surprised? I sure was. I mean who ever would have thought that a guy who is afraid to interview anyone to the right of Hugo Chavez for fear of getting embarrassed would ever need to plan such brilliant humor out beforehand?

Of course, Bob Cox and the other OW folks might be lying. After all, it's quite possible Olbermann came up with the joke right after a brief bathroom break with his Bill O'Reilly hand puppet.

Beneath all the layers of lame stunts and puppet love (what is it with lefties and puppets anyway?), though, who is Keith Olbermann? Even a casual look through NB's collection of Keith Olbermann stories shows that one thing he most definitely is not--a qualified journalist. No one this side of Jason Leopold makes so many mistakes on a regular basis. Like the time when he accused Senate Republicans of scheduling a hearing about the NSA during the early days of the war between Israel and Hamas so as to get a bad story for the GOP "buried." Weren't watching? Neither was I. Thankfully, some folks here at MRC do. Details here. Suffice it to say, Olbermann did not bother to look up that the hearings were set for that date over two weeks prior.

Like me, you probably also missed the time when MSNBC's eminence gris got onto the subject of President Bush's cabinet appointments and whether or not Bush might appoint Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman as Secretary of Defense.

"We had Republicans in FDR's Cabinet, William Cohen was Defense Secretary in Bill Clinton's, but a Democrat of any shape, stripe, or form in the Bush Administration, would there not be rioting from the hard right?" he averred, blissfully ignorant of the fact that a Democrat, Norman Mineta, had been serving as Secretary of Transportation since 2001.

Looking through the archives, one can discern at least two other attributes of Keith Olbermann. The first, that he's a political liberal, the second that he vehemently denies it."You go after power. You don't go after a Republican or a Democrat," the anchor told C-SPAN in March, shortly before waxing rhapsodic about his disturbingly vast collection of videotapes of himself. (Did I mention that Olbermann is a bit of a narcissist?)

If you doubt the first (as Howard Kurtz supposedly does), perhaps you can explain why it is that conservative-leaning public figures outnumbered liberal-leaning ones 174-to-23 in Olbermann's nightly rant segment against people he doesn't like. Or why someone who isn't a left-winger would compare former independent counsel Kenneth Starr to former Nazi secret police chief Heinrich Himmler. Or why someone who isn't a Bush-basher would end each program scolding "this is the nth day since the declaration of 'Mission Accomplished' in Iraq?"

It's possible that Olbermann isn't really the overweening, paranoid leftist he plays on TV. Some of his rhetoric could, theoretically, be an act designed to pander to the angry left, pining for a press that bashes Republicans 24/7. It certainly has praised him rather excessively hasn't it? But it doesn't seem to have done much for his numbers, which makes it hard to believe Olbermann isn't pretending.

It does make you wonder if any of the suits over at NBC News is awake, though.

UPDATE 12:45. Will TVNewser link to this piece? Some people say not since he's supposedly in Olbermann's pocket. We'll see...

UPDATE 07-29 19:21. Looks like Brian Stelter is comfortable with pocket lint. I'm finding it hard to defend him against the charge he's not biased in favor of Olbermann.

UPDATE 07-29 20:19. A far-left blogger (no link since that would boost hits) seems of the opinion that Olbermann and Ann Coulter are of the same cloth, demonstrating once again the amazing leftist inability to distinguish between news and commentary. Olbermann styles himself as a journalist, as a newsman. Coulter styles herself as a commentator.

Coulter and Olbermann are also very different in another way. Olbermann preposterously denies he has a political ideology. Coulter admits she's very conservative.

It's a shame that George Soros pays people like this to come up with media analysis. He's not getting much for his money.