O'Donnell: 'Olbermann Invented Op-ed TV...No One Has Ever Done Anything Like It'

January 24th, 2011 11:06 PM

It was to be expected that MSNBC commentators would publicly wish Keith Olbermann well after his surprise exit last Friday.

But the nonsense that spewed out of Lawrence O'Donnell's mouth Monday evening - "He invented op-ed TV...For eight years...No one in television history has ever done anything like it" - was so sycophantic and factually bereft it was almost sick-making (video follows with transcript and commentary):

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Consider what Keith [Olbermann] invented and taught us to do: Op-ed TV. The incomparable Maureen Dowd is a friend of mine. I know if I told her I want her to do five op-ed columns in a week, she would tell me that is impossible and ask me if I know how hard it is to do even one. I do know. I've done a few, very few.

That's why I marveled, as any writer must, at what Keith was doing - five op-eds a week, each of them much, much longer than the standard 800 words. This is the only place in television where people are surprised if you leave after eight years. In the entertainment division of this company, if a show like, say, "The West Wing" wins every possible award and runs for seven years, everyone just applauds an extraordinary show for an extraordinary run. I saw -- I saw exactly how exhausted the great Aaron Sorkin was after delivering 22 episodes a year of “The West Wing.”

Well, Keith delivered 20 a month. 20 A month. Hundreds of episodes a year. Hundreds of op-eds a year. Year in and year out. For eight years. I have no idea how he did it. None of us do. No one in television history has ever done anything like it. No one knew it could be done before he did it.

So Dowd thinks it's tough to do one 800-word op-ed a week? Maybe that's why her stuff is such garbage.

With the advent of the internet, there are hundreds nay thousands of writers today publishing numerous pieces every twenty four hours.

Without dislocating my shoulder to pat myself on the back, folks like Ed Morrissey and me typically write three pieces a day, seven days a week. If Dowd's feeling challenged producing her two columns every seven days, maybe it's a sign she really has become a dinosaur.

As for O'Donnell's awe concerning Olbermann having an eight-year run, does he know that "Meet the Press" is now in its 64th year? Or that there are 25 television shows that have run for forty years or more?

O'Donnell also seems to forget that the man largely responsible for creating this television genre, Larry King, ended his run on CNN last month after 25 years.

Yet O'Donnell went gaga over Olbermann's almost eight?

Also preposterous was crediting the "Countdown" host with inventing the concept of op-ed television as history will certainly bestow this honor on David Brinkley whose nightly commentaries on the renowned "Huntley-Brinkley Report" were the thing of legend.

Needless to say, unlike Olbermann, Brinkley didn't need to defame and debase people he didn't like with falsehoods and half-truths in order to make his point and win over his audience.

As for soloists in this genre, Fox News's Bill O'Reilly was doing op-ed TV more than five years before "Countdown" started and is now in his fifteenth season.

This ignores the many talk radio hosts in our nation that are on the air for three hours a day, five days a week offering their opinions to audiences O'Donnell and Olbermann can only dream of.

Rush Limbaugh, for example, is now in his 23rd year, and I say with great confidence that what folks like him do is far more demanding than what Olbermann did.

Add it all up, and O'Donnell's gooey sentiment though understandable given his esteem for his colleague was as factually-challenged as, well, most of his reports on virtually any subject.

So I guess we shouldn't be too surprised.