Monday, June 23, 2008

A House Man

I've been thinking about writing a post about Keith Olbermann becoming a MSM tool but Pierce already did it on Altercation and much better than I could have: is with no little sadness that I say that Countdown has become well-nigh unwatchable. And it's not just that the Special Comments are coming so often these days that they're not very, well, special any more. (Hey, some people love them. Some people would be happy with one every night. Different strokes and all.) It's more that, even given his undeniable strengths as a broadcaster, KO is now producing a completely conventional MSNBC show. Oh, it's got some southpaw bells and goofy whistles that the others don't have. (Although poor Chris Matthews now has to stumble his way through a "funny" nightly video package clearly modeled after Countdown's "Oddball" segment. It's like watching a duck juggle.) And it has introduced some new talking heads -- Doc Maddow, for one, and Chris Hayes of The Nation. But, otherwise, it's Howard (Mort Kondracke Without The Laughs) Fineman and Eugene Robinson and Richard Wolffe and Dana (I'm Funny, Too. Honest To God, I Am) Milbank, and the usual cast of characters from the far end of the Kool Kids table in DC.

Moreover, as MSNBC became ground zero on television for juvenile sexism aimed at Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Olbermann who'd stood up for anonymous production assistants and video editors at ESPN largely sat down. He even got clumsily tangled in it himself; that "two people go into a room" comment was just flat stupid. And if Tucker Carlson had clasped his knees together while holding up, say, a Nancy Pelosi nutcracker on, say, the Fox News Channel, Olbermann would have teed him up as that night's Worst Person no matter what atrocity Bill O'Reilly had tossed out that day. Instead, when asked about his network's performance in this regard by The New York Times, Olbermann's responses were self-evidently inadequate. How he did during the extended Russert obsequies this week depends vitally on your fundamental opinion of the deceased -- as the Jesuit-educated overweight journalist son of Irish Catholics from a battered little East Coast city myself, I would like that mushmouthed fathead Brokaw to stop telling me what I'm like, OK? -- and it must have been a horrible shock to all of them. But, take him all in all these days, and KO seems to be turning into something I never would have thought possible of him -- a house man.


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