I’ve had a few minutes to digest the shock of this development – I suppose this is the reaction that comes foremost to mind:
Imagine the crap that this man has had to put up with for as long as “Countdown” has aired. He hinted as much in his closing remarks tonight.
The first video has most of his final signoff. The second, with Anderson Cooper, gets more to the “meat” of the issue as far as I can tell (namely, that former NBC president Jeff Zucker leaves, and Keith, in all likelihood, agreed to some kind of a buyout or got canned outright).
Regardless, this has Comcast’s fingerprints all over it (and now, with the approval of FCC rules all but abandoning Net Neutrality, imagine the control they will exert over our choices of content, with Verizon likely to concoct its own deal a la the NBC/Universal/Comcast merger with some other yet-to-be-determined corporate player).
But let’s think about Olbermann for a second. There are practical considerations for him also.
He will have to compete for work now in a sports/news capacity totally apart from his position of commentary on “Countdown” (again, his remarks tonight imply that he fell into this by accident, which is true, but he doesn’t have the background or the pedigree of Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell or Ed Schultz even to likely exist in the same political realm; Olbermann needs to exist in the realm of broadcasting, and I suppose the sooner he redefines himself to leave his role of political commentator behind, the better for his career prospects).
Besides, I know something is up with MSNBC. Otherwise, why in God’s name would Rachel Maddow have interviewed Michael Steele last night? I watched about a minute of it before I turned it off – it didn’t pass the smell test.
Neither does Olbermann leaving, really (as Cooper notes, Keith still had two years to go on his contract, and his show was the highest-rated on the network). And it looks like Comcast wanted to do this quick before anyone had time to get an online petition started, or else they’d be embarrassed by the result.
Oh well, at least Stu Bykofsky and David Zurawik will be happy.
The battle to promote informed discourse just got exponentially harder.
…and Keith, this is for you (and yeah, I know this was on some TV show or something – sue me).
Update: Huffington Post is saying that the new lineup will be Lawrence O’Donnell at 8, Rachel at 9, and Ed Schultz at 10 (figures that they put a “fire in the belly” progressive on at a time when it’s hardest for yours truly to watch).
I have nothing against O’Donnell personally, but I’ve seen him fill in on “Countdown” enough times for me to tell you that I’m not impressed. If I want to watch MSNBC’s version of the NBC Nightly News (and I don’t), then I’ll find videos of Brian Williams (maybe he’ll talk some smack about bloggers in their bathrobes again, or something).
Also, as I noted earlier, today is the one-year anniversary of the Citizens United atrocity and Keith’s outstanding “Special Comment.” Do you think that irony was lost on the Roberts family (the people running Comcast, I mean)?
Update 1 1/22/11: To sign a petition thanking Keith, click here.
Update 2 1/22/11: More interesting info here...