This past Friday MSNBC’s number one host, Keith Olbermann, unceremoniously ended his final “Countdown,” announcing simply that the show would be his last. Immediately the rumors began flying that Olbermann’s “firing” was in conjunction with or somehow related to the recent merger between Comcast and NBC. I’m no politico, but I’m a happily ridiculous, tin-foil hat wearing, conspiracy theorist whose mind also went all those dark places it’s prone to go. Those damned conservatives! They shut down Air America! Next it’s MSNBC and then the world! We’ll have to go underground! But being the reasonable idiot that I am, I kept reading and taking in information and the picture that has been revealing itself over the weekend isn’t so much of a liberal media shutdown as it is a developing course of action chosen by Mr. Olbermann himself.
Realizing that Olbermann is a polarizing media figure, like Bill Maher and Michael Moore, I’m sure there are as many liberals happy to see him gone as there are conservatives. Heck, I’m pretty sure he’s been called a “blowhard” by our own fearless overlord. Whether or not OLBO, as he’s been amusingly dubbed over at the HuffPo, was over-the-top with his opinions (particularly during his “Special Comments,”) Olbermann knew how to connect to people through his emotions. He wasn’t afraid to admit when he screwed up, he wasn’t afraid to let tears well up in his eyes as he raged on about this or that and he certainly wasn’t afraid to say the things a lot of us felt over the past eight years. He affected us deeply. We passed around and re-posted his videos, our conversations were prodded by his rants and we argued over what he said on his show the night before. And while some like to compare him to arch-rival Bill O’Reilly or to Rush Limbaugh, I never saw how they could be lumped together. Olbermann wasn’t a mouthpiece who merely repeating his party’s talking points and there have been many times when he has thrashed his own just as soundly as those he opposed. O’Reilly, on the other hand, will defend conservative wrong-doing to death and continue spew propaganda as “fair and balanced” journalism.
Regardless of where Olbermann ends up next — and already there are reports of a Senate run, an HBO pilot with Aaron Sorkin, and starting his own media empire — there is no doubt his voice will continue to be heard. Reports say that like Coco, OLBO must keep silent about the details of his departure for somewhere between six and nine months, so I guess we won’t be getting anything from the horse’s mouth for a while. Or will we?