Monday, January 24, 2011
Olberman - na na na na, good bye!
Keith Olberman, one of the yappy dogs of MSNBC, has left the network for unspecified reasons. It was the talk of the industry today. He was the highest rated newspinionator on MSNBC, and one that may have set the windbaggy, highly partisan tone there. MSNBC, with Olberman, became a left wing counterpart to the predominantly mega-right wing Fox "news" organization that has been eating the ratings lunch for quite a while. It was probably a competitive, rather than a qualitative attitudinal morph and it did enliven the popularity, somewhat, of the sagging part-time cable "news" station.
Well, well, well. And I mean that. There was no denying Olberman's intelligence and perspicacity, but lo, he'd become just another wingnut. A wingnut is a wingnut regardless of political leanings, though it's tough to ignore that the right is so much more successful at it.
And why might that be? Is it perhaps because leftier thinking people (theoretically) place more value on a balance, fairness and inclusiveness? The trend, nay, the faddish mania of hyperbolating news and political posturing is something I've been fulminating about for a while. And I wonder if we're seeing a crack in the facade right now with Olberman representing the first fissure.
In the aftermath of shock and agony following the tragic shootings in Tucson, Arizona, pundittoheads wondered if the rampant incivility of political discourse set the stage for the attempted assassination of a Congressperson resulting in many deaths, including a 9 year old. Was it -- reaching for the low hanging fruit -- Sarah Palin's firearm metaphors for political action? Should it open another discussion of gun control? Attention K-Mart shoppers: Is there another scapegoat available?
It became quickly apparent that none of the above were relevant to that random and horriffic act by a mentally ill person in need of medication and treatment but it did open discussions anyway. As if. There is measurable response, at least for the time being, in politics. Not for any moral reason, mind you, but because it was one of their own that was shot and they all felt vulnerable. There is nothing, as any good sci-fi B movie will prove, like shared vulnerability to pull opposing factions together.
While I pillory MSNBC for their yappity dog approach to newspinion, they also do have the very best news discussion show on the air anywhere, Morning Joe. And it was Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe, the best newspolitic and culture program on TV, who said out loud that so many earned so much money by creating hysteria out of news and politics that it probably wouldn't recede easily. I'll wax admiringly about Morning Joe and Scarborough himself another time, but he certainly made that embarrassing call more clearly than anyone else in broadcasting would dare to.
I'm as glad Olberman is off the air, albeit voluntarily, as I am that Rick Sanchez, an apoplectic clown occupying an ethnic slot on CNN, got kicked off. (Joe Scarboro told us last week that the only reason Morning Joe was on the air was because Imus --suddenly-- got kicked off MSNBC for racist and sexist bombast and they needed to fill the time slot.)
And this bit we're hearing about Republicans and Democrats sitting together at the SOTU tomorrow night is a nice touch. I'm not naive enough to think that the gasbaggers have all realized that fulmination is not the best discourse to exercise. The best I can hope for is that, like any oversaturated media convention, it's going out of style.
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.
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