Salon writer Niall Stanage adds his half penny to the much ado surrounding the abrupt departure of liberal firebrand Keith Olbermann from his MSNBC program. Olbermann is a narcissist, is smug, is a loud mouth, is a ranter, is, in brief, arrogant, and that makes the fretting Stanage woozy. He writes that he is glad to see Olbermann off the channel. I think the writer is a hand wringing Pollyanna, shocked, he says, that someone on the left that uses emphatic language and dares his opponents to vet their declarations. Olbermann's accomplishment during the eight years he presided over his Countdown program was that he turned the national discussion regarding the political future of America into a real discussion . The monopoly on public attention was over.
Keith Olbermann is a blowhard, a loud mouth, an advocate with a blow torch to underscore his points, but he was our blowhard, our loud mouth, our pyrotechnical fighter, and to that end he advanced his causes admirably, bravely and, as with anyone loud enough to speak the truth to the choir of tin soldiers ceaselessly repeating the half-truths, distortions and outfight lies of the rancid power mad Right, one accepts the bluster as a price of having someone on your side who pulls the covers, relies on facts, gets it exactly more often than not. Olbermann is hardly an unquestioning toady for the Democrats--his criticism of the Obama White House on everything from the lack of a public option in the Health Care Bill to the failure to close Guantanamo as he promised during his first Presidential campaign have made waves and created stirs; he has a political edge, he makes his arguments forcefully, he relies on facts rather than false presentations, he punctures the arguments of those less well acquainted with the truth and the facts that come with it. Fox News is a channel full of bluster and deception; we need Olbermann to be our counter blast, to lay out the case for change, to set the record straight, to not allow the mean and the habitually short sighted to get away with an their falsehoods unnoticed.
The departure of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC seemed inevitable, at least to me, as media behemoth Comcast takes over the reins of NBC Universal,the company that was Olbermann's nominal employer. Olbermann was a Methuselah with a bullhorn shouting truth, bolstered with vetted facts, in an arena
where what passed for political analysis had long gone in only one direction, from the right.
Olbermann was the first to talk back to the chorus of barking seals that make up the conservative Greek Chorus, and he got attention. Olbermann's willingness to break with the pack and undermine the criminally contrived rationale for war laid out by the Bush Administration drew an ever increasing audience, and encouraged others of similar mind to not shirk their principles with mainstream disguises; liberals and progressives wore their politics as a badge of honor and asserted their patriotism.
Thanks in large part to Olbermann's brave efforts to give rationale and coherent alternative critique to the group think that brought this country into unjust wars and into a recession, the other part of the discussion, the progressive community, is now part of the equation, an American vein of belief that will not again be marginalized. Of course, MSNBC became popular as a result and was a desireable acquisition in a media takeover; the loudest voice, the most intense believer, had to go. Whether Comcast had anything to do with Olbermann's abrupt departure will or will not come to light as more on this sad event gets unveiled, but the fact remains is that MSNBC retains a host of potent left-leaning voices in Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell and Ed Schultz. Olbermann, however, was the wordsmith, the history buff, the live wire, the heartbeat of what this network has been for millions who wanted their political discussions accompanied by facts and a knowledge of history. One wishes that Olbermann finds a new slot from which to shine his bright light on the doings of the powerful , and one prays that MSNBC refrains from making itself a toothless shadow of itself.