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    Olbermann Watch, "persecuting" Keith since 2004

    February 10, 2005
    Olbermann Establishes New Bottom in Year Long Descent into Madness

    Not long ago I asked a friend at MSNBC what exactly the cable network saw in Keith Olbermann. He is not a journalist, he is a disgrace to the title of "news anchor", his ratings are a running joke - MSNBC ratings go down when he comes on and go up when he goes off - and he routinely embarrases himself by pilfering "news" from web sites and blogs, getting his facts wrong and otherwise putting our a shoddy, sloppy news show. The answer: "he's our Jon Stewart". If by that they mean Keith is a joke then maybe they have a point.

    The problem with "being Jon Stewart" is that it requires being funny - a sense of comic timing, knowing the difference between "snarky" and "bitter" oh, and good ratings. Some modicum of stage prescence helps.

    MSNBC would be lucky if Keith were "our Uncle Floyd".

    Exhibit A in Why Keith Olbermann is not anyone's Jon Stewart from last night's trainwreck of a show called Countdown.

    (click image for quicktime movie)
    Beam Me Up

    Posted by Robert Cox | Permalink | Comments (5) | | View blog reactions


    I wonder if your friend was speaking for MSNBC or simply offering his/her opinion? To insinuate that "Countdown" is an MSNBC "Daily Show" is truly not a fair comparison. As snide and sarcastic as KO can be, he DOES, on occasion, also report straight news stories. That this is misleading is arguable, but to assert that everything he reports is biased is likewise inaccurate.

    Stewart has a crack staff of comedy writers while KO claims to write his own stuff. Stewart is a formidable comedian and KO, while clever enough, clearly isn't.

    So, if your friend was speaking for the network, MSNBC had better rethink its approach to "Countdown," hire some writers and professional comedians to meet its goal. If your friend is simply offering his/her opinion, and truly thinks "Countdown" purports to compete with "The Daily Show" I'd have to question his/her sense of humor.

    Speaking as one who'd prefer to see O'Reilly glazed and turning on a spit with an apple in his mouth, even I was turned off by KO's totally lame attempt skewering him last night. Holy cow!

    I've always thought he tried to pattern himself more on David Letterman than John Stewart.

    I agree with you Paul, but I think one thing that needs to be said is that Keith IS a brilliant writer. And though he's not a comedian, like Stewart, he is funny, and off-beat, and intelligent.

    However, unlike Stewart, he is also a one-sided elitist and has a mean-streak a mile wide.

    Characteristics that are less noticable when he's acting as a sports commentator, but off-putting to most of the public when he's playing news anchor.

    I agree that MSNBC shouldn't compare KO to Jon Stewart for a variety of reasons I'll touch on. I'll also go so far as to say that sometimes KO's witticisms and nonsense come off just fine. That's not what's hurting him (and those forced to view him!). It's partly the venue, and partly the execution.

    Nuance is tough to do. Countdown walks a tightrope by trying to be both a serious news show and a comedy show. The daily show is all laughs, and makes few pretences for seriousness. Even that softball interview Stewart did with Kerry had a few laughs in it. So I can watch it for laughs and excuse Stewarts political biases that comes across.

    But KO is just not funny enough to suffer through. His agenda is unbalanced and most often who and what he lampoons show it. Serious or light, his story selection and line of questioning of his regular cadre of ass-kissing guests show unfairness and imbalance. Fox hosts are conservative. Their aganda is most often conservative. Except for Brit Hume, I don't like them personally, or think they're great intellects. But I watch them because while they're biases, they're also fair and balanced by having opposing views on each issue.

    I consider KO better informed and witty than most of the Fox prime time hosts. But because of his unfair and unbalanced execution, his show is insufferable. And because of that---like Robert said---a bit of nonsense or witticism that might ordinarily elicit a chuckle instead comes off as flip and snide. His cheap devices like the subliminal segues (re: OLBYconvergence) would be horribly transparent if the pace of the show were slower. Read the transcripts and see for yourself. His cheap jabs often go by unnoticed while viewing.

    >>>Countdown walks a tightrope by trying to be both a serious news show and a comedy show.>>>Countdown walks a tightrope by trying to be both a serious news show and a comedy show.

    My view here is that he fails to walk the tightrope, and it is probably an impossible task. I find him completely insufferable now, but when I lived in LA and watched him daily as a funny sportscaster, I thought he was good, funny, different.

    I think the problem here is that he is trying to do serious news as comedy and that is impossible, and almost always ends up coming off in poor taste. How funny are dead Tsunami victims? Can you be making sarcastic comments about things and run a story on that at the same time?

    The Daily Show is not a news show, it is a comedy show, which is entirely different. It uses news to make jokes, the point is the joke, and not the news. KO makes jokes out of the news, and the news is deadly serious, and not funny most of the time.

    I guess they are giving this format a try, but I also think the viewers have spoken.

    Now MSNBC is going to put that total idiot Ron Reagan on the air with his own show. He is someone that as soon as I see him onscreen I change the channel, which is even worse than Olbermann.

    I think MSNBC needs to get Dr. Phil, so he can sit down with them and say "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING????" MSNBC is blowing it big time. Young people and the nutball left don't watch TV news shows.


    "Young people and the nutball left don't watch TV news shows"

    --> To quote the Ronster, "There you go again!"

    I'm gonna break one of my rules here. Screw your "nutball left" BS. Screw your incessant generalizations. And my kids DO watch TV news. And they READ political books. I and many other dems FREQUENT repub sites/networks. And here's a bulletin...If dems all revered KO, his ratings would be a lot better than they are.

    Righties also claimed that liberal radio would fail dismally. It's spreading like pollen.

    Your conventional wisdom is often neither. And when you lose your manners, you've got little left to offer.