I know this piece makes me kind of a fan-boy, but I admit it. I’m one of probably millions of people who are more saddened than words can describe to see Keith Olbermann leave MSNBC.
That’s the bad news. Keep reading for the possible silver lining.
He was the first really visible newsman on TV (and yes, a sports reporter still qualifies as a newsman) to publicly and in so many words ‘call out’ the Republicans when they lied; to see the hypocritical subtexts in GOP government machinations and call them what they were; to call the Rightwingers shameless when they were, and to expose the often subtle ulterior Rightwing motives in their political maneuvers.
Sure, he’s opinionated. Yes, he’s definitely a capital “L” Liberal. No question, he’s gotten angrier as the years have passed. Yet one could almost say that, news-wise, he brought Liberals out of the TV closet, and now he’s left us, at least temporarily.
But if we think of the possibilities, there could be a silver lining in this dark cloud. Allow me to throw out some random (even wild and crazy) thoughts:
- This is everyone’s first thought: Keith goes to CNN as a headlined commentator. Everyone’s second thought is that this will never happen because it would likely require CNN to rethink its news-neutral image;
- Not such a first thought: Keith lands on CNN’s sister network, CNN Headline News. This is not as crazy as it may sound. They have a paucity of actual programming (how many times a day can you re-run Nancy Grace?). HLN is not a ‘real news’ network, and may be an excellent fit for Keith. It’s even a place where Glenn Beck built an initial audience;
- Keith becomes the core of a new Liberal news and opinion network (broadcast or cable, TV or radio), possibly with the backing of a George Soros or similar supporter, bringing his guaranteed uber-loyal audience;
- Keith runs for office (unlikely, but cool);
- Keith syndicates a TV or radio talk show, again with his guaranteed uber-loyal audience. This would allow him to pop up anywhere and everywhere;
- Not-so-crazy (and actually my favorite): Adrift UPN (aka, MyTV) , want a built-in audience? Remake yourself with Keith as a core program. UPN has been a 5th-wheel network since the merger with The WB (aka, The CW). Hiring Keith did kinda work for MSNBC. Could lightning strike twice in the same place? This could be your niche, UPN, and your chance (“MyKeithTV”?);
- Keith moves to Sirius Radio. That would kind of s**k, since I don’t subscribe and don’t care to, and yet … It might be a smart move for someone like Sirius because they might get people like me — who have never dreamed of buying the hardware and subscribing — to do exactly that. (Lord, I hope that isn’t where this goes);
There has been speculation that NBC/Universal has a non-compete clause in Keith’s contract similar to Conan’s. That is now confirmed, and too bad, but still finite.
Be patient, fellow Olbermaniacs. This may not be an end. It may actually be a beginning.
Keith, go forth and multiply…