About 2 weeks ago, right after the exit of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC, I wrote a piece speculating on the possible ways it could turn into a silver lining (Keith Olbermann Leaving MSNBC: A Silver Lining?, January 22, 2011). In that commentary, I listed a number of possible re-entry scenarios for Keith, some of which might constitute a silver lining in the dark cloud of this affair. A couple of the possibilities were (imho) interesting for their real possibilities. Most were along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it be fascinating if…?”
There was one option that buzzed through my head for just a nanosecond, but it was too ludicrous to even throw out as a joke: Keith on FOX(We distort, you decide)News? Nah! Keep moving. Nothing to contemplate here!
Yesterday, someone at the Washington Times, of all places, not only took the idea seriously, they ran with it. (FYI, last I heard, the Washington Times — not to be confused with the Newsweek-owned Washington Post — is still owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Nobody who’s read it will confuse it for a liberal rag.)
In his own headline words, in the opinion of Michael TAUBE: FOXification of Keith Olbermann. Hiring lefty would be a master stroke for cable righties. And I must admit, if his case isn’t probable, it is … interesting.
His arguments, slightly edited into a nutshell:
A. In the battle for ratings and influence, controversy is a good thing, leading to more advertising revenue and profits;
B. The right-leaning network already has liberal hosts, analysts and contributors,including Alan Colmes, Juan Williams, Greta Van Susteren, Bob Beckel, Kirsten Powers, Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen;
C. For Fox, this actually would be a positive virtue. It would be harder to attack the network for having a particular political slant if Olbermann‘s “Worst Person in the World” segment was blasting every Republican in existence;
D. There would be no need to waste any more time, energy or money to show Fox is “fair and balanced” if it had an uber-liberal on the payroll;
E. Imagine a weekly five-minute showdown on Fox between Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly. There’s no love lost between those two men. The ratings for that type of program would go through the roof.
Holy cannoli! Wouldn’t it be fascinating if…?
There are some good points here, but I’ll start with one of my own: Rupert Murdoch never let his ideology get in the way of making a buck. As an example, I’ll say two words: “Simpsons Helicopter”. Go ahead. Google it. So in spite of Murdoch’s recent, “I never fire anyone twice” comment, there’s the “never let his ideology get in the way of making a buck” consideration.
But moving on … Taube’s first thought (“A” above) is that there’s no such thing as bad publicity; Charlie Sheen may be the best recent evidence of that. I would absolutely TiVo Keith on FNC if that’s where he ended up, and hundreds of thousands would likely follow suit. It would make Murdoch smile. It might even look something like this:
Taube’s next thought (“B”) was that Keith would be joining an already-existing stable of liberal journalists and commentators. Mm. Well, I’ll at least agree with him that Fox is a right-slanting network already.
He’s right about “C”. Hiring Keith would make an important statement about FNC’s political slant perception, and that would be good — even great — PR for them.
He’s also right about “D”; all by himself, Keith would automatically move the dial leftward on the “Fair and Balanced” meter. Might even save the helicopter.
And then there’s “E”. WHOA momma! Keith and Bill (“You can’t explain the tides”) O’Reilly. Both on the same network. As political commentators. Ordered by Murdoch or Roger Ayles to be in the same studio and duke it out. For the good of the network. (“It’s in your contract,” or something to that effect.)
You could sell tickets to that!
So, Keith? Mr. Murdoch? Mr. Ayles? Any takers?