Keith Olbermann’s abrupt and unexpected departure from MSNBC and his Countdown show surprised many, and it has brought out a great deal of response with some stunned and regretful, but most gleefully rejoicing his leaving.
Regardless of Olbermann’s apparently huge ego, for those of us who share his ideology, he always managed to impart both intelligence and, as Benedict Declercq noted, in his comment on Barbara Barnett’s article on Olbermann, here at BC, he (Olbermann) maintains “erudition, eloquence, [and a] warm humanitarian approach.”
I know many find all partisan punditry offensive. It is, nevertheless, a permanent part of the landscape. Opinion has long been a part of the print media and right wing jocks have been chewing the conservative woodwork on radio for several years. Political opinion and commentary are relatively new to television. FOX News is riding high with the Republican gains last November, and the rise of the Tea Party phenomenom, with which they were intimately involved. So much of what they “report” is, shall we say, often found wanting in truth, or at best is wildly distorted, there simply MUST be a counter balance.
The partisan programs airing on both radio and TV are pretty much preaching to the choir, but if one side is allowed to proceed unfettered, unchecked, minorities in particular would suffer diminished access and diminished credibility in the economic and political sphere.
What the right claims as Olbermann’s excesses are soft shoe compared to the outrageous and inflammatory nature of accusations and character assassinations coming from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck in particular. Limbaugh is a blustering gas bag, offense oozing from every pore and is effectively, the de facto leader of the Republican party. They won’t crepitate without getting the nod from Rush.
More dangerous is Beck, who some accurately dismiss as looney tunes, but like it or not, he has a huge following of adoring fans who hang on his every word. He has taken demagoguery to new heights.
Of course there are many far more virulent voices on the radio beyond Limbaugh: Michael Savage, G. Gordon Liddy, Laura Ingraham just to scratch the surface. And then, of course, there is that tall, willowy blond bombshell, Ann Coulter, who baldly claims that all Democrats should be jailed for treason.
Frankly, other than the MSNBC evening line up and Bill Maher on HBO, there is no definitively liberal voice anywhere to be found in either television or radio. The claim that the news media is, by its nature liberal, is a bogus, strawman argument. While in all cases we are dealing with people whose opinions and sympathies are bound to leak through from time to time; the major TV network news organizations take great pains to remain neutral in their reporting and their interviews. Claims to the contrary are specious.
However, in the more and more pervasive land of partisan punditry, there must be a yin to balance the yang. Both voices are necessary. I hate what I hear from the right just as they respond to the left. Much of what comes from both camps is small, petty, and mean spirited. That violence has been brought into the equation is even more troublesome.
Yes, I bemoan the loss of a liberal voice. There were too damn few of them as it was. I presume that Olbermann will eventually land somewhere, but for now at least, we are left to ponder the future without his perspective, his humor, and his humanity in the mix.