Last night MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann had his last broadcast as host of the show Countdown. The end of his show and his career at MSNBC was unexpected — so unexpected that the network continued to run a promo for his show 30 minutes after he announced his departure on air.
We’ll hear a lot about Olbermann’s departure from the pundits, the broadcasters, and the blogosphere in the next few days, with many people calling him a fearless advocate for progressive views and many others saying good riddance to a shrill voice. I don’t really care much either way, because Kish and I stopped watching Olbermann’s show years ago. If you wanted to view events from a consistently liberal perspective, you could watch Countdown — but no one who wanted to actually get the news, in any semblance of unbiased form, would tune in that show. And, for us at least, Olbermann’s tiresome interactions with the pundits who always appeared on his show and shared his viewpoint, and Olbermann’s smug, absurdly self-important and self-referential commentaries, just became unwatchable. His show not only was not objective, it also was bad TV. Countdown wasn’t watched by many Americans, and I think that was why.
TV news needs to return to basics and get away from the kind of advocacy programming that has come to dominate the “news channels.” The end of Olbermann’s show may be a step in the right direction.