The rampant speculation about why Keith Olbermann has left MSNBC is baffling. He said clearly on air that he had been “told” last night was his last night. That = fired. No? Hello!
That said, the thing was handled pretty nicely on both ends. The network let him go on air to do his final show and say his goodbyes. Olbermann was measured, apparently even good-humored, and gracious sounding. The departure was kept so well hidden that the first guest on the show last night, Josh Marshall, came away stunned to find out that Olbermann was gone.
“I did not have any sense that there was anything any different than normal going on,” Marshall writes. “Everything seemed calm and pretty sedate.”
Here is the segment where Olbermann signs off:
There was a time when Olbermann’s presence on air was nothing short of thrilling. In the darkest, most dystopian days of the Bush administration circa 2006 or so, he seemed the lone major-media voice representing the “reality-based community” that Bush insiders and spinners–read: Karl Rove–overtly derided.
Even his obvious mannerisms–consciously aping Edward R. Murrow by turning his right shoulder to the camera and looking up at it as though it were 1953 and he was hosting “See It Now”–didn’t quite ruin the effect. But it did lead to suspicions that Olbermann’s ego was such that, one day, a moment like this would come.
Over time, as Olbermann increasingly threw his lot in with the flighty-est wing of the progressive movement, his schtick grew tired. I stopped being a regular viewer right around the time that Obama got elected. I feared at the time that, with a Democrat in power, he would become incorrigible, and too often, he was. It’s too bad he couldn’t pull out of that dive before it became too late. He is a broadcaster of tremendous talent.
But maybe he should go back to sports for a while.