Extreme Right 3, American People 0

Olbermann Departs Extreme Right WinsThere ain’t no clean way to make a hundred million bucks,” Ohls said. “Maybe the head man thinks his hands are clean but somewhere along the line guys got pushed to the wall, nice little businesses got the ground cut from under them and had to sell out for nickels, decent people lost their jobs, stocks got rigged on the market, proxies got bought up like a pennyweight of old gold, and the five percenters and the big law firms got paid hundred-grand fees for beating some law the people wanted but the rich guys didn’t, on account of it cut into their profits. Big money is big power and big power gets used wrong. It’s the system. Maybe it’s the best we can get but it still ain’t any Ivory Soap deal.” ….Raymond Chandler in “The Long Goodbye,” published in 1953.

In one of those odd coincidences that we all walk into occasionally, I spent much of the afternoon of January 21 going through notes, printouts and clippings with a view to writing something about the increasing and probably irreversible corruption of the corporate news media. Then I joined my wife for dinner and turned on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” who told us, without explanation, that it was his last show.

The strong but subtly phrased suggestion was that he had been forced out, given a buyout he didn’t really want.

That was quickly confirmed by several reports on line, although details are still lacking.

It was nice of MSNBC to give such powerful evidence to support what I plan to say, but like all genuine progressives, I’d really prefer that Olbermann were still regularly on the air.

A number of writers have suggested that Olbermann’s canning was part of the already stinking Comcast takeover of NBC. The network denied that, of course, but anyone accepting that denial at face value undoubtedly loses considerable sums to carny games and dealers of three card monty.

Not that it matters. Even without a push from Comcast, it’s a much-reported fact that the guys at the top of NBC and MSNBC hate Olbermann.

Why wouldn’t they? They’re part of the big money crowd. Olbermann made them plenty of money, and turned MSNBC from a puny operation into the second biggest “news” network in the country. But he was against everything the really big money guys believe in, everything they want for themselves and the country -– which is to say, an oligarchy of the super rich and a docile and increasingly poor and powerless population.

MSNBC is left with Rachel Maddow, its number two star up to now, and Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell. The network executives, for a time anyway, will be comfortable with that lineup.

Olbermann took large bites out of George W. Bush and his gang of crooks, war lovers and profiteers. He was effective. He used facts, unlike the fiction-spouting right-wing evangelicals on Fox News. His facts were devastating in themselves, and more so because the rest of corporate media shied from publishing the most damning of them.

And Olbermann didn’t let up when Barack Obama became president. He refused to let Democrats slide on their shady deals with corporate donors just because they were Democrats.

(Democratic Party: The Judas-goat wing of the Corporate Party, so tame that stake and leash are not required.)

Maddow, pulled into MSNBC by Olbermann, was effective in telling some truths during the 2010 campaign season, but she is easily tolerated by the big-money people. She is, first, a part of the Democrat information/propaganda team. She criticizes Obama and the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid gently and only occasionally; mostly her criticisms are softball tweaks of the nose. And she uncritically promotes women Democrats, especially, giving frequent air time to the likes of Minnesota’s Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who obeys every command of the National Rifle Association and Israel’s Likudnik supporters in this country.

Also, Maddow more and more frequently shows that what she loves is the political game; actual policy is much less important in her little world. She swallows a lot of garbage if it’s fed to her by Democrats.

Given the Democratic Party’s role as beard for the Republicans, Maddow will be employed for a while.

Very few people pay any attention to Schultz, who demonstrates the intellectual capacity of a moose or a Fox commentator, and O’Donnell is a nice guy badly miscast in his present role. He’s trying to be tough lately, but he comes off as merely snarky; he entirely lacks the genuine, admirable toughness of Olbermann, as well as the latter’s wit and deep intelligence.

So there you have it.

jim fullerThe oligarchs have scored hugely in the last week. They’ve removed from the scene the only truly effective progressive commentator in television, they got a major “news” source put into the hands of Comcast,  an organization as right wing in philosophy and action as Rupert Murdoch (owner of Fox and a whole lot of other “news” outlets), and the FCC, predictably, approved the tear-down of Internet neutrality,  which means that Comcast and its extreme right-wing allies, such as Verizon, will be able to control to very large degree what we can see on the Internet.

Champagne corks must be popping and billionaires must be getting roaringly, happily drunk this weekend, probably in the company of some of their more prominent servants in Congress and the courts.

Jim Fuller
Things We’re Not Supposed to Say


  1. Jay Levenberg,Esq. says

    Some of you sound like you would like the Government to control the media just because you don’t like what you hear. I am so glad we First Amendment. I want to hear all sides, not just those I agree with because no one person is right 100% of the time. Keith turned off so many people with his vitriolic remarks that he ended up being a lousy spokesmen for his point of view. Maddow is much better and less caustic and now MSNBC has added former Governor Rendell who will be a breath of fresh air to the network and who knows how to make an argument without being argumentative. When you watch him you will appreciate a real pro in action.

  2. Richard Packard says

    I’m grateful that I no longer rely on televsion to keep me informed as to whats happening here (United States) and around the world. I choose to utilize the internet where I have a choice to go to a liberal, conservative or moderate site to gather my information and then decide (critical thinking) what is “truthful”. Unfortunately, Americans have been so “dumbed-down” over the last thirty plus years that they need “commentators” to tell them “what” and “how” they feel or believe. I use to hear a news commercial that stated, “we report you decide”, I no longer hear that commercial. Most Americans seem not to be able to discern facts from opinions, truth from fiction, and reasoning from feelings. Its no wonder that then senator Barack Obama’s campaign slogan “yes we can” had an opportunity again to reaffirm its place in the psyche of the American people during the mid-term elections they “fell” back to opinions, fiction and feelings. When you have a dumbed-down America the vanguard of truth and information is replaced with inuendos, falsehood, deception and extremism. Rational and Critical thinking has been replace with sensationalism, drama, tabloid stories and “other fillers” to quench the American appetite for gossip and finger-pointing. I believe that Mr. Olberman became a victim of the “watered-down” journalism that he help to perpetuate in his reporting. Like many reporters today he interjected his personal opinion into the reporting, when I think of the stalwarts of television reporting I think about individuals like, Walter Cronkite, George Putnam, Jerry Dumphey, Hal Fishmann, Peter Jennings and Ted Koppel. The public had little indication about these individuals “personal” or “political” position about a story, only of some occasions they would do a commentary present the facts and an antidote. What was once esteemed as an honorable profession has been reduced to opinions, feelings, political-correctness, finger-pointing, character assassination, power brokering, profit driven and societal control. Much like our politics, business, education and religion.

  3. pat kirk says


  4. SlyFoxDude says

    Keith will be missed? What was his rating? How many viewers did he command each night? I’m sure that the execs at CNN will have no problem replacing him. May I suggest looking at NPR. They have more than their fair share of liberals their. If CNN takes one they will have a void to fill with someone that leans to the Right. I don’t know about you but I won’t be holding my breath for this to happen.

  5. Sue Fenwick says

    Thank you, Jim Fuller, and LA Progressive for this fine article. Keith Olbermann is a true American patriot, not a false one such as those who tout themselves to be thus (e.g the Tea Party members).

    Keith will still be a positive influence on American thought via his writings and other commentary. May he go forth, walk in peace, and receive the appreciation from many quarters that he so richly deserves.

  6. David Kendall says

    Without Daddy Olbermann to hold their hands, what will those on the Left now do with themselves? Has the time finally come for them to stand up for themselves through cooperative self-management?

    Perish the thought. That would be totally ‘gay’.

    Instead, let us take it to the streets, in honor of Keith Olbermann. Instead of reorganizing the workplace cooperatively and distributing control of capital democratically, let us take up pickett signs and dress up like clowns and march through the streets of Washington, D.C. —

    — all in the name of Keith Olbermann. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to see that we’ve learned so much from his years of hard work on our behalf.

    Meanwhile, and despite all ‘American’ stupidity…

    “Mr. Boehner? Where are the jobs?”

  7. SallyD says

    We will miss Keith. My mum is an old newsie, and she said he was the only voice on TV who held to the old-fashioned ideals of accountability in the media, of cutting through the half-truths and obfuscation which litter the news and political environment in this country. He also has a wonderful grasp of the English language, and his dialogues were a delight, clearly voicing all the things we wish we could articulate.
    If my grandfather was still alive (he was a newsman between 1920’s-1950’s), I think he’d enjoy Keith’s work, and burst a blood vessel over everyone else’s.

  8. Luke Easter says

    Injealetent & Keith Olbermann

    What the heck’s this, searched Webster’s never seen or heard,
    Okay, Incompetence and Jealousy combine to form this word,
    A relentless barrage of interference from those who cannot do,
    Their job & they are out to create obstacles so neither can you.

    They only have primary characteristics the afore mentioned two,
    And come hell or high water their only goal is not going through,
    Because, if someone who knows what they’re doing ever gets in,
    “Injealetent” are aware their next stop is the dreaded trash bin.

    The most outlandish problems with the public sector of the U.S.?
    It deprives the country of receiving leadership from the very best,
    As elected officials will promote their family, lovers and friends,
    Surely this is where the dirty deals and back door politics begins.

    “Why Nothing Works” is a featured article by, William S. Lind,
    He tells how the streetcar took you to work & back home again,
    Truly those days are far beyond the nightmares of transit today,
    Mechanical problems & route cuts leave cabs as the only way.

    Supposedly there is factual evidence that 911 was an inside job,
    From our political arena & not someone connected to the Mob,
    The ability to do the job in today’s world makes you a liability,
    This only adds to the chaos-energized confusion of the mystery.

    Woe be unto the person who actually works eight hours a day,
    As anyone who actually does a good job has gotten in the way,
    Standards for performance are higher along with accountability,
    Not to promote but whom to fire is what they are looking to see.

    Bill’s right, back in the day people were rewarded not dismissed,
    Good workers received a pat on the back, sometimes even a kiss,
    You’d better be careful how you market your interpersonal skills,
    The diagnosis is a terminal one as it’s a loosing, battle of the wills.

    All jobs should be like the game of football and their quarterback,
    If you always throw interceptions or fumble the ball under attack,
    Performance, statistics & results are criteria positioning who will,
    It should be like General Patton, “I’ll relieve them of duty until…”

    Does anyone need an example? Okay, this is how it would be,
    Investigate that fiasco between Keith Olbermann and MSNBC,
    One of a handful who, “consistently” challenged the status quo,
    Speaking justice this reporter & commentator had to be let go.

    I can still remember his early days on Sports Center at ESPN,
    That smirk of confidence via his knowledge the smile, his grin,
    He could take a simple single and turn it into the greatest play,
    Others tried to accomplish, for him it always came out that way.

    Isn’t it amazing that a guy with this talent then again maybe not,
    Could be cool as a cucumber discussing topics so politically hot,
    Had Keith been the kind of guy to fear adversity and back down,
    Not rock the boat, surely he and his show would still be around.
    Keith led the rally for truth, our only solace against George Bush,
    Unabashed, composed, eloquent, well versed, not afraid to push,
    The sigh of relief among broadcasters, this guy was finally let go,
    Relax, no more looking over the shoulder standing on their toes.

    Neither Olbermann nor NBC are talking publicly yet and rightly so,
    Because one wrong word, a law suit, he can forget another show,
    Allegedly Comcast didn’t like the way he built castles in the sand,
    Since his house wasn’t built on their foundation it could not stand.

    This Keith guy was a real Maverick in the arena of talk show lore,
    When everyone succumbed to pressure, “K.O.” would give more,
    A knock out punch he know would get him thrown out of the ring,
    So if he ever had a chance to do it over again? Same damn thing.

    So, there you have it, those two words in action, prime example,
    And unfortunately this incident is just one of too many samples,
    As the hard facts are never fun or popular they must be relayed,
    Taking back my basketball, by my rules only the game is played.

    Now forget all the rigmarole, how well you performed in the past,
    Only what is completed today will make an impression that lasts,
    I’ve come up with many combinations of words I’d like to invent,
    None have even come close to the creative genus, “Injealetent.”

    By Luke Easter & Tim King

  9. DDhawk says

    Keith ‘is all that’s left of a credible media’…
    w/out him , we ‘all’ suffer…& that’s a ‘fact’ !!!

    Come-on CNN , step-up to the plate here
    & pick-up Keith…1st amendment & all.
    It’s ‘your turn’ to do the right thing here.

    I’m sure all the other disgusting lap-dog
    networks have orders from their overlords
    to turn a blind-eye to what’s happening here.

  10. David Locke says

    Countdown with Keith will be sorely missed but it was good while it lasted. Keith is not perfect but his Special Comments were the best part of television through the Bush years and have been spot on for Obama as well. Nowhere else has truth been spoke to power as clearly as in this occasional segment.
    Don’t count out Maddow, Schultz and O’Donnell or Dylan Ratigan for that matter (the only tv host i saw that interviewed Ted Rall about his book “American Manifesto” he has some non corporate balls as well).

    As i write, it becomes clear, I am at a loss for words on Keith’s departure. i hope someone picks him up and i hope the other MSNBC afternoon/evening hosts pick up where he left off.


  11. says

    It’s a foregone conclusion: The United States of America is screwed. Thanks to the deregulation of the media, the right wing in this country controls this country’s national political discourse. Get used to living in a country in ruins. This is the new reality – and the American people (most of them anyway) are just too mind-numbingly stupid to figure out what is happening to them.

    I was thrilled eight years ago when Keith Olbermann came back to MSNBC after a hiatus of a number of years. Back in the nineties, during the Clinton impeachment/persecution, he was one of the very few voices of reason in the televised media wilderness. He’s gone now. And I fear it’s for good.


    Tom Degan

  12. Carl Matthes says

    Keith was unique and an important voice. In an era dominated by fast-talking right-wing ideologues, Keith was a counterbalance. My sharp interest began dulling, however, when Keith made too many jokes and laughed too often at the antics of right-wing personalities. What they are doing is not a laughing matter and his dismissing them as being dumb or ignorant began to smack of an ivory tower elitism. It’s a mistake to make fun of these types of Americans. I kept hoping Keith would present the facts without having dismissive attitude, a la O’Donnell and Rachel and especially my growing favorite, Cenk Uygur. But, nothing can replace Keith’s brilliance, dogged reporting and incisive voice. While MSNBC has big shoes to fill, I am certain Keith is bound for even greater success.

  13. Donna says

    Quite honestly, it was getting to where I couldn’t tell Keith’s tactics apart from those whackos on Fox. I like Ed and Rachel’s approach. They’re actually somewhat more aligned with my personal favorite, Jon Stewart! I like Keith but I always felt like I was watching the circus live.


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