Olbermann signs off

           “Countdown” to unemployment.
Keith Olbermann, the acerbic and cerebral host of the MSNBC news/commentary program that was the other side of the demigod coin to Bill O’Reilly’s “Factor” and a thorn in the side of Fox News, signed off Friday night.

No specific reason except to say that Olbermann and the powers that be at the news network just didn’t get along.

Whatever happened to the era of civility Olbermann was preaching —- but kept a jaundiced eye on —- ever since the Tucson tragedy?

Guess he just meant Republicans.

Olbermann was suspened for a few days late last year when it was discovered he contributed money to Democratic candidates in the midterm elections. One of those candidates was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head two weeks ago today during that rampage.

Olbermann has a history of not being able to play ball with the honchos. For years he was a fixture on ESPN and was presumably let go from there. He even had a short-lived show on Fox, before it became the fear-mongering, race-baiting mouth organ of the radical right wing that it is today.

He was canned there,too. Although his ego may be as large as his big head for him to think he got out of there because he saw the writing on the wall. A network with great ratings for sure, but a toxic environment for someone as liberal as Olbermann.

“Countdown” was certainly an acquired taste — but it seldom left a bad taste in your mouth.

It had a cult following of progressive thinkers and certainly was no match for Foxholes who perpetrate myths and feed off of the fears of ordinary Americans who want their country back.

Segments of the show that stood out were “Worst Persons in the World” and “Oddball.” It was eclectic like no other news/commentary show on air.

It was Olbermann’s baby —- when he was off on vacation (or being punished) people who filled in just didn’t seem to pull it off.

“Countdown” was the most popular show on MSNBC —- for what that’s worth. It was a refreshing break from Chris Matthews’ “Hardball” which could turn bitter on a moment’s notice if the host wasn’t busy interrupting his guest or guests to answer their question first before he could screech his own opinion on any given subject.

Of all the other own-air news personalities at MSNBC, only Rachel Maddow has the appeal, the keen eye for everything politics and the wit to watch on a nightly basis.

The writing on “Countdown” was always terrific —- especially the witty parts. And Olbermann is kind of like a cross between David Letterman and Dick Cavett. Cynical and smart — which doesn’t always sit well with Middle America.

Olbermann would occasionally overstep his bounds, though: some of his special comments had him rambling on way too long.

Maybe he wasn’t a good fit at the progressive news network after all. MSNBC, if it wants to start taking itself a little more seriously as a new network, has got to run 24/7. On the weekends, it airs prison and crime shows. And we’re not talking reruns of the old “Hawaii 5-0″ or “Mannix.” No it’s more like prison and crime documentaries or special news programs.

It’s almost enough to make you watch Fox reruns of the best of Beckerwood and Hannity from the previous week. Thank God for sports — and HBO.

For years Olbermann was the target of Fox. They wanted him off the air, even if he was only attracting a meesly little 1.1 million viewers per.

Olbermann was the enemy within over at Fox. And Fox was his enemy. Well, maybe not as much as he is his own enemy.

“Countdown” put a lot of people in their place who deserved their just desserts. And it was sweet.

Olbermann seemed to be souring on his audience since he came back from suspension, though — and especially since the shootings in Tucson.

He was quick to blame the right wing-nuts like Beck, Palin and Limbaugh. And when he did talk to people on his show who didn’t have a dog in that fight, he flat out asked them if they, well, if they were in his corner.

That was out of character — out of bounds, if you will, for the former sportscaster.

When he was on ESPN, one of his catch phrases was offered up whenever there was footage of a wide receiver running full speed away from the defense. Olbermann would say: “They’re not gonna get him!”

They never caught him either.

But he did manage to give them the ball back because he can’t seem to play nice with others.

Life doesn’t always have to be looked at like it’s a rivalry.

When you hit 50 —- like Olbermann —- you should be at ease with the fact you’re passed the age of ever playing in the major leagues.

Hell, the minors were out of the question miles ago.

Olbermann was at times a voice of reason.

Now, for whatever reason, he’s taking himself out of equation.

You can live without Larry King and his obsession with wanting to be hip and oblivious to the fact that hip in his case is you better not fall and break yours.

And who in their right mind can listen to Regis without first downing one of those ‘trentas” from Stabucks?

“Countdown with Keith Olbermann” certainly wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea.

But as soon as you hear that intro music written by Beethoven you kind of figured you were in for the clever, witty and urbane news program that maybe secretly wanted to be on after the late news.

Good night, and good luck.

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One Response to Olbermann signs off

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