Look Forward to Keith Olbermann’s Next Platform


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Keith Olbermann and his producers made me a fairly regular commentator on politics and foreign policy on his show — borrowing me now and then from Rachel Maddow who originally brought me into the MSNBC world.
I am going to miss Keith’s powerful voice on MSNBC but look forward to his next venture of which there must be one.
— Steve Clemons


5 comments on “Look Forward to Keith Olbermann’s Next Platform

  1. Kathleen says:

    Keith Ollbermann is about as “anti establishment” on Israeli Palestinian issues as Abe Foxman, Dennis Ross or Terri Gross. Olbermann was as silent on these issues as Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and other MSM talking heads continue to be. All of these mouth pieces were completely silent on the Goldstone Report, the UN report on the massacre on the Mavi Marmara, Palestinian protest…..Keith Ollberman was a complicit in the crimes being committed by Israel as any other talking head. Those million dollar paychecks make sure of that silence.


  2. Dan Kervick says:

    “Starting a cable station and getting cable companies to carry it must be a hugely expensive proposition.”
    I can’t imagine that’s the case anymore. I don’t watch much TV, but it looked to me the last time I puttered with my cable remote that there are now literally hundreds of stations. I don’t think starting one and at least getting one of those hundreds of slots is all that hard. The challenge comes in building the network by delivering content people actually want to watch, and moving up in the channels queue, and of course that takes some resources. But it is something that can be built up gradually over time.
    But progressives are probably going to have to step up and subsidize such a network with cash donations. Commercial financing supports commercial interests. So if progressives want a network that is independent of the Jeffrey Immelts and Bank of Americas of the world, then they are going to have to run it as a partially volunteer-supported common good.
    I hope if they are able to get something like this off the ground, they move away from the opinion-cum-bloviation format. (Granted bloviation is the Olbermann specialty.) What is desperately needed is accurate and advanced information and reportage that pursues the main progressive concerns and values, so that progressives can get themselves intellectually re-armed to take on their opponents. Emotionally satisfying diatribes that tell me nothing I don’t already know are a dime a dozen these days.
    I never listened to Air America, so I can’t tell you why it failed. But my guess is that the main progressive audience doesn’t have a lot of time or opportunity to listen to daytime radio. And if NPR is running an actual investigative news story about something happening somewhere in the world, why would I switch the station just to listen to some comedian-blowhard ripping up the airwaves with snark and lectures. So much of our media has moved to a sort of all op-ed, all the time format. It’s boring.
    Olbermann was frequently boring, too, if you ask me. I don’t think I have seen an episode of his show since 2008. But he has an audience, so maybe he can put his popularity to improved use.
    I think the next entrepreneurial step is to find more creative ways to bundle cable broadcasts, social media, investigative journalistic research, forwardable downloads, traditional publishing and even scholarly research into a single branded enterprise, in which a variety of arms and audiences support an integrated high-quality information product, with each arm drawing on some of the output of the others. But they shouldn’t go crazy trying to reach everybody.
    For the on-air component I would like to see a clean and elegant, but non-fussy, non-noisy aesthetic, dropping all of the wasteful and expensive frills – the sound effects and musical explosions, the lurid and ridiculous graphics, the egomanical puffery for the on-air talent – in favor of a quietly smooth attractiveness. Sort of a Shaker furniture of the airwaves, suffused with decency and dignity.
    Both political parties, at least two of the three branches of government, and all of the media, are now bought and owned subsidiaries of the private sector corporate-commercial leviathan, and serve its interests. For a progressive alternative to take root, there is going to have to be a more vibrant community sector, based on innovative not-for profit funding models. A community sector is different from both the private sector and the public (government) sector.
    One thing the talent on these networks could do to set a good example is take less pay. Or else the network can just hire newcomers who aren’t accustomed to having so much. The on-air talent should also be shot against a less controlled background. Show the station’s workers and staff more during news delivery breaks; introduce them on-air. Rotate the jobs. Break down some of the show biz barrier between talent, audience and staff. And distribute the broadcast origination sites around the country. Get out of DC, LA and New York.
    Progressives should put their careers where their mouths are, and prove that their alternative models of social and economic organization are viable by putting them into practice directly, building a vibrant and more egalitarian community sector that exists side by side with the more traditional commercial sector, but that is run properly and efficiently, and begins a model that flourishes through imitation.
    If people see that more value can be delivered for lower cost, in many industries, by adopting a team approach and eliminating so much of the waste that is drained away by inequality and the commercial and individualistic star system, people will demand to have more of their stuff delivered that way.


  3. WigWag says:

    “My guess is that he and some group of entrepreneurial progressives will start a new network.” (Dan Kervick)
    Highly unlikely I think. It was tried on radio; but Air American flopped and went bankrupt. The other progressive radio network, Pacifica, is in extremis.
    Starting a cable station and getting cable companies to carry it must be a hugely expensive proposition. Then there’s the fact that Olbermann can command $5-10 million per year, can a group of progressives starting up a new station afford to pay him (or other talent) anywhere near that?
    Al Gore actually tried to start his own progressive network; it’s called “Current TV.” It still exists, but it’s widely considered a failure. It certainly isn’t the type of station that Keith Olbermann would want to appear on. I doubt that Steve Clemons would even waste his time doing a guest appearance on a show running on this channel.
    If you’re interested, you can learn more about it here,
    Time will tell, but I bet Olbermann is hosting a show on CNN in about a year. They will put him in the time-slot he used to appear in on MSNBC and, in terms of ratings, he will clean the MSNBC clocks.


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