Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"But Keith Olbermann's a Sportscaster..."

The other night was the latest installment in Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment Gutshot" editorials aimed at President Bush. While this one nudges into the shrillzone, it is still great and needs to be seen. As usual, Crooks and Liars has the video and the transcript.

I was in a long-running argument with a commenter over at John Cole's Balloon Juice [link] about Olbermann's background. After KO's 9/11 Ground Zero broadcast, this commenter argued that KO's sports background rendered him unqualified to analyze the President, and his opinion worthless.

Yeah, a guy with a degree in Communications from Cornell must be a real idiot. Twenty-six years in journalsm, ACE and Murrow awards, but he needs to shut up because he once worked in sports?

Rush Limbaugh was a failed Top-40 DJ. He can shut the fuck up anytime now, I guess.

Steve Bergstein at Psychsound just articulated a great response to the bogus "Who the hell is Keith Olbermann" position:
The only news anchor today with the courage to stand up to this administration is Keith Olbermann, a former sportscaster. There's no irony here. Sports reporters cannot make things up or slant the truth. The games are broadcast for all to see, and there is no way that a sports journalist can shuck and jive the public. If a team's playing lousy, then the team's playing lousy. Sportwriters can also be the best writers at the newspaper. The have to weave poetry and keen observation skills in analyzing the game.

One caveat: Sportscasters and writers can clearly exhibit spin or bias—try watching a Yankees game and you'll see what I mean. Other than that Steve's right. Olbermann's clearly a gifted writer. He (and Craig Kilborn) set the high water mark at ESPN and no one else has ever come close. Mitch Albom and Bob Costas have also risen above and branched out succesfully from the ballpark to politics and other arenas (pun intended).

Olbermann's show can be campy and over the top at times, and I have long since lost interest in his fued with O'Reilly, but the three recent special commentaries he's used to skewer Bush have been powerful and important episodes, and worthy of all the attention and accolades they've garnered.

Olbermann is starting to do the work no one else seems capable or willing to do, and I have nothing but praise for anybody speaking truth to power.

Cross-posted at


Anonymous said...

Mr. Olbermann graduated from Cornell, not Colgate.

Mr Furious said...

GAH! That's right! Thanks.

S.W. Anderson said...

It's probably also helpful that Olbermann and his program don't require access to the White House and top knockers in our Republican-controlled Congress. Not that I think he would let that stop him.

"Countdown's" emphasis on outrageous video clips, campy humor and, ugh, celebrity gossip are clearly bids for gaining lots of viewers in the under-30 demographic advertisers prize. If that's the price of admission for the rest of us, the balance of what "Countdown" does is worth it.

The one suggestion I would make to Olbermann about his commentaries is to make at least most of them a wee bit shorter. Not that they're not great throughout; they are. It's just that that under-30 demographic, especially, but most Americans, truth be known, start to wander afield, mentally and/or physically, after 600 words or so.

Thrillhous said...

Dang, that was a fun thread over at BJ.