Olbermann goes off on Komen while new report says he remains off his rocker
02/08/12 01:41 PM
By ED BARK
PASADENA, Calif. -- The elephant in the room -- or perhaps the donkey given his temperament and politics -- was Keith Olbermann's belated pull-out from Current TV's mid-January session during the semi-annual network TV "press tour."
He had been notably absent from his network's prime-time coverage of the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire presidential primary. The usual Olbermann-esque controversy ensued. And now his at-odds relationship with his latest set of bosses is being revisited in a lengthy new Daily Beast piece headlined "Al Gore's desperate bid to keep Keith Olbermann -- and save Current TV."
A telling quote from Current president David Bohrman indicates that this particular inmate in effect is running the asylum. "The one thing that I know instinctively is that Keith should be Keith," he told reporter Rebecca Dana. "There's no one at Current that's ever gonna tell him what to say or what to do."
Or, apparently, when to show up for work.
Olbermann is back at the throttle of his weeknightly Countdown program, lately pulling his "Special Comment" trigger on the easily targeted Susan G. Komen For the Cure/Planned Parenthood funding fiasco. He ended with the words "Komen's corruption remains" on Tuesday night.
At the Current "press tour" session, where Olbermann had been scheduled to appear until two days beforehand, Bohrman said the network "had approached Keith about doing election coverage a couple of months ago for the early primaries. He declined. We have now been told by Keith that he will be leading our coverage going forward, and that is what we want to do."
It must be nice to be accepting a multi-million dollar salary from a ratings-starved network while at the same time telling the presumable powers that be -- including the former vice president of the United States -- when and where you'll work.
One usually has to leave the corporate climate all together to do that, as your friendly content provider has done. Not so with Olbermann -- at least not so far. But the indefatigable bridge-burner almost assuredly will push his bosses too far at some point. He always has.
Gore was at the press tour session, along with another MSNBC expatriate, Cenk Uygur (pronounced "Jenk"), and former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm. They respectively host The Young Turks and The War Room as part of Current's "Politically Direct" nighttime bloc of what Gore termed "news and information from a progressive point of view" that's aimed squarely at a "younger demographic."
Uygur presented himself as an Olbermann with training wheels via his pledge to "punch the establishment in the mouth." And in his presumptuous view, CNN is the water-carrying toady among fellow 24-hour news networks MSNBC and Fox News Channel.
"I would like to declare war on the establishment media like CNN because they have their plastic fake robot anchors on there that do not deliver the news," Uygur pronounced in his opening manifesto before questions were taken. "What they do is standard 'he said, she said' drivel."
Uygur later roasted CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer for writing "an article on cnn.com called a 'Salute to the Politicians.' That's the kind of drivel you have in the establishment media."
(It in fact was a little yucky, with Blitzer saying in a January 10th commentary that the mostly very wealthy Republican presidential candidates "could easily coast at this point in their lives and sit back and relax." Instead, he said, they work long, hard hours on the campaign trail, "knowing full well that all their warts will be exposed big time."
Blitzer concluded by noting that "cynics say they have huge egos and are simply seeking power and glory. This is certainly true of some politicians. But having covered many of them over the years, I also know some are trying to do the right thing, and I salute them.")
Here's something that's certainly true of Uygur. He's a blowhard to whom truth is easily ascertained because he cuts through all the boring point/counterpoint debate to tell you exactly what's up. Why present the other side when you're so certain of your own possession of the facts? All that's necessary is to invite others who share your opinions to be guests on your show. What's so hard about that?
Still, unclebarky.com wondered why Uygur was "ragging so much on CNN." Aren't they at least trying to be "reasonably objective?" Isn't that supposed to be the core foundation of journalism? Would we really be better served by letting all TV reporters run hog wild in the interests of reinforcing their networks' or local stations' political missions?
Uygur wasn't buying it. CNN is little more than a lot of "neutral crap," he contended. He gave a far-fetched example, contending that if CNN were covering the Denver Broncos-Pittsburgh Steelers playoff game, "They would have said, 'Well, the Broncos say they scored the game-winning touchdown, but the Steelers say they scored it.' Who scored it? Tell me who won. And they (CNN anchors and reporters) don't do that. They're scared to death of telling you what's happening in this country."
Seriously? Does he really believe that?
Gore ended the Current session by saying independence is "not just a word. It's not just a slogan. It's not just an identity. It is a reality that empowers us to ignore what corporate conglomerates might want. We don't answer to any powers that be. We do our very best to present the truth without fear or favor and connect the dots in a politically direct way from a progressive point of view."
And there's the rub. Current is "progressive," whatever that means. MSNBC tilts squarely to the left while Fox News Channel tilts squarely to the right and CNN is dismissed as a milquetoast for digging into the center ground and trying to hold it while daring to present opposing viewpoints.
Back to Current's all-powerful Olbermann, whose finger you wouldn't want anywhere near a button. Current is his current enabler, and perhaps his last one. The Daily Beast story, for which Olbermann refused to be interviewed, says that he "balked at the cheap sets and lo-fi production values at the scrappy Current. Ensconced in his New York office, the star ignored emails from the network's West Coast executives. He wanted them to invest more on the technical side, and he wanted more authority in other areas of the network, including personnel decisions. He was also upset about his car service. Gore and his partners had shelled out for a star; now, it seemed, the star owned them."
And when Olbermann inevitably wears out his welcome, Cenk Uygur stands ready to go nuts in words and deeds. He's already off to a fine start on a network where the "talent" seems to be more than capable of eventually dancing on Current's grave.