Letter to MSNBC Concerning Keith Olbermann’s 9/11/06 Attack on the President

September 12th, 2006 10:48 AM

As reported by NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth here, Keith Olbermann on Monday’s “Countdown” was in full attack mode on America’s president. Now, some might cynically say that he does this every evening, and they might have a point. However, yesterday was the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and Olbermann’s behavior was disgraceful. Given the solemn nature of this occasion, Olbermann’s rant might be the worst performance by a supposed press representative in recent memory. In fact, this seemed as mean-spirited and unacceptable as the comments made by Bill Maher on ABC shortly after the 9/11 attacks that resulted in his termination.

With that in mind, I have sent the following message by e-mail to Dan Abrams, MSNBC’s new general manager. For those that are interested in sending Mr. Abrams their views on this subject, I included e-mail addresses at the end of this post that hopefully will maximize the likelihood of such messages reaching his desk:

September 12, 2006

Dan Abrams c/o MSNBC TV
One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, N.J. 07094

Dear Mr. Abrams:

I am writing you with deep concern regarding a nine-minute speech that your employee, Keith Olbermann, made at the end of the September 11, 2006, installment of “Countdown”. If you hadn’t seen it, I suggest you read the transcript or watch the video at his blog.

On the solemn occasion of the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Olbermann chose to issue some attacks of his own. These, for the most part, were pointed directly at America’s president. Regardless of your view of George W. Bush, or Mr. Olbermann’s, yesterday was not the day for this kind of vitriol or animus from a media representative.

Like many Americans, I watched a lot of programs yesterday on different networks, and, in general, it appeared that press representatives on both sides of the aisle were toning down their rhetoric in honor of this day. In fact, the same was evident from America’s politicians, who clearly chose to take a holiday from attacks on their opponents even though we are now only eight weeks from Election Day.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of your employee. His attack last evening on the president was despicable and disgraceful even for him. For this, he owes his viewers and his fellow Americans an apology.

As the new general manager of MSNBC, it is your job to oversee the quality of the content provided by your network. Last night was not MSNBC’s finest hour, and you owe it to Americans to address this issue with your employee immediately. After all, although it appears America isn’t watching Mr. Olbermann given his paltry ratings, America is indeed watching you to see whether you can rescue MSNBC from its own well-publicized difficulties.

A good step would be to compel Mr. Olbermann to do the right thing, and apologize for his behavior on this solemn day.


Noel Sheppard 

dabrams@msnbc.com, sidebar@msnbc.com, viewerservices@msnbc.com