Michelle Greppi of TV Week issued a list of the Ten Most Powerful people in TV News, and listed MSNBC's Keith Olbermann at #6, one slot ahead of FNC's Bill O'Reilly, even though she admitted Bill crushes Keith in the ratings.
Why he was chosen: Two decades into his career, he’s become an overnight success as talk TV’s first break-out liberal voice. [What about old Phil Donahue?] With about 1 million viewers per night, he is MSNBC’s Goliath and so he can gleefully play David to Bill O’Reilly’s Goliath.
Invaluable asset: After blithely burning oh, so many career bridges, Mr. Olbermann seems inclined not to screw up this opportunity, which is arguably his best ever, especially since it comes with fun assignments and exposure on NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football bench.
Meanwhile, on the hard left, bloggers are pushing Olbermann as the natural replacement for Katie Couric at the CBS Evening News. See Margie Burns:
Not to do product placement here, and I have not been hired by anyone to provide PR for Keith Olbermann -- who doesn’t need it anyway -- but there is something to be said for sportscasters. They have to know how to count, they learn to keep their eye on the ball, and they have to be able to understand concepts like fair play. This may not sound like much of a yardstick, but it’s like knowing what beats what in poker -- if you take a seat at the table, there is this irreducible minimum-type skill set you should theoretically have. As my son pointed out to me, sportscasters do not often comment too heavily on politics, but when they do, they tend to get it right.
Sportscasters don't often comment on politics? But what about when they become newscasters? Bryant Gumbel couldn't stop commenting on the Today show. Keith Olbermann is hardly a role model of editorial restraint. But it becomes clear that Margie Burns wants the networks to use a full-throated radical voice:
Whether because of assaults from the rightwing noise machine and the consequent Fox-ification of journalism, the consolidation of outlets in the traditional news media, or an emphasis on advertising and entertainment at the expense of news, it would be very nearly providential to find out much about all five of the biggest events of any given day by turning on any of the nightly news shows. Hence the comparative strength of Countdown; you get some sense of proportion.
If you think Keith Olbermann puts the news in just the right proportion, you are out there on the left. Burns says if just one of the networks had an Olbermann at the anchor desk, the Bush debacle might have been prevented:
Back in 1999 and 2000, had just one network beefed up research, fact-checking and investigative reporting -- even if it meant docking some top salaries of their best-paid news readers by, say 10 percent, or spending less on advertising sales, or cutting production costs for glitz and promos by 10 percent, etc.
No George W. Bush, no Iraqi war with 4,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of poor Iraqis killed, no draining the middle class for the few, no tacit acquiescence in social ills from tuberculosis to eroding the Fourth Amendment in favor of exploitation and bloodshed. et cetera.
Bush is guilty of "tacit acquiescence" on tuberculosis? I must have missed or already forgotten that charge. It reminds me of Kellyanne Conway reminding us at the Dishonors dinner that pollsters actually asked the public how much President Bush is to blame for the shortage of flu vaccines. Almost two-thirds answered he was not to blame.
[Hat tips: Lyndsi Thomas on the first half, the wacky website Buzzflash.com on the second.]