Tuesday, January 25, 2011

OK with Keith Olberman being KO'd

I was shocked — but not surprised — to hear Friday night that Keith Olbermann and MSNBC were parting ways.

That is to say that I couldn’t believe that MSNBC would let the most dynamic host they had slip through their fingers. But in all honesty, I had no trouble believing it at all.

I once had great respect for Keith Olbermann. His show, Countdown, was as informative as it was entertaining.

I don’t know if it was Olbermann that changed — or me. But his show got increasingly unwatchable for me. He had turned into a left-wing version of Hannity and Glenn Beck. And it certainly couldn’t really be called a news program any more.

Sure, Olbermann continued to put forth information and ideas, but he made no effort to hide his bias. And he wasn’t very friendly about it, either.

In the grand scheme of things, he had become just another talking head. Part of the problem. He signed off his show with “Good night and good luck,” but he was no Edward R. Murrow. He wasn’t fighting for journalism. Or freedom. I had gotten the impression he was fighting for Keith Olbermann.

In truth, I won't miss him any more than I’d miss Limbaugh or O’Reilly. The only disappointing thing is that with his departure, the media has slanted just a little further right.

Yes, I said further right. Meaning, I believe that media already slants right. Now, many of you will disagree with me and argue out loud that there is no right wing media. There’s the liberal elite media and then there’s Fox, right?

I suppose if you think that Fox News is middle-of-the-road, then, yes, everything else would appear to lean left. And if you stand on your head everything will look upside down.

I, of course, have my own biases. Anyone who’s been paying even cursory attention knows that my beliefs are strong, but difficult to pinpoint. I’m radically right on certain issues and crazy left on others. I like to tell people I’m a rabid centrist.

This mish-mosh of beliefs stems from not forming my opinions based on what the Keith Olbermanns and Sean Hannitys of the world tell me to think, but instead coming to my own conclusions of what makes sense in my own happy little head.

Because of this (apparently unusual) mix of right and left-leaning ideals, there’s no talk show host out there that I concur with more than 60 percent of the time. And there’s no cable “news” network that I feel speaks for me.

As a result, I’ll stick to the real news. As spoken from the likes of Brian Williams. In truth, he’s the only national media icon I have any real respect for — at least as a news man. Sure, Limbaugh is entertaining. As is Stephanie Miller. But they don’t do news. Just like Olbermann didn’t do news.

I know some of you will miss Olbermann’s show. And some of you are glad to be rid of him, I’m sure. Just don’t think we’ve lost some great reporter. He was a rodeo clown. Just like the rest of them. Distracting us from the real solutions to the real problems.

Scott Leffler, night/city editor for the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, has been in the local print and broadcast media for the past decade. His column appears every Tuesday. Contact him at scott.leffler@lockportjournal.com.