I’m heartbroken over the news about Keith Olbermann being suspended for making three personal political contributions (legally made and reported) to Democratic candidates.
But I’m even more in love with Rachel Maddow for underlining, in her comment on Friday 10/5/10, that comment from The West Wing that I keep repeating whenever someone says, “But THEY do it!” (torture POWs, conduct secret searches, commit acts of racism, or use news shows as political fundraising machines): “You’re supposed to be the good guys, you should act like it!” I think that’s pretty much what she said.
Yes, there was a rule and Keith broke it and there’s got to be a price for that. The fact that Fox doesn’t care about journalistic ethics doesn’t matter (see above line). And somehow Keith has to be some kind of symbol for embodying the difference. I don’t know if he intended it that way, or not.
Kind of ironic. Brilliant, if he did. Stupid, if he didn’t.
I love that Rachel didn’t try to explain it away. I love that she didn’t go with the cries against Fox and against Joe Scarborough and the CNBC guy or any of the other things that have been reported today (I haven’t checked since about 5 pm, so there might be more, Keith’s only statement was a verification that he made the donations). She didn’t make excuses. That must’ve been difficult for her, because I think she and Keith have always had a connection (get your mind out of the gutter, not that kind of connection) but there’s no way to overlook this so the most she can do is express her hope that he will return quickly. I’m not sure how that can be done, and I’m not 100% sure I would want it done.
Keith has been over the top for maybe 3 years now. I found him very comforting for the first couple of years I watched him, but then he started to get a little wacky. The breaking point for me, when I stopped being comforted by him and started being just a little embarrassed and no longer trusted his judgment above mine, was the night he took Hilary Clinton to task for her reference to the Bobby Kennedy assasination. I was really happy that a couple of days ago he announced he was discontinuing “The Worst People in the World” which was funny when it concerned a shopkeeper who wouldn’t give a kid a lollypop or a waiter who yelled at a customer but got political when he started naming politicians or candidates. And then there was the Bill O’Reilly period, when he would complain about BO every night. Because BO was complaining about him. You’re supposed to be thegood guy, Keith!
The advent of Thurber Fridays almost brought me back. I was happy he – anyone, actually – was reading fiction on tv. It was sweet how he started it in homage to his father, who was comforted by readings of Thurber while ill. I wish reading fiction – there’s a universe of flash out there, folks – would catch on. But it didn’t, and even I got tired of it when he moved to the longer stories, since I lost the thread over a week. Still, I tuned in every week, because I wanted to applaud the attempt. Even when I skipped the show – which was getting pretty common – I came back for Thurber Friday.
I hope you’re coming back, Keith. And if not, I hope you find something wonderful to do instead. And I hope it’s something I can share in and enjoy. Which rules out baseball, btw. But hey, if it feels good, do it. I think you’ve earned it.
I’m hoping Keith chose to end his career by displaying the difference between journalism at MSNBC and political opportunism at Fox. I’d really like to know what the story is, and I hope he makes it clear soon just what he was thinking. And I want to give Rachel a hug because she was really in a tough spot. But I’m really sad. It just feels like all over, the bad guys are winning. Like I said yesterday, the Mondos, the Nom Noms, the AI people, they all seem to be going down in favor of mediocrity. Bland mediocrity. Fear of the little HIV+ gay polka-dots-and-pink guy, the half-Vietnamese college graduates, the weird guy wearing eye liner and the weird girl with dreadlocks, means they go down to the more expected, palatable, Wonder Bread people. It’s so sad.
The scariest part is who is getting elected, because I swear it’s related. Someone’s going to do a dissertation on this some day. How we all lost our nerve and ended up with Gretchen clothes and burgers and mild-rock that won’t offend anyone, and at the same time made Islam a crime and civil rights a luxury and the environment something that isn’t all that important.