On Friday, January 21, 2011 my Twitter stream was flooded by this breaking news with two slightly different points of view: “Keith Olbermann is leaving MSNBC”, and “MSNBC is ending its contract with Keith Olbermann”. It was repeatedly re-tweeted by almost everyone, and one tweet perfectly described the sentiment: “Keith Olbermann is overtaking my twitter stream again!”, a reference to another Olbermann story, his suspension from MSNBC in November, because he had made donations to Democratic congressional candidates, in violation to MSNBC’s ethics policy. Back then, everybody was tweeting about the suspension, now everyone is tweeting about the contract termination.
The news of the contract termination surprised me a little bit, I thought his show “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” was getting good ratings, and I can appreciate his liberal views, sharp comments and humor. There has been much speculation about the reasons of the termination, with some analysts pointing towards the Comcast-NBC merger for “political reasons”. I like how they stop at the “for political reasons”, without explaining what those could be. I suspect Olbermann’s liberal & unpredictable views are considered as a thorn in Comcast’s controlling side. I cannot imagine the end of a show being a pleasant experience, and as I understand he had some die-hard fans. For me, though, this didn’t really mean much. I am sad that he doesn’t have his show anymore, but my TV viewing habits will not change because of this.
I discovered Olbermann in a hotel. Not that he was hiding under the bed or in a closet, but I first saw him on TV at a hotel I was staying. I don’t have cable TV, never got it, simply because I do not watch TV, save for the news and occasionally, PBS shows. My intellect is eroding fine without TV, thank you very much. But whenever I stayed at a hotel, I would turn the TV on and flip through the cable channels to see what the big deal was about. No big deal really, but I do remember once while flipping through the channels I stopped at the image of a middle-aged man, wearing glasses, talking. Attractive face, attractive voice. It was Olbermann on MSNBC. He was quite funny too. I don’t remember exactly what the was talking about, something about George W. Bush, I think, but I approved of the liberal tinge and the acerbic wit.
It became a ritual. Whenever I was out-of-town staying at a hotel, I would try to watch as much Countdown as I could. I would always be amused. Then I read his profile in the New Yorker, and I thought this was an interesting man, although angry at times. Handsome, passionate, opinionated. It’d be awesome if we could hang out together. I could see us having passionate arguments, analyzing things, disagreeing about things. I thought he was like me, but an improved, beta version of me, smarter, funnier and more articulate.
Then Olbermann joined Twitter and I was a happy follower. It was quite amusing how in the beginning he was trying to figure things out. Then he would get in arguments with haters, or get obsessed with baseball, sunsets, un-plowed New York City streets. His showplugs were the most boring of his tweets for me, because, you know, I don’t have cable to watch his show. But there was always a tweet that would make me smile, so I never unfollowed him, like I did Roger Ebert, who managed to get pissed off at the wrong people for the wrong reasons, and shamelessly promotes and advertises crap on Amazon. Olbermann had twitter-dignity, together with a cute childish behavior (That’s it, I’m quitting Twitter, OK, I’m back on Twitter etc etc).
I last saw Countdown in December when I visited Washington D.C. It was good to see Olbermann again, he made me smile again. Then after that, I watched a little bit of the Rachel Maddow Show. Well, that was underwhelming. It felt like her sentences were unfinished, the point not quite made, there were pauses that felt like she waited for applause. I didn’t watch for long, because I couldn’t. But I’m glad I got to watch Olbermann again for a couple of days.
Little did I know that would be it. The last time, Olbermann and I at a hotel, connecting. I’m sorry I missed the final Countdown (cue that Europe song). The truth is, staying at a hotel will never be the same again, something will be missing. But maybe he will get another show soon, and we will reconnect, soon.