I remember last Friday while watching Bill Maher (which I do every Friday at 10pm EST, right after a new Ricky Gervais Show, only on HBO; it’s not TV, it’s HBO…) that Bill asked guest Rachel Maddow about Keith Olberman being fired. I didn’t make much of it, because I don’t watch Olberman or Maddow or whatever channel they’re on.
But apparently, stuff happening on news channels is itself news these days, since we don’t have anything important going on… like two wars, rising poverty and bankruptcy, a shocking number of police officers killed in the line of duty since the start of the year, people like Julian Assange and Danny Manning held prisoner for exercising free speech by exposing government lies, a packed legislative agenda from a new congress… oh, and John Travolta has a new baby.
Personally, I chalked up the Olberman thing to being about as important as when Katie Couric was hired, which is to say that it warranted a big, gaping mouthed yawn. Yet conservatives cannot stop talking about it.
It’s funny, really, seeing the media shift so obviously towards conservatism during the Bush years (I question if it ever was “liberal,” or if reality simply proved conservatism wrong time and again). It started with a dutiful need to present both sides as equal, even though one side was stark-raving mad, and it has resulted in Fox News being the highest-rated “news” channel on cable. Every other network is jumping on board, thinking that Fox News is popular because it is conservative.
In actuality, Fox News is popular because it’s not news. People hate the news, so Fox News abandoned reporting it in favor of broadcasting a fluid and complete narrative, a sort of news-meets-soap-opera. Fox News is to news what professional wrestling is to wrestling.
A liberal news channel would perform just as well, if there was one. I have watched MSNBC, when someone told me how liberal it was. I laughed it off as being painfully centrist within a week, though I remember thinking Olberman was almost like a liberal Bill O’Reilly, if Bill had some civility, restraint, or a polysyllabic vocabulary.
As it turned out, Olberman is the highest rated anchor on MSNBC, or at least he was. And like Bill O’Reilly, he seems to have been an intolerable asshole. Unlike Fox News, however, MSNBC seems to be unwilling to put up with a personality like that for ratings or to further their narrative. I don’t know if this is because liberals are more willing to write someone off for being impolite, or if liberals are just prone to shooting themselves in the foot, or (as I suspect) MSNBC simply isn’t liberal.
At any rate, at least we can put to bed the bullshit claim of the conservative media machine that “main stream” means liberal. It stopped being liberal a long time ago (if it ever was), but I don’t think it could be any more obvious these days.
Whenever people tried to point this out in the past, Olberman was always the go-to response of conservatives, as if he was even in the same league as Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, or even Lew Rockwell or Alex Jones. Olberman was always an amateur compared to the professional likes of these propagandists, and that’s a fact the currently right-slanted media empires are going to have a hard time wrestling with now.