Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Keith Olbermann's Countdown beats CNN's Paula Zahn

Photo courtesy

Keith Olbermann is the man.

As a loyal viewer of Countdown With Keith Olbermann, i am heartened by the news that KO's viewership in the 25-54 demographic is up a whopping 41%. Hooray! Fox News blowhard Bellow Righteously's numbers plummeted 24% in the key demographic. Ha ha! This is testament to the apparent fact that people are tiring of the hate-filled bullshit spewed by the likes of O'Reilly and the sensationalist tabloid coverage of White Women in Trouble by the likes of Nancy Grace. Evidently, those who aren't tuned in to network TV "reality" drivel or stale sitcoms don't want TV hosts' opinions shouted at them. These viewers want real news, and KO is more than happy to provide them with it.
Here are my top reasons to watch Countdown With Keith Olbermann:
  • Credibility: Keith is one of the few people on primetime cable news with legit journalism credentials. See bio info here here and here. Olbermann's reporting is thorough, insightful and thought-provoking. "Olbermann is the recipient of numerous distinguished awards in radio and television broadcasting, including the 1995 Cable Ace Award for Best Sportscaster, 11 Golden Mike Awards for excellence in television and radio, and four Sports Emmy Awards. Olbermann also received an Edward R. Murrow Award for his coverage of the events of 9/11." His credentials and awards are enough for anyone to rest on, but Keith continues to strive for excellence. He is more than happy to give credit where it's due, and is always willing to offer an apology or correction when he makes a mistake.
  • Context: Sure, Keith covers some the same stories you can see on NBC Nightly News - often using the segments of the 5:30 broadcast - but his approach adds depth and breadth to the story by addressing its relevance to history and the impact it has on us as citizens, on our nation and on the world. He'll often put the original reporter on the air and ask important questions from the "everyman" perspective. The Countdown format affords him the opportunity to probe underlying issues that usually do not get addressed in a two-minute segment on network TV. "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." Keith seems to appreciate this piece of common sense wisdom from George Santayana and apply it to his coverage of the biggest news items of the day.
  • Common Sense: I consider Olbermann an umpire of sorts, because he calls it like he sees it. His b.s. detector is as good as any journalist out there, but Keith actually calls the b.s.-ers and hypocrites out on it, regardless of their affiliation or ideology. He has a special contempt for those who say nasty and hateful things, and then proceed to deny they said any such thing. Hello, John Gibson and Bill O! To be sure, he has been particularly vociferous in this regard about the current administration, but they deserve it, especially in light of the Bush Administration's latest "blame the media" crusade for their own failiures in Iraq. Keith continues to point out that Bush's casus belli for the invasion of Iraq has changed several times over the last four years. In the aftermath of Katrina, he took on the "the law and order and terror government" for their failure to protect its citizens from the biological weapon that was standing water. When Bush said that he has never linked 9/11 to Iraq, Keith asked rhetorically, "Who does the president think he is f-ing [pronounced: "effing"] kidding!?" Olbermann has recently taken to ending every broadcast with: "That's COUNTDOWN for this, the _ _ _ _ day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq." Best. Sign off. Ever.
  • Cultural Literacy: Olbermann can't help it. He's an embodiment of his past experiences. As a student and an up-and-coming journalist, he immersed himself in history, sports, and popular culture. He'll often introduce a segment with a quote, factoid or bit of trivia that seemingly has no pertinence to the story at hand. But as the story progresses, you have one of those, "ah-hah" moments where it all becomes clear. From the March 20, 2006 show:
    OLBERMANN: Today is the equinox. You remember from science class, sun is directly over the equator, making day and night almost equal, the start of the spring in the north and fall to the south, a tranquil day as you see on the map here. Our number two story, Mother Nature did not get the memo about tranquil. Today’s whether so extreme it looked like scenes right after the “Day After Tomorrow.”
    This provided the segway to stories on a cyclone in Australia, tornadoes and flooding in the States, and the "howling natural phenomena spewing death and destruction," Donald Trump. See? Genius. Keith often shows his grasp of zeitgeist in subtle ways: He uses the term "internets" at every possible opportunity; His theme music choices for the nightly Top Three Newsmakers are impeccable; And - this is my favorite - each broadcast has at least one reference to The Simpsons. Watch the show every night and see if you can spot it. It may be just a Homer-esque, "D'oh!" or a paraphrasing of the Comic Book Guy, "Worst. (insert noun here). Ever." but it's there.

And that is why Keith Olbermann is The Man.

For more info on Keith Olbermann:
The "Unofficial Keith Olbermann Fan Site"
Countdown Homepage
UPDATE (03/31/06): A Keith Olbermann blog! Sweet. Thanks to Becky in the comments.


Becky said...

Very nice post!

I do a blogsearch on KO every day since I run an all Olbermann blog, and I always enjoy coming across things like this.

If you're interested in checking us out, we're at

(I also really enjoyed your Buck Owens post - "Act Naturally" is on the iPod right now!)

D. Derek said...

Well done, well done. Olbermann is so good even my wife, who generally doesn't like watching the news, enjoys Keith's show. He gets bonus points for devoting much time to the Buck O'Neil snub last month.

Anonymous said...

Why is he even competing with paula Zahn? I can understand why Olbermann has ratings, but Zahn? I don't get it.