Keith Olbermann is a loyal Fox viewer: We watch because we’re paid to

AJ Contributor

FRIDAY, JANUARY 29: Olbermann wrapped up last week by hosting a special non-“Countdown” presentation of the president’s unusual and combative appearance in front of the House Republican policy retreat in Baltimore. In the midst of the gushing two-hour special, the host praised the president’s belief “in a necessity of a real debate with an opposition, loyal or what-have-you,” which was curious, considering that the last time Olbermann himself engaged with an ideological opponent was back in 1964 when his guidance counselor gently suggested he rethink a career in television.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1: On Monday, guest Arianna Huffington arrived at “Countdown” to discuss the nefarious Fox News president Roger Ailes and his devious obsession, as a television executive, in attracting viewers to his television network. “He sees his goal not as journalism, but purely as ratings,” Olbermann spluttered. And to be fair, Olbermann is a man who is clearly unconcerned with ratings.

Huffington added: “Fox is appealing to the worst in people, to their fears, to their pain.” That’s an especially damning critique coming from her, since she is also singular in her pursuit of quality news, and would compromise this standard for an impure matter such as Web site traffic. Okay, yes, the no. 1 story on the Huffington Post as I write this is “The 7 Weirdest Things Women Do to Their Privates.” But that’s something America needs to know!

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 2: Tuesday brought another installment of “Oddball,” an occasional “News of the Weird”-style segment in which Olbermann mocks other parts of the world and also sometimes America. Last week, for example, included news of a few new statues at Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, aka the Lazy Journalist’s House of Puff Pieces. Yesterday, he made fun of a large puppet at a traditional festival in Chile and then turned to Setsuban, a Japanese ritual in which beans are thrown to ward off ogres. Today: Groundhog day and a kooky mix-up on a TV broadcast in Sydney, Australia. Thursday, some sort of explosion ritual … somewhere. Slow news week?

Finally it came time, at the end of an hour that felt eternal, to name the Worst Person in the World. Introducing a quote from “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy, Olbermann referred to “Cluster-Fox and Friends” — can you say that on TV? — and then read Doocy’s quote himself, giving the other host a pronounced lisp. As usual, keepin’ it classy.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3: It’s a day that ends with “y” and you know what that means: It’s time to get mad at Glenn Beck! This week’s offense: Using the word “slaughter.” This incident proves yet again that life must be completely exhausting and baffling when you take everything literally and then get mad about it. Poor Keith Olbermann.

Here’s what Beck said back in November, regarding the Obama administration:

“I told you yesterday, buckle up your seat belt, America. Find the exit, there‘s one here, here and here. Find the exit closest to you, and prepare for a crash landing. This plane is coming down, because the pilot is intentionally steering it into the trees. They are taking you to a place to be slaughtered.”

It’s that last sentence that’s a sticking point for Olbermann. He is outraged! So, fine. Let’s assume Glenn Beck was actually saying that Obama administration was going to take Americans out into the woods to “slaughter” them.

Well, then, we have to take the rest of that paragraph literally, too. Let’s walk through these few sentences as Olbermann apparently understands them. First, Glenn Beck urges Americans to reach for their seat belts. What, you don’t have a seat belt on your couch? Well, you’d better install one. Then, look around for an actual, literal, blinking red exit sign, Americans. OH MY GOD, now you’re on a plane! Even if it seems like you are in your living room, you are actually thousands of feet up in the air on a plane! But watch out, because the pilot of the airplane that you are on — the huge plane you are physically sharing right this minute with every single one of Glenn Beck’s viewers — is now intentionally steering you into an actual forest, a forest you could find on a map because that’s how real it is. Then when the plane crashes, er, you will still be alive but you will be led to a place where you will be killed?

This is what Glenn Beck meant. Either that, or Beck was speaking metaphorically throughout. But THAT can’t be right.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4: I haven’t mentioned it yet, but it’s been a rough week for Keith Olbermann. January’s viewership numbers were released a few days ago, and “Countdown” was down 44% among adults ages 25 to 54 from last year at this time. He drew 268,000 viewers a night in that key group, compared to his rival Bill O’Reilly’s 964,000. The New York Post asked, “Has the countdown begun for the end of ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann?'” Earlier in the week, Olbermann had bashed the AOL-owned website DailyFinance, not known for any particular partisan bent, as a “right-wing site” (that phrase has been erased from the transcript, but you can see it here: Link) TRANSCRIPTSEGMENT

Tonight Olbermann fought back yet again against some of the ratings chatter that has been plaguing him all week. He boasted that his numbers grew between December and January, which unfortunately is not the relevant comparison and not a measurement anyone uses, unless they’re desperately trying to prove their own relevance. Well, for what it’s worth, Keith, you still have one loyal viewer who hopes “Countdown” has a long life on MSNBC. I really need this job.

Last week: Keith Olbermann is a serious journalist

Previous weeks: Keith Olbermann understands important things

Keith Olbermann is incredibly smart