The fact that Keith Olbermann was angry, smug and painfully unfunny this week is a bit of a “dog bites man” story. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at the week in “Countdown.”
FRIDAY, AUGUST 6: Sometimes the world just doesn’t give us enough to be angry about. When that happens, turn to Keith Olbermann-brand Wild SpeculationTM. Take it from famous television personality Keith Olbermann, who tonight spent a full segment becoming hysterical about how Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle hasn’t denied she wants to storm into gay couples’ homes and take away their children.
He used a classic Wild SpeculationTM tactic to get there: “Sharron Angle won‘t tell us whether she supports removing adopted kids from families headed by gay couples,” he announced. Apparently the Angle campaign won’t return the phone calls of a cable show that has been relentlessly mocking it for weeks. Huh. In related news, Keith Olbermann won’t tell me whether he supports internment camps for Daily Caller readers. START PANICKING.
Anyway, Olbermann went on to conduct a full interview with Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson about why Sharron Angle wants to take adopted children away from gay parents. At one point Robinson conjured the image of Angle “retroactively doing some sort of Gestapo raids on same-sex families that have adopted children.” Olbermann responded with a fresh, relevant Dick Cheney joke: “They would be called — they‘d call themselves liberators under those circumstances. I think that would be the term we’ve heard before.”
Robinson closed by saying that Angle’s theoretically possible belief in seizing adopted children is “an appalling commentary on where our politics finds itself in this country in 2010.” You might as well throw journalism in there, too.
MONDAY, AUGUST 9: It’s not often that one Nobel Prize-winning economist interviews another on television. In fact, has that ever happened? I don’t know. It’s irrelevant to tonight’s show, in which Keith Olbermann interviewed Arianna Huffington about the American economy. Check out this insightful exchange about cutting taxes for high earners:
OLBERMANN: So, the GOP says, “Renew the tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans; that will free the richest 2 percent of Americans to start hiring everybody else and the economy will be stimulated overnight and we’ll all have ice cream in the morning.” Does the Huffington Post hire more people when your personal tax rate changes?
HUFFINGTON: Well, actually, the Huffington Post operates like most American businesses, which is that our hiring practices have nothing to do with the income or the tax rate of the people who are running the business. And it is the same everywhere. Whether we hire or not depends on demand. It depends on whether we‘re getting enough advertising dollars. And the problem with the American economy is very similar. It‘s the demand that is not there — the consumer demand that has sustained the economy for years.
Ah, yes, “consumer demand,” that mysterious substance that has nothing at all to do with the amount of money in consumers’ pockets, which has nothing to do with their tax rates, which likewise has nothing to do with whether advertisers want to spend money.
Later, Olbermann offered a somber farewell to NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams’s father and an even longer tribute to late actress Patricia Neal, which, ok, it’s your show. Then he immediately took a hard left straight into a segment on a pig-squealing championship in France, in which men roll around in mud and squeal. Keith Olbermann, master of tone.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 10: Special Comment! Special Comment! Olbermann responded to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’s bad review of his jam band, the Professional Left:
“I’m sorry, sir; I’m sorry, Mr. Gibbs. We are not just another version of the right. We think over here, and we fight for what we believe in …”
Sorry to interrupt! That bit broke my Smug-o-meter and I do want to make sure it’s fixed before proceeding. Just have to reset it. Ok, let’s continue.
“I really don‘t know if I‘m part of the professional left. I really would rather not be. But the sad truth also is that these kinds of roles do not tend to be sought nor achieved. They tend to fall on you when others don‘t do their jobs.”
Dangit, Keith! How am I supposed to maintain a Smug-o-meter when you keep coming out with stuff like this? You really broke it this time. This is why we can’t have nice things.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 11: Tonight Olbermann brought up Bill O’Reilly’s rough treatment by his father once upon a time as an excuse to psychoanalyze O’Reilly’s opinions about single motherhood and Jennifer Aniston. No, really. This actually happened.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 12: Tonight, after a show that included segments on Sharron Angle, Twitter and the Tea Party – that is to say, a “Countdown” like every other “Countdown” before it this summer – Olbermann conducted an bizarre interview via Skype with “Aqua Buddha,” who I suspect was played by a “Countdown” writer wearing a snorkel. The bit was a riff on a recent mini-scandal involving Rand Paul’s collegiate antics. It was the kind of painfully unfunny trainwreck that brings all conversation in a room to a halt. But the fact that such a thing would appear on “Countdown” is really just another “dog bites man.”