Thursday, May 29, 2008

He's mad as hell — and one of the best things on TV

Though I consume an untoward amount of media every day, I had until very recently avoided watching “the pundit shows” on the 24-hour news networks. A few months ago I fell under the spell of the fast-paced Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and now count myself a camp follower. The main bone of contention with the show is Keith’s tendency to really let loose during his editorials (called "Special Comments"). I find this endlessly entertaining, on-target, and most importantly, true. The right-wing pundits are given to downright lying in their editorials, and if it comes down to a choice, I will take some histrionics to a barrage of made-up bullshit. Too much of the Left discourse these days is comprised of making people comfortable, of being “nice” to those we disagree with (I know that absolutely no mainstream Lefty, including Keith for that matter, is going to tackle McCain's record as a trained killer and POW in the Vietnam war, for instance; must we proclaim this borderline case a "hero" — did you see his demented wink the other day as he proclaimed how he'll never allow "defeat" in Iraq?). Since the right is composed of folks who basically pull out the traitor card every time they confront a person with a different viewpoint, I think it is essential to have at least one media personality on the Left who is really, really angry about the duplicity, the treachery, and downright genocidal impulse that rules our country (plus the stupidity… oh god, the stupidity… we are a nation PROUD of our stupidity).

Plus, Keith O. has shown a preference for extremely excellent comedians from the past in his obituary and tribute segments. He’s publicly proclaimed his allegiance to Bob and Ray, has “greeted” viewer Sid Caesar, and did a really welcome birthday tribute to the mighty, mighty Spike Milligan! The guy’s okay in my book. People forget one thing about the Howard Beale character in Paddy Chayefsky’s wildly prescient Network: he actually saw all too clearly what was going on in the TV news biz and government. He may have seemed unhinged but was telling the truth during his on-air meltdowns. More power to the "unhinged"!

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