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(More at What Would Jack Do?)

Dear Keith,

I hope you don't mind that I address you by your first name. I've been a fan for years, so long that I almost feel I know you...or at least as much as you can know someone you've seen only on a television screen.

From your time at ESPN forward, I've watched your career unfold. I've found myself eagerly looking forward to seeing you on my TV. Your intellect, your sardonic wit, your "no sacred cows" philosophy, and your surpassing skill and talent have never been in doubt. Your ability to entertain and inform have always been top-notch and well worth whatever time I've invested in watching you.

Having said that, though, I must confess to being greatly disturbed and concerned. I've watched you evolve from an erudite sportscaster into a strong and forceful Liberal voice. I've been a devotee of "Countdown", first on MSNBC and now on Current TV, for years...and I'm beginning to fear that you're becoming a willing victim of your own success.

I get that you're opinionated, always have been, and don't suffer fools lightly. I admire that about you, because we share those qualities. Somewhere along the line, though, you've lost the ability to step back from the stories you report on. The stories, and the silliness and hypocrisy too often behind them, have become personal. You've traveled from the realm of trenchant, insightful analysis to the domain of name-calling, personal insults, and screaming. You've become a Liberal version of the clowns on Fox News Channel you so frequently excoriate. You've become a thinking man's Ed Schultz...and that's NOT a compliment.

It seems that everywhere you've gone conflict has followed. For whatever reason, you find yourself at loggerheads with your employer early on. Perhaps the reasons for the conflicts are legitimate, but given that this has been the story wherever you've plied your trade, it seems clear that the problem isn't with those who sign your checks. The problem is YOU. Whether it's rampant ego, a sense of entitlement, an over-cooked sense of your own value and worth, or combinations of the former, you've demonstrated yourself incapable of playing well with others. How much longer do you think media outlets will tolerate your immaturity and inability to play by the rules? How many bridges will you burn before there are no bridges left and, even worse, no one left willing to build bridges for you?

I understand that objective journalism died with the advent of Fox News Channel. Ideologues and moral midgets like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Megyn Kelly may have carved out their niche among those who like their news wrapped with outrage and Right-wing propaganda. That truth doesn't convey upon you license to engage in the same sort of incivility on the other end of ideological spectrum. Shouldn't you be able to rise above such narrow pettiness?

I've enjoyed "Countdown" for its insightful analysis, its reliance on facts, and it devotion to divining the truth. The "Countdown" I occasionally watch now is but a shell of the principled work of journalistic excellence that used to be offered up every night at 8pm ET. What I see now is you shouting, exercising your considerable anger, and engaging in personal insults directed at those with whom you clearly disagree. I admire your commitment, and I generally find myself in agreement with your point of view. What I can't stomach is the anger, the vitriol, and the insults directed at those with whom you differ. Must you so willingly descend to the realm of those you excoriate??

Your on-air conduct reveals an angry, intolerant personality who differs from Fox News' talking heads only on ideological terms. Your off-air conflicts with your employers leaves me wondering if you're incapable of playing well with others. Your screaming, your profanity, and your childish conduct are unworthy of someone who fancies himself a journalist who admires Edward R. Murrow. It's time to grow up and show that you're the better person...but your behavior leaves me fearing that you're not.

I recognize that you long ago abandoned any pretense of objectivity. In today's hyper-partisan media environment, that's understandable. There's nothing wrong with pushing a Liberal agenda, especially given that there's an entire network devoted to openly pushing Right-wing propaganda. That said, I cannot continue to give you a free pass for your immaturity, incivility, and screaming. It solves nothing, and it serves only to widen the gaping ideological chasm that exists in this country. Somewhere, somehow, Americans need to stand up to the hyper-partisan incivility and voluble intolerance that characterizes the state of our public discourse.

You may think someone an ass...but that doesn't convey license to be an ass yourself...and yes, I recognize that I haven't always done a stellar job of living up to that admonition myself.

As much as it pains me to say this, I can no longer condone your behavior. I can't in good conscience continue watching "Countdown", knowing what it could be, and recognizing what's it's devolved into. Some time ago, I resolved to boycott Ed Schultz for the same reasons. Scream loud and long enough, and eventually your audience will begin to tune you out. Congratulations, Keith; you've succeeded in alienating one of your biggest fans.

I'll return when and if you can conduct yourself like a journalist...but I suspect that you're too busy burning bridges to notice or care. Good luck to you.

Sincerely,

Jack Cluth

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Comment Preferences

  •  My sentiments pretty much. (7+ / 0-)

    I quit TV with Keith and Rachel being exceptions on the computer (hate the cable), but MSNBC got too self congratulatory and Olbermann's vitriol too intense so I didn't search too hard for Current. Sad, but true. Sad because we need the level of intellect displayed by these folks but we also need the level of debate to remain elevated. Hope they figure that out So I come to DKos. ;)
    Tipped and rec'd for the polite level of insightful exposition.

    Occupy your mind." - "No better friend, no worse enemy.

    by Thousandwatts on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 06:54:03 AM PST

  •  I beg to disagree (5+ / 0-)

    I actually thought this might be a "what happened to your set" letter, but no. Since everything you're saying about Keith as an advocate for progressive causes has been in evidence for years, and just as "vitriolic" for the same amount of time, why this diary right now?

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:03:08 AM PST

  •  Please Shape Up Keith (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, FeltzNook, Aunt Pat

    We love you, Keith, but Jack Cluth is right.

  •  I have to respectfully disagree, but can (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Radiogabs, jayden, Puddytat, caul

    understand your point of view.  Personally, I find this kind of passion from our side refreshing, and rare.  There are only a handful out there, but there could be more.  Someone has to be able to counter the crap we see from Fox and hate radio.  Sadly my cable provider does not offer Current, but I tune in to Ed Schultz every night.

    "They love the founding fathers so much they will destroy everything they created and remake it in Rush Limbaughs image." MinistryofTruth, 9/29/11

    by AnnieR on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:12:35 AM PST

  •  It takes one to know one (6+ / 0-)

    The diarist sounds a bit like his subject:

    “I'll return when and if you can conduct yourself like a journalist...but I suspect that you're too busy burning bridges notice or care. Good luck to you.”

    I’m sure I could throw the same stones at you Jack.  Good luck to you

    The dumber The Establishment gets, the more obvious its repression becomes Keith Olbermann

    by williamjustin on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:12:54 AM PST

  •  I haven't watched Keith since he left MSNBC. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden

    I'd like to hear some specific examples cited of the behavior the diarist speaks of in such broad terms. Only then can those of us who haven't followed Keith from MSNBC to Current TV get some inkling as to whether or not the diarist has even a remotely legitimate point.

    Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

    by JTinDC on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:18:19 AM PST

    •  Same as it ever was (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Actbriniel, ffour, jayden, Aunt Pat

      See here.  And then you can start pulling on some threads.  He's been clashing with Current management since Joel Hyatt took over this past August.

      We're resigned to our collective fate because we've been conditioned to believe that this is as good as it gets.

      by Richard Cranium on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:26:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thx. (0+ / 0-)

        Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

        by JTinDC on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:49:34 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I haven't a great deal of usefor Current's current (0+ / 0-)

        management, FSTV and LINK both provide better content, IMO. Yeah, Current does a few good shows with in depth reporting, but they have so little to offer that everything's rerun way past ad nauseum. Aside from Countdown I can check in there maybe once or twice a month and see all their new content in one sitting. With management of that caliber, I'm not terribly surprised that there are problems already.

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 12:09:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  And more here from the NYT (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ffour, jayden, klamothe

      http://www.nytimes.com/...

      This article sent KO into a flurry of Twitter rants against the author of the piece.

    •  I quit watching too ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat

      ... for the same reasons.  I especially like the comparison of Keith O. to Ed S. ... it really has become that kind of hyperbole ... I will miss Keith's Special Comments though.

      •  I only quit watching because I don't get Current. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FeltzNook

        Yes, on occasion Keith could be a bit over the top, but I have a higher threshhold than some. I don't mind having liberal versions of rightwingers. I like Keith, I like Ed. Love Rachel! Hate Cenk tho. He sucks ass. He rails just for the sake of railing, but I digress.

        I did read the articles for which Richard and danny provided links. Does seem Keith might be in need of an intervention. His voice is valuable. But it has to remain credible. He's always been mostly credible to me with a few exceptions, even if some never found him credible.

        It seems there are a lot of folks that prefer pundits that don't get emotional or silly. That seems to be the problem some people have with Ed, Keith, and even Rachel.

        Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

        by JTinDC on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 11:17:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Me either. I don't get Current TV. nt (0+ / 0-)

      I share a birthday with John Lennon.

      by peacestpete on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 10:16:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think KO needs a break (11+ / 0-)

    He's gone through a lot of personal stress over the past year or two, and it shows in many small ways.  Keith has always been an "over the top" kind of guy, but failed to realize that the restrictions of working in a corporate-owned media environment such as MS-NBC actually served as a a positive governor to the accelerator of his personal passions.

    Olbermann's ego and run-ins with management are a thing of legend, regardless of who he was employed by in the past.  I also think it's no small matter that Current is the equivalent of a broadcasting startup, and that he was expecting more "polish" when he walked in the door.  He didn't find that, and now he's in the middle of a public flame war again with network management.  Where have we heard this before?

    Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast published a similar open letter to Keith today. I hope, for the sake of his own sanity and continued relevance, that he listens to those who have been his biggest fans and supporters over the years before he ends up webcasting out of his garage.

    We're resigned to our collective fate because we've been conditioned to believe that this is as good as it gets.

    by Richard Cranium on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:20:15 AM PST

  •  I like the counter to the right (8+ / 0-)

    but Keith has his own style and as long as he DOES get along with his co workers , he expresses my outrage.
    Keith IS a journalist but he is also an entertainer as all
    cable folks are.    I  Do not want Keith to become Tweety and be wishy washy.   I will take Countdown just as it is.
    As long as I am not on his worst person of the world segment,

    We the People have to make a difference and the Change.....Just do it ! Be part of helping us build a veteran community online. United Veterans of America

    by Vetwife on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:20:35 AM PST

  •  how's life in a glass house? (7+ / 0-)
    You may think someone an ass...but that doesn't convey license to be an ass yourself...

    I don't see anything here that merits a diary.  No specifics regarding anything recent, just a general dump taken on Keith Olbermann. If you want others to join in with the hate fest, at least provide us with examples and/or citations of the bad behavior you're decrying.

  •  I love these open letters and the way (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm, costello7, Puddytat, caul, klamothe

    they're always prefaces with "I voted for you", or "I have always admired you"...  I just get excited to get to the punchline.

    This one is particularly great because it included such sound critique...."it seems clear that the problem isn't with those who sign your checks. "  "It seems that everywhere you've gone conflict has followed".


    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:55:09 AM PST

  •  Unfortunately there is merit to your complaint. (5+ / 0-)

    I am also a long-time Countdown fan and have written countless comments on DKos defending KO and his show.

    I respect that Olbermann is trying to find a new path for Countdown on backwater cable but the odd moments of forced humor that isn't funny and the sophomoric name calling is getting to be difficult to watch. Often his guests are caught off-guard by a last second 'joke' and respond with a lame attempt at reciprocal humor but more often than not they just look confused and uncomfortable. The now predictable end-of-segment sarcasm effectively undermines everything that was just discussed and makes the analysis appear trite and meaningless. At times the antics seem a bit contrived, desperate, and lazy.

    At the rate he's going KO might as well get rid of his guests altogether and just bring up a topic but not discuss it and instead merely dismiss it with a sarcastic joke or foul language.

    "These are the stories you'll be talking about tomorrow..."

    Newt Gingrich! Asshole.

    Rick Perry! Stupid asshole.

    Republicans in Congress! Goddamned morons.

    Some random guy in the heartland that did something stupid! Jerk.

    Bill passed in Congress that strips you of your rights! Crap.

    "Good night and good luck."

    As if his audience doesn't already know that republicans are morons and that congress is full of crap. I would get more out of the show if he spent less time taking cheap pot shots at idiot conservatives and instead spent more time digging into the meat of issues and the background of politicians and thus exposing more of the scandalous stuff that's going on in this country and reveal who exactly is behind it.

    C'mon dude, shake things up a little. Tell us something we don't already know!

    I won't abandon Countdown just yet. KO's coverage of OWS was excellent and the nightly parade of various raw and unscripted spokespeople was incredible. But I understand your dissatisfaction with the direction the show currently appears to be heading.


    Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

    by jayden on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 08:14:55 AM PST

  •  Somebody has to tell it like it is. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, Philpm, costello7, Puddytat, caul, klamothe

    Keith Olbermann does.  I do not mind his rants, in fact, I enjoy them.  He is far different than the right wing trolls that you are suggesting are his equals in that he tells the truth and argues using facts instead of propaganda.

    The truth matters.  False equivalency is stupid and lazy.  You don't like his style.  Fine, don't watch him!

    John

  •  Personally, I love the fact (4+ / 0-)

    that Keith can say what he wants now, and can rightfully call someone an asshole when he feels the need to.  I'm sure management at Current would prefer he tone it down a bit, but this is really what they hired him for.

    I know that there is some talk about him not wanting to cover the caucus on Tuesday night.  Honestly, who would have wanted to cover that 8 clown circus in any kind of serious manner, which is what would have been expected of him, without the promise of at least a couple of elephants and and acrobat or two?

    Corporate philosophy for consumers: Work, buy, shut up and die.

    by Philpm on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 08:33:35 AM PST

    •  I agree with you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Philpm

      I'd rather see someone being themselves rather than be someone they're told to be.

      Watching Keith during the Bush years helped me a whole lot.

      I really need Keith to be who he is, and I've very happy with that.

      But I wish he'd get some damn light or color behind him ;)

      We delivered. They failed us. We have moved on. (h/t to my good friend)

      by gooderservice on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:55:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  yeah, the profanity is a bit much (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, klamothe

    Oooh, I can say a$$hole now, look at me! There, I did it again!

    I still love Olbermann and watch him nightly, but the profanity is childish and I wish it would stop. It demeans him and his viewers.

    We drew our heavy revolvers (suddenly in the dream there were revolvers) and exultantly killed the gods. -- Jorge Luis Borges, Ragnarok

    by Hobbitfoot on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 09:30:34 AM PST

    •  Childish? I find the profanity to (0+ / 0-)

      be real.  Unless someone grows up in an environment where "curse" words are never spoken.  That's another thing.

      On the other hand, I wish he would never say god dammit, not becuase it offends me, but I understand that it offends other people, and I wouldn't want Keith to lose viewership because of that.  

      We delivered. They failed us. We have moved on. (h/t to my good friend)

      by gooderservice on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:57:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It sound like Keith has legitimate (7+ / 0-)

    grievances.  If lights aren't working, graphics fail, and satellite feed goes down repeatedly, I'd be bitching, too.  You can't expect someone to be live, on air and have to worry about what disaster is going to occur during the show tonight and then deal with it live when it happens.

    That said, Current has just launched live programming and there are some bugs that must be worked out and should be expected.   They need to work harder on them so they don't look like fools.

    I love Keiths passion and reliance on actual, real facts.  I love that he calls BS on those who deserve it.  Despite my budget, I pay extra for the upper tier package required to get Current.

    I hope it all works out, Current grows and thrives with Keith in charge of the news and political programming along with his own show.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 09:50:00 AM PST

    •  Keith and Current shouldn't be surprised (0+ / 0-)

      Current knew Keith had trouble getting along with his other bosses -- Al Gore started talking with Keith the day after he left MSNBC.  His problems are well-known, and the executives at Current knew what they were getting into with him.

      However, Keith had to know that Current was still getting going and that things were not going to go as smoothly as at established cable stations such as ESPN, Fox Sports and MSNBC.  He knew what he was getting into with Current, and he should be responsible for his own behavior.

      In the end though, Keith has to change his ways.  He has had opportunities to succeed, more than anyone else who has so many conflicts with people on the job, and he is going to run out of places to go.  He needs to see someone about his issues, and soon.

      -7.13, -6.97 BillO The Clown: the troops are burning his books for warmth... Keith Olbermann

      by klamothe on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 11:02:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  From my own viewing of Countdown (2+ / 0-)

        there was little improvement in the problems over the months since the live show started.  We're all willing to put up with problems when something is new or just getting started, but we all do expect improvements to be made.

        The lighting problems were even mentioned by Keith during one of the shows just before the background went dark.  This should have been an easy problem to fix.

        Yes, Keith does have a temper, but sometimes you can't just blame a bad temper when real problems occur and don't get corrected.  His past difficulties with troublesome management should have been resolved since he was hired to be in charge himself.  Perhaps he's not as in charge as he expected.

        I hope the problems get corrected.  And fast.

        There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

        by Puddytat on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 11:31:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's really not fair. You weren't there, you (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Puddytat

        don't know what happened.

        Current knew Keith had trouble getting along with his other bosses

        If I had a boss that kissed Scarborough's ass, believe me, I'd have trouble getting along with them, too.

        And if he did this:

        In the end though, Keith has to change his ways.

        I'd stop watching and supporting him.

        We delivered. They failed us. We have moved on. (h/t to my good friend)

        by gooderservice on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:58:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I totally agree. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat

      We delivered. They failed us. We have moved on. (h/t to my good friend)

      by gooderservice on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 07:57:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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