"Keith Olbermann filled John McCain's empty chair in 2008."
And so he did.
John McCain's presidential candidacy shrank with every joke David Letterman hurled at the sight of McCain on a CBS network news show at the exact time he was supposed to be on Dave's Late Night program. As Olbermann said that evening, "I was in the right place at the right time."
His absence on television today emphasizes how much he has done for "reality-based" journalism and media. Rachel Maddow is the most trusted name in television news because Keith Olbermann helped her get a show. Weekends on MSNBC... excuse me... I gagged a little... Weekends on MSNBC are still a pastiche of prison porn, Caught On Camera, and To Catch A Predator but Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-Parry start each day with two hours of informative discussion about topics you only hear on Current.
I credit that to Keith Olbermann and Countdown. Countdown doesn't pretend to be anything other than Keith Olbermann's take on the day's news; he always brought on guests who knew what they were talking about, and he always let them talk. Countdown chronicled the crimes and outrages of the Bush Administration. Olbermann's Special Comments made some effort to bring eloquence back to political discourse, even if he did overshoot the mark at times... a mark of the passion that's lacking in a lot of today's progressive debate. He was the single staunchest proponent of the Occupy Movement on network television.
Most important, Keith Olbermann has helped to move the Overton Window--the range of topics considered "acceptable" in public discourse--to a more progressive place after almost forty years of having it shoved toward outright fascism. The faces and topics in electronic media are more diverse today because of him.
Here's hoping his chair won't stay empty for long.