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O'Donnell Didn't Praise Olbermann As Much As Mock Him

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Lawrence O'Donnell
Lawrence O'Donnell
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"During the daily peak viewing periods, television in the main insulates us from the realities of the world in which we live. If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: Look now, pay later."__ Edward R. Murrow , in a speech before the Radio and Television News Directors Association in Chicago, October 15, 1958


It was like a funeral over at MSNBC. Though I flipped back and forth from my new evening viewing to a few minutes here and there of MSNBC, clearly it felt quite hollow. Ghostly, actually. Like a great man was gone leaving behind only offspring who are no more than cardboard pictures of what used to be.

I suppose I wasn't the only one among the veteran viewers of Countdown to sneak a peek in our boycott of the 8PM hour. Curiousity or even some delusional hope that Olbermann would still be there, that it might have been a just a bad dream, taunted us. But there was that smirking O'Donnell we had tried so hard to love in the 10PM hour, and never could.

In the last few minutes of his new time slot, O'Donnell was disingenuous with an audience accustomed to Olbermann's passionate honesty. He portrayed Olbermann as the inventor of "Op-ed TV" and marveled at the volume of written op-eds Keith wrote throughout Countdown's 8 years. In his transparent attempt to ingratiate himself to us, it seemed to me O'Donnell was more a salesman trying to sell something way over priced instead of being honest with his customers; and that he was not really praising Olbermann as much as he was mocking him.

I had read an article on the online Wall Street Journal that night by Sam Schechner and Lauren A. E. Schuker in which the two journalists reported "MSNBC has been planning for this day. Last fall, executives gave Lawrence O'Donnell--who had filled in for Mr. Olbermann--a regular program at 10 p.m. specifically to groom him for Mr. Olbermann's slot at 8 p.m., assuming he would eventually leave, a person familiar with the matter said. On Friday, MSNBC said Mr. O'Donnell would slide into the timeslot beginning Monday."

I had predicted as much in a November 5, 2010 article I wrote for OpedNews titled: Will Olbermann Be the Next Donahue?, declaring, " Now that corporate monster Comcast has begun to feed on it, MSNBC has begun the process of making Olbermann their next Donahue. If Keith stays gone, the next will be Rachel; perhaps making more transparent MSNBC's reason for giving Catfood Commission spokesman Lawrence O'Donnell the 10 PM slot."

And now I will go further than the Wall Street Journal's Schechner and Schuker did by unraveling the rest of MSNBC/Comcast's strategic planning.

Due to Keith Olbermann's ratings lead-in, Rachel Maddow's 9PM broadcast enjoyed good ratings. Why, then, was she not moved to the 8PM slot instead of the less popular O'Donnell? Could it be because MSNBC/Comcast want the certain drop in 8PM ratings to infect 9PM as cover for the planned cancellation of both Maddow and Ed Shultz? A cleansing of moderate and liberal voices under the mask of a business decision, ahead of the upcoming presidential race? Is that the part Schechner and Schuker missed?

Matt Taibbi's vivid depiction of the "vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money" is yet to morph into the satanic monster it is on the verge of becoming with the final merger of government, the courts, and all media old and new: crushing all contradictory voices like Olberman's, Maddow's, Jane Hamsher's, Markos Moulitsas, and even Rob Kall's and Taibbi's and all others. Barring a phenomenal miracle, what is left of enlightened civilization is on the verge of obliteration, and all humanity about to be consumed by a new Dark Age.

Olbermann could only swat at the silhouettes of corporate and political corruption before those behind the shadows took him down. He must have looked about his world of journalism for help in the fight, found a few, but was overwhelmed by the many, many more of his brethren who had long ago betrayed their profession and their country for a chance to ride in the pockets of those who are really determined to overthrown the United States of America and every democratic cause the nation stands for.

One sits now in Keith Olberman's old seat, selling catfood to the old folks at home.

Goodnight, and good luck.                  
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Retired, Robert Arend was president of an AFSCME local from 1997-2007.
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