Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On Olbermann

From a fascinating and insightful profile of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann by Peter J. Boyer in the New Yorker:

The Olbermann-O’Reilly feud, which is wholly Olbermann’s creation, began with a wisecrack in 2003, the first year of “Countdown.” It evolved after Olbermann instituted a farcical segment called “The Worst Person in the World,” in which O’Reilly, depicted as a pompous buffoon, was regularly cited. O’Reilly, the biggest draw of the highest-rated cable-news network, could only lose by engaging with Olbermann, but he could not resist. Refusing to mention Olbermann by name, he sponsored a petition drive to have him replaced, and eventually began to aim on-air broadsides against NBC’s parent company, General Electric, and its chairman, Jeffrey Immelt. “If my child were killed in Iraq, I would blame the likes of Jeffrey Immelt,” O’Reilly asserted in April, citing G.E.’s business relationship with Iran. (The company began phasing out its contracts there in 2005.) This only encouraged Olbermann, who subjected Bill-O (as Olbermann calls him) to near-daily barrages of acid caricature. Instead of using video clips of O’Reilly for his routines, Olbermann began voicing O’Reilly’s words himself, in a demonic mimicry of the Ted Baxter character on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

See: One Angry Man: Is Keith Olbermann changing TV news?

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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