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COLUMN: Liberal Olbermann will be missed on MSNBC

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By Joan Burke

A few weeks ago my husband and I sat watching one of our favorite TV shows, Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, on MSNBC.
Mr. Olbermann matter-of-factly stated that this would be his last broadcast of Countdown, gave a brief summary of his six years there, thanked a few people, and went on to read a bit of James Thurber.
Mike and I gave each other a jaw-drop look.  If any of you don’t know who Keith Olbermann is, he is a controversial, liberal journalist and baseball aficionado; a very passionate, mercurial, hilarious, word-genius, a monitor of bad politics, and a voice for sanity and compassion in this polarized nation.
Yes, he is very eccentric. You either love him or hate him. But please don’t put him opposite Bill O’Reilly or, heaven forbid, Glenn Beck. He’s just not simply the other side of that coin.  I loved the segment “Worst Persons.” For those who took it too seriously, well, have a sense of humor, please. He called them all out on the carpet. Rupert Murdock, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, George Bush, Dick Cheney … the list goes on. He quoted them word for word and then picked them apart.
Upcoming new folks like Rachael Maddow are indebted to Mr. Olbermann in part for their success. MSNBC’s entire line-up of prime time political journalists all were born on the back of Keith Olbermann – all their programs were built around his show.
And I loved his eccentricities. He counted every day of the Iraq war since Bush proclaimed “Mission Accomplished.” This was done at the end of the program, and then, rather than stacking his paperwork neatly in the TV news reporter fashion, he flung all the papers at the camera. When he started reading James Thurber stories, it was a bit disturbing, not because I don’t like James Thurber.
But there he sat, in a leather chair, reading out loud to his TV audience. Around this time he got in trouble for donating his personal funds to a campaign.
While researching this subject, I discovered that this cable news station (MSNBC) has some ethics about campaign donations from their employees, but Fox News journalists/reporters can give all the money they want to anybody, and give they do, to the Republicans. After the campaign contribution problem, things never healed between MSNBC and its star.
I just thought this guy deserved some kudos for all the good stuff he did. He helped to organize free health clinics nationwide. Viewers donated $1.2 million for this cause. Olberman donated $50,000 of his own.
 He made us think about some of the idiotic things going on in our government. He was not afraid to tease Bill O’Reilly, and I will love him forever for that alone. He will be doing a new show in the spring on Current TV, so I’m thankful we haven’t seen the last of him.  Fluttering paper and all.

Joan Burke is a guest columnist for The Anderson News.