WILL BUNCH: If You Knew Keith Olbermann Like I Do

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WILL BUNCH: I went to high school with Keith Olbermann; in fact he was the first editor, on our school newspaper, that I ever worked for (I’m about 10 days older than Olbermann, but he had skipped two grades ahead of me — even his enemies have never said the guy isn’t smart!). So we knew each other somewhat, way back when, and then about seven or eight years ago we became occasional email buddies; I’ve also been a guest on Countdown twice. So when I watched Olbermann on MSNBC, there’s always been an element of “I knew him when” pride, and when people talked about his foibles like his mercurial disposition, I was never that outraged as some folks were, because it was pretty much just the same guy I remembered as a teenager… Keith being Keith. […] Olbermann’s odyssey as a journalist has always been grossly misunderstood, not just by the right-wing haters but even by the media critics who are paid six-figure salaries to know more than they do. The naysayers have tried to portray him as a kind of “Manchurian candidate,” a hard-core doctrinaire leftist who must have been some kind of community organizer in a past life if he didn’t emerge directly from the Politburo. What balderdash! I can tell you certainly that in high school the only “left” that Olbermann cared about was who was in left field for his beloved Yankees. Which may explain why he so focused on his future career… in SPORTScasting! He was just not a particularly political guy. Which also explains the true meaning of Keith Olbermann. He became a hero to so many TV viewers (and saved MSNBC, which was really in its proverbial “last throes”) in the mid-2000s because his journey was not that of a liberal ideologue but simply an American citizen who was appalled at the lies coming from the Bush White House and increasingly looked for ways to use his platform as a national journalist to relate something he came to see as not just a news story… but a threat to the Republic. MORE

RELATED: Many people inside the television industry are astonished that a cable network’s highest-rated host, whose forceful personality and liberal advocacy had lifted MSNBC from irrelevance to competitiveness and profitability, would be ushered out the door with no fanfare, no promoted farewell show and only a perfunctory thanks for his efforts. But underlying the decision, which one executive involved said was not a termination but a “negotiated separation,” were years of behind-the-scenes tension, conflicts and near terminations. MORE

RELATED: A movement has begun to draft Keith Olbermann to run for the Senate in Connecticut. The movement was launched by Daily Kos contributor Stranded Wind, who wrote on Saturday that Olbermann–who, after his abrupt departure from MSNBC, has some time on his hands– is “just old enough, smart enough, polished enough, and has all of the other attributes that would make him a darned good Senator for the state of Connecticut.” MORE

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