Who says The New York Times has lost touch with reality? A recent puff piece by TV reporter Bill Carter on MSNBC's "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann honors him as the "centerpiece" and a "great growth story" of MSNBC. He's up 30 percent in the 25-to-54 demographic. How significant is this? Since Olbermann came to TV as a sportscaster, let's just say this is like celebrating a .200 hitter for having the best batting average on a last-place baseball team.
The Times shoe-shine carried the headline "MSNBC's Star Carves Anti-Fox Niche," yet in his report, Carter had no choice but to place that grandiose statement in its proper perspective: "Olbermann's show remains little more than a dot in the rearview mirror of Fox News" -- followed by this spin -- "Even from that far back, he seems to have been able to honk his horn loud enough to raise hackles at Fox." What followed was a supportive recycling of Olbermann's trash talking about Fox headliner Bill O'Reilly, and Olbermann's constant naming of O'Reilly as the "Worst Person in the World."
Let's establish one thing about this trash-talk enabling. Olbermann's constant, stalker-like obsession with O'Reilly, who normally has about eight times his ratings, lacks all sense of proportion. How do you explain that Olbermann named O'Reilly his "Worst Person in the World" 42 times in the last year? (Saddam drew the brickbat only twice, and Osama bin Laden? Not once.) He named O'Reilly the world's worst human seven times just in the month of April.
If this obsession is drawing ratings, who then is being attracted to "Countdown"? Olbermann isn't just cultivating some vague "anti-Fox niche." Nightly, he bays at the moon in search of the hard-core left, the devotees of MoveOn and Michael Moore and Daily Kos. In 2004, he was just about the last person inside a TV studio (or outside a mental facility) to claim that John Kerry actually won Ohio, notwithstanding that nagging 120,000-vote discrepancy.
But in spite of Olbermann's best efforts at unveiling the fraud, Bush was still re-elected, so now the MSNBC host is painting him as a dangerous proto-fascist.