It Could Happen, But It Wouldn’t Last…

Variety’s Brian Lowry writes that the soon to be off ESPN Keith Olbermann should go back to MSBNC…

Occasionally, a breakup proves a big mistake for both parties. Witness the strange case of MSNBC and Keith Olbermann.

The struggling cable network and the well-traveled host have both been back in the headlines – him, as of today, with official word that his contract won’t be extended at ESPN; and MSNBC with the news that Brian Williams will land there, giving the NBC News anchor a second chance on the company’s second-tier network.

While their relationship was often rancorous, Olbermann’s lengthy and biting commentary not only branded and defined MSNBC but set the channel on its current course. Indeed, the NBC-owned network’s entire lineup of primetime hosts – Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, Chris Hayes – were essentially spun out of Olbermann’s ribs, as management sought to build on Olbermann’s success by becoming a liberal counterweight to Fox News Channel.

All true, but Lowry then goes on to (accidentally) detail why an Olbermann return to MSNBC would be unlikely and even if it did happen it wouldn’t last…

For his part, Olbermann enjoyed both considerable freedom and the opportunity to weigh in on a wide variety of issues, a sense of latitude that suited his eclectic background and tastes. That included his frequent barbs at Fox and particularly time-period rival Bill O’Reilly, which created zesty fodder for the feud-happy media.

First of all, that’s not entirely accurate. Olbermann did have considerable freedom and opportunity…for the first few years. But what Olbermann wanted to do and what MSNBC wanted him to do became increasingly at odds with each other to the point that Phil Griffin famously declared, “We are at war.”

So consider the alleged reasons ESPN and Olbermann are splitting…content…with the reasons MSNBC and Olbermann split…content.

Why would Olbermann want to return to a scenario which essentially matches the scenario that is why he’s leaving ESPN?

It could happen. But I don’t see how it lasts for very long…

10 Responses to “It Could Happen, But It Wouldn’t Last…”

  1. “Why would Olbermann want to return to a scenario which essentially matches the scenario that is why he’s leaving ESPN?”

    ^^Because it would work for both parties. Olbermann needs an audience and MSNBC needs improved PT ratings.

    Will it end rancorously?

    Yes; but, if past examples are diagnostic, probably not before the 2016 election.

    Will MSNBC staffers and hosts be upset with KO”S return?

    Some may be unhappy; particularly Hayes (as he is likely to be the big loser if KO returns); but most including Maddow and LOD will probably be quite happy if it happens.

    The case for KO going to CNN is just as interesting. They have a timeslot available at Piers Morgan’s old time. Whether they want to take on the headaches and ego that KO represents I don’t know.

    The thing is every network head that has employed Olbermann in the past has thought they were the ones that could tame him. None have succeeded to date and it’s unlikely his next employer will have any more success than past employers. One thing for sure is someone will take a chance on the mercurial Olbermann.

  2. […] Lowry: It’s time for MSNBC to bring back Olby.  ICN: No it’s not. […]

  3. savefarris Says:

    Olbermann had his heyday when he could rail against the establishment. The problem is that in 2016, Olbermann would be forced into DEFENDING the establishment.

    BTW, that’s also why MSNBC has floundered these last couple of years. “Man, things sure are awful, but let’s not blame the folks in charge!”

  4. “The problem is that in 2016, Olbermann would be forced into DEFENDING the establishment.”

    ^^Last time I checked Republicans were running the “establishment” in the House and Senate (very badly for sure, but still) and many of those running for POTUS in 2016 were “establishment”. KO will have no problem finding people to attack in both parties.

  5. I heard an interesting option today for where Keith Olbermann might end up – HBO. He could do an opinion show in the vein of Bill Maher or John Oliver. I think it’s a long shot but HBO has taken on controversial figures in the past. Just a thought.

  6. imnotblue Says:

    Out of all the guesses out there… I think MLB Network and HBO (or Showtime) are probably the best.

    He’ll go, torture another staff of people, act like a child, and then eventually get fired… again.

  7. bonnieux Says:

    Oh, please, make this happen MSNBC. You know you need him now. Think of the ratings. Bring back Olberman!

  8. danoregon Says:

    I’d watch an 11 p.m. show (or whenever) with Olbermann rebooting his Countdown format. I’m really surprised cable news doesn’t do some kind of national news broadcast at 11 p.m.

  9. Hayes is boring and I never like LOD unless there is some huge breaking news story. I do not like Al Sharpton (on cable, as a host, as a person he is ok.) How can anyone watch the lineup?

  10. I don’t see Olbermann back at MSNBC but I’d like to see it happen for several reasons. I could see Brian Williams with a primetime news show before it’s all said and done. And I have a feeling Abby Huntsman will end up getting her own show in the shuffle as well.

    The problem is that in 2016, Olbermann would be forced into DEFENDING the establishment.

    Keith Olbermann was pretty hyperbolic in his criticism of the Obama Administration several times. So don’t expect what you think you’re expecting.

    I’d watch an 11 p.m. show (or whenever) with Olbermann rebooting his Countdown format. I’m really surprised cable news doesn’t do some kind of national news broadcast at 11 p.m.

    MSNBC tried it with The Situation. CNN tried it with CNN Tonight.

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