In an age of doublespeak and political correctness, Keith Olbermann’s comments are a refreshing reminder of the principles on which this country was founded. When twenty-four-hour news shows anxiously address the pros and cons of a nation at war and the economic insecurities faced by the middle class, Olbermann is clear and precise. Fearlessly speaking truth to power, Olbermann says what others do not - questioning, demanding, and exercising his right to hold authority responsible.
The nemesis of Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, Olbermann skewers posturing politicians and hypocritical spin machines, taking on the Bush administration in language that is pointed, specific and often shocking, naming names when appropriate, his outrage palpable. Agree or disagree with his viewpoints, it is not fake outrage but the voice of a citizen who believes in the Constitution and the freedoms inherent in that document.
Countdown with Keith Olbermann has become a staple of MSNBC’s evening news programming; but while others dwell on the upcoming election and other current events, Keith’s Special Comments are a unique by-product of a program formatted to address daily political events, as well as a smattering of “Oddball” clips, “Worst Persons of the World” and entertainment news.
For a serious and thoughtful journalist, the lighthearted moments relieve the pressure of reality, but Olbermann’s incisive thinking rises above format in his relevant news reportage and occasional riveting Special Comments. It is these comments that are reproduced in this book in their entirety.
For seasoned viewers, the Special Comments are a welcome change to the vapid patter that passes for political reporting, the networks all too conscious of ratings to allow much deviation from the script. That’s why the Special Comments are so welcome - a direct volley into the heart of the political machine that has produced an endless, agonizing war and the gratuitous fleecing of the freedoms we have taken for granted until 9/11.
No topic is off limits: “Hurricane Katrina” (the impetus for the Special Comments series); “Advertising Terrorism,” “Where Are the Checks and Balances?”, “Bush’s Legacy: The President Who Cried Wolf,” “The Entire Government Has Failed Us on Iraq,” and “Go to Iraq and Fight, Mr. President,” to name but a few.
Acerbic and brilliantly crafted, Olbermann’s skills as a writer shine in his impassioned comments: “Habeas Corpus? Gone. The Geneva Conventions? Optional. The moral force we shined outwards towards the world as an eternal beacon, and inward at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.”
At a time when it is all too easy to trust beltway insiders to do the right thing, Olbermann reminds us that we do so at our own peril. Our civil liberties in tatters, he challenges us to remember our history, to demand an end to partisan gridlock and special interests, an accounting for deeds done in the name of security.
In the words of Voltaire to another author, “I detest what you write but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.” The Special Comments are indeed provocative, even incendiary, but freedom of speech is a fundamental right we each enjoy. It is such enlightened, patient discourse that will change our political landscape, participatory democracy in action.