Olbermann, on Fire, Surges Past Zahn in Ratings

When Keith Olbermann took the courageous step of delivering a blistering attack on top administration officials for likening those opposed to the War in Iraq to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement crowd last week, it was not a foregone conclusion that his special comment would be received well or that his ratings would hold steady, let alone rise. After all, with the exception of the occasional moment from Jack Cafferty or the even less frequent moment from Chris Matthews, cable news -- well, really all television news shows tend to hedge their bets and play it safe for fear of reprisal from the vast right wing apparatus.

But Olbermann's special comment caught the attention of many Americans desperate for common sense on the airwaves and cable wires -- so much so that his ratings have noticeably increased in relation to his competition. On Tuesday September 5, the evening Olbermann went after the administration's "appeasement" rhetoric, Countdown received a better-than-normal 669,000 viewers, though this number equalled just 64.8 percent of Paula Zahn's ratings at the same time over at CNN and 66.3 percent of her ratings in the key 25-54 demographic. The next evening Olbermann's overall numbers were down a bit to 554,000 viewers. This number, however, represented 84.2 percent of Zahn's rating. What's more, Olbermann actually beat Zahn by more than 25 percent among the 25-54 demo. On Thursday, Olbermann again got around 84 percent of Zahn's rating, but this time trounced her by more than 50 percent among the key demo. By Friday night, Olbermann surpassed Zahn in overall numbers even as younger viewers, his best demo, generally opted to go out instead of watching television news.

Olbermann was at it again tonight with another biting commentary taking the administration to task for the great distance between its language and the reality on the ground. You can watch it for yourself over at Crooks and Liars or read the complete transcript over at Bloggermann.

At a time when MSNBC, or at least MSNBC.com, is showing it's intention to move in a new direction by firing Eric Alterman, it's imperative that we show support for Keith Olbermann, one of the few (and perhaps only) consistent voices of sanity on cable news. If you are a cable subscriber who is home when Countdown broadcasts (8 PM Eastern/5 PM Pacific), consider tuning in (especially if you're a member of a Nielson family). If you're more of a fan of this online medium, visit http://bloggermann.msnbc.com on a regular basis for interesting commentary. And should the time come when MSNBC or one of its corporate bosses, GE/NBC and Microsoft, tries to can Olbermann as they have Alterman, Phil Donohue and others before, be prepared to rain down fury on the network for stifling much-needed debate and reality in the world of cable news.

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Attacking Olbermann, attacking the truth

If we've learned one thing in recent years, it's that no one is safe when the Republican Party has its hands on the levers of power. The first casualty, of course, has been the truth, mainly in the form of aservile press corps more interested in access than excellence. And, while the Fourth Estate has largely abdicated its role as check on unchecked power, the Bush administration has been a willing accomplice, its pat on the back being the last shove necessary to send the press over the cliff's edge.

Those few still unwilling to toe the party line, those pernicious pests who have decided that the truth remains important, have proven to be an even larger target to the right wing. Consider the baseless attacks made against people like Seymour Hersh, outlets like Air America and organizations like Media Matters. And now Keith Olbermann.

To be truthful, Olbermann has been a thorn in the Republicans' side for quite some time. But, thanks to an assist from gossip merchant Lloyd Grove, it appears the right wing is poised to renew its fight on the present-day Edward R. Murrow, one of the final obstacles standing between America and a tin-pot dictatorship.

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it's all david shuster's fault!

(cross-posted at glad you asked.)

things seem to be getting out of hand.

still no rove indictment. one journalist's already checkered career may be irreparably damaged. his sponsor's reputation sways in the wind. prosecutor fitzgerald remains silent. has something gone horribly wrong in the plame investigation?

one would certainly thinks so from the ballooning body of speculation overtaking the blogosphere. could all this be msnbc reporter david shuster's fault?

the ball got rolling with shuster's breathless but compelling argument made on msnbc countdown with keith olberman on may 8:

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O'Reilly wants Olbermann out at MSNBC

I just read a column over at Media Matters that was written by Bill the falafel man O'Reilly, saying in effect that MSNBC was wrong to fire Phil Donahue, and replace him with Keith Olbermann. He also wants Donahue back at his 8 PM time slot, and wants Olbermann fired.
   When I got up from the floor because I was laughing so hard, I began to wonder why O'Reilly would do this. Then my brother said that Olbermann has the guts to stand up to O'Reilly, and take him on. Also, Olbermann is cutting into O'Reilly's lead in the ratings, and poor old Billy don't like it one bit, so that's why he wants Donahue back, so he can again get his precious ratings back.
   For weeks now O'Reilly has waged some kind of guerilla war against both Olbermann and Al Franken. He all but accused Franken of money laundering, and said his ratings are going down the tubes. What O'Reilly failed to mention was that in select cities like New York, and other places, Franken has about a 3-1 listener advantage.

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