Olbermann Returns, and Roars Into 29th Place


Former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann kicked off his new show, still called “Countdown,” on Al Gore’s Current TV channel last Monday night.  In numbers widely trumpeted by Current TV, he drew 179,000 viewers in the important 25-54 demographic, which put him ahead of Eliot Spitzer’s show on CNN. 

The time of prophecy is at hand, CNN.  Olbermann’s success against Spitzer’s snooze-fest shows that you must devolve, or perish.  Make that call to Anthony Weiner.  The stars are right.

Olbermann’s overall audience is impossible to gauge, because Current TV has forbidden the Neilsen rating company from releasing the total viewership figures.  Given how loudly they’re tooting the 25-54 demographic, the total number must be less encouraging.

Countdown’s debut ratings were good enough to put Olbermann in 29th place among cable news programs, as the reinvigorated crew at Olbermann Watch notes.  He’s 23rd among nightly news shows.

These ratings numbers must be viewed in both absolute and relative terms.  Olbermann greatly increased the ratings for the tiny Current TV network.  They have every reason to be happy about that.  On the other hand, he’s playing before a far smaller audience than he held at MSNBC, and Fox routinely trounced him even then.  There’s something melancholy about Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas hailing Olbermann as having “the most successful show on cable” in his MSNBC days, while appearing as a guest on the Current TV debut.  The “reality-based community” tells itself a lot of fairy tales, so it’s possible he really believes that.

A debut is also a meaningless data point without historical context.  If this is Olbermann’s high-water mark, and those 179,000 viewers start drifting away once the novelty wears off, that would be bad.  If he builds a bigger audience from here, and sells his network to more cable providers, he’ll prove to have been a good investment for Current TV.

I don’t get Current TV myself, so I have to settle for the L.A. Times’ detailed review of Olbermann’s relaunch, which assures us he’s “the same fast-talking, hard-charging, unapologetically self-righteous defender of his version of liberal ideology that he always was.”  I’m kind of bummed that I missed his Marilyn Monroe impression.

Naturally, Olbermann thinks the only problem with the party that has added trillions to the national debt with breathtaking speed, nationalized industries, and informed dissenters they are “enemies” who must “sit in the back of the bus” is that they are too… timid.  The L.A. Times puts this within “the rubric of Olbermann’s belief that it’s time for liberals to get as angry, vitriolic, and petty as their foes.”  That’s another popular fairy tale in the fever swamps of the left, which only a few months ago was describing conservatives as accessories to murder in the Tucson shooting.  Those fever swamps stretch right into the editorial pages of the New York Times.  You can’t say Olbermann doesn’t know his audience, and that is a valuable asset for any media personality.

Here’s a little taste of the Really Deep Thoughts on offer from such cutting-edge Olbermann guests as Moulitsas, Nixon-era fossil John Dean, and Michael Moore… seen here asserting that illegal wars launched by Presidential fiat are just peachy, provided the president has his “heart in the right place.”  It’s always funny to watch someone take Michael Moore seriously.  (Hat tip: Jammie Wearing Fool.)