Long Time Coming

In yet another “man bites dog” story, a cable TV show decided to try to emulate Fox News–except with ideological leanings on the other side of what Fox’s are perceived to be–and found its fate to be precisely the same as the fates of most radio programs that try to emulate the success of Rush Limbaugh even as they take the opposite political tack:

MSNBC is removing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as the anchors of live political events, bowing to growing criticism that they are too opinionated to be seen as neutral in the heat of the presidential campaign.

David Gregory, the NBC newsman and White House correspondent who also hosts a program on MSNBC, will take over during such events as this fall’s presidential and vice presidential debates and election night.

The move, confirmed by spokesmen for both networks, follows increasingly loud complaints about Olbermann’s anchor role at the Democratic and Republican conventions. Olbermann, who regularly assails President Bush and GOP nominee John McCain on his “Countdown” program, was effusive in praising the acceptance speech of Democratic nominee Barack Obama. He drew flak Thursday when the Republicans played a video that included a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, saying that if the networks had done that, “we would be rightly eviscerated at all quarters, perhaps by the Republican Party itself, for exploiting the memories of the dead, and perhaps even for trying to evoke that pain again. If you reacted to that videotape the way I did, I apologize.”

[. . .]

Olbermann was involved in several on-air incidents during the conventions that drew unwanted attention. He told morning host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, to “get a shovel” as Scarborough was defending the McCain campaign. And when GOP strategist Mike Murphy was debating Matthews, Olbermann could be heard saying, “Let’s wrap him up.”

Ah, the professionalism of Keith Olbermann. Always a wonder to behold.

The funny thing is that MSNBC could easily revive its reputation by including the respected Tom Brokaw more on its programs (though Brokaw, semi-retired may well not like that sort of thing) and by putting up a conservative counter to Olbermann’s show. Instead, it is doubling down with the use of Rachel Maddow, proving again that the First Rule of Holes (“when in one, stop digging!”) oftentimes goes ignored when it should instead be heeded.