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Olbermann Is Our ‘Tent Pole’

Via Matt Lewis: Is America Getting Over Keith Olbermann? An excerpt:

Ratings for Olbermann’s Countdown have been soft recently, and the 8 p.m. shows on CNN and HLN have narrowed the gap. In the important demographic of adults 25 to 54 — the group advertisers are looking to reach — Countdown was down 44% year-over-year in January. It averaged 268,000 viewers in that demo, only 3,000 more than Nancy Grace’s show on HLN, and 12,000 more than CNN’s Campbell Brown. Fox News’s O’Reilly Factor dominated the hour with 964,000 viewers age 25 to 54, and was the only cable news show in the time period to increase its audience, by 55%.
But there are also more subjective signs that Olbermann’s stridency and lack of proportion are alienating some of his natural allies. Quite a few eyebrows elevated last week when Jon Stewart, in a parody of one of Olbermann’s “Special Comment” segments, called out the newsman for going way over the top in his denunciations of Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts. The criticism was all the more remarkable, given that Stewart and Olbermann usually take the same side on most issues, especially when it comes to Fox News and the Republicans.
Olbermann’s overheated rhetoric also drew a sharp response from Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s house conservative, who called his fellow host’s attack on Brown “reckless” and “sad.” The exchange (and a few earlier, similar incidents) inspired network president Phil Griffin to issue a stern memo admonishing his charges: “We do not publicly criticize our colleagues. This kind of behavior is unprofessional and will not be tolerated.”
Griffin, not surprisingly, says he doesn’t believe Olbermann’s recent hiccups are part of any larger trend. “Keith has been our tentpole,” he says. “I watch the show every night. It’s a great show. It’s as smart and clever and fun as any out there, and I’m pleased with where we are.”

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