This is your last chance.
Andrew Lack, Chairman of NBC News and MSNBC:
First, welcome home.
I need to ask you a question. Have you ever wanted to do-over a major mistake.
Many people have, but few people have had the chance to that.
Your cable network has made a few. A few…hell, MSNBC has pulled enough boners to keep Debi Diamond happy for at least five years.
Let’s go down memory lane, shall we? First, there was the firing of Phil Donahue, who, even at advanced age, was still one of the most skilled interviewers on television, simply because he was not on board with the Gulf War. Of course, he was right.
That was in 2002. A year later, we had what was laughingly referred to as the Michael Savage Experiment.
Oh, we all remember that prank caller on a certain Saturday afternoon who called into the Sausage’s program. The “sodomite” dig. And that witty “Get AIDS and die” quip. He was off the air within a week. And because of that, we’re stuck with prison documentaries all weekend since.
Then the Imus incident in 2007. When MSNBC could have stood up for free speech, you let him go. And by the way, if you remember the statements Imus made concerning the Rutgers female basketball team, the Scarlet Knights, were nothing compared to what was said by anyone who put money on the aforementioned Knights, who were favored to beat the Tennessee Lady Vols, but were slaughtered by said LV’s by 13 points. Trust me…if you put $1000 on the Knights that weekend, race was probably the only thing not picked apart.
But instead of defending Imus, or at least riding out the controversy, MSNBC ran like the weasels that Imus regularly called the network’s management.
There was the firing of Martin Bashir and the hiring of Al Sharpton and that cup of stale coffee Alec Baldwin had. We can go on and on.
And then, there was the KO kid.
When Keith Olbermann left Countdown on January 21, 2011, he left the network’s most popular program. the ratings went down 20%. They never got it back.
People missed Worst Persons, and the Friday night Thurber readings. Not to mention the almost nightly digs at “Lonesome Rhodes” Beck and “Billo the Clown.” But mostly, the keen insights on the daily happenings of the day. And those “Special Comments.” Those blistering commentaries that would make Howard Beale look like a piker. He kicked the asses of not only every Republican in sight, it seemed, but occasionally, the asses of many on his own side of the political fence, including Barack Obama.
One of the most memorable “Special Comments,” though, was made on the night after California passed that horrid Proposition 8 that banned gay marriage on that state. In one of the most emotional commentaries I have ever seen anyone give, Keith Olbermann said this…
Even more timely today.
Which brings us to you, Mr. Lack. Your network has lost it’s way. Rachel Maddow is, right now, the only person on that network that is keeping the lights on. A few months ago, your cable network said that it was going forward as if Olbermann never existed. If the ratings continue like this, MSNBC may cease to exist, forced to spew the same reactionary claptrap that Fox News spews, to a much larger audience.
Meanwhile, after a nightmare at Al Gore’s Current channel, Olbermann went to his old network, ESPN, to do for sports what he did for current events, expose the various fools that run things in this world for the fools they were. Especially organizations like Fox News/the NFL.
On the day that I am typing this, ESPN announced that it will not renew Keith Olbermann’s contract. He will be a free agent.
And it will be your chance to right an egregious wrong.
You’re already on your way to doing that: adding Brian Williams to the mix as the face of breaking news on MSNBC, seen by some as a demotion for statements not made on an NBC News program, would give the network instant credibility and numbers. And now, all you need to do is add Keith.
And you would be adding him not a moment to soon. When both sides of the political spectrum, sides that are headed non-stop over a cliff, seem to be playing fast and loose with insanity, we need the words of a Keith Olbermann to call bullshit as what it is, when he called on Bush to be impeached, and more recently at ESPN, when he called Roger Goodell of the almighty NFL to resign.
And by welcoming Olbermann back to the fold, hopefully flanked by Chris Matthews, Maddow, and Williams, you will have ended the Amateur Night in Manhattan experiments of Chris Heyes and Lawrence O’Donnell, and you would form the most solid four-hour block on either broadcast or cable.
So, Mr. Lack, pull the trigger. Give Keith Olbermann whatever he wants. Just bring him back, because at this critical point in the evolution of the planet, we need his voice.
And once you have him, please…for the sake of God, humanity, Chet, and David…please…don’t fuck this up.