Tonight Keith Olbermann explained why he was ignorant of the fact that one of Countdown's regular political analysts/guest hosts is a working lobbyist — he's been too distracted grieving his mother's death. Boy, doesn't that sound familiar?!
As you may recall, back in May Keith Olbermann lashed out at Cityfile, Wonkette and Gawker for reporting that he'd angrily walked out on MSNBC after losing a Ben Affleck booking to Rachel Maddow. Olbermann claimed that the reports of his hissy-fit were greatly exaggerated and that he'd actually taken a few days off to mourn the death of his mother, which had occurred two weeks prior.
Now he's taking all kinds of heat from foe and friend alike over this whole Richard Wolffe situation, and on Monday he claimed that he was too busy in June and July fighting with Bill O'Reilly or something to pull Wolffe aside off camera for five minutes to ask a few questions about any potential conflicts of interest with the lobbying job he started in April. This led us to wonder, "Were Olbermann and his producers too bogged down dealing with other things' in April and May as well?" Well, tonight Olbermann offered up a familiar excuse to TVNewser in regards to why he didn't question Wolffe during the April/May time frame:
The bloggers are leaving one component out, unfairly so: In April, I knew vaguely that Richard Wolffe had gone to work for a non-news firm, and that's about the last I heard of it. It was entirely concurrent with my mother's fatal illness, and I turned it over entirely to my management team. My first awareness that this was more than just a non-news job, was this week.
If Jonathan Berr, whoever he is, does not like my prioritizing caring for my mother and dealing with her death, and then doing as many shows as I could, ahead of vetting the comments of our analysts and my management team, frankly, I feel sorry for him. Getting myself through those two months were, and are, more important than what is still being investigated about Richard.
Now, besides the obvious, there are a number of disturbing things about this statement, the first being Olbermann's dismissive "whoever he is" tone towards Jonathan Berr. Who is Jonathan Berr and what did he do to spark Olbermann's ire? Well, he's a writer for Daily Finance who happened to write a eminently reasonable piece critical of Olbermann's recent actions from the perspective of an Olbermann fan. The points he brought up and the questions he asked in his piece were not irrational or inflammatory in any way and deserve consideration. As such, the "whoever he is" condescension is way out of line, and frankly it's quite ugly, seeing as how Berr was nothing less than respectful in his Olbermann article.
Another disturbing thing about Olbermann's statement is the ease with which he seems willing to throw his staff under the bus for failing to do what he should have done in regards to a simple quizzing of Richard Wolffe. The title of the show is Countdown with Keith Olbermann, is it not? Does the old, tired Harry Truman adage "the buck stops here" not apply to cable news anchors whose names appear prominently in the titles of their shows?
Then there's this, an apparent blatant contradiction in the statement separated only by a few words — "In April, I knew vaguely that Richard Wolffe had gone to work for a non-news firm...My first awareness that this was more than just a non-news job, was this week." Um, say what? Which is it Keith? Please clarify.
Finally, I personally can't even begin to imagine the pain involved with losing a mother. My mom's mortality does cross my mind occasionally and the mere thought of it shakes me in places I never knew I was capable of being shaken, someplace deep down where the body meets the soul. But with that said, Olbermann was in the building and working after his mother's death, and if he was able to go on the air and host a show each night, how could he have not taken the time to question Wolffe's lobbying side gig? Again, how much more than a, "Richard, tell me about this new job of yours," would it have taken? And fuck, a simple Google search or two would've raised a number of red flags, but apparently even that would've been too much an effort.
The bottom line here, and everybody knows this, is that this is all a bunch of horseshit, and sadly it didn't have to be that way. If Olbermann would've just stepped up in the beginning and said something along of the lines of, "I know this looks bad, but I became too bogged down by other things, not to mention too trusting of another human being, and let this one slip by me...I'm truly sorry," this might have all gone away quietly (Notice that most of the heat he's been taking on this hasn't come from Fox News, but from Olbermann allies on the internet!). Instead, he's offered up nothing but lame excuses and angry diatribes all week, flailing about madly in the quicksand all the while, and frankly he's looked nothing less than pathetic in doing so.