The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

A Very Special Comment

Posted on | January 10, 2011 | 25 Comments

My 12-year-old son delivers a reply to someone with a gigantic ego and a miniscule audience:

Here’s the script:

Saturday’s shootings in Tucson, Arizona were hateful and tragic, the senseless and desperate deeds of a demented man. All decent Americans mourn the lives lost and irreparably damaged by this atrocious act of insane violence.
Yet another act of hateful insanity was committed Saturday, an act for which the perpetrator has not been held accountable. His weapon was not a gun, but a cable television network, and his ammunition was a diatribe as demented in its own way as anything ever posted on the Internet by Jared Lee Loughner.
I speak, of course, of Keith Olbermann.
For too many years, Olbermann has been permitted to hector Americans with his deranged rantings, festooned with polysyllabic adjectives and elaborate analogies. There is no political conflict too mundane, nor any legislative battle too routine, for MSNBC’s primetime host to whip out a comparison to Hitler and the Third Reich. And in these overblown Olbermann metaphors, it is always Republicans and conservatives who are cast as Nazis.
On Saturday, it was revealed that the Tucson shooter was a 22-year-old man with a history of drug abuse. A high-school friend of the gunman described him as a “political radical,” whose views were “quite liberal,” even “left wing.”
Yet we cannot hold the Democratic Party responsible for this madman’s violence. Neither should we blame Daily Kos and other liberal bloggers, nor even such irresponsible TV demagogues as Dylan Ratigan and Ed Schultz.
Police say that the man who committed the Arizona shooting is in custody. Jared Lee Loughner has the right to be presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty by a jury of his peers. But so far as we know, one man alone pulled the trigger. He alone is to blame, and he alone will pay the penalty for his crimes.
This was not good enough, however, for Keith Olbermann.
In an attempt to score cheap political points from Saturday’s shooting, Olbermann treated his viewers to one of the most shamelessly irresponsible lectures in his long, sad history of shameless irresponsibility. His “Special Comment” was indeed special, although probably not in the way Olbermann intended. He named Sarah Palin and Sharon Angle. He named Jesse Kelly and Allen West. He named Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck and the Tea Party movement. Olbermann named all of these people in his Saturday “Special Comment,” suggesting that they were somehow responsible for the shooting in Tucson. But they were not responsible, neither directly nor indirectly.
There is nothing — not one shred of evidence, not one word of testimony — suggesting that any of these people named by Keith Olbermann did anything that in any way inspired Jared Loughner’s criminal madness.
Olbermann accused innocent people of encouraging a horrible crime. If we may borrow one of Olbermann’s favorite tactics, we might say that Olbermann committed what Hitler called The Big Lie. And we might also say that Olbermann tried to turn the Tucson shooting into the Reichstag fire.
The producers and executives at MSNBC permitted Olbermann to deliver his hateful sermon. And the advertisers on MSNBC paid for it. The good news, of course, is that hardly anyone watched it.
Olbermann’s audience is so small that his show is seen by fewer viewers than a lot of YouTube videos. For all his dramatic language, for all the bombastic delivery of his exaggerated self-important political sermonettes, Olbermann attracts at most a few hundred thousand viewers five nights a week. His audience is not one-tenth as large as the number of people who hear Rush Limbaugh’s radio show every day.
As a commercial enterprise, then, Olbermann’s program is a complete failure. Olbermann’s ratings have fallen, and they can’t get up. Yet MSNBC continues to give this pompous gasbag their eight-o’clock hour, and pay him millions of dollars a year, as if he were such a success that their network could not survive without him.
It remains to be seen how long they can continue this sad charade. Will Olbermann be on MSNBC at 8 p.m. each weeknight forever? Will the network sustain him, no matter how low his ratings go? Will he be allowed to continue lecturing America until, at last, his audience shrinks to zero?
Americans don’t need your sanctimonious sermons, Mr. Olbermann. We don’t get our moral lessons from MSNBC.
We believe in basic truths that were already well-known long before you ever showed up to lecture us on cable TV.
And we don’t need a lot of fancy words to explain things as simple as “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”
Good night, Mr. Olbermann.
Good night, and good riddance.

Thanks to Jefferson as the anchorman, thanks to the cameraman (Emerson, age 10) and thanks to Mrs. Other McCain for putting up with our silly blog projects.

UPDATE: Somebody noticed:

A “panicked defense of hate speech“? That’s called projection, Keith. Look it up.


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