So It’s Come to This: Keith Olbermann Is Absolutely Right (on Cancel Culture)

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So it’s come to this: Keith Olbermann is making complete sense and is absolutely right. Conservatives and independents might find that statement shocking. But the far-left, former MSNBC host on Wednesday blasted cancel culture and declared himself not a fan of wokeness.

Appearing with Ashleigh Banfield on WGNA, the ex-Countdown anchor decried the “draconian” “foolishness” of a world where Abraham Lincoln could be removed from schools. Olbermann perhaps surprised his liberal fans by “I don’t buy into wokeness in the slightest.” The usually screaming, hater of all things conservative, host reasoned: 

When you get around to taking the name of Abraham Lincoln off of a high school because he had the attitudes of his time prior to you know sort of single-handedly affecting the end of slavery and he’d ever did anything good about native Americans — that’s absolutely true — but you have to judge particularly when you’re doing retroactive stuff you have to judge the context of the times. 

Again shocking with a calm and reasoned take down of cancel culture, Olbermann declared: 

Simply saying, “Okay, it’s this or we’re erasing you from history” is very draconian and foolish and throws out the proverbial baby with the bath water. And I know somebody will complain that use the phrase ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water’ because this will now imply violence against children and it doesn’t!

Of course, that’s not to say that Olbermann wasn’t full of his usual attacks on conservatives. The fawning Banfield introduced him by gushing: “In a universe of talking heads, he’s a thinking head with a genetic inability to compromise his principles. He’s been called the Edward R. Murrow of the angry left.” 

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Banfield offered Olbermann the opportunity to expound on his nasty attack against Texas: 

BANFIELD: I wake up and I turn on my Twitter and I see you’re making the Twitter rounds and there’s all sorts of backlash because you said the Texans shouldn’t get a vaccine because their governor has opened but the state all the way —

OLBERMANN: That’s not what I said. I tweeted, “Why are we wasting the vaccines in Texas if the governor and other state officials have come out and — why are we wasting vaccines on Texas if Texas has decided to join the side of the virus?” That’s not saying nobody should get the vaccine. There it’s just that it’s it’s science here. If you are going to rely only on mass not to defeat the virus. They’re going lie on your back seat jack going to beat the virus.

For more, including his defense of the MSNBC Countdown years, read the transcript below. But it’s worth concluding that, as far as cancel culture, if the left has lost Keith Olbermann, they have gone too far. 

Click “expand” to read the transcript. 

Banfield
3/3/2021

ASHELIGH BANFIELD: Tonight’s guest has scaled the heights of our profession, broadcasting, again and again and again. Often he has jumped from those heights with or without a parachute, sometimes he has been pushed and through it all Keefe Olbermann has left his mark on CNN, on ESPN, on MSNBC, on ABC on MSNBC again on ESPN again. On ESPN a third time. And I’m leaving out a whole bunch of letters out. In a universe of talking heads, he’s a thinking head with a genetic inability to compromise his principles. He’s been called the Edward R. Murrow of the angry left and if you’ve caught him on YouTube, you know he has not mellowed a bit. 

BANFIELD: I wake up and I turn on my Twitter and I see you’re making the Twitter rounds and there’s all sorts of backlash because you said the Texans shouldn’t get a vaccine because their governor has opened but the state all the way —

OLBERMANN: That’s not what I said. I tweeted, “Why are we wasting the vaccines in Texas if the governor and other state officials have come out and — why are we wasting vaccines on Texas if Texas has decided to join the side of the virus. That’s not saying nobody should get the vaccine. There it’s just that it’s it’s science here. If you are going to rely only on mass not to defeat the virus. They’re going lie on your back seat jack going to beat the virus.

10:07

BANFIELD: There was something you did more than a decade ago that in the last four years ago, journalists have been fraught with the concept of using the word lie, lying and the lying liars that tell them. But you went there early and I do want to remind people, this is 2008. I believe it was February 14, but I might have my date wrong. So you’ll have to tell me on the other side if I do. And you were talking about Bush 43 and you were very stark with the terms that you used in one of your special comments. I’m going to play it and then ask you about it in a second. Here is Keith. 

KEITH OLBERMANN [February 14, 2008]: You are a liar Mr. Bush! And after showing some skill added initially you have ceased to even be a very good liar! And your minions like John Boehner your Republican congressional crash dummies who just happened to decide to walk out of Congress want a podium full of microphones await them, they should just keep walking out of congress and if possible out of the country. For they, sir, and you, sir, have no place in a government of the people by the people for the people! 

BANFIELD: That was big. It was big then and it even sounds big now. Were you surprised at how much hand wringing and pearl clutching there was over the use of the word liar 10, 12 years later? 

OLBERMANN:  No. here’s a here’s a thought that I had having had experience of both of these fields that is the equivalent of two lifetimes. I had a lifetime in sports and a lifetime in news and you mentioned sometimes they are concurrent and sometimes they’ve been independent. But I’ve said that if you eliminated the top five or ten in each field tomorrow and switched all the other political reporters and sports reporters and you made the sports reporters the political reporters, coverage of politics would improve 5000 percent. 

OLBERMANN: Because sports is covered with the idea that there’s a final score and whereas there are many other variables and many things that can be debated the final score is the final score. And in politics as I weren’t in 1997, the first time my career ever touched politics, that’s not the way it is and people will not necessarily state reality for fear of, again something else that we talked about before, blowback which is if you know if you’re going to have one side of the political equation that is constantly worked the refs and has constantly complained about fair and balanced coverage and all that and don’t want to take the 700 phone calls from people complaining, you don’t want to read the e-mails then you will you will censor yourself and many times what has been political media in this country in the last 30 years has been to deny that the final score was the final score. 

The other thing and pertains to the use of this word liar and anything else that is not simply an old political story being retold with new characters  In sports. We are trained or maybe we go into it because we go to every sporting event every sports story thinking that we’re going to see something that hasn’t happened before, either an event that has never occurred before or series of events or a combination of things. 

As one of the great baseball announcers Tim McCarver said about a baseball game: You will always see a unique a series of events in a baseball game. And that may be trivial it may be fantastic, but you go there assuming, you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before you’re going to find ways to describe it the easiest way to describe it to say, “What the hell just happened? And be truthful about it and sometimes that requires a little hard-edged judgment and that’s what you’re there for, your paid for your job. But in new all but the particular to the other way around. 

10:36

OLBERMANN: I don’t buy into wokeness in the slightest and this is perhaps a function of being 62 years old now, but it’s like I just I don’t think it’s — I don’t think you I think many things you can improve upon in terms of your understanding in terms of your awareness of the world around you. 

OLBERMANN: When you get around to taking the name of Abraham Lincoln off of a high school because he had the attitudes of his time prior to you know sort of single-handedly affecting the end of slavery and he’d ever did anything good about native Americans — that’s absolutely true — but you have to judge particularly when you’re doing retroactive stuff you have to judge the context of the times. 

There’s only two things that can happen if somebody doing something wrong. Either they continue do it wrong or they stop doing it wrong and you want the latter and whatever process needs to get you you need to go through to get people to stopping doing the wrong thing I think is appropriate. But simply saying, “Okay, it’s this or we’re erasing you from history is is very draconian and foolish and throws out the proverbial baby with the bath water. And I know somebody will complain that use the phrase ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water’ because this will now imply violence against children and it doesn’t!

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