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Mitch Perry Report for 2.25.15 — Keith Olbermann and the golden age of MSNBC

Uh oh. He did it again.

Keith Olbermann is on paid suspension for the rest of this week, after a few angry tweets to a Penn State supporter got him in hot water with his ESPN bosses. While the tweeter sent Olbermann a link about the university’s $13 million fundraising for pediatric cancer research, Keith was still apparently thinking about the Jerry Sandusky scandal and responded back, “Pitiful.” He later apologized for a series of negative tweets to the PSU student.

A couple of things here: When you’re a known figure, a celebrity and/or a reporter, responding angrily back to somebody on social media will likely bring you way more attention than you could have ever anticipated. To paraphrase George Clooney, “I drink, therefore I don’t tweet.”

Not that Keith was drinking. He’s just shown over the years to have a serious anger management problem, if you go by his long track record with all of the various news and sports organizations he’s worked (and burned bridges) at over two decades. Add the fact that he’s loathed by many conservatives, and the dude sort of walked into a suspension.

Olbermann has been enjoying somewhat of a comeback in recent years at his original broadcasting home after his career appeared in the dumps when he left Current TV (remember that?) a few years ago. And while he will always be remembered by some fans for his work on ESPN back in the ’90s, it was his reign at MSNBC in the aughts that made him a hero with the political left — until things blew up there, as well.

Speaking of MSNBC, what should we make of the latest shakeups there? The cable news network announced last week they were canceling the shows of Ronan Farrow and the great Joy Reid, and rumors persist that Chris Hayes will soon be moved out of his 8 p.m. prime-time perch to make way for Rachel Maddow.

The network’s ratings are the lowest in a decade, and there is serious discussion that management may ditch its liberal programming.

“Everybody in the food chain from top to bottom understands that the Olbermann era is over,” an MSNBC source told the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove last week. The MSNBC source added, “Going left was a brilliant strategy while it lasted and made hundreds of millions of dollars for Comcast, but now it doesn’t work anymore … The goal is to move away from left-wing TV.”

Cue the chortling by some conservatives that say it shows that liberalism is on the ropes. Hardly. The left hasn’t been able to match up with an equivalent of Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly. Instead liberals seem to embrace the satirical take on the news of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who have now or will soon leave their gigs at Comedy Central. Well hey, I guess you’ve still got John Oliver and Bill Maher on HBO at least.

In other news …

With the threat of the Dept. of Homeland Security going broke in a few days, Democrats such as Congresswoman Kathy Castor are seizing the opportunity to make Republicans look bad. Then again, some might say the party is doing that all by themselves as the clock ticks down on the midnight Friday deadline.

Speaking of Castor, the four-term Tampa Bay area Democratic Representative says she digs her job right now, but isn’t entirely discounting the opportunity to run for higher office.

And there’s just a week left to go before Tampa voters will get a chance to vote in their municipal election. An immigration activist says the 5 board members told her one thing in private and another thing in public, and she’s none too pleased about three of the incumbents running for re-election.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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