Thursday, November 15, 2007

Memo to Keith Olbermann: We Don't Care About Britney Or Paris


For many of us, Countdown with Keith Olbermann is, quite simply, the best thing on television these days. It's a thought-provoking newscast that towers above the sleazy, sensationalized crap that passes for "news" on the major media channels.

Olbermann's show is like a breath of fresh air and it has made the past few years of George W. Bush's nightmarish reign at least a bit more tolerable. But there's a slight problem with Countdown that I'd like to complain about.

For some reason, Olbermann always insists on closing his show with "entertainment" news--and more often than not, it's "news" about the latest activities of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

(I know, I know: Olbermann is being "ironic" in his coverage of these irritating celebrities. But there's only one problem: even if you cover them from an ironic angle, Paris and Britney are so vapid that they're still boring).

Actually, I'm unclear as to why Olbermann insists on including "celebrity" news on his program in the first place. Most of us are sick to death of today's sensationalized, tabloid culture anyway. If we never heard another word about over-exposed celebrities like Paris and Britney, it'd be too soon.

By inexplicably including this dreck at the end of his program, I'd suspect that a lot of people never watch Olbermann's show to its conclusion.

And I'd like to offer a suggestion. Please, Keith: dump all "news" about Britney and Paris. Instead, use that segment on your show for something more interesting and useful.

How about something like this: "Right-Wing Lie of the Day"? Surely that alone would offer enough material for the next two decades of programs.

Or how about a regular feature called, "Today's Buzz In The Blogosphere"? Of course I'm biased, but I'd like to see more coverage of news and views from the blogosphere. CNN already has a "what's hot on the blogs" segment; it seems like such a feature would be a natural for Olbermann's show (which, no doubt, has an audience that frequents the blogosphere).

Those are just a couple of suggestions. But really, the fact is, anything would be better than devoting yet more coverage to Britney and Paris. The first time Olbermann mentioned these two vapid celebrities on his program, it might have been a bit funny to some people. Now, it's just tiresome.


Carl said...

Marc, I totally agree that KO should be doing something other than Britney (or Paris or OJ) as his top story, nightly.

I understand his logic, of course. He's just spent the first fifty minutes hammering away at the crooks and liars (*wink*) of the right wing, and so needs to lighten the show up (this is why Oddball is in the middle of the program, too). He needs to send it off to Whatisface Abrams with a large audience, rather than drive away people who are eventually going to get tired of lecturing.

Unfortunately, celebrity sells.

Marc McDonald said...

>>>Unfortunately, celebrity sells.

Yes, it does. But real news of substance that actually impacts people's lives also sells (and can outsell tabloid "news," if it's presented correctly).

For years, the corporate media bigwigs have been clueless about what their audience really wants.

I myself worked in media for many years (for daily newspapers). I remember many meetings in which editors would sit around and ponder exactly what it was that the audience wanted.

Facing declining circulations, they'd point the finger of blame anything and everything other than themselves and their policies.

I heard them say things like, "folks are apathetic about news these days" and "people just don't have the time to read" and "people would prefer to get their news from broadcast media."

(In other words, they'd blame the audience, instead of considering the possibility that their own policies were wrong).

I often suggested that maybe, just maybe, if our newspaper offered real, substantial news that actually impacted people's lives that people would find the time to read a newspaper every day. But "radical" ideas like these never seemed to get very far.

drydiggins said...

When George Carlin was a guest on KO's show not long ago, he told Keith that "the first thirty-five minutes" of his show were consistently very good.

cwilcox said...

Carl beat me to including OJ. Can someone please tell me why I should give a shit about OJ and his messed up life? I think oddball & worst person are light enough segments to carry the show. "Lions for Lambs" the movie panned by critics for lecturing the obvious (It was fantastic by the way) did a good job of pointing out that we have a citizen's obligation to see past the clutter of celebrity fluff and become accountable for demanding the truth. I'm with ya Marc!

Anonymous said...

I think it's a trade-off for his unfettered "Special Comment" segment. MSNBC probably bargained it out with him.
I'll put up with Britney or Paris just for the excellence of the rest of the program, especially the first 15 minutes.

cwilcox said...

Happy Thanksgiving Marc. I hope you and yours have a fantabulous day!

Karlo said...

I don't have a tv so the fascination with Paris is a complete mystery to me. Did they just pick a photogenic blond at random and then start running stories?

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Karlo, thanks for stopping by.
Re: Paris on Olbermann----it's a mystery.
Olbermann has (by far) the best news program on TV---and then he spends the final part of the show running celebrity dreck. I suppose we ought to be grateful for the first 45 minutes of the program.

Anonymous said...

Let's keep this a little real, in the last few minutes of the KO show he always mentions that the producers are responsible for his comments about the celebrity moron dejour.
I'm sure Keith hates this as much as his audience but let's not forget that his sponsor is GE which is not exactly a leftist corporation.