Some friendly advice to Chris Matthews regarding Keith Olbermann

Find out about the Five Friends, Chris

Chris, I feel sorry for you. I remember watching you way back when – life was good, discussions were lively and you were the MAN. You lent MSNBC some stature, some gravitas, some credibility. Of course, you were a little self-absorbed, but I overlooked that. Heck, you even guest hosted Rush’s show, even though it turned into a bit of a monologue – “Peace Corp, Jesuit priests, blah blah…”.

Anyway, you have a problem, and that problem is named Keith Olbermann. He pretty much runs the show now, rising from a disgraced and despised former ESPN anchor to the dizzying heights he now occupies. Well, actually, he is the headliner of a cable spin-off network that caters exclusively to unhinged lefties, all 5,000 of them, which is a bit like saying he is MVP for the Sacramento Kings, which would not really be “dizzying heights” – but I digress. The simple fact remains that you need to DO something to reclaim your position as a star and steer the network toward some semblance of something that resembles sanity.

I guess we need to do a little review of the event that started Olbermann’s rise. After a bizarre exit from ESPN, he did a year of “All Lewinsky, All The Time TV”. Apparently that did not give him the “hard news” chops he craved, so he took a little hiatus, doing a radio show for ABC.

Then came the attacks of September 11th. Olbermann confided to all who would listen that he lost five friends – five friends – in the attacks. He broadcast from Ground Zero for 40 days and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for his efforts. (Apparently he also thought that this gave him permission to steal Murrow’s signature sign-off). He then appointed himself as the de facto guardian of all things related to September 11th, to the point that when longtime Florida State coach Bobby Bowden decided to use “Let’s Roll” as the team motto for the 2002 season, Olbermann actually threatened him with physical violence during a radio interview. After a video tribute to the victims of 9/11 aired at the Republican National Convention, Olbermann said, WHILE ANCHORING THE COVERAGE, “We would be rightly eviscerated at all quarters, perhaps by the Republican Party itself, for exploiting the memories of the dead, and perhaps even for trying to evoke that pain again. If you reacted to that videotape the way I did, I apologize.” See what I mean?

Like the main character in the movie “The Blob”, a slow-moving substance that still manages to catch up with and kill things, Olbermann began his march. When you had your dust-up with Michelle Malkin, he traded on it, writing “Never been prouder of you, Chris” on his MSNBC blog. He got more and more radical, attracting more and more deranged Bush-haters, until he had a following. His hyperbolic “Special Comment” features were panted after like doggie treats by his sycophantic groupies, and were copied and pasted all over the moonbat universe. He delivered high ratings – well, at least compared to other shows in the ratings-starved MSNBC universe – where more reasoned and intelligent shows, like yours, did not.

Shaken, you tried the crazed lefty thing, but it just doesn’t seem quite comfortable a fit for you. Too self-assured to jump the shark on your own show like Dan Abrams did, you find yourself in a pickle. Let me give you some advice, and it begins and ends with the two words that are ringing in your ears right now.

Five friends.

Let’s face it. Through his Five Friends, the terrorist attacks gave Olbermann not only victim status, but also the moral authority to berate George Bush or anyone else he either disagreed with or got in his way. Without September 11th, there would be no Five Friends. Without the Five Friends, there would be no Countdown, no unhinged prophet of crackpottery, no thorn in your flesh.

If you’re like me, the first thing that went through your mind was, “Hey – according to what I hear, Keith Olbermann hasn’t had five friends at one time in his whole life.” This may be right, it may be wrong – I can’t say with any certainty. What I can say is that the Five Friends provided the bridge over the abyss that was becoming Olbermann’s career, and the story needs to be probed a little further.

One of two things is true, and each possibility is so far removed from each other one struggles to comprehend the ramifications. The first would be that Olbermann DID have five friends die in the September 11 attacks. He IS a victim. He DOES legitimately come by the moral authority he waves in everyone’s face. It is an amazing story – the agony of the sudden loss of friends translating to passion, righteous indignation and a revived career. It is a story that should be covered in depth, about a person who, when it concerns this particular issue, should have the respect of all sides of the ideological spectrum. A story of good friends who supported Keith Olbermann during his trek through the wilderness and would be proud of his accomplishments had their lives had not been tragically cut short by a terrorist attack. A story that would either take the sharp edge off of someone who has become intolerable, or at least provide an explanation for it.

The other possibility is almost too dark and sick to consider. What if there are really no Five Friends? What if the story, and all that goes with it, was made up, or exaggerated, at a time when no one was paying attention and it really didn’t matter? What if they were only casual acquaintances – bar buddies, or doormen, or waiters? What if he counted them as friends, but they despised him?

What would that mean?

It would mean that the girders that hold up the framework of his present status are rusted and rickety. It would mean that his moral authority is gone, resting in the graveyard of inflated credentials and ruined careers. It would mean that instead of respect from all sides of the political spectrum, he should be the object of scorn.

So Chris, here’s the advice. It is up to you. Check out the story. Get the names. If it is true, take your medicine and realize that you work for a guy who earned it, every step of the way. After the recent disgrace of being pulled from election night coverage (your favorite night of the year – admit it), a human interest story like that could be the ticket that propels you both to the top of your respective time slots. If it is not true, well….

Hey, it’s about break time, so you better hustle and take Olbermann his gluten-free snacks, ‘kay?

Get Alerts