Why Keith Olbermann’s claim to have lost five friends on Sept 11th is important

It matters, either way

We first need to do a little review of the events that started Olbermann’s rise – please bear with me.

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, “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 Chris Matthews had his dust-up with Michelle Malkin, Olbermann 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 did not.

But let’s not forget where it all started. Five friends.

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 America’s 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. I hope this is the case.

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 the respect he gets from the left, he should be the object of scorn.

I hope someone bothers to check out the story. To get the names. If it is true, I need to view Keith Olbermann as a little more human, frankly, than I do now. After the recent disgrace of being pulled from election night coverage, a human interest story like that could well be the ticket that propels Olbermann to the top of his time slot. If it is not true, well….

I would like to know. One way or the other.

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