David Zurawik

Olbermann interviewing Gore: The sound of his master's voice

Watching Keith Olbermann interview his boss, Al Gore, Tuesday night for the second night in a row, I couldn't help noticing something: How much Olbermann looked like the RCA dog, head cocked slightly to the side, listening intently at his master's voice.

That is, of course, when Olbermann wasn't nodding in agreement at what his master said.


Check out the video at about 1 minute and 8 seconds and again at 2 minutes and 40 seconds for some of the enthusiastic nodding.

This is Keith Olbermann, the guy who thinks himself worthy of Edward R. Murrow's legacy. Instead what he has become is a rich man's interviewer, Gore's intellectual caddy, a pet poodle who asks his boss fawning questions like the one on this videotape that begins with an apologia as to how his own thoughts are "not fully formulated," but how sure he is the wise man on the big screen who signs his checks can tell him and the viewers how they ought to behave politically.


Oh, Keith, it was sad enough to see  you on such a marginal channel with ratings that the channel is embarrassed to release. But it is even worse to see you on such a channel kissing up to the guy you now have to kiss up to with all your might because you don't have the audience or the ratings to do otherwise.

It's kind of like the part in "Cool Hand Luke" when you think Luke is a broken man, and he has to keep yelling, "I'm shakin' it, boss, I'm shakin' it."

Meanwhile, your old channel says it is doing more than fine without you -- with a big, fat contract for Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O'Donnell, who has no pretense to being a journalist, filling in for you without missing a beat in the ratings.

I urge you to watch the tape, folks, and listen to Olbermann and Gore, and then tell me if this channel isn't one of the most partisan anywhere on television despite its ridiculous commercials talking about its commitment to journalism.

Listen particularly to Gore talking derisively about "right wingers," and you tell me what part of this interview has anything to do with journalism?

Can you imagine if CBS News or ABC News had its anchor start a nightly show with a lengthy interview with the company's chairman, and he or she talked this kind of partisan politics? Can you imagine the howls? Better yet, what if Fox News did it?

You can put a vest and some TV makeup on a hot dog, and then put it in front of a microphone and teach it to speak in the cadence of a famous broadcaster, but that doesn't make it a journalist.

Here's some video courtesy of Current TV, the channel that doesn't release Keith Olbermann's ratings very often: