Put simply, Mr. Olbermann had a genuine faith in populism, something liberals more often preach than practice. Say what you will about his on-air rants, I'll take them any day over the subterfuges used by NPR to fire Juan Williams.I enjoyed Keith Olbermann. But he was pompous and over the top. But he had fire in his belly. But it was like the circus. It has come to town and moved on. I'm ready for something new. I like passion, but I like a more gritty, tough, straight-shooting editorializing and less theatrics and hysteria. So I'm waiting for the next circus parade and the next show to come to town and set up for a while.
All this matters in an era in which the greatest threat to public discourse isn't "incivility," as was so preposterously claimed after Tucson. Just compare the tedium of U.S. congressional debate with the rapier exchanges in Britain's House of Commons, the catcalling in Israel's Knesset, or the fist-fights in Taiwan's parliament.
Rather, the real threat is Good Morning America-style niceness, USA Today-style consensus-seeking, all-round squeamishness when it comes to words like "Islam," the political masquerade of "news analysis" from papers like the New York Times, and so on. In today's media landscape, audiences are being presented with a choice between voices who are honest (at least about their biases) but not objective, and those who claim to be objective but are rarely honest. Not surprisingly, Americans increasingly prefer the former.
So far, conservatives have gotten the better of liberals in the new media world. But Mr. Olbermann has given conservatives, if not quite a run for their money, at least some honest competition. It'll be a rare person who can match Mr. Olbermann for ego, pomposity, volume, self-righteousness, monomania and sheer obnoxiousness. Should MSNBC ever find that person (and Lawrence O'Donnell he ain't), I'll make a point of tuning in.
Bottom line: I'm more interest in analysis and hard thinking than I am in theatre and theatrics. Olbermann was interesting. He proved that a left wing political commentary show would "work" and be successful. Now, lets give people some choices from hair-on-fire leftists commentators to the more thoughtful but passionate analytical leftist types.