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Why I am done with Keith Olbermann.

Feist
I can't believe I'm even bothering to address this but here it goes. Last night, I live-tweeted Countdown with Keith Olbermann, something I have done on and off for roughly 2 1/2 years. Countdown is the show that inspired my passion for politics. Olbermann's commentary was what lead me to discover Rachel Maddow. It made me want to know more about the injustices of the world. I dare say it was one of the driving forces behind me becoming so heavily involved in the politics of my own country, going so far as to join a part and hope to actively campaign. I can't deny the impact it's had on me. It's also given me the best group of friends I could ever hope to have. I haven't always agreed with Olbermann. Sometimes I've been actively angry at him. However, even during those times, I saw him as someone willing to engage with his audience and learn from his mistakes. Once, me and some of my friends managed to get him to apologise for using transphobic attitudes towards Ann Coulter, something he has not done since then. I try to be vocal about my criticisms of people I respect because I think it's important to hold them accountable when they make mistakes. They're supposed to be better than pettiness. They're the vocal voice of a movement or opinion and they must be articulate. It's a big job but he's been doing it so well for so long. The jokes about his ego and such are all well known but I firmly believe in his message and defended him for many things.

Then he blocked me on twitter today.

I understand the sheer teacup storm nature of this topic and I know how silly it is to be so upset over something as insignificant as a twitter block, but when someone you've practically idolised for years, someone you can say genuinely had an indelible impact on your life, actively decides to push you aside, it bloody hurts. My friends consoled me and wondered if it was a technical glitch, as twitter is so fond of falling victim to. Some friends, and other people who I have never spoken to before, asked about it, and the answer was confusing:

"you don't insult my friends - by last name - on twitter."

I honestly had no idea what he was referring to. I checked my tweets and wondered if he was referring to a tweet where I'd commented on former congressman Alan Grayson's hair (which was never intended as an insult), or possibly my discomfort over using Olbermann's show as a platform to ask for political donations. Then more tweets revealed this:

"she addressed him as "Lewis""

The Lewis in question is Richard Lewis, the comedian. My tweet being mentioned here is this:

"What do Bachmann's looks have to do with it, Lewis? #Countdown"

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's physical appearance was mentioned in one of Lewis's comments, which I found unfair since it's unfair and extremely misplaced to emphasise style over substance in politics, especially in regards to women, who have faced such discrimination for so long. I never followed up on this tweet except for a couple replies to friends, and my tweet wasn't meant as some malicious insult to Lewis. Olbermann's justification for blocking me came here again in another reply to a friend of mine:

"Just the last name is far more insulting than just the first. We're done here."

This is new to me. I've always been told that it's ruder to refer to someone you don't know by their first name, since it adds an edge of condescension to the equation, and with twitter, tone is so hard to grasp sometimes. Countdown is a political show and it's commonplace, or at least it is in UK, to refer to political figures by their surnames. I do it all the time and I know I'm not the only one. 140 characters requires brevity. The choice of surname wasn't meant as some damning critique of Lewis, nor was it meant as the insult of the century. Besides, Olbermann refers to someone by their surname a few tweets earlier. Maybe it's only rude if you're British:

https://twitter.com/#!/KeithOlbermann/status/141677694415937537

So what do I have to say to this all? Honestly, I'm more confused than anything else right now, but there's some undeniable sadness and anger. Mr Olbermann, I think what you did was extremely petty. Not just blocking me but blocking anyone who you construe as disagreeing with you or daring to question you. I understand that you must get a lot of extremely insulting and possibly threatening messages every day and I can't imagine what it's like to deal with that, but your actions here are downright confusing at best. I've supported you and your show for so long, even during times when you were heavily criticised, because I stood firm in my belief that you stood up for what was right. But I'm done now. I'm not going to creep around on egg-shells for you or anyone else. I believe in the power of words and the responsibility that comes with them. If you think I'm being some sort of bully for using someone's surname then maybe you should think about the impact you have when you refer to a network as a "political whorehouse" or a female commentator as "a mashed up bag of meat with lipstick" or when one of your guests calls a rape accusation "hooey" or when a frequent guest on your show says, in reply to GOP's false equivalences over violent rhetoric "Well, I think that's what they said about the burning of the Reichstag, if I recall correctly." Practice what you preach, Mr Olbermann. I call you that because it's polite. So I'm done.

I also vote.

Comments

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alliancesjr
Nov. 30th, 2011 03:22 am (UTC)
Is it wrong of me to take perverse pleasure in that his half-assed response to me is the last thing he said before he took his toys and flounced off?
ceilidh_ann
Nov. 30th, 2011 03:24 am (UTC)
Hell no! And his comment's also untrue because he's referred to my Britishness in more than one twitter reply.
terl_girl
Nov. 30th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
O.o
God damn, I've made falafel jokes on the BillBoard before and not gotten banned. Nice to see Keith cementing his title as the Most Oversensitive Man in Cable News.

*hugs*
ceilidh_ann
Nov. 30th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
Re: O.o
I've gone from being upset to angry to confused to just plain entertained by this cluster-fruit-cake. I'm also so humbled by how many friends and strangers on twitter have been so kind and supportive over something I know to be unimportant to the world.

I also found out today that, contrary to previous belief, I have been blocked by Joe Scarborough.
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nicolars
Nov. 30th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
I knew Olbermann could be childish, but this really takes the cake. I can't imagine how pissy and thin-skinned you'd have to be to see using a last name as an insult.
ceilidh_ann
Nov. 30th, 2011 03:38 am (UTC)
I don't understand the logic at all. I was always told it was rude to use first names for people you don't know, and it's just second nature for me to type a surname in these situations, especially in a political context. By this logic, Olbermann's repeatedly insulting James Thurber by calling his segment Thurber Fridays.
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profbutters
Nov. 30th, 2011 03:43 am (UTC)
(I am Moonyprof on Twitter, BTW: I friended you because I admired your work on the Sparkle Project.)

Man, I'm sorry to hear this. I liked him a lot, too. Maybe not being on MSNBC has allowed his anger more off the choke-chain, I don't know.

It's too bad that he's blocking you since, since I know you *have* been a strong supporter of his. And I do wish he wouldn't descend to the level of Fox News.

Anyway, sorry this happened.
ceilidh_ann
Nov. 30th, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
Hi there. Thanks, I'm glad you like the project. I'm really stunned that people still read it, to be honest!

Don't worry about it. I'll get over it. Hell, I think I am over it. I'm just confused now more than anything else. And rather entertained.
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duckgirlie
Nov. 30th, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
*also blocked solidarity five*
ceilidh_ann
Nov. 30th, 2011 04:07 am (UTC)
We should get t-shirts.
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miintikwa
Nov. 30th, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
I don't get it at all. And I don't know why we weren't LJ friends before this! :)
hubbit
Nov. 30th, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
(Disclosure: Ms. Ceilidh Ann and I are friends on other social media as well as LJ.)

I honestly think that the gentleman's hubris and ego get the better of him. This isn't the first time he's flounced from Twitter after finding himself - to his bewilderment, I might add - being put on the defensive in similar blowups.

The simple truth is that when you're a Famous Celebrity, you have more impact than if you're an ordinary person. And you also have a greater responsibility, in my opinion. I find it ironic in the extreme that you were blocked because, in his perception (the only one that counts, it seems), you insulted his friend by referring to him solely by surname - when Keith Olbermann has made a career out of insulting, tweaking, and taking the piss out of other people who are surely someone else's friend's.

When you have a programme segment titled "Worst Persons", it hardly seems justifiable to be kicking your feet as a petulant toddler because of a misplaced perception, and then being thin-skinned enough to block other people who are pointing out this gross inequality.

Petty person, with a petty program, sailing alone on a one-lung network struggling for exposure. And being overpaid for so doing. He can sail along without me. Not sure he understands that for every individual person he alienates, he alienates many of that person's friends. Who will in turn be explaining it to their friends. And as the article that links to this very page demonstrates, news travels very widely, very quickly.
queenfanfiction
Nov. 30th, 2011 05:00 am (UTC)
I honestly think that the gentleman's hubris and ego get the better of him. This isn't the first time he's flounced from Twitter after finding himself - to his bewilderment, I might add - being put on the defensive in similar blowups.

In Keith's defense, I am pretty certain he has Asperger's, which would explain a lot of his petty flailing. But you're quite right: a dick move is a dick move, whether one is brilliantly autistic or otherwise.

*facepalms in Keith's general direction*
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shveta_thakrar
Nov. 30th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
*blink, blink*
ceilidh_ann
Nov. 30th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
This is the appropriate reaction to all this. XD
(Anonymous)
Nov. 30th, 2011 04:32 am (UTC)
Lord knows that Keith doesn’t need me to defend him. I don’t know Keith, personally. I have never met him. However, as a mom to four boys with autism, two of whom are Aspies, it is clear to me that Keith is also an Aspie. He’s in good company with Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein.

The breadth and depth of his knowledge of baseball boarders on an obsession. (Although we prefer to call them splinter skills.) He’s done exactly what most Aspie moms are trying to do with their kids, take an obsession and channel it into a career. And I can imagine what it was like growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, since I am just a few years younger. Several of my fellow classmates were diagnosed with Aspergers as adults. They have been a wonderful resource as I attempt to help my sons navigate the world. But, back in middle and high school, they were the freaks, the geeks, the nerds. Socially inept is a kind description. They were bullied daily. And yes, most work in the tech industry now. One of Keith’s former colleagues described him as brilliant but “special ed” when it came to social skills.

Former colleagues also describe Keith as seeing the world in terms of black and white, no shades of gray. Typical Aspie trait. Keith also reported that he likes baseball because of the rules. No gray areas there. Nobody loses and says that they really won. The rules provide structure and comfort. Another typical Aspie trait. Common saying in our house, “that’s the rule.” My kids understand it if I couch it in terms of the “rules.” However, they have their own rules which they fail to share with me. I believe that Keith probably has his own rules which he fails to share with friends and coworkers AND that these rules probably apply to others but not to himself. I’m guessing that he doesn’t do nuance or subtext well. He seems not to “read” tweets well. I have notice him blocking others for things that I take as ‘comments” and he interprets as “orders.” And no one tells him what to do!

I also noticed that when he goes one on one with someone in an unscripted situation, he takes his glasses off. Generally Aspies don’t like to make eye contact. Even when he describes focusing on people, he states that he is looking at the “back of their eyeball.” So, he’s making eye contact but not really. It’s actually a very good way to compensate. Most of my Aspie friends look at the bridge of the nose. And you can tell! Try it sometime. Focus on the bridge of someone’s nose and see how long it is before they ask if they have something between their eyes or on their forehead.

So take it for what it’s worth. I, too, am disappointed. Between the Desist tweet to FOKChannel 1 and the blocking, it is petty. But it is also typical Aspie behavior.
simonejester
Nov. 30th, 2011 05:20 am (UTC)
I was getting annoyed with Keith more and more often before he even left MSNBC and from what I've seen of his Current TV show (I don't watch much regular TV, I only see Rachel online the next day, and since Countdown doesn't have a full podcast I've pretty much ignored Keith for the past several months) he seems to just be being even more rude now that he has even more editorial control. And from what I've been reading it was just a butthead thing of Keith to do, but probably not surprising to anyone who's been a fan as long as we've been.

I got into MSNBC in general and Keith in particular around the time of the writers' strike in '07 and got into the fandom and made lots of friends--hey, like you! :)--and while I have no regrets in general, it does make me sad that Keith seems to be in a bubble, and he's willfully tightening that bubble around him.
ceilidh_ann
Nov. 30th, 2011 05:27 am (UTC)
The thing is I genuinely think Countdown's a better show on Current. He's clearly more invested in it, he's focusing on issues not covered as much by the more mainstream outlets and he has some really varied and lesser-known experts on to discuss things. I truly think Current could grow into something special. I'm not really a Young Turks fan - they have a really sexist streak in their trashier celeb coverage and even their political stuff - but am very much looking forward to Jennifer Granholm's show.

I'll always be grateful to Countdown for what it gave me and all the people it introduced me to. I wouldn't swap my friends for anything in this whole universe. They mean so much to me and have been pillars of desperately needed love and support during tough times. I will take them over this mess any day. Who wouldn't?
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paulnolan
Nov. 30th, 2011 07:29 am (UTC)
What a bloody bairn.
ah_betty
Nov. 30th, 2011 07:52 am (UTC)
*hug*
I don't really know anything about him or his show but I know how much you liked him so I'm sorry he was such a petty arse to you!
xxx
crouchea
Nov. 30th, 2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
This!

but hey, it's so cool that you inspired an article in the Huffington Post, something which I most certainly have heard of!!
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ksol1460
Nov. 30th, 2011 09:01 am (UTC)
You know, that is just plain bullshit. He was looking for an excuse to cut you off. The one thing I've never liked about Keith is the way that when a woman has nutty politics, he starts going after her looks. Or he has guests who are entertainment "journalists" or standup comedians who go after their looks or make transgender slurring remarks.

This trans-intolerant attitude of his reminds me of why I left the Human Rights Campaign.

I don't believe it had a damn thing to do with what you called Richard Lewis and even before I heard what happened I hated the goddam way he was sucking up to this guy. I think you called Lewis out on an anti-female comment and Keith decided to trash you to show Lewis how much of a "friend" he is.

Standup comedy is one of the nastiest, rudest and most ruthless businesses. It takes a certain mindset to be one. Keith has these people on this show and then he starts thinking the same way and thinking he has to be just as ruthless to impress them/speak their language.
fivil
Nov. 30th, 2011 10:27 am (UTC)
Dude.. First, the fact he blocked you FOR THAT is downright ridiculous. I don't care how good a friend Olbermann (oh noes I used his last name!) is with the comedian, that is a highly valid criticism of how women in politics are discussed (and I say this as somebody who's country has had a female president for the past 11 yrs and a female PM until last May - they've also been subject to this kind of scrutiny of the looks/attire - as is Julia Gillard, the AUS PM). It's something that I think everybody should be picking up on, and catch themselves doing before they do it.

Secondly, I've seen your Countdown tweets and while it's not always obvious that you've been critical of Keith Olbermann in the past, I can understand hanging onto a show because it's made an impact on your life. I know a lot of US-politics following liberal feminist-minded people I know abandoned him when he responded similarly to somebody calling him out on a joke .. oh god I don't recall the details anymore, but I think the person calling him out was Sady from tigerbeatdown.

But it sucks that his response isn't to take a step back and improve himself, but this constant blocking and attempting to silence the valid criticisms from people who are on his side (in the political sense) .. it's kind of depressing, really. Like even a man with progressive politics feels he is allowed a certain amount of sexism or transphobia or any of these nasty things, because he's "fighting the good fight".

Anyway, you did the right thing and I'm sure you'll Countdown friends will always be with you. That's the thing with "fandom" - the interest might diminish but usually the friends stay behind.
bergeronprocess
Nov. 30th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
Is it ok if I poke in here to confirm that yes, it was because of Sady Doyle from Tiger Beatdown. I just don't want to be rude, haha. It must've been...January or so of this year, when the stories of Julian Assange's alleged sexual assault broke and "brogressives" like Olbermann (LAWL) and Michael Moore responded to it in a way that clashes with feminist thought, including my own...that kinda took Olbermann (you mad, YOU REAL MAD dude) down a few respect-pins in my mind, though, and this just like...took all the pins down.
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brouillions
Nov. 30th, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
Jeez, somebody needs to fucking relax. Seriously, that kind of petty shite is for the kindergarten. Unfollowing someone because they disagree with you? Sheesh!

I wouldn't break my heart if somebody I follow blocks me, but to me, twitter is more like a desert than a chat room - whatever I say is rarely commented upon (except by you). The fact that somebody actually reads my stuff is usually a surprise, not a common occurrence. So I can't really say I know what you mean, but I can imagine how tough it is.

Screw him. You have more interesting people to talk to ;)
(Anonymous)
Nov. 30th, 2011 05:05 pm (UTC)
Typehead says it all....
Just keep working on that screenplay. It's the one area we are truly in short supply of...(struggling coffee house keyboard pokers)
RemiBernard
Nov. 30th, 2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
Aspergers
I have Aspergers. It can make social contact a bit of a struggle, but it doesn't automatically turn me into a raging asshole towards women. Keith isn't autistic, he's just mean.
ceilidh_ann
Nov. 30th, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Aspergers
Yeah, I feel really uneasy about the Aspergers speculation here. Whatever's going on, I doubt it'll ever be properly explained or justified so I'm done with Olbermann. Maybe I'll watch him again in the future, I don't know. I just don't need the drama right now.
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(Anonymous)
Nov. 30th, 2011 05:37 pm (UTC)
Is it all REALLY just about you?
When a person makes the decision to not answer anyone on twitter (and a rather large account) couldn't it have been that he came to the sudden realization that interacting at such a frequent pace was a bad idea to begin with? Not to mention this whole thing reeks of the "Comments Boards" sketch on SNL. Get off line, go stare at the sky for a couple of minutes.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 30th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
Well, thanks for ruining it for everyone with your unchecked snarkiness.
RemiBernard
Nov. 30th, 2011 06:15 pm (UTC)
Well, being that he made a big stink over her specifically, then bailed on answering any more tweets, I would say you don't know what the hell you're talking about.
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jesidres
Nov. 30th, 2011 05:58 pm (UTC)
I deserved my ban for being the idiot fan that I was. You did not.
snapesgirl34
Nov. 30th, 2011 06:11 pm (UTC)
Why did you deserve the ban anymore than she did or anyone else who got banned? KO is just being an asshole. :P
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snapesgirl34
Nov. 30th, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
Ugh, what is this, middle school? He's acting so pissy and juvenile, I have lost so much respect for that man. The fact that he blocked you because you used someone's last name instead of their first (which I've always been told was more polite, WTF) is just mind boggling. I would hope a political commentator would be able to handle people disagreeing with him instead of just banning people left and right and throwing a tantrum. If he gets offended that easily maybe he should just stay off twitter.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 30th, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC)
Are you all missing something
seems most everyone here cannot fathom why KO would unfollow someone for something he disagrees with. Are you all missing that KO never has a conservative on his show like the rest of the commentators? Ever notice how he only has the same people on his show, every night, that agree with every word he says?

And you're surprised by his reaction?
krazycat
Dec. 1st, 2011 11:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Are you all missing something
He didn't unfollow her, I don't think she'd react to an unfollow at all (although he did follow her at some point). It's the blocking so that she can't follow HIM that's the weird part.
bergeronprocess
Nov. 30th, 2011 10:02 pm (UTC)
So I was going to reply to this last night but I got a headache from stressing out over the dumbass Victoria's Secret fashion show (SO. MANY. FRIENDS. hating their bodies and losing self-confidence because they don't look like women whose job it is to look conventionally pretty and some of whom eat nothing but protein shakes nine days before a show) and couldn't brain properly.

But now I can brain!

I haven't been watching Keith much since hockey season started. A lot of games on the East Coast come on at the same time as him and, well, I guess my priorities have shifted. But yes, I'm basically in the same boat of historical affinity for, and occasional disagreement with, Keith. I know I used to say some shit that was not cool and you know what, people who cared about me called me on it and now I really try harder to be more careful! What a fucking novel idea huh!

I seem to recall recently he unfollowed someone else too...don't remember who, sometimes I suck at names, but it was weird then too.

Okay, having seen the hard evidence of what caused him to go overboard with you...that's it? Seriously? You were just asking a very very valid question. Plus, you were using the standard rule of addressing people in journalism. I know I learned--and hey, what do I know, not like I have a degree in this or anything (oh, wait, I DO)--that you do the full name on first mention, then last name only thereafter. Read pretty much any article ever that isn't in, like, a celebrity life magazine and you'll notice it. Every article I've ever written has used that rule.

Here's an article about Rahm Emanuel. Notice how he's referred to by full name first, then last name only thereafter. This is the Chicago Tribune, so they're pretty professional like.

Here's an article about two guys on my favorite team. The guys are referred to by last name only in the headline and then after their first mentions. This is Comcast Sports Network New England and while I ruthlessly side-eye them for being Comcast/Kabletown and because that Haggerty reporter guy is a real jerk on Twitter, it too is professional.

It's.
What.
WE DO.
As journalists.

I mean, it's been a while since he was in college, but surely he hasn't forgotten this.

Also that hilarious flounce from last night...honey please, he totally just made it worse.

Suffice it to say I don't think I'll watch his show anymore, even if there are no games on that night. What a jerk.
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iamashamed
Nov. 30th, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
been out of fandom/twitter world for a while now, but what the actual fuck
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ceilidh_ann
Dec. 1st, 2011 02:45 am (UTC)
Re: Reality Check
Hi there.

It's surprisingly tough for me to explain this because now that I'm looking back on it, I'm not entirely sure why I am so shocked. When I was first exposed to him, I had no idea who he was or his background. I'd just watched a bunch of his Special Comments on YT and really connected to them. Over time, as my interest in politics and media grew, I learned more about his history and decided that his personal attitude and behaviour were unimportant as long as I could disconnect the man from the commentator, something I managed for a while. When really problematic elements would seep into his commentary - misogynistic comments, the Assange-Moore case, transphobia directed towards Ann Coulter (which, to Olbermann's credit, he did apologise to us for) - I would criticise that, often loudly, because I wanted him to remain at the high standard I believed he possessed. I wouldn't justify such comments, per se, but I would sort of shove them to the side and continue with business as usual (although in the Assange case, I ended up unfollowing him and avoiding the show for a while, only returning when he decided to follow me on twitter, foolishly taking this as a sign that he was ready to engage and discuss the issue at hand, something he never really did). But even though I think his show on Current is extremely strong and his Occupy coverage commendable, I can't separate the man from the commentary any more, now that I've witnessed it first hand and seen how he treated people I love and respect. Call me foolish if you want, I probably deserve it, because I can't blame my wilful blindness of his problems on my gratitude to him for giving me so much - a passion for politics and some of the best friends I've ever had. For those two things, I'll always be grateful, but as for Olbermann himself, I just can't deal with that shit anymore.

Apologies for the long comment.
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