Will the former U.S. Senate staffer now turned talk show host aptly fill the shoes of the popular Countdown host?
With the news now two days old that Keith Olbermann’s Countdown program was removed from the MSNBC airwaves following Keith’s departure Friday, the studio executives have decided to fill the 8e/7c p.m. time slot with Lawrence O’Donnell’s existing 10e/9c show, “The Last Word”. The Ed Show, hosted by Ed Schultz, will move from its 6e/5c time slot to fill O’Donnel’s old time slot. Though I would rather have seen a simple move up with Rachel Maddow’s show that always followed Countdown filling Keith’s spot and O’Donnell staying behind Maddow in the earlier hour, I think Lawrence O’Donnell will be successful in holding down this prime time period.
I have yet been able to catch O’Donnell’s nascent program on MSNBC, primarily because he airs at a time that has me struggling to stay awake and remained focus on what the program offers. Yeah, yeah – I’m getting old but my waking hours haven’t shortened any since I am usually up by 4am and writing material for my blog. But I have seen O’Donnell as a guest commentator on Keith’s Countdown program and have watched him comfortably fill Olbermann’s shoes when Keith took some time off.
Lawrence isn’t as flashy and mercurial as Olbermann but he is every bit as liberal; maybe even more so. In November of last year O’Donnell was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show and identified himself to visiting blogger Glenn Greenwald as a socialist. “Unlike you, I am not a progressive” he told Greenwald. “I am not a liberal who is so afraid of the word that I had to change my name to progressive. Liberals amuse me. I am a socialist. I live to the extreme left, the extreme left of you mere liberals, okay?”
O’Donnell’s background in politics makes him a bit more insightful on substantive policy issues within government. He served as a key legislative aid to the late Senator from Massachusetts, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and later served as his senior advisor before filling the spot as staff director of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works(1992-93). Later he would become the staff director of the United States Senate Committee on Finance (1993-95). His literary credentials with writing a book (Deadly Force,1983) and movie and television scripts enables O’Donnell to handle himself well in front of the camera while holding interviews with savvy politicos and celebrities.
It may be hard for some die-hard Olbermann-philes like myself to welcome O’Donnell as a Keith’s substitute but I feel certain once we all get past that we’ll recognize that few others could have come in under such circumstances and kept the ship afloat, fighting the good battle that counters right-wing messages coming out of FOX.