After more than a year on the sidelines since the cancellation of his ESPN talk show last year, #Keith Olbermann made his return to prominent commentary this week, with the debut of a new video series on GQ’s website, called The Closer. The first video, running 17 minutes, enumerated “176 Shocking Things Donald Trump Has Done This Election.”
The video was well-done, brought up lots of Trump misdeeds and misstatements that you probably remember and a few you may have even forgotten. The video was shared more than a million times in its first two days, and among the shares were just about all of my liberal friends and relatives. Most of them were even so bold as to claim Olbermann had “eviscerated” the Republican nominee.
It’s certainly nice to have Olbermann back, and the video (and the two more that have since followed) are vintage Keith, reminiscent of his “Special Comment” takedowns on MSNBC during the Bush years.
The meaning of “eviscerate”
Olbermann has now “eviscerated” Trump, as have — according to viral Internet wisdom, anyway — John Oliver, Samantha Bee, and even Trevor Noah, in a rant earlier this week that Vox described as “the anti-Trump rant you’ve been waiting for.” Many have lamented that they’re missing out on the eviscerations this election season from Jon Stewart, with more than one op-ed arguing that there’s no way Trump would have gotten as far as he had were Stewart still hosting The Daily Show.
But they’re wrong. The “eviscerations” are purely metaphorical, and none of them have done one iota to make a Trump presidency less likely. That’s not why they’re done, or what they’re for (especially not that Trevor Noah rant, which was less out of the Stewart tradition than those of smug monologues from Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom):
What Olbermann (and Stewart) are for
Keith Olbermann got a foothold in the middle of the Bush years as a rare cable news host that challenged the Bush-Cheney Administration at the height of the Iraq War, going on the air every night to re-assure liberal audiences that they weren’t alone. With comedy added, this was essentially Jon Stewart’s role in those days too -- and Stephen Colbert’s, and their various proteges. But what neither Olbermann nor Stewart ever did was actually defeat Bush or any other Republican candidate, or get any particular candidate elected.
And that’s what Olbermann is doing in the new videos too. They’re pretty clearly not aimed at swing voters -- just about everyone I saw sharing the “176 shocking things” video would never have thought of voting for Trump in the first place.
GQ hired Keith Olbermann to produce entertaining content that’s likely to get shared widely. They did not hire him to defeat Donald Trump. The Closer series might "eviscerate" the Republican candidate, but the responsibility of actually defeating him will have to fall on his actual opponent. #Goodnightandgoodluck #TheCloserGQ