First Keith Olbermann, now Glenn Beck: two highly vocal, aggressively opinionated TV commentators suddenly walk away from weeknight cable TV platforms. The question most often asked when such news hits -- as it did Wednesday, with the announcement of Beck's planned departure from Fox News Channel later this year -- is "Why?"
Politics is serious business -- but not all of the time. From the halls of Congress to the campaign trail, there's always something that gets a laugh. Here are some of the things you might have missed:
I was in the host's chair last year when Anita Dunn launched a White House assault on Rupert Murdoch's network, calling it an arm of the Republican Party. The flap dominated the news for weeks and probably just wound up boosting the Fox News Channel's visibility.
When Ken Burns was making Baseball, his epic PBS series, he once said that his ideal viewer was a middle-aged European woman. Burns knew baseball fans would watch, whether they liked it or not, but he wanted to go beyond that. He wanted to tell America's story through the institution of baseball and for a general audience. The series was a grand and loving tribute to the game but it was also about community and triumph, about hope and loss.
Nothing beats covering the Super Bowl. For me, that didn't mean watching from a seat in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium. I took it all in from my personal ottoman empire -- 10.5 hours spent on a comfortable couch with an oversized hassock at the ready. NBC game producer Fred Gaudelli said his worst nightmare in planning the telecast of Super Bowl XLIII would be to have a blowout -- of course, that didn't happen. The see-saw fourth quarter was the cap on a wonderful day of viewing, one that should give NBC both ratings and critical success.
Those of us who toil in journalism's toy department do so under orders never to breach The Firewall. As a sportswriter, we are told, you must never allow your politics to seep into your prose. Readers come to us seeking respite and escape; surcease from the cares of the world. So it simply won't do to cause them discomfort by bringing up the policies and peccadilloes, the wide stances and extramarital romances of our elected officials. Passages on politics, favoring either red or blue, will be deleted by pencils red and blue. Lions and Bears, yes. Donkeys and elephants, no.
In NASCAR circles they refer to the "silly season" as the flurry of personnel moves and team-switching between the last race of one season and the start of the next. Sports television has its own silly season, especially when it comes to the broadcast partners of the National Football League.
SI.com: Roger thatupdated: Fri May 18 2007 14:12:00
Amidst the maelstrom of must-dos hitting NBC Universal's new CEO - boot Don Imus, manage Alec Baldwin, turn around NBC, determine the company's digital future - Jeff Zucker has been trying to get to know his 16,000 employees. He's been holding monthly lunches and breakfasts with small groups.
Last week SI writer Richard Deitsch interviewed MSNBC host Keith Olbermann for the magazine's Q&A. The broadcaster is joining NBC's Football Night in America this fall. Here are additional excerpts from their conversation:
1. Spurs star Tim Duncan says that referee Joey Crawford challenged him to a fight while ejecting him from Sunday's game against the Mavericks. That's strange. Usually the refs and players settle disputes by footraces.
1. Verne Lundquist, CBS: In the history of Vernes, he'd rank below both Jules Verne and Verne Troyer but it's a good time to recognize the veteran CBS sportscaster after his election this month to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame. His five-decade résumé is remarkable. Lundquist has called among other notable events: Jack Nicklaus winning the 1986 Masters; the 1992 Regional Final between Kentucky and Duke (a.k.a. the first time Christian Laettner really annoyed you); Tiger Woods' fourth Masters victory in 2005 and George Mason's upset over Connecticut last year. Lundquist has long been the voice of CBS's Southeastern Conference football coverage and he's one of a handful of broadcasters you can honestly call underrated. "One of the reasons the [Hall of Fame] hit me like a bolt is because I'm not one of the lead guys even at our network," Lundquist told SI.com this week. "But I have a versatility to our network and I think CBS values me as an employee. So I suppose the c