Open Mic

Why Fox News Should Hire Keith Olbermann When His Non-Compete Expires. Does Roger Ailes Have the Guts to Make the Offer? Does Olbermann Have the Guts to Accept?

Chuck Ross Posted January 24, 2011 at 12:42 AM

Keith Olbermann’s next stop—after the expiration of the non-compete clause that is reportedly in his exit agreement with MSNBC—should be Fox News.

Not only would such a move be non-intuitive, it’d also be bombastic, boisterous, thunderous, intimidating, outlandish, gregarious, attention getting as all get out, and seemingly crazy. In other words, everything that both Olbermann and Fox News have been called more than once.

In that respect, they are a perfect fit. As we know from Olbermann’s career thus far, fitting in isn’t his forte. Could he go to CNN? Yeah, that would last about a minute and a half. The traditional broadcast news divisions? NBC’s out, and of the other two, one’s owned by Disney, and at the other one Dan Rather attacking George Bush was too controversial. Olbermann is an incendiary Rather hopped up on ego and cerebral hullabaloo the likes of which would give Marx—Karl, Groucho and the Saint—a workout. PBS or NPR? For them, the mild-mannered, gentlemanly Juan Williams was too contentious.

Wait, wait, stop the madness, you implore. Everyone knows that Fox is the home of conservatism, which is about as far from the thinking Olbermann espouses as Archie Bunker was from Meathead.

Ah, but that’s the point. In all things TV, conflict works. If someone pitched you a show that would feature kids from all over the country aspiring to be the next pop singing sensation, most probably your first thought would not be “yes, yes, and we’ll get some acerbic asshole to be one of the judges and he’ll be the one who verbally shoots most of them down—deservedly so, of course—and he’ll be the most popular thing about the show.”

More to the point, in this instance, is if Fox News hires Olbermann is it so off-brand that it backfires and they lose viewers? That’s really the only danger.

But I think Fox could sell it. First, its “fair and balanced’ tagline would become more meaningful.

And there would be a way to make this palatable to the Fox audience. You start by making Olbermann the host of a weekly Sunday morning program, called “Olbermann and Friends.” His “friends” in this instance would be several of the Fox commentators, such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly. It’s the ol’ fox in the henhouse idea. It would be terrific television and I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a ratings winner.

Furthermore, it would lighten things up a bit on Fox News.

At the beginning of the first show, “Olbermann and Friends” would sing this song, sung to the tune of that wonderful Lerner and Lowe song in “My Fair Lady,” “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?”:

Olbermann talk-sings:
Why can't MSNBC be more like Fox?
Fox is so honest, so thoroughly square;
Eternally noble, historically fair.
Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat.
Why can't MSNBC be more like that?

Why does MSNBC do what the other losers do?
Can't MSNBC learn to use its head?
Why do they do everything the Murrows do?
Why don't they grow up, well, like Murdoch instead?

Why can't MSNBC take after Fox?
Fox is so pleasant, so easy to please.
Whenever you're with them, you're always at ease.

Would you be slighted if I insulted you for hours?

O’Reilly:
Of course not.

Olbermann:
Would you be livid if I spouted a liberal word or two?

Hannity:
Nonsense.

Olbermann:
Would you be wounded if I never sent you flowers?

Kelly:
Never.

Olbermann:
Well, why can't MSNBC be like you?

Why is thinking something MSNBC executives never do?
And why is logic never even tried?
Straightening up their hair is all their executives ever do.
Why don't they straighten up the mess that's inside?

Why can't MSNBC be like Fox?
If I was a cable network who had a communicator that was a great draw,
Been hailed as a prince by one and by all;
Would I start weeping like a bathtub overflowing,
Or carry on if my prince was a bit unruly?
Would I run off, fire me, and tell me to get going?

Oh why can't MSNBC be like me?#