FOXification of Keith Olbermann; Hiring Lefty Would Be a Master Stroke for Cable Righties

Article excerpt


With Keith Olbermann a free agent, having parted ways with MSNBC last month, the right place for him to land is at Fox News.

Of course, Olbermann's views are despicable. His understanding of politics and economics could fit easily into a thimble, with room to spare for his sense of good taste. But from a business perspective, adding this controversial left-wing pundit to Fox would increase the network's power exponentially.

For one thing, Olbermann would be a lightning rod for controversy. During his seven-year stint at MSNBC, he had the amazing ability to turn off people of all political stripes almost at will. There's no reason to believe he would perform any differently at a new network.

Olbermann obviously would turn off most regular Fox viewers, and some people would refuse to watch him on principle. Fair enough. Yet at the same time, he would generate enormous media buzz and capture new, irregular Fox viewers in his time slot - including loyal fans of his old program, Countdown With Keith Olbermann. This would enable Fox to increase its already significant market share as well as guide its viewer demographic profile into unchartered waters.

In the battle for ratings and influence, controversy is a good thing. Rising ratings lead to more advertising revenue and annual profits. They help enhance exposure, meaning more media coverage and viewership. In the case of Glenn Beck, they helped make him a household name, which means big bucks for everyone involved. Some of those bucks could be used to expand Fox News' brand of reporting.

Would the pundit's political ideology prevent Fox from hiring him? It's highly unlikely, as the right-leaning network already has liberal hosts, political analysts and contributors. The current list includes Alan Colmes, Juan Williams, Greta Van Susteren, Bob Beckel, Kirsten Powers, Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen. …