So Keith Olbermann, it was recently reported, will be returning to ESPN where he first came to fame decades ago. Within the next month his new show will air that will, according to reports, allow him to talk about various non-sports related things,
While that is an interesting tidbit, I had another thought when I first heard that Olbermann was returning to a place where he had basically burned every single bridge there could possibly be. And that is this: What if Keith Olbermann were Black?
Think about it. Olbermann has been fired from just about every high profile job he's had since his time at ESPN. He quite famously split with The Worldwide Leader in 1997 after badmouthing his employer, and going on The Daily Show (which at that time was hosted by Ex ESPN'er Craig Kilborn) without permission. On his way out he basically lit fire to any and everything in sight, and it was clear that there were very few fans left of Keith there.
Over the years he's worked at ESPN, Fox Sports Net, MSNBC, Current TV, ABC, etc. And in many of those spots (ESPN, Fox Sports, MSNBC and Current especially) the departure was bitter acrimony. Insults were lobbed, accusations of incompetence or worse ensued. It had become a running gag that when Keith gets hired somewhere, it would inevitably lead to a very public and very destructive end.
Current TV's tenure with him ended with a lawsuit from each party, and pretty personal attacks "leaked" by each party.
So now that Olbermann has now returned from whence he came, ESPN, the question of my title remains. What if Olbermann were Black? Name one Black news person, personality, celebrity, etc, who could be THIS much of a reported asshole, who burned every single bridge known to man, who was known as being incredibly difficult to work with by executives, that would continue to get high profile job after high profile job.
MORE AFTER THE BREAK
Name a Black personality who could not only destroy major working relationships to the point of seemingly no return, but to go on the David Letterman show and seemingly revel in his reputation, as Olbermann did, in saying "I don't burn bridges, I burn rivers", and still get hired for prominent positions, and even get rehired at a place that he had "burned rivers"?
Often we hear those who are African American or Latino (or women in general, for that matter) talk about how they have to be twice as good as their White (or male) counterparts to maintain their jobs and positions. There's long been discrimination in hiring and promotions. Yet I think Olbermann is a primary example of how for many White men, there's literally nothing you can do that will prevent you from continuing to succeed in your chosen profession aside from committing a crime and going to prison. Sure, Marion Barry got convicted of drug charges and went to prison, got out and got re-elected, but I think he's the exception, not the rule.
Seriously, though. Name one more famous Black person who could possibly do the things that Olbermann has done, and still get high profile networks to give him a chance to start over? And even get one that you firebombed so badly that you were banned from their main campus, and not only do they bring you back, but allow you to work from New York in your own studio.
When people talk about Keith they inevitably will talk about how he's hard to work for/with, but he's very popular. And he is popular. However, how many Black people in his line of work would ever be given another chance if they had ONE employment situation similar to Olbermann's? This is the "Good Old Boy" network hard at work, folks.
And they say White Privilege is a myth? They say there's no more racism? Please. Miss me with THAT bullshit.
Bottom line is this: As a White guy, I can get away with a LOT more nonsense and fuckery than I would if I were Black. Is it right? Hell no. Not even a little bit. Is it the reality of this country? Sadly, it is. Which is why it's so maddening when you see Conservatives talk about how racism died in the 60's and everything is all right now.