Countdown: “Intellectually Incestuous”

By Chris Ariens 

As Countdown with Keith Olbermann approaches its 5th anniversary,’s Rick Ellis has some thoughts on MSNBC’s highest-rated program:

The problem for me is that Countdown is rapidly becoming predictable and generic; a distressing development for a show that really has its own internal vibe and attitude. I still watch the show every night, but there are times when my interest fades, and I find myself hitting the fast forward button to get through a segment.

Ellis has issues with the narrow guest list (ie Dana Milbank, pictured, during Harry Whittington-gate) and how the segments unfold:

The typical conversation consists of Olbermann saying, “Point a, point b and then point c.” Then the guest agrees with all three points, and perhaps brings in point b2 as a way of expanding the conversation. It all has a “Groundhog’s Day” quality to it that I find maddening.

Ellis’s solution:

I would like to see a wider list of guests, and the occasional comment from them that surprises me. I want the overall show to be as smart and unexpected as Olbermann’s segments, and that certainly isn’t the case right now.

It also might be fun to intermittently bring in a guest who can nicely disagree with Olbermann.

• Related: The TVNewser interview with Keith Olbermann