Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC’s ‘wonderful creative accident’

By Alex Weprin 

MSNBC “Last Word” host Lawrence O’Donnell gets interviewed by Playboy (keep your eyes on the center of the page, sorta NSFW). O’Donnell talks about his comments about Bill O’Reilly, the media’s effect on politics, and the evolution of MSNBC:

PLAYBOY: But isn’t the reality that MSNBC is simply the left’s answer to Fox News? Isn’t that its raison d’être?
O’DONNELL: Not originally. At first MSNBC was trying to be Fox, doing a pathetic imitation of it. In show business you follow the leader, and Fox was the leader. If you have Desperate Housewives, then we’re going to get a housewives show. Fox was this incredible success, just amazing all of us, and MSNBC was trying to imitate it in whatever ways it could, pulling in whatever Republicans it could. The only liberal it hired at that time was named Ron Reagan, and his father used to be president.

PLAYBOY: What changed?

O’DONNELL: It was a wonderful creative accident driven by Keith Olbermann. At a certain point in the progress, or lack of progress, of the Iraq war, Keith, who had his show on MSNBC, took a sharp turn to the left, and the ratings skyrocketed. If those ratings had gone down, that sharp left turn would have been stopped. I’m sure the executive class was afraid of it at first, until it saw the ratings reports. Once it did, there was no turning around. Counterprogramming turned out to be exactly what to do.

Read the whole interview, here.