According to Page 6 at the New York Post, two potential contenders to succeed Tim Russert at Meet the Press have not exactly used subtlety to position themselves. Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann supposedly began plotting at Russert’s memorial to grab at the open seat, but could anyone — even Matthews and Olbermann — possibly be this clueless?
TIM Russert’s body wasn’t even cold in the ground before MSNBC anchors Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann started jockeying for his job, sources claim.
Matthews was heard loudly discussing what seemed to be his strategy for landing Russert’s “Meet the Press” show at Wednesday’s memorial reception for the NBC Washington bureau chief at the Kennedy Center in DC. After Brian Williams, Carl Bernstein, David Gergen, Barbara Walters and NBC brass eulogized their friend, Matthews huddled with an unidentified “agent type” and seemed to be plotting.
According to our spy, “Chris, with his loud voice, was going over a pitch for Tim’s job. He was saying, ‘You know, Tim’s thing was this, and my thing is that.’ It was unbelievably tacky.”…
Meanwhile, Matthews’ MSNBC cable cohort Olbermann, who was also at the memorial, is “threatening to quit if he isn’t installed as Russert’s replacement,” another insider said. “I know, it sounds ludicrous, but, then, Keith Olbermann is ludicrous.”
Color me unconvinced. Granted, Matthews gave a singularly reprehensible performance for his colleague’s passing, but I doubt that even he could be this obnoxious. Matthews told the Post that he had been arguing during the memorial with a friend about an upcoming speech in Gettysburg — which is, I guess, obnoxious enough for a memorial service. He denies entirely that he “huddled” with an “agent type”. Wouldn’t Matthews already have representation? Why would he need to meet him at Russert’s memorial?
As for Olbermann, Page 6 didn’t place his tirade at the memorial, and it seems a little more in character for the sportscaster-cum-lunatic. I don’t doubt that Olbermann would want MTP, but I don’t think for a moment that he’d leave his perch at MS-NBC if he didn’t get it. Where would he go? I don’t think NBC would hire him again if they had to do it over, and the rest of the networks wouldn’t touch him. Maybe BBC America or Al-Jazeera might consider him, but they have even lower ratings than MS-NBC. And despite his lunacy, I think Olbermann realizes that he’s hit the ceiling in his career as an anchorman.
So who gets MTP? I suspect that NBC will put off that decision as long as possible. Brian Williams will guest host this weekend, and I’d expect to see a lot of Tom Brokaw in the next few weeks. NBC’s execs have seen enough of Hardball and Countdown to know that neither Matthews nor Olbermann could keep MTP credible. The best choice might be to return to the panel format of MTP’s earlier years, with Williams, Brokaw, or Chuck Todd moderating, at least until Todd establishes himself further with MTP’s audience.
Update: Comments copied from the headlines entry.
Update II: Political Byline notes that Keith Olbermann named Page 6 reporter Paula Froehlich his “Worst Person in the World” for this piece last night, before its publication today:
Watch for Olbermann insisting that he’s not qualified for Russert’s job. I think we all agree on that — and I’d agree with him that this sounds like fiction.