Tuned In

On a Roll-bermann!

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Last month, I special-commented on how Keith Olbermann’s increasingly frequent and impassioned Special Comments were in danger of becoming less, well, special. (Others begged to differ.)

Fortunately for Olbermann, he doesn’t listen to my unsolicited programming advice. Last week, reports the New York Times’ Brian Stelter, Countdown overtook nemesis The O’Reilly Factor in 25-to-54-year-old viewers for the first time. (In other news: there are apparently some 25-to-54-year-olds who watch primetime cable news.)

Stelter qualifies the accomplishment, noting that Bill O’Reilly took Friday off, and that the ratings were juiced by the denouement of the Democratic primary. But considering how long and how far MSNBC has trailed Fox News in the ratings, it’s still no small accomplishment.

It also raises the question of whether alienating part of the Democratic portion of the viewership—through his sharp criticism of Hillary criticism—was such a bad move (purely ratings-wise) for Olbermann. Anecdotally, I’ve seen plenty of comments by readers, here and elsewhere, who say they’re former Olbermann fans who can’t watch him anymore. But someone sure is. Would he have an even bigger viewership if he hadn’t gored these viewers’ oxen? Did he gain by appealing to a different, but passionate, audience?

Or are those supposedly “former” Olbermann viewers secretly tuning in for the sheer pleasure of getting angry at him?