Keith Olbermann once included Bret Stephens on one of his “Worst Person in the World” lists, so you’d think the conservative columnist would be dancing on his talk show's grave. But he’s not, mostly because he doesn’t buy into the post-Arizona claptrap about civil discourse. “America does better when its political debates descend … into honest brawls,” he writes in the Wall Street Journal. “Mr. Olbermann is, of course, nothing if not a brawler.”
“For a long time, the dominant mode of liberal argument was to ironize, or tut-tut,” Stephens explains. Olbermann “did away with the old-fashioned liberal snigger and replaced it with a full-throated snarl.” Audiences flock to Fox News because they prefer people who are honest about their biases to the supposedly objective. “Mr. Olbermann has given conservatives, if not quite a run for their money, at least some honest competition.” If MSNBC finds someone to match his "ego, pomposity, volume, self-righteousness, monomania, and sheer obnoxiousness," Stephens will tune in again.