"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
Current TV, which garnered much attention and initially high ratings when Countdown with Keith Olbermann premiered in June 2011, goes off the air this week with little fanfare and few fans.
But the final incarnation of Olbermann's show, Viewpoint with John Fugelsang, made its voice heard even though it was shown on only a handful of smaller cable and satellite carriers.
Fugelsang took over the show from Eliot Spitzer (who replaced Olbermann in April 2012) in January of this year, after Spitzer left the show the day Current TV was bought by Al Jazeera. Spitzer's move was a clear sign he was plotting a return to politics, which led to his current run for New York City Comptroller. All three hosted the show for about the same amount of time, but Fugelsang's version and vision stands out as the best show of its kind on television.
Viewpoint with John Fugelsang had a loyal and passionate viewership, and many more potential fans who were not able to see the show since it was dropped by Time Warner Cable (also immediately after the Al Jazeera purchase of Current TV), and was not carried on Cablevision either.
Those who were fortunate enough to be able to watch the show, as well as those who watched segments online, saw a news and opinion interview show that managed to be a serious forum for out of the mainstream discourse, coupled with an irreverent, satirical bent as well. As a seasoned political comedian, Fugelsang used the show's daily "F Bomb" segment to make insightful and funny observations like these:
I'm not a huge fan of the term pro-life -- 'cause only in America can you be pro-death penalty, pro-torture, pro-euthanasia, pro-preemptive war against countries that haven't attacked us, pro-totally-unregulated-way-easy access to guns for anybody, pro-drone bombs, pro-land mines, and still call yourself pro-life.
Let's start talking about how straight marriage is unnatural, specifically, the concept of monogamy. Now, I'm not against marriage -- I think a wedding is the most beautiful gift you can give to your parents' friends. But what's natural about Homo sapiens -- who are not biologically monogamous -- mating with one partner for life?
It is the topic of religion, and more specifically religious hypocrisy, that gave Fugelsang, the son of a nun and a Franciscan monk, some of the show's most unique and provocative rants.
The irony is Jesus would be way too liberal for most of his fan clubs.
And Fugelsang even quotes scripture to make his point.
Now, Ms. Hale has filed a complaint with the city of Columbus, which prohibits firing employees based on sexual orientation -- and her local teacher's union has chosen not to support her.
But we do. Because in that same letter to the Romans, chapter 2, verses 1 through 3, Paul also says:
"Therefore you have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing your sentence on another, you condemn yourself."
Oops. Turns out the homophobes are the ones violating the moral laws. And if you still want to discriminate against Americans based on something that's not even in your holy book -- well, guess what, Reverend -- you can start paying your taxes like everyone else.
In the interest of full disclosure, as a fellow political comedian, I have known John for several years and appeared often on his Viewpoint show on his "panel of non-experts," a role I'm uniquely qualified for.
Fugelsang hosted that panel as only a skilled comedian and host could, always ready with a smart and funny quip, while still letting us make our points and our jokes, without stepping on the punchlines as other hosts tend to do.
And unlike some other liberal hosts, Fugelsang's passionate and powerful humor and commentary never turned cynical, and he always conducted interviews with Republicans and others with contrasting views, with civility and respect.
So even though most of the people who would have loved Viewpoint with John Fugelsang were never given the chance to watch it, the show gave a voice to topics, opinions and guests not normally heard on shows of this kind.
Which is why Viewpoint with John Fugelsang is a viewpoint that will be missed.