Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olbermann post

Yesterday, I posted two quotes from Keith Olbermann on the front-page. I didn't share those quotes because, as one person suggested, I wanted to rehab KO's image, but rather because I thought the quotes themselves were worth sharing, their source notwithstanding. Unfortunately, only a handful of the 98-comments (so far) discussed the substance of the quotes. The vast majority of the thread was straight KO-bashing or KO-defending.

That's a shame. My intention was to spark a discussion not about the pros and cons of Olbermann, but about the importance in journalism of understanding history and being able to discern patterns. I thought that readers would be willing to look past the source and evaluate the quotes for their own value, on their own merits. I was wrong, and so bungled the chance to talk about the importance of "connecting the dots" in journalism. My bad.

Several commenters suggested I've lost my senses for calling Olbermann a journalist. If you read my post carefully, you'll see I did no such thing. It's debatable whether or not pundits are journalists, but no one can disagree that KO is a pundit rather than a reporter. My post wasn't about Olbermann as a journalist, but his quotes on journalists. You don't have to be President to talk about the President, and you don't have to be a reporter to talk about reporters. We bloggers, of all people, should know that.

But ok, if we want a discussion about Olbermann more than we want a discussion about journalism, than a discussion about Olbermann we shall have. Like most readers here, I do think his attacks on Hillary Clinton went way over the top. I don't think that makes him sexist, especially since he was the only male to stand up to behind-the-scenes office sexual harassment during his time at ESPN, but I do agree he let his passion get the better of him. He's done this on other topics as well, and the show was better before his "special comments" became the norm. He does occasionally become quite pompous, and that is obnoxious. Nevertheless, he does not bully or yell at his guests. He does not cut their mikes off. He gets upset when they shout over one another. He argues with his producers when they ask him to cover Britney/Lindsey/kidnapping schlock, and even quit his first MSNBC gig over it. He actually calls Bush out on Constitutional abuses. How many other cable news anchors can claim any of that?

So no, he's not perfect. He's certainly not the required progressive viewing he was starting to become. He doesn't come close to touching Bill Moyers, or even Jon Stewart. I too watch him much, much less often than I used to. But to call him scum or to yell at other MyDDers who still tune in is way over the top. I didn't join those who TR'd such comments, but I believe this community is better than that.

Now, bearing all that in mind, I'd like to try again. Please, set the source aside, reflecting not on the speaker but on the words themselves, and tell me this isn't valid, tell me this isn't something every Brian Williams or Anderson Cooper shouldn't keep in mind:

When you cover a sport like baseball or football or whatever, you're here for this part of the story. You've joined it 75 years in progress or 100 years in progress. It should be the same way when you're covering the news, particularly in politics, and yet as we've seen, people in the political world now don't know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was... Part of the news is not just saying, well, this happened in the last 24 hours, but here's something that happened six weeks and there's been a development in it, you're just not reading about it, you're not hearing about it, because there's so much else to worry about it. The list, though, of things we could attach the word "-gate" to in the Bush administration is now 50 items long.

Tags: Keith Olbermann (all tags)

Comments

32 Comments

Re: Clarifying

Ann Coulter is the devil.

KO is really no different than Ann Coulter.

QED KO is the devil.  Ok not exactly put close.

If he treated my wife like he did HRC would would have cleaned his clock every day for a couple of weeks.  He could learn how to walk with a limp.

He is not a sexist he is a scumback.  Aswhip.  Jerkoff.  I was raised that democrat are held to a higher standard than Republicans.  That clearly isnt true with KO.  In many ways he is worse than Coulter and Rush.

In the long run guys like KO hurt the democratic party and makes us look no different than the nut jobs on the right.  He is a charter member on my all douce bag team along with Robert Novack and Rush.

He must go and go soon.  And no troll ratings i am entiled to my opinion of him and please he has conducted himwself in the wosrt possible way.

david

by giusd 2008-07-13 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying

"Please, set the source aside, reflecting not on the speaker but on the words themselves."

I guess that was too much to ask.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-07-13 05:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying

But ok, if we want a discussion about Olbermann more than we want a discussion about journalism, than a discussion about Olbermann we shall have.

You can't have it both ways.

by Coldblue 2008-07-13 05:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying

Fair enough.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-07-13 05:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying

There is one major difference between Countdown and the shows of the other pundits you have listed.  He always starts out with the facts.  He doesn't make them up.  He reports on a story and THEN editorializes.  

Rush and Coulter have absolutely no need for facts and probably wouldn't recognize them if... well, you can fill in the blanks.

by Susan from 29 2008-07-13 05:54PM | 0 recs
Flaw.

Second statement not proven.  Thus, conclusion is fallacious.

Furthermore, if your issue is sexism, this hypothetical is a bit odd:

If he treated my wife like he did HRC would would have cleaned his clock every day for a couple of weeks.

Is there a reason you think your wife couldn't deal with the problem herself?

by Elsinora 2008-07-13 09:06PM | 0 recs
That's right...turn against one of the loudest

Turn against one of the loudest left-leaning voices and let the networks, and faux, say "see, liberal shows don't work."

that will teach keith. Then we can all wonder why there are no anywhere near left-leaning shows on cable, as if we should be surprised.

funny, it's almost like people here will wonder why Obama didn't win. That, or they will smuggly say, "see, i told you," as the country burns around them...warm in their smugness and the torched earth around them.

if you want to start to change anything, you have to start somewhere...you don't start at the finish line!

by PHDinNYC4Kerry 2008-07-13 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: That's right...turn against one of the loudest

It's the smug "see I told you so"s I'm worried about. Fortunately, I think that for once we actually will win.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-07-13 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

What exactly is the point you are trying to make ?

Okay the words are insightful , and.....?

If you are trying to promote KO you certainly can do that , I didn't really care much for him even when he was doing his special comments criticizing the Bush administration.

It is ironic he gets to give opinions about how the news should be reported when all he does is propaganda for one party or personality.

Hey we live in the greatest country in the world and he gets to give his opinion too .

by lori 2008-07-13 05:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

One, that I wasn't calling him a journalist, and two, clarifying the point of the post - that it was about journalism, not KO, and sort of shaking my head that we weren't able to focus on that. He was only a starting point, and we couldn't get past the starting gate.

I'm hardly promoting KO, or else I wouldn't say I don't watch him as much as I used to.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-07-13 05:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

Those words are pretty much a responsible way of covering the news , however i think he and Sean Hannity represent the worst of what is wrong with the cable networks .

by lori 2008-07-13 06:08PM | 0 recs
In the Spirit of the INTENT of the Diary.....

The STATEMENTS you quoted are completely valid, TT.  It matters not who's mouth they fell out of.  The truth stands on its own regardless of the deliverer of the words.

While I have no problem with reporters of the news being under 30, I have an enormous problem with reporters having no historical context - for that is what will allow them to "connect the dots" and see patterns in the actions of our military, our government, and the behavior of our elected officials.

If you believe (like Russ Feingold believes) that the latest FISA bill is the biggest attack on the Constitution in the history of the USA, it might be a good idea to know WTF the Constitution is, the history of the document, and what it means to free people all over this world before you open your mouth.

This same idea holds completely true for issues like Torture, Cuba, Russia, Political parties and their ability to handle our nation's economy, nuclear arms and power plants, and the environment of our planet.

It really helps to know where we've been regarding an issue before you try to speak to where an event concerning that issue might be taking us.  

CONTEXT - historical or otherwise - is essential to our ability to understand an event and react to it intelligently.

Yours in Context,
Celtic Merlin

by Celtic Merlin 2008-07-14 01:08AM | 0 recs
Re: In the Spirit of the INTENT of the Diary.....

"Yours in context" - I like that!

by Nathan Empsall 2008-07-14 05:22AM | 0 recs
Re: In the Spirit of the INTENT of the Diary.....

Bravo!

by Susan from 29 2008-07-14 07:50AM | 0 recs
Amen!

A valid message is a valid message, regardless of the messenger.

by Elsinora 2008-07-14 05:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

"Now, bearing all that in mind, I'd like to try again. Please, set the source aside, reflecting not on the speaker but on the words themselves, and tell me this isn't valid, tell me this isn't something every Brian Williams or Anderson Cooper shouldn't keep in mind:"

I've not studied journalism, but can one get a degree in journalism without studying some history?  How else can a journalist determine what is important and what is trivial?

In addition to the listing of Bush scandals, for context, I have been very unhappy with MSM coverage of McCain flip-flops.  Is it because they like the man or because they don't feel that context is a necessary part of understanding the news?  The fact that a candidate changes a position on an issue is not a concern for me, but a pattern of changes becomes one. And yet MSM seems unconcerned with even looking for a pattern.

by Susan from 29 2008-07-13 06:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

How can one talk about politics without knowing history or our constitutional structure of governance? The answer is people do it all the time. it leads to poorly understood discourse, but they do it.

by bruh3 2008-07-13 06:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

One doesn't have to have a journalism degree to practice journalism. And even so, there are always ways to weasle around degree requirements - study the history of journalism, perhaps, becoming well-versed in Murrow and Cronkite, but not in JFK and FDR.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-07-14 05:23AM | 0 recs
Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann left the women of the nation in the gutter. I watched him for several years growing more and more bored by his pompous self-righteousness, but thought some of his interviews were worth the time. Then Keith Olbermann became a woman hating creep--in public. It wasn't just Hillary Clinton, it was Britney Spears. It was his constantly belittling and demeaning women. I turned him off in March and won't go back. He's an arrogant sack of nothing.

by Grace 2008-07-13 06:22PM | 0 recs
LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!!!!!! n/t

by Elsinora 2008-07-13 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Keith Olbermann

Wow, my hyperbole meter just went plaid.

by kasjogren 2008-07-14 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Words of support

Your words were fine. I used them today with someone with whom I was discussing politics. The problem is your audience. Most of them seem angry and incapable of rational discussion.

by bruh3 2008-07-13 06:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Words of support

Always nice to hear about a post having an impact, however small. How'd that conversation go?

by Nathan Empsall 2008-07-14 05:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

Personally, I think mydd would get past the primary wars if people like Jerome occasionally posted something that wasn't a swipe at Obama, and if belligerent name callers and pro-McCain posters were banned.  

It ain't my website so of course y'all can do what you want.

by deepee 2008-07-13 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

I only post on the weekends and try to stay away from the presidential race, just because being in NH and DC I'm sick of it, but maybe I should put more a focus on pro-Obama news.

You're right about pro-GOP comments. Wish I could help you there.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-07-14 05:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

Heres' the thing: If you like HRC, Olbermann was so nasty in a way that smacked of sexism. I'm a forgiving person, but to me pundits are just a diversion---often a nerve-racking diversion. Therefore, for me, unlike if a friend acted like an asshole where I might forgive, this was an attack on a female candidate because she was female.  At least that's how I see it. Yes, he was overtly criticizing  her staying in the race, but mixed in with that was "someone should take her in a room and only he should come out...."

Not to mention, with the Super system it wasn't over until June 4 or whatever it was, so calls for her to leave were premature.

I'm over Keith. My wife is over Keith. He lost us with his brand of Hillary-bashing. Therefore, no offense but I don't care what he said lately.

by NY Writer 2008-07-13 07:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

These comments are actually from December, pre-primary, not lately. But, your points are well taken.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-07-14 05:33AM | 0 recs
I like KO

Because he is unabashadly anti-GOP. I don't give a rat's ass that some people think we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard than than the Coulters and Limabaughs of the world. It's that kind of thinking that allows us to constantly lose elections when the American people actually favor Democratic/liberal policies. And at the end of the day, this election isn't about a sense of personal satisfaction I may get by wailing about the excesses of the supporters of the candidate that opposed my candidate. It's about trying to reclaim this country from the criminals and traitors currently in power.

by highgrade 2008-07-13 08:42PM | 0 recs
Re: I like KO

He is also unabashedly and nastily against half of the Democratic party.

So. You don't hold the Dems to a higher standard than the creeps on the right - but you want to reclaim the party. For what purpose if the Dems are going to be as bad? Is it just so YOUR criminals and traitors will be in power? Good God.

by Marjoriest 2008-07-13 09:34PM | 0 recs
Re: I like KO

No he wasn't, he called mistakes from a poorly ran campaign.  He didn't criticize everyone that voted for her in the primaries.  

You guys are so sensitive, my god.

by kasjogren 2008-07-14 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: I like KO

I think we do need to hold ourselves above Coulter and Limbaugh. I think their ilk are ruining this country's discourse. And I think Olbermann is above them, I don't think there's any comparison whatsoever.

by Nathan Empsall 2008-07-14 05:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Clarifying thoughts on yesterday's Keith Olber

As the primaries neared an end, I expected to resume watching Olbermann regularly. It hasn't happened, not even occasionally. And not intentional, as if proving a point. He turned me off to such extreme I've basically forgotten about him, just like I completely tuned out his favorite sport -- baseball -- many years ago.

Olbermann disgusted me when I was still supporting Edwards in January. My mom was hospitalized with a diabetic coma and I didn't have time to follow politics per norm. Weeks later I caught up, or so I planned, by watching weeks of daily tapes of Hardball and Countdown, back to back. It was the most disgraceful television I've ever seen.

Olbermann and Matthews unloaded relentless crap against Hillary every day, and gleefully with smug little grins, particularly in the week preceding New Hampshire, when they were certain she would be humiliated. It was like I was watching a sad parody of network analysis. Just too damn bad Saturday Night Live was absent during that period. Olbermann was in daily defensive and denial horrors weeks later, when SNL properly started attacking the NBC networks and their pro-Obama atrocities, after the strike ended.

Since I was supporting Edwards at the time, it was simple to handicap Olbermann and MSNBC in the Hillary/Obama matter. I still can't believe many of Obama's primary supporters claim it threatened balance. When Ed Rendell called MSNBC "the Obama network," I saw Howard Fineman whine, "well, this isn't the Obama network." LOL. It was classic. You don't get a label like that with 60/40 or even 70/30 slant. It takes Fox News-type imbalance to birth a tag like that.

As a Las Vegan I appreciate properly weighted coverage that lends itself to real world analysis, a true state of where a race stands, or the candidates stand, or how the country or a given state is likely to vote. MSNBC and especially Olbermann flunked. Bigtime.

by Gary Kilbride 2008-07-13 11:54PM | 0 recs

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