Like the good Christian I aspire to be, I try to respect people with opposing points of view. Like the sinner I am, I make exceptions. One of those is Keith Olbermann, he of the permasmirk and the infantile nightly “Worse, Worser and Worst Person in the World”. With his smarmy delivery and sanctimonious preening on behalf of left-wing positions, the man almost literally makes my skin crawl.
So I confess I immediately felt a frisson of delight at the news that he had been suspended indefinitely for violating MSNBC policy. But despite charges of hypocrisy, even by liberal commentators, that label is more accurately applied to MSNBC itself than to its $30 million headliner.
Interestingly, Olbermann is getting significant support from the right flank of the blogosphere. In The Corner, Andy McCarthy adds his name to a list of conservatives who already had opined that Olbermann was getting a raw deal:
I’m with K-Lo, Jonah [Kathryn Lopez and Jonah Goldberg of NRO], Bill [Kristol of the Weekly Standard], and other lovers of free speech. If this hadn’t happened, and we didn’t know about NBC’s cockamamie policy, wouldn’t you have assumed that Keith Olbermann donated money to left-wing candidates? I certainly would have — if I had cared enough to give it a second of thought. …
Why … should MSNBC’s sparse viewership, which tunes in because it adores Olbermann and lefty pols, be deprived of their Keith-fix just because, besides promoting lefty pols, he supports them financially?
One of two things must be going on. Possibility no. 1: NBC News really is clueless: i.e., they actually believe, when they put Olbermann on “news” shows with other “objective, non-partisan journalists” like Chris Matthews, that we don’t realize opinion is being masqueraded as news — and thus they’re worried that Olbermann’s political contributions risk revealing the charade. Since it is a charade anyone who cares is already on to, consider the more likely possibility no. 2: as usual, there’s more to the story than we’re hearing.
A cynic might argue that conservatives are sticking up for Olbermann because his existence on the left provides protective cover for Fox News on the right. In fact, a cynic has argued that. Rachel Maddow:
“Let this incident lay to rest forever the facile, never-true-anyway, bull-pucky, lazy conflation of Fox News and what the rest of us do for a living,” she said. “I know everybody likes to say, ‘Oh, that’s cable news, it’s all the same. Fox and MSNBC, mirror images of each other.’ Let this lay that to rest forever. Hosts on Fox News raise money for Republican candidates. They endorse them explicitly, they use their Fox News profile to headline fundraisers. Heck, there are multiple people being paid by Fox News now to essentially run for office as Republican candidates….They can do that because there’s no rule against that as Fox. They’re run as a political operation; we’re not.”
Sorry Rachel, but what it lays to rest is the conceit that MSNBC is any less partisan than Fox. Even at liberal Tina Brown’s “Daily Beast” site, Howie Kurtz points out the real hypocrisy:
On Election Night, Olbermann anchored the channel’s coverage, along with Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, and Lawrence O’Donnell. There was no attempt to add a conservative pundit for balance.
It’s not that I have any use for Fox News either, by the way. Set aside the clownish Glenn Beck and the blowhards Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. From what little I’ve watched of Fox’s sub-marquee journalists, they seem to do a serviceable job of presenting news from a conservative perspective, thereby providing an alternative to the overwhelmingly liberal mainstream media. But I would have more respect for Fox if it owned up to its political leanings, rather than trumpeting that Fox is “the only fair and balanced network” where “we report, you decide.”