Responding to a scathing op-ed piece in the Washington Post, Keith Olbermann took Ted Koppel and the rest of the so called ‘objective’ media to task over their failure to do anything resembling proper reporting during the build up to the Iraq war. Koppel had criticized Olbermann and MSNBC for simply being an alternative to Fox and a way of plugging a different niche in the fragmented media market. Olbermann had quite a few things to say about it and ended up giving one of his most poignant ‘special comments’ in a long while. Check it out below:
I find myself going back and forth on Olbermann as to whether he is an asset or a detriment to the progressive agenda. Olbermann can sometimes fall into the trap of name calling and pettiness that I think detracts from his otherwise clarion call to sanity. He teeters on the edge of brilliance and narcissism, but also shows an astonishing level of self awareness that makes him that much more compelling to watch. Unlike his supposed counterparts as Fox, Olbermann knows what an ass he can be and makes a concerted effort to make his show more than just about himself. You always get the feeling that Olbermann would sacrifice his show and his career if he felt strongly enough about a topic, unlike hacks like Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck who will do whatever Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes ask of them.
And that’s why there really isn’t an equivalency between Fox and MSNBC. One network consists of paid propagandists and hacks while the other consists of independent minded liberals who offer opinions rather than objectivity. Neither are perfect, but one is actively dangerous and a threat to the democratic process while the other could probably do with toning down the rhetoric a little.
The supposed ‘real’ journalists like Ted Koppel aren’t much better either. The fact that 99% of the corporate media refused to challenge the Bush Administrations on its demonstrably false rhetoric over Iraq automatically discounts them as serious news institutions. I maintain that any journalist or network that didn’t call BS over the build up to the war in Iraq can never be taken seriously again. Koppel did nothing to expose the blatant lies, and he bears a good deal of responsibility for the disaster that unfolded afterwards. I’d rather take Olbermann and his opinions over Koppel and his supposed objectivity if one leads to something resembling speaking truth to power while the other leads to subservience and placidity. Because as Olbermann said in his 12 minute segment, “The kind of television journalism he eulogizes failed this country because when truth was needed, all we got were facts — most of which were lies anyway. The journalism failed, and those who practiced it failed, and Mr. Koppel failed. I don’t know that I’m doing it exactly right here. I’m trying. I have to. Because whatever that television news was before — now we have to fix it.”
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.