Olberman's "Special Comment" blasts false posture of objectivity

by: Paul Rosenberg

Tue Nov 16, 2010 at 00:00



WOW!

The fact that Murrow's career was basically destroyed because he confronted Joe McCarthy is one of the biggest dirty little secrets of mainstream American journalism.  The fact that Olberman grasps the significance of that, and articulates it so well is enough by itself to make make this "Special Comment" worthy of attention.  But that's only one facet of this remarkably powerful repudiation of the most recent cheap shot taken at MSNBC, by Ted Koppel in the Washington Post (where else?)--a repudiation that goes far beyond the specifics to heart of what constitutes actual, responsible journalism. Transcript here.

Paul Rosenberg :: Olberman's "Special Comment" blasts false posture of objectivity

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Thanks for posting (4.00 / 1)
And THANK YOU Keith.

Sanctimonious Ted, meet the ghost of Joe Lieberman.

Except now these feelings have gone beyond my personal dismay to a larger, graver sense of loss for our country, a reckoning of the damage that the President's conduct has done to the proud legacy of his presidency, and ultimately an accounting of the impact of his actions on our democracy and its moral foundations.

(Cue fall to fainting couch stuffed with $387,000 from the petty cash fund)

The MSM has tagged Independents the party of swing-voting 'centrism.' If Democrats no longer represent your liberal values, show America there is still a Left by registering for another left-aligned party.


Oh How Noble.. (2.67 / 3)
What would modern American media be without 'truth-telling' of the likes of Keith Olbermann and his minions at MSNBC. Good grief.

Each and every piece of national 'news' - today as in yesteryear - passes through the 'newsworthiness' lens of its producers and editors. As there are only so many minutes in a broadcast (or reams of available newsprint, or bytes of usable web page space), the 'news' which is ultimately delivered to an audience is chosen. And it is those highly subjective editorial choices, and the biases and agendas which their collective delivery so often impart, which Mr. Koppel quite reasonably laments as having gone to the dogs. FoxNews and MSNBC could be poster children for his point. FoxNews may call itself fair and balanced - the world knows otherwise. And MSNBC, however rose-colored Olbermann's glasses are these days, is just as absurdly biased in the other ideological direction - and the world is aware of that too.

In the final analysis there is no such thing as objectively, measurably fair and balanced reporting. There is only each outlet's best shot at it, editorial agendas underneath the covers or not, and for or against which an audience can easily vote its approval.. with its remotes (we can talk about MSNBC's vs. FoxNews' ratings another day).

The only WOW in anything that Olbermann had to say was in its chutzpah - echoed in virtually every word that comes off your keyboard Paul - that his and his outlet's 'truths' are somehow 'fairer' or 'righter' or 'truer' than those of their ideological counterparts. Fact is incontrovertible. Truth, on the other hand, is philosophical. Your 'truth' that the passage of the health reform bill was good for America is just a subjective as mine that it was devastatingly bad for America. Neither is unassailable fact, just your humble opinion versus mine. Neither too are Olbermann's 'truths' any more 'true' than Bill O'Reilly's, and his contention to the contrary, however eloquently delivered, is nothing less than brute intellectual arrogance.

Oh come on. (4.00 / 4)
I'm not old enough to have watched Cronkite's famous newscasts, but I do remember the news through Koppel's years, and the idea that we could "quite reasonably" lament the loss of anything from those years is ridiculous. Koppel shielded Reagan and he later shielded G W Bush. During times of national crisis, Koppel's and Rather's first impulse is to run patriotic rubbish, essentially hours of flag-saluting.

Your argument follows Koppel's, and suffers from the same flaw: just because human affairs can't be reduced to  "incontrovertible" facts doesn't mean that all "truths" are subjective and therefore equal. Editorializing still rests on facts, and comments relate to facts to a greater or lesser degree. When FOX, as Maddow reported, films two random persons outside a voting center and calls this the rise of the New Black Panther Party, FOX is lying. Nothing that Olbermann has done can even compare. Saying that Olbermann and FOX are essentially the same is just stupid. And I realize that this is just my opinion, but I'll say it again: your analysis is stupid.  


[ Parent ]
You totally miss the point! (4.00 / 4)
Have you actually LISTENED to what Olberman says? Obviously NOT! Or else you would have noticed that Olberman is actually in agreement with your points!

"Each and every piece of national 'news' ... passes through the 'newsworthiness' lens of its producers and editors."
Yes, and Olberman says so, in the last third of the video. He even emphasizes this, to show that the "neutrality" and obectivity" that Koppel demands is nothing but a "false god"!

"his and his outlet's 'truths' are somehow 'fairer' or 'righter' or 'truer' than those of their ideological counterparts"
He doesn't say so at all. But he rightly points out that during the Bush years, much of the media didn't dare to speak truth to power, and omitted to report about the controversy about the "facts" provided by the government. He doesn't say at all how the judgment of the journalists should have been, he says that this issue at least should have received attention in the media, and not being shoved aside in the way it was. That's a very strong point, since even Koppel admitted the media failed in this, and so this shows that Koppel's new commitment to "neutrality" is pure nonsense. When Koppel had the chance in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to uphold this neutral stance, he failed the test, by onesidedly parrotting only the government's arguements!

"In the final analysis there is no such thing as objectively, measurably fair and balanced reporting."
And Olberman says so! Actually, that's a core point of his argument. The fairness and balance have to come from the journalist who applies his judgment. And Olberman makes a stand against the ridiculous idea that this is an "objective" process, and that simply putting up one fact against the other, without weighing their importance, will create anything like a fair balance.

"Fact is incontrovertible. Truth, on the other hand, is philosophical."
Olberman doesn't disagree with that. Sure, news have to rely on facts, but those facts have to weighted, and the truth deducted from them will always be based on the journalists judgment. And it's important to weigh the facts, and draw conclusions, because the facts aren't equal in importance and in impact. For instance, it was true that Saddam purported that he had WMD's as his disposal, and it's also true that he didn't actually have them. Which fact is more important in deciding if the US should attack Iraq? Come on. You can't simply count facts and draw a numeric balance, you have to use your judgment to differentiate between the important and the insignificant ones! And that's what Olberman says. He doesn't say at all everybody should share his opinion, he says honest journalism should weigh ALL the facts, and not simply ignore the inconvenient ones.

Really, Rick, you almost absurdly miss Olberman's points. Now, honestly, have you really watched the video and listened to the argument? If you really did, you should take a deep breath, try to put your antipathy against Olberman aside for some minutes, and run it again!  


[ Parent ]
Like Gray Says--In Essence--You're An Idiot, Man (4.00 / 4)
You clearly HAVEN'T listened to a word Olberman said. (Heard? Perhaps. Listened? Not so much.)

Hence, you're a perfect representative of the right!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Up-rated with a 4 (4.00 / 2)
ONLY because this is not a trollish comment.

As nuch as I disagree with your analyses, I think they are offered in a genuine way and with positive intent.

Gray's reply is closest to my own.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Yup, LipWing got carried away. (0.00 / 0)
It's rightwing bullshit, ignorant of what Olberman actually said, but it's not trollish. I would have uprated it, too, if there had been two TR's. But since the comment isn't hidden yet, I couldn't bring myself to giving it 4 points.  

[ Parent ]
It ain't only Neo-Cons that think pre-emptively (4.00 / 1)
;)

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
I think that Rick's whole presence is trolling (0.00 / 0)
I've seen too much of this at HuffPo and the trolls have taken over.  So what if they present a cogent argument from the Right?  Their goal is to disrupt a dialog among the Left.

I hardly ever rate and I've never rated with a zero before.  But I think we have enough to disagree among ourselves without Rick's hatred of the Left.

Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!


[ Parent ]
I disagree (0.00 / 0)
Nothing genuine about spouting half truths that are beyond intelligence.   His whole rant was just a FNC addict frustrated with the facts closing in.  If on the other hand you want to congratulate him for holding the beliefs of a selfish, greedy conservative, then I could agree with you there.  

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
A comment like yours (4.00 / 2)
is much more comprehensive than a TR, IMHO.

Sad as it may be - some folks genuinely believe in "half-truths" dearly held. Rather than banishing them to the nether world of hidden comments - why not use them as an example of how such views are to be contradicted and confronted?

I find real value in the replies from jcr and Gray for that reason.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
This genuine fellow (0.00 / 0)
Is genuinely emblematic of all the greedy ruthless bastards that have wreaked nothing but hardship, pain, loss, and domination on the working class of people for the last thirty years with their lies about economic philosophy.  And now, somehow, these predators want to justify their lying and thievery by saying the other side is just as bad.  If you want to be nice to them, that's fine.  Look how far Obama is getting with that bipartisan thingy.

As far as I'm concerned there is no justification for this kind of people.  When they go where I am and start spouting their crap I intend to respond.  

Thanks for your response.  I'm just not traveling your road on this.  

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
You misunderstand (4.00 / 1)
If you want to be nice to them, that's fine.

Its not about being nice. It about tearing their arguments to shreds, rather than wishing them away.

I'm not preaching the false equivalency doctrine - I'm suggesting that the non-equivalence - say between FOX and MSNBC, for example - be boldly stated at every turn.

Ignoring or TRing opinions like those expressed by MinnRick makes no statement and refutes nothing.



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
I didn't realize rating as troll meant (4.00 / 2)
that a comment could be hidden.

I wouldn't have done it if I knew that.  I thought it was an expression of revulsion.

Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!


[ Parent ]
I understand (0.00 / 0)
its not obvious if one is a registered member of the site. I see "hidden comments" either way - you probably do too.

The only means one has to express revulsion is by posting a comment.

It is reversible, by the way.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
I reversed it. (4.00 / 2)


Educate, Agitate, Organize, Mobilize, Act!


[ Parent ]
You misunderstand (0.00 / 0)
My only reference to you was:

If you want to be nice to them, that's fine.

People with this conservative predatory mindset believe that you and others who think that patient, fact bearing response will win the day are nothing more than effete nerds. I think their term would be non-players.  They let you bore the people with your structured argument, then they just spout off with some totally false crap that the people can more easily identify with.  In the meantime we're thirty years down the road of letting the right wing decimate the American working people.

I attribute no other action or doctrine on your part.  As far as I know you are an honest and thoughtful supporter of liberal ideology.  I use the troll button very sparingly.  This guy deserved it.  In all honesty, the best response to this turd would be no response at all.

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
Already refudiated that point (0.00 / 0)


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
we have to be able to do a better job of arguing these points (4.00 / 2)
"half truths that are beyond intelligence"

"FNC addict"

"selfish, greedy conservative"

None of these is likely to convince anyone who isn't already agreeing with them.

Sorry, but the real weakness in his position is this:

Truth, on the other hand, is philosophical. Your 'truth' that the passage of the health reform bill was good for America is just a subjective as mine that it was devastatingly bad for America. Neither is unassailable fact, just your humble opinion versus mine.

This is an inaccurate description of the debate.  A more accurate description of the debate would have been the emotional crap over "death panels" and the vastly underreported details (even by MSNBC) over how much in aggregate the US pays for Health Care compared to other countries.  It's not "just your opinion, man".

And before rating the guy a troll, it's worth noting that he also criticized Fox.  Such people are, in my humble opinion, worth arguing with, which means subjecting their weak arguments to serious criticism.



sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
You do it your way (0.00 / 0)
but we can't all be the illuminating beacons a few of you believe yourselves to be.  You keep fighting your way.  Let's see, how far has that gotten you up to now?  That's right, you just got your politeness for the last two years handed to you along with your asses.  Yep,  you're really getting your point across with all of this intelligently structured soliloquy.  

In case you haven't noticed, the people of this county would rather associate with liars and crooks than with nerdy know it alls.  If you want to criticize me, then expect an argument.  And  do not expect me to let you define how the argument should be exercised.  I do not need a lecture from your sorry ass on how to speak.  I suspect I've had as much education as you.  Let's just agree to disagree from now on.


"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
This was a troll or an idiot. (0.00 / 0)
Probably both.   Perhaps Jon Stewart's producer?  Ted Koppel was nothing more than a Barbara Walters wannabe.  To lionize him as anything else is as ridiculous as FNC headline.   Most sadly, this idiot, equates a network formed solely for the purpose of lying to the public with a network which tries to answer those lies with facts.  In an environment that requires profit from the news desk that gets harder every year.  Eat spam and die!

"Oh. My. God. .... We're doomed." -- Paul Krugman
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...">http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c...


[ Parent ]
Indeed, wow! Olberman at his best. (4.00 / 1)
I'm not a big fan of him, but I wouldn't question HIS committment to journalism. Especially not after he voiced his inner Ed Murrow and so eloquently described what he is trying to do in his job, and what he thinks about the "false god" of neutrality, objectivism, and balance. He's totally right, of course news reporting will always be subjective. It can't be any different, because there are humans involved, with all their subjective views of the world. And what Ted Koppel and all those serious people are stomping for is nothing else but to present THEIR subjective views as the allegedly neutral stance. That's total nonsense, of course. Kudos to Olberman for so determinedly, convincingly, passionately and, yes, courageously standing up against the dangerous cult represented by dishonest priests like Koppel!

Agree with Grey on all points (4.00 / 2)
I'm not always such a fan of Olbermann's work.  It does sometimes veer into the "tribalism" that it is sometimes accused of.  More than anything, sometimes it becomes "heroin for lefties" - Dr. Feelgood tales of how stupid our opponents are - which

a) make any conceivable future dialog with our enemies more difficult
b) more importantly, numb us by easing the pain of the fact that they are kicking our ass.

NONETHELESS,

this "Special Comment" was indeed worth hearing.  I really can't find any flaw with it and it needed to be said!  Whatever the weaknesses of Olbermann's (and often Maddow's) daily routine, this commentary rings out loudly and proudly.

sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.


[ Parent ]
Ted Koppel. Mr. Objectivity (4.00 / 7)
Henry Kissinger is, plain and simply, the best secretary of state we have had in 20, maybe 30 years -- certainly one of the two or three great secretaries of state of our century," Koppel said in an interview (quoted in Columbia Journalism Review, March/April 1989). Koppel added: "I'm proud to be a friend of Henry Kissinger. He is an extraordinary man. This country has lost a lot by not having him in a position of influence and authority."

Koppel was heaping praise on someone who served as a key architect of foreign policy throughout the Nixon presidency. Kissinger -- whose record as an inveterate liar was thoroughly documented in Seymour Hersh's 1983 book "The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House" -- orchestrated bloody foreign-policy deceptions from Southeast Asia to Chile to East Timor.

http://www.counterpunch.org/so...


I used to have the same opinion on Kissinger - when I was 12! (4.00 / 1)
But with all we know about Kissinger nowadays, Koppel's uncriitcal adoration is simply naive, disturbingly so for a "journalist". That's the "objectivity" he advocates? My ass!

[ Parent ]
what a great comment - (0.00 / 0)
by the Olberdude! -
(and how much greater - and this is not even a critique - it's just a blimp - if he would 'emulate' the tone of Murrow and Cronkite too - Probably than even idiots wouldn't compare him anymore to idiots like the O-man!)  

For those (like me) who prefer the written word to videos... (4.00 / 1)
...here's the text:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40...

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