The Eclectic One

…Because labels are a poor substitute for thinking

MSNBC boots Olbermann and Matthews

Posted by Bill Nance on September 8, 2008

MSNBC has decided to remove Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews from their positions anchoring the upcoming debates and election night coverage. According to the New York Times, the two were removed after complaints of partisanship during the Republican National Convention.

On August 28th I wrote a story on the AP’s Ron Fournier, in which I blasted his “analysis” for being a flimsy cover for outright partisan editorializing. In that same piece i wrote: “MSNBC [is] moving closer by the day to joining the list of places whom I no longer trust without a second source.”

Some may think that whatever their sins, Matthews and Olbermann hardly hold a candle to “Faux News'” operation as a Republican Propaganda Machine. And they would be correct. But that’s not the point. Responsible journalism, something I’m glad to see the executives at NBC still have at least some grasp on, means not inserting one’s political or other views into a story.

I enjoyed Olbermann’s rants against George W. Bush on his show Countdown for a while. It was certainly pleasant to see someone actually calling this administration and its cronies on their buffoonery and lies. But frankly it got old fairly fast. That I agreed with many of Olbermann’s points made it no more entertaining. But I certainly never mistook the program for News.

I have no objection to Countdown. It doesn’t pretend to be a news source. And on principle I have no problem with Fox News having its own version on the other side of the political fence. My objection to programs like Bill O’Reilly’s is not that they express an obvious partisan bias, but that they lie about having that bias.

I didn’t watch the MSNBC coverage of the RNC. I watched PBS, which frankly has far better coverage and analysis than the network news programs. They don’t feel that “balance” requires two partisan hacks yelling at each other. They just tell it like it is, present straight coverage, and when they ask guests for their opinions they clearly state that they are in fact, opinions. I did however, watch some of MSNBC’s coverage of the DNC, and was a little aghast to see Olbermann, who’s claim to fame is as a sportscaster and pundit, along with Matthews, anchoring the coverage.

There may be a place for partisan news coverage. It wasn’t all that long ago that newspapers like the Podunk Democrat or the Lincoln Republic were the norm. Readers knew very well these papers were partisan, and the paper’s themselves never made any claim to the contrary.

But that tradition has been dead for a long time. And news consumers have grown used to the idea of “straight” coverage of news, with editorials being clearly labeled as such.

I commend NBC for their decision. It sets them apart from their counterparts at “Faux News,” who make the phrase “fair and balanced” a sick joke.

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4 Responses to “MSNBC boots Olbermann and Matthews”

  1. Robert said

    The only mistake that MSNBC made was not firing both of them for good. I watch both networks and I understand why FOX is in the lead and more people watch FOX and believe it is fair and balanced than MSNBC. MSNBC continues to lag far behind for a reason but they won’t every fully understand their far left rants are not respected by the public.

    I doubt you’ll print this but that would make sense that you don’t want to listen to a different opinion.

  2. Bill Nance said

    Sigh…
    Robert:
    First, the fact that your comment appears gives lie to your accusation of censorship. The accusation is typical of people who have pre-conceived notions and refuse to be swayed by facts.

    Second, Apparently you are incapable of reading beyond a headline, or you would have noticed that I condemned Olbermann and Matthews as well as
    MSNBC for the anchor decision.

    Finally, all of the above shows me why you seem to think “faux news” is a good resource. You seem to have the critical reasoning capacity of the average eight-year-old.

    -That is all

  3. Billy said

    Bill Nance:

    I agree……..you do have the “critical reasoning capacity of the average eight year-old”.

    That is all

  4. Matthew said

    wow… name calling…

    I think it is to bad that Olberman and Matthews have been removed but I understand MSNBC’s reasoning.

    To anyone who really thinks Rupert Murdoch’s network is “fair and balanced” is in denial. It is biased… toward the right. If you are on the right, you will think it is fair because it agrees with you. Having a token democrat (Combes) doesn’t make them balanced.

    I am glad that Matthew’s, Olberman and Maddow are still the nightly line up!

    Peace,
    Matt

    “I’m not a democrat, but I play one on the internet.”

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