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    Olbermann Watch, "persecuting" Keith since 2004


    January 22, 2005
    Keith Slams Tim Graham of Media Research Center.

    There is a nasty little exchange going on over at Poytner (a journalism web site) over the Armstrong Williams story and good old Keith is weighing in with his usual mangling of reality.

    There are many posts but here are my favorites including Keith's.

    ====================================

    From ERIC J. WEINER: In reference to Charles Kaiser's letter [below], comparing Jeff Greenfield and Armstrong Williams is like equating a speeding ticket with capital murder. Greenfield accepted a fee to moderate one of the countless boring panel discussions the Clinton administration held. Williams accepted 24 times that amount to surreptitiously use his influence as an African-American pundit to promote a specific Bush administration program within the African-American community. In other words, Greenfield was being paid to be a pundit, but Williams was being paid to act like a pundit while in reality serving as a secret p.r. flak for the Bush administation (which I have a funny feeling explains why Armstong's gig had such a higher price tag.) Neither act represents a high point in the history of journalistic integrity, but there's an obvious difference here. What Greenfield did was stupid; what Williams did was corrupt. Just going around saying, "He took money too!" doesn't make the comparison valid.

    ====================================

    From TIM GRAHAM, Media Research Center: Dear Eric Weiner, it is a little hard to accuse someone else of bad comparisons and then compare the Armstrong Williams affair to a capital murder. It does, however, illustrate how hyperbolic the reaction is.

    The hyperbole often comes from people who want to sell the notion that blacks cannot be genuinely conservative. They must, by definition, be sellouts to The Man. That's why this C-3 story ended up on A-1 in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and USA Today. It might seem ridiculous if they had put NPR's Tavis Smiley taking a free Mercedes from Daimler-Chrysler on Page One (and granted, the car wasn't worth $240,000, and he did return it). There's no question that liberal loathing of black conservatives was part of the liberal media recipe for front-paging Armstrong.

    From KEITH OLBERMANN: Regarding the letter from Tim Graham of Media Research Center about Armstrong Williams:

    The only 'selling of a notion' going on here is that being done by Mr. Graham and his fellow blinkered zealots. Namely that any malfeasant conservative must be largely or wholly the victim of a liberal plot.

    Somewhere, some day, even the MRC will have to acknowledge that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes coverage of a right-wing fraud is just coverage of a fraud.

    From CHARLES KAISER: Armstrong Williams is hardly the first beneficiary of the largesse of the Federal government. According to Editor & Publisher, during the Clinton administration, CNN correspondent Jeff Greenfield agreed to accept a fee of $10,000 from the Department of Defense to moderate a panel entitled "Reporting on Weapons of Mass Destruction: Responsibility, Reliability and Readiness." Bradley Graham of the Washington Post and Michael Oreskes were also offered expense money to participate in the panel, but both of them declined to accept it, because they recognized an ethical conflict in accepting money from the DOD. Greenfield accepted a $5,000 advance against his $10,000 fee. He only agreed to return his advance -- and forego the other $5,000 -- after Editor & Publisher exposed the arrangement. Greenfield admitted that he had been told where the money was coming from, but added, "I wasn't paying attention to what they told me." A CNN spokesman said at the time that Greenfield had violated the network's ethics policy by accepting the fee.


    From ERIC J. WEINER: In reference to Tim Graham's letter [below], I guess if you see the entire world through the prism of an epic battle between liberals and conservatives you also might be bothered by my comparison of Jeff Greenfield and Armstrong Williams, even though I think anyone who actually paid attention to what I wrote would understand the broader point I was making.

    But more specifically Mr. Graham, you don't know me, my politics, or how I voted in the most recent election. So assuming that the reason I think Armstrong Williams taking $240,000 to secretly flak a Bush adminstration policy while posing as an unbiased commentator is far worse than Jeff Greenfield accepting $10,000 to moderate a Clinton administration panel discussion is because I'm a hated liberal is ridiculous. This is a journalism issue, Mr. Graham, not a political issue. The question is, what's the public's reaction when it hears that a commentator it trusts actually is on the White House payroll? Obviously it undermines the public's already tenuous trust of the media, which is the business I'm in. So it doesn't matter to me if the person on the take is Armstrong Williams or Al Franken or Rush Limbaugh or Dan Rather. Any secret deals between politicians and the media to promote one side or the other is flat out wrong because it's no longer journalism, it's public relations. Perhaps if you stepped out of your clearly partisan mindset for a second you'd see that.

    From KEITH OLBERMANN: Regarding the letter from Tim Graham of Media Research Center about Armstrong Williams:

    The only 'selling of a notion' going on here is that being done by Mr. Graham and his fellow blinkered zealots. Namely that any malfeasant conservative must be largely or wholly the victim of a liberal plot.

    Somewhere, some day, even the MRC will have to acknowledge that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes coverage of a right-wing fraud is just coverage of a fraud.


    Posted by Robert Cox | Permalink | Comments (18) | | View blog reactions

    18 Comments

    I agree with Olbermann and disagree with Tim Graham about the Armstrong Williams matter.

    However, it is a bit galling to read Keith calling Graham a zealot with a penchant for finding a liberal plot behind any coverage of a "malfeasant conservative".

    This is a guy who tsk-tsked over the coverage of Sandy Berger's document drama as trumped up conservative axe-grinding and attempted to deflect from the charges against Berger by focusing on accusations that the investigation had been leaked by the WH.

    This is a guy who ajured the media to "leave Joe Lockhart" out the coverage of Rathergate, but who had no problem passing along internet conspiracy stories that the WH had colluded with bloggers and with an Atlanta attorney to set up Mapes and Rather.

    And speaking of Rathergate, this is a guy who has categorically stated that the worst thing about the Rathergate story is that it has overshadowed the Armstrong Williams story. How's that for perspective, Mr. Graham?...

    This is a guy who in his coverage of the Boston dirty bomb scare intimated that it was possibly more WH scare tactics.

    Yes, this is a guy who has NO, NONE, NIL, NADA difficulty at all with holding malfeasant conservatives accountable. In fact, when there is malfeasance, he generally inplies that they are accountable...

    I'm tired of "pots," regardless of their political persuasion, calling their opposition "kettles" black. I'm sick of projection (the pre-emptive application of ones weaknesses to an opponent) as a political ploy, especially when the alleged faux pas are greatly exaggerated or the analogies aren't remotely parallel.

    Right-wing claims of victimization by the "liberal media" are simply a political ploy to keep the ill informed inflamed with inaccurate, divisive rhetoric. I admit that some liberal print stalwarts remain, but the "boob tube" bleeds blood red. Did anyone see/listen to Rather at the inauguration? He was like a contrite, abused cocker spaniel; dancing over anti-Bush protesters and gushing over the festivities. I'm sure many of you found his demeanor thoroughly appropriate.

    "Liberal Media?" Balderdash...laughable. You righties need find a new pony to ride.

    Poor Dan Rather. He's had to act contrite after airing a story that could have effected the outcome of a presidential election. A story based on documents no one could verify. And all Dan did after that was to call critics of the story (bloggers...ABC News...) "political operatives" and refuse to admit any possibility of wrong doing for 10 days. After that, journalist Dan, condescended to defend the piece by saying that the documents were ACCURATE but possibly not AUTHENTIC.

    Now poor Dan is a whipped puppy...a victim of those ruthless conservatives who always had it out for him.

    Yeah, Dan "Mr. President, if we could be one one-hundredth as great as you and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been together in the White House, we'd take it right now and walk away winners" Rather is a great example to use when you're trying to make the case that conservatives have television on a leash...

    I mean who are the REAL victims here? CBS News has been hoisted on its own petard...tv news doesn't sound like a Daily Kos blog...and Fox News merely exists.

    Poor Dan... poor inflamed "ill-informed"...poor left...

    You miss my point. Did I say or even imply that conservatives brought Rather down? Did I exonerate him? Nope, I merely said he acted beaten, using him to show how flaccid the right's contention of a "liberal media" has become. Here was one of the repubs formerly most formidable "left-wing press" adversaries giving Bush a perfumed valentine. I didn't point fingers or place blame. I was citing as fiction "right-wing claims of victimization by the liberal media." The "ill-informed" to which I referred are the conservatives who buy into those claims.

    Whining doesn't become you, C. And don't bemoan distortions wrought by the "liberal media" either, unless, of course, you use past tense.

    Ciao

    Whining doesn't become anyone, Paul. That's why I don't indulge in it. Or write screeds that sound like ridiculous agitprop, such as this:

    "Right-wing claims of victimization by the "liberal media" are simply a political ploy to keep the ill informed inflamed with inaccurate, divisive rhetoric."

    But I suppose if you're capable of arguing that the comeuppance Dan has suffered from his own BIAS is emblematic of the myth of media bias...well...you're right Paul...this happened 10/04. I'll stick to the past-tense...

    Forget I even mentioned Rather. It took us down a pea path.

    My main point was ignited by the Media Resource Center's Tim Graham's comment: "There's no question that liberal loathing of black conservatives was part of the liberal media recipe for front-paging Armstrong"...and my opinion is that the chronic contention of left-wing media bias no longer applies. It's anachronistic and it creates a false impression among those buy into it.

    Well, fine, Paul, but you framed it up by labeling my post as pot/kettle one and then by chastising me for whining.

    I have no idea why. My remarks were directed at Keith Olbermann not the media in general. And I had written that Graham was wrong and Keith was right on the Williams issue.

    I think Graham's comment about the media going after black conservatives is sort of a reverse bit of race-card playing. It's meant to deflect from the real issue of what certainly is a front page matter-- a media personality was under contract to the administration.

    However, I think Graham is right that the MSM is still quite a liberal bastion and I think MRC does great work. And I think you're right that this is changing-- due to some efforts by folks like MRC to change it.

    Now for a pot/kettle post, Paul. Let me just say that for guy who wrote post after post inveighing Repubicans to recognize how traumatized he and fellow libs were by our party's nastiness.. you got a lot of nerve to charge anyone with whining, my friend.

    The tone of your "Poor Dan Rather" post seemed whiny to me and it was that tone to which I responded re "whining". I missed that you were talking to Keith Olbermann, taking rather that you were addressing libs in general. And yes, to your credit, you did oppose Graham on the Williams issue. I apologize for failing to acknowledge your objectivity.

    There were several strands in my original post (hypocrisy, projection and alledged media bias) and I shouldn't have lumped them together. Regarding pots calling kettles black, by including the phrase: "regardless of their political persuasion," my intent was to level that criticism across party lines.

    I can't agree with Graham and anyone who claims the MSM is still a bastion of liberal ideals and consider constant use of the term "liberal media" bias to explain a universe of negative behavior, observations and events to be obstructive and deleterious.

    "I can't agree with Graham and anyone who claims the MSM is still a bastion of liberal ideals and consider constant use of the term "liberal media" bias to explain a universe of negative behavior, observations and events to be obstructive and deleterious."


    Fair enough, Paul.

    I'll include arrogan and self-important as well as liberal when describing the media.

    And after hearing Chris Matthews tell Robert Redford that a journalist's mission is to speak to "truth to power" (While at the Sundance Film festival with some of the richest most influencial people in the world.)I'll add 'messianic'.

    C,

    RE:
    --And after hearing Chris Matthews tell Robert Redford that a journalist's mission is to speak to "truth to power" (While at the Sundance Film festival with some of the richest most influencial people in the world.)I'll add 'messianic'.--

    Allow me to apply your logic. Bush feels the need to spread freedom and liberty throughout the world. He wants to "speak (our) truth" (freedom) to power (those countries with divergent philiosophies; autocrats, dictators, theocrats, etc.). Is W then, in your estimation, messianic ?

    Actually, Paul, that's not my "logic" at all. There would be nothing logical in the assertion that the term "messianic" de facto describes any person who's job includes a soap box.

    Certainly in the role of "leader of the free world" it's been taken for granted that it is the role of the U.S. president to advocate democracy.

    Ironically, in the past it was only when necessity dictated that U.S. presidents operate under the premise that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' that they garnered criticism from the left as in the days of Soviet expanision into Central and SOuth America.

    But I've a feeling that by Bush's "speaking truth to power" you mean something entirely different from you'd mean when applying that role to the press. And you mean also mean something entirely different from traditional political means such as advocacy or diplomatic pressure.

    But it's interesting and telling too that you'd equate the cliche of the phrase 'speaking truth to power' with the sort of aggression (as in invasion) that you mean to imply with Bush. Because I think that's exactly the implication of the phrase when Matthews uses it to describe the role of journalism, though I doubt he would admit it.

    It represents a role that goes far beyond watchdog into the territory of advocacy. And in an unelected entity like the press, which has the power of the microphone and pen, it's a sort of self-annointment that's particularly arrogant and more than a little alarming.

    There's a vast chasm between advocacy and imposition of one's will. Diplomatic pressure appears not to be Bush's strong suit. He favors unilateral pre-emptive intervention. Do you hear the sabers rattling in Iran?

    By virtue of your perception of the media's behavior, you use generalizations to label them as "arrogant," self-important" and "liberal." And in Matthew's case, you include "messianic"--your words, not mine. By virtue of his public statements, which you abhor, deductive reasoning leads you to proclaim that Matthew's self-image includes that of savior.

    I implied nothing. I simply applied your logic (no need for quotes) to George W. Bush. You can wiggle all you want, but if it's fair on your part to make such a comparison based on your interpretation of public statements, it's equally fair of me to pose the question (something straight from the GOP playbook--answers are optional). Or is a double standard in order?

    Your comment, "Ironically, in the past it was only when necessity dictated that U.S. presidents operate under the premise that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' that they garnered criticism from the left..." sounds good but is historically inaccurate. Pick a U.S. war, recent or distant past and certain groups of Americans, including those on the "left," dissented.

    Alarming or not, the press provides an outlet for opinion and dissent, one that's constitutionally protected. Muzzling the press in a truly democratic society is counterproductive. I can't find the exact quote, but to paraphrase one attributed to Thomas Jefferson: "If we must choose between having representative government and a free press, I would unhesitatingly choose the latter, acknowledging that you can't have the first without the second."

    There's a vast chasm between advocacy and imposition of one's will. Diplomatic pressure appears not to be Bush's strong suit. He favors unilateral pre-emptive intervention. Is that the sound of sabres rattling I hear in Iran?

    By virtue of your perception of the media's behavior, you use generalizations to label them as "arrogant," self-important" and "liberal." And in Matthew's case, you include "messianic"--your words, not mine. By virtue of his public statements, which you abhor, deductive reasoning leads you to proclaim that Matthew's self-image includes that of savior.

    I implied nothing. I simply applied your logic (no need for quotes) to Geoge W. Bush. You can wiggle all you want, but if it's fair on your part to make such a comparison based on your interpretation of public statements, it's equally fair of me to pose the question (something straight from the GOP playbook--answers are optional). Or is a double standard in order?

    Your comment, "Ironically, in the past it was only when necessity dictated that U.S. presidents operate under the premise that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' that they garnered criticism from the left..." sounds good but is historically inaccurate. Pick a U.S. war, recent or distant past and certain groups of Americans, including those on the "left," dissented.

    Alarming or not, the press provides an outlet for opinion and dissent, one that's constitutionally protected. Muzzling the press in a truly democratic society is counterproductive. I can't find the exact quote, but to paraphrase one attributed to Thomas Jefferson: "If we must choose between having representative government and a free press, I would unhesitatingly choose the latter, acknowledging that you can't have the first without the second."

    Well, goodness, Paul. If you run all that up a flagpole I promise to salute it.

    I've not said anything about muzzling the press in any way. The part of it that thinks like Chris Matthews can freely carry on with the grandiose notion that its first mission is to advance (what it thinks best for the rest of us) to those with political or monetary power. But too bad there's not some sort of badge worn by journalists who have gone beyond watchdog to molder of the world into their image. Frankly there's something less insidious about bought-off partisan pundits than the self-claimed "passion" of the Walter Cronkites.

    Too, if they agree with and foster among themelves the thing that you find logical: namely the notion that both journalism and presidential administrations have equivalent roles chiefly because they both have a soapbox...then Howard Fineman makes particular sense when he says that the press had become a third political party. It makes it plain too why so many in the media would now question the authority of any new dogs coming up. Especially if they differ from the rest of the pack...or...I should say, especially if they differ in their doctrine. I think the religious analogy works best, chiefly because the media itself has made objectivity a touchstone of its own moral authority.

    Of course these people are now singing the blues over the "new media" or alternative media as competitor to the all-powerful microphone. It certainly follows that we'd now be seeing so many screeds tsk-tsking the new 'news' shows that make no bones about having a political tilt. It changes the dynamic from that of moral 'calling' to overt salesmanship which automatically brings a flashing caveat emptor sign to public awareness and subsequent public decision-making. Again, NO WONDER the screeds...money changers corrupting the temple and whatnot...

    The media may not like it's devolution from Pope to Ralph Reed but they can only thank themselves. They first deigned themselves to be something beyond their job description.

    "Your comment, "Ironically, in the past it was only when necessity dictated that U.S. presidents operate under the premise that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' that they garnered criticism from the left..." sounds good but is historically inaccurate. Pick a U.S. war, recent or distant past and certain groups of Americans, including those on the "left," dissented."

    As I said, YOU are speaking of something that goes beyond what anyone would term as "speaking truth to power". It's an apples and oranges comparision that you are attempting to make between presidential power (the power to wage war)and what you consider the job of the press to be (to lobby powers-that-be and advocate ideas). That you then you label as messianic the aspect of political and president power that is most exclusive and innate to that realm is even more illogical. Don't mistake my argument as trying to address THAT.

    I ignored what is only your extrapolation-- that the president is saying he's going to invade non-democratic countries. I'm not going to argue whether messianic is an accurate description of something that is mere extrapolation by you.

    I went to the comparision between the current endeavors of media members and president is reality: that they both ADVOCATE. I then made the point that time was when the left wanted the WH to advocate democracy by bring pressure against dictators, especially if they were considered allies.

    If Olbywatch doesn't want to change (censor) "Countdown," what IS its goal? If it DOES want to change "Countdown," how is that not "muzzling" or at least meddling with the press?

    You mention: "I then made the point that time was when the left wanted the WH to advocate democracy by bring pressure against dictators, especially if they were considered allies." Got any examples?

    You continued with, "That you then you label as messianic the aspect of political and president power that is most exclusive and innate to that realm is even more illogical." Where did I label anyone as messianic, C? The only labels applied here have been yours. I have enough trouble keeping track of arguments I make, let alone trying to justify the ones you think I make!

    Maybe you've heard of Pinochet, Paul. Or-- according to some left-wing sites... even Sharon.

    I don't know what anyone else's goal is here but my goal is to complain mightily about Keith Olbermann. I'm simply glad to run into folks who find him as narrow-minded as I do.

    There may be others who have broader ambitions, but this isn't the Drudge Report with a million hits a day. A national crusade this ain't...

    But if anyone is suffering under the delusion that the site is known by MSNBC folks and that it might inspire a broader range of voices among Countdown guests, I don't know how anyone can equate that with censoring or muzzling.

    Meddling maybe. But that's fine. Networks, news shows, and the media in general aren't the equivalent of the holy sacraments. Although some in the media might beg to differ.

    Cecelia can't answer your question Paul but I can. The purpose of this site is to engage in a dialectic with Keith. We are the yin to his yang. There are accepted standards in journalism - truth, accuracy, fairness, etc. Keith does not adhere to those. Under the veneer of supposed snarkiness, Keith routinly reports false or inaccurate information (as has been documente, with links, on this site). He does not even attempt to appear fair; he routinely presents a completely one-sided account of a story and then often follows that up with a guest bound to agree with his one-sided report on the subject.

    The simple fact is that Keith is not a journalist by any commonly accepted standard. He is a pundit dressed up as a news host. I don't care what awards he has won or what examples can be provided of times when he ACTS like a journalist. My view is that being a journalist is not a "hat" - you either ARE or ARE NOT and once you began expressing your personal point of view you can't cross back through that door.

    That said, the purpose of this site is to show Keith for what he is - a partisan hack attempting to pass as a journalist or, as Rick Kaplan calls him a "news anchor".

    I was with Rick Kaplan last weekend. His idea for Keith seems to be that he is "cutting edge", a news anchor designed to attract a new generation of viewers by featuring a combination of serious reporting and interviews with humor, snarkiness, silliness and, more recently, a blog. My view is that he represents a bastardization of journalism.

    That said, I find it amusing to read Paul making an argument that dissenting from the line being put out by MSNBC through Keith via OlbermannWatch is an attempt to "muzzle" the free press when all I have is a blog and Keith has the resources of one of the largest news organizations in the world and a blog on a news site, parterned with the largest technology company in the world, that is consistantly ranked among the top five most visited news sites in the world.