Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Which side are you on, boys?

So, Keith and Chris got fired from anchoring political coverage for not being sufficiently deferential to the Republicans.

Whew! I am so glad that is not in my job description.

I watched every hour I could force down of both conventions, and I watched it all on MSNBC, so I can tell you that yes, the coverage of the Republican convention, at least as far as Olbermann & Mathews were concerned, was much more cynical than the coverage of the Democratic convention. But you know, it’s funny to me when people get worked up about Olbermann being chosen, as if it were a choice based on anything other than his ratings. Olbermann is the biggest star MSNBC has; who the fuck else are they going to get to boost the viewership of those week-long U! S! A! flag orgies, Al Roker? It’s all about the $$$ for the network, which is a concept you’d think Republicans would understand. Or aren’t they so hot on capitalism anymore?

Perhaps MSNBC does have an obligation to have a more neutral anchor, but I’ll be damned if I can think of one. Every anchor has his or her own political bent – it’s really all in how you look at it.

For example, let’s look at that fairly inflammatory piece of Republican video rhetoric that features footage from 9/11. I believe the message of that video could fairly be summed up to be “Democrats = another 9/11.” Olbermann responded by rebuking his network for showing it, saying that for him and many others, the footage used was a reminder of deeply personal loss, and he felt it was offensive to many viewers to see it used in such a fashion.

Yeah, no matter what you think of Olbermann, you have to admit that he gives good tv.

Tom Brokaw, on the other hand, revered mother superior of NBC, could have responded to the Republican’s little video by pointing out that it was an odd message for a party whose president had been in office for over 7 months when 9/11 occurred, or that the Republican’s president had been warned that the attack was coming and yet failed to act to prevent it, focusing instead on more desirable oil-producing targets.

He didn’t. Instead he responded by delivering a mild discourse on how Barack Obama would have to prove his “defend America” mettle during the debates and the remainder of the campaign. As if it were Obama’s task to disprove their lies.

Now, isn’t Brokaw’s reaction politically biased? Doesn’t it, as mild and yet authoritative as it sounds, still betray Brokaw’s personal point of view, which is that the Democrats, against all evidence to the contrary, have to prove themselves when it comes to national defense?

Why wasn’t Brokaw called out? Because although Olbermann made the fuss while Brokaw played it cool, wasn’t Olbermann the one closer to fulfilling the roll that we have relegated to the press, which is to call bullshit when politicians lie?

Or, in other words, what is the value of neutrality when one side dissembles and the other reaches toward truth? The Swiss have been neutral for almost two hundred years, and what is their big contribution to society? Instant cocoa and cuckoo clocks. What is the point of the press standing in the middle and saying to the American public “There! We provided you with both points of view!” when one of the points of view is morally arid?

I reject the notion that there is value on both sides. I understand the Republican point of view. Hey, I like to keep my money too. But when it comes to making sure that human beings move toward making this a better world, I think that most of the time, the Democrats are right, and the Republicans are wrong.

And I think it’s a shame when the intelligent members of our press corps pretend otherwise for the sake of this charade they’ve married themselves to, that their mission is to be unbiased, instead of to be right, and to be good.


Michael said...

The Swiss have been generally useful for providing a {presumably neutral} financial center for Europe. Too bad their shortcomings on that front are as offensive as they are. Maybe they regard themselves as situationally neutral. :D

I have had a stink-eye for Brokaw ever since the last election, when he did his bit to preempt any suggestions of electioneering by declaring it unfounded -- on election night, no less. Good to know it will be a clean fight even before it's over! That's a timesaver.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Ah, yes, Swiss bank accounts. A place for the dictators, despots, war criminals and churches of the world to hide their funds. Yes, we're so much better off because of them.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Oh, and yes, I suspect that Brokaw is talking out of his ass about half the time, but because of that midwestern lazy R accent, everyone thinks he's Mark fucking Twain.

Brandon said...

This is a good post, and pretty much reflects my thoughts. I don't even really understand the concept of "neutral" convention coverage. If I wanted that, I'd just watch the unfiltered speeches on CSPAN. I didn't really see what Brian Willams and Tom Brokaw brought to the table. Other than pointing out obvious crap like, "Palin really won over the crowd," when I can and hear for myself that the crowd is applauding :-)

Doc said...

I'm with you honey. Showing that video was cold-blooded and cruel. The Network is doing there "staff changes" because a few people with money whined.


Damn it, I love your blog to death dear, but sometimes it is hard to read, because it makes me so pissed off at the rampant idiocy out there that I just want to punch someone.

Excellent post, as always. Keep writing 'em, and I'll keep reading them.


Doc said...

P.S.- My mother was Swiss, so they can't be all bad.


Spooney said...

Don't forget Swiss cheese & the Swiss army knife.

I couldn't watch that whole video, it's just gross that they used it.

Nice bloggin, baby!

Dad E said...

I watched on PBS anchored by Jim Lerner. He left the commentary to the assembled experts and only asked questions of them to clarify.

dguzman said...

I definitely would rather have coverage of events done by someone who offers commentary or even just questions things--i.e., "um, 9/11 happened on republicans' watch" and "Let's get some details in there, Obama." Most americans are too stupid to do that for themselves, so people like Olbermann need to help them. Otherwise, it's FOUR! MORE! YEARS!

Grant Miller said...

Honestly, I've thought broadcast media has sucked for about 20 years now. And that's no exageration. Before that I wasn't even watching the news really so perhaps it's always sucked