I’ve listened to Keith Olbermann in the past on what was formerly “The Big Show” with Dan Patrick when he was doing ESPN radio. He brought his old friend Keith back on (who had been one of the original anchors who cemented ESPN as a legitimate force in its early days), which I believe was a big event seeing that Keith had spoken his mind before, been fired, and barred from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn campus.
Anyways, while I don’t agree with Keith on a huge number of things, I think his willingness to speak his mind has been a powerful thing at times. He’s said some hard things that caused a significant amount of political pressure to be exerted on executives at his current job, Countdown on MSNBC, to fire him. It seems having anchors who don’t necessarily buy the party line and spit up what has been spoon-fed them is not considered good these days, but MSNBC has kept him around. I read an article in Men’s Journal this week (not the current issue) where they interviewed Keith, and there’s an excerpt I thought I’d post because it struck me, what with people tossing around “liberal” and “conservative” labels these days, Fox News claiming to be “fair and balanced,” etc etc. Here’s the excerpt;
MJ: Men’s Journal KO: Keith Olbermann
MJ: Are you pushing to make MSNBC the liberal counterweight to Fox?
KO: No, I’d like it to be the accurate counterweight to Fox. My attitude is not to counterbalance them because they’re conservatives; it’s counterbalancing because some of their stuff is outlandishly in violation of every tenet of responsible broadcasting. The response suggests that the audience was there waiting. But to say, “We’re going to be a liberal network” is a dangerous thing. When (Democratic Senators) Schumer and Feinstein voted for Judge Mukasey’s nomination for attorney general, even though he couldn’t say that ersatz drowning was torture, I ripped the h**l out of them. To a degree, the Democrats have been stymied politically, because their majority is a statistical illusion: with South Dakota’s Senator Tim Johnson (what was recovering from brain surgery) out, it was essentially a tie. And with Joe Liebermann clearly suffering from post-traumatic-stress-disorder, it’s less than a tie. But I’ve ripped the Democrats for holding back on ending the Iraq war in hopes of maintaining it as a campaign issue for 2008; they know that the most effective use, politically, of what they’re facing is to throw it all back to the Republicans in the next 12 months. Which is great, except how many kids are going to be killed in Iraq in that time?
MJ: You recently had Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, on your show. He said about the war, “This is not a video game, this is not a reality TV show.” Could MSNBC do more to make people understand that?
KO: It would be jarring, but in these times, people would recoil from graphic images. Some would simply buy into this knee-jerk reaction: “You’re showing that to us to try to get us to change our opinion about our beloved president. You’re trying to hurt the troops.” I don’t know how the h**l that hurts the troops- that’s what they see every day; we should share their experience and try to relieve their pain empathetically. But if that’s the only way we can do it, then we’ll do it.
***as an addendum to the interview, I had two quick thoughts in response to this interview;
1) It certainly is possible to support the troops and agitate for withdrawal for them to come home. It’s only because of a simplistic, lazy approach to thinking in our country that people can’t see that. How can taking men and women out of a situation where their lives are daily at risk in an unjust war NOT support them? I don’t get it.
2) Warhawks scream all the time at how broadcast journalism being in the midst of war (Walter Cronkite specifically) erodes the confidence of the public and takes away the momentum for war. That somehow seeing the horrors of war is a BAD thing for the American public to be exposed to. I say the same thing as Keith; why shouldn’t the American public see that stuff, it’s what the soldiers see every day!***
Here’s a link to just such a story of those who experience the atrocities of war in Iraq on a daily basis, and how it shreds them.
Here’s another of a woman and her husband, a taxi driver with his legs blown off by a bomb. They are Iraqi citizens.