We had a whole generation of journalists who sat by and did nothing while, for instance, George Bush led us into an idiotic war on a lie, plus thousands more who spent day after day collecting checks by covering Britney’s hair and Tiger’s text messages and other stupidities while the economy blew up and two bloody wars went on mostly unexamined… and it’s Keith Olbermann who should “pay the price” for being unethical? Because, and let me get this straight, he donated money, privately, to politicians?
This is absurd even by GE‘s standards. There is no reason, not even a theoretical one, why any journalist should be prevented from having political opinions and participating in election campaigns in his spare time. The policy would be ridiculous even if we were talking about an evening news anchor — because the only “ethical” question here is the issue of NBC wanting to preserve the appearance of impartiality and being unable to do so, because political contributions happen to be public record and impossible to hide from viewers.
Again, that would be true even if we were talking about Brian Williams or Tom Brokaw, someone from whom viewers expect a certain level of impartiality. But what Olbermann does is advocacy journalism and it’s not exactly a secret. NBC punishing Olbermann for donating to Democratic candidates is like Hugh Hefner fining the Playmate of the Year for showing ankle. It’s completely and utterly retarded.
These periodic spaz attacks the people in our business have over obscure and usually completely made-up ethical controversies — often over this whole “objectivity” issue, which provides a seemingly endless source of false piety for some of the more obnoxious journo-ethicists — are really irritating. I’m biased, obviously, because I’m a guest on the show, but this is beyond stupid. And by the way, has anyone checked the donation lists for CNBC anchors? I’m guessing a few of those have shelled out to the Rs. What’s the deal, GE?
- Olbermann Tossed For Political Contributions (plastic.com)
- Keith Olbermann Sidelined for Contributions (abcnews.go.com)
- Sean McBride: MSNBC’s Phil Griffith the Worst Person in the World, as Olbermann Joins Donahue, Banfield | Informed Comment (juancole.com)
The current issue of Rolling Stone has an investigative article by Matt Taibbi entitled: Tea and Crackers: How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster. Allow me to say that it is both amazing and revealing. Here is a brief section… please, please, please go in and read the whole thing… you will not regret it:
By Matt TaibbiSep 28, 2010 7:01 AM EDT
This is an article from the October 15, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone.
It’s taken three trips to Kentucky, but I’m finally getting my Tea Party epiphany exactly where you’d expect: at a Sarah Palin rally. The red-hot mama of American exceptionalism has flown in to speak at something called the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, a gospel-music hoedown in a giant convention center filled with thousands of elderly white Southerners. Palin — who earlier this morning held a closed-door fundraiser for Rand Paul, the Tea Party champion running for the U.S. Senate — is railing against a GOP establishment that has just seen Tea Partiers oust entrenched Republican hacks in Delaware and New York. The dingbat revolution, it seems, is nigh.
“We’re shaking up the good ol’ boys,” Palin chortles, to the best applause her aging crowd can muster. She then issues an oft-repeated warning (her speeches are usually a tired succession of half-coherent one-liners dumped on ravenous audiences like chum to sharks) to Republican insiders who underestimated the power of the Tea Party Death Star. “Buck up,” she says, “or stay in the truck.”
Stay in what truck? I wonder. What the hell does that even mean?
Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn’t a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — “Government’s not the solution! Government’s the problem!” — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.
“The scooters are because of Medicare,” he whispers helpfully. “They have these commercials down here: ‘You won’t even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!’ Practically everyone in Kentucky has one.”A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.
After Palin wraps up, I race to the parking lot in search of departing Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives. I come upon an elderly couple, Janice and David Wheelock, who are fairly itching to share their views.
“I’m anti-spending and anti-government,” crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. “The welfare state is out of control.”
“OK,” I say. “And what do you do for a living?”
“Me?” he says proudly. “Oh, I’m a property appraiser. Have been my whole life.”
I frown. “Are either of you on Medicare?”
Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!
“Let me get this straight,” I say to David. “You’ve been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?”
“Well,” he says, “there’s a lot of people on welfare who don’t deserve it. Too many people are living off the government.”
I’d love to go on here, but I owe it to Rolling Stone to have you go THERE.
- The best and funniest Tea Party exegesis ever…. (tagg-lines.com)
- Taibbi among the teabaggers [Pharyngula] (scienceblogs.com)
- Following Palin to Kentucky (politicalwire.com)
- Matt Taibbi Drills LeBron, Jim Gray, ESPN (thebiglead.com)
Here’s a brief clip from a Matt Taibbi article in the Guardian:
Last summer I wrote a brutally negative article about Goldman Sachs for Rolling Stone magazine (I called the bank a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”) that unexpectedly sparked a heated national debate. On one side of the debate were people like me, who believed that Goldman is little better than a criminal enterprise that earns its billions by bilking the market, the government, and even its own clients in a bewildering variety of complex financial scams.
On the other side of the debate were the people who argued Goldman wasn’t guilty of anything except being “too smart” and really, really good at making money. This side of the argument was based almost entirely on the Randian belief system, under which the leaders of Goldman Sachs appear not as the cheap swindlers they look like to me, but idealised heroes, the saviours of society.
I think I have a stronger agreement with the criminal enterprise… for what you may think, go in and read the whole article HERE.