Saturday, October 07, 2006

Is Olbermann on Thin Ice?

By Jeff Cohen

A cable news vet fears for Olbermann's job in a conservative landscape.

I fear for Keith Olbermann.

Like so many others who hunger for some journalistic independence on TV news, I often marvel at Olbermann's dogged reporting and unique commentary. In a cable news environment of conformity and conservatism, the MSNBC host takes on the Bush administration for "demonizing dissent," for abusing our Constitutional traditions, for "taking cynical advantage of the unanimity and love [following 9/11] and transmuting it into fraudulent war and needless death."

Only Olbermann talks about Team Bush's "monstrously transforming [9/11 unity] into fear and suspicion, and turning that fear into the campaign slogan of three elections." He was virtually alone on TV news in seriously reporting on 2004 election irregularities in Ohio, and in exploring the pre-Iraq war Downing Street Memos indicating White House deception. In recent months, his prime targets seem to have evolved from softer ones like Bill O'Reilly to bigger game: Bush and his minions. It's worth noting that strong criticism of an extremist presidency hardly makes Olbermann a leftist. I remember him as the whimsical sports guy on ESPN.


Olbermann's increasingly bold dissent has been occurring at a time when Bush's approval ratings are low and Bush's war is in shambles. That gives him some added security.

During Donahue's tenure at MSNBC on the eve of war, Bush's popularity was high. And media conglomerates were particularly concerned about not ruffling the White House at that moment -- as they were lobbying hard to get FCC rules changed to allow them to grow still fatter.


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