Keith Olbermann loves to compare himself to his idol, Edward R. Murrow and has even presumptuously appropriated Murrow’s famed sign off, “Good night and good luck,” to end each of his broadcasts. Murrow must have rolled over in his grave after being associated with Olbermann’s March 20th ‘Countdown’ show.
Olbermann kicked off the 3/20 broadcast announcing that the Obama campaign was confirming the Senator’s passport file had been violated, and that a statement from the campaign was imminent. Olbermann then launched into set hit pieces on John McCain and Hillary Clinton before a statement from the Obama campaign could be obtained. As soon as Olbermann had the statement the NBC News logo flashed on the screen along with a ‘Breaking News’ header. Oblermann then read the statement from Obama spokesmen Bill Burton:
This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years. Our government’s duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes. This is a serious matter that merits a complete investigation and we demand to know who looked at Senator Obama’s passport file, for what purpose and why it took so long for them to reveal this security breach.
Olbermann then asked Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, “What do we know about this?” and Fineman replied:
It’s all too reminiscent for those with a long memory of the fact that the first Bush administration rummaged through Bill Clinton’s passport file back in ‘92. So, now, we have Bush Two and his administration, apparently rummaging through the passport records of yet another Democratic candidate.
So to recap: at this point Olbermann is taking the word of the Obama campaign that this privacy breach is the fault of the Bush administration at face value and Howard Fineman echoes those claims going even further by guessing that the current administration has been “apparently rummaging through the passport records of yet another Democratic candidate.” At this point neither Olbermann nor Fineman had any facts to back up these serious charges … and they never will.
Unfazed by his complete lack of facts or context, Olbermann devoted the rest of his hour show to this ‘Breaking News’ story. He read the most inflammatory portions Burton’s statement on the matter six times and compared the story to Watergate and said “it could be the wildest conspiracy that either one of us could put together.”
Besides the irony of a supposed Murrow disciple making a spectacle about wild conspiracies at the State Department, the most alarming thing about the 3/20 ‘Countdown’ show was what did not happen: any commercial breaks. Olbermann is now a documented regular contributor at Daily Kos. Daily Kos describes itself as “a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory.” So essentially, on March 20, the General Electric Company underwrote an hour long infomercial for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
The left has long sought a commercially viable answer to the conservative movement’s dominance in talk radio. In Keith Olbermann’s ‘Countdown’ they finally seem to have found it. Yeah free market! But as an openly partisan activist, Olbermann must be narrowly confined to his ‘Countdown’ role. If NBC News wants to maintain any journalistic credibility they can not allow Olbermann to hijack their news brand for a full hour for purely partisan purposes like they did March 20.
It’s bad enough that NBC allows Olbermann to anchor election coverage. Not even Fox News is that bold. Fox keeps its personalities as analysts when covering politics and MSNBC really ought to do the same.