Monday, June 16, 2008

Olbermann in the New Yorker

Not completely sure what I make of the New Yorker profile of Keith Olbermann, but it is an interesting read overall, and it includes plenty of anecdotes I hadn't heard before from Olbermann's early career and his many intra-network conflicts. Ultimately the takeaway of the story seems to be that, gee, news has more opinion now -- which is true of course, but sort of a pedestrian observation at this point. I am also not quite convinced that the most common shorthand description of the show -- that Olbermann is the left-wing Bill O'Reilly -- is quite accurate, though it is hard for me to put my finger on exactly why.

One difference is that Olbermann's show is characterized by a wry, sarcastic tone that is qualitatively different from the total self-seriousness of O'Reilly and Hannity and so on. Maybe that's also why I find myself least interested in Olbermann's "Special Comments," which tend to veer off into O'Reillyesque high dudgeon.

Anyway the profile is worth a read. And speaking as someone does want to see a greater acceptance of opinion and point-of-view in journalism in general, Olbermann's ascendance is a welcome development in my book...

2 comments:

Saxdrop said...

"In cable news, the dominant personality puts an identifying stamp on the entire organization. The stamp at MSNBC is indisputably that of Keith Olbermann."

Oooh, I bet Chris Matthews isn't happy about that line.

haahnster said...

I love Olbermann's show. I love the "wry, sarcastic tone" most of all. I agree there is a difference, and I think you've identified it. O'Reilly bloviates as if he is speaking the divine truth, all the while declaring himself "independent, fair & balanced, etc." The guy says "No Spin Zone" without the slightest hint of irony.

So, yes, I probably am less offended by Keith's clear leftist leanings because I agree with most of them. But, it also has a lot to do with the presentation.