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...


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.