Olbermann: MRC Wants "Institutionalized, Pro-Republican Slant" --3/16/2005
2. Public Radio Vet Edwards Blasts Bush for "Information Control"
WashPost Editor Decries Bush's Policies as "Imperialism"
In an interview with the Hartford Courant, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took another shot at the Media Research Center, claiming "They want conformity and a deliberate, institutionalized, pro-Republican slant. Guess what? They're never going to get it." In that same interview, Olbermann ludicrously claimed that "not a one" of his stories on the 1998 Clinton-Lewinsky scandal was "pro-Clinton."
[The MRC's Rich Noyes submitted this item for CyberAlert]
In fact, all the MRC wants is some balance, which Olbermann has a long record of failing to deliver.
Back in 1998, Olbermann's ridiculously biased coverage of the scandal earned him the MRC's "Corporal Cueball Carville Cadet Award," as part our compilation of the Best Notable Quotables of 1998. Olbermann "won" for comparing independent prosecutor Ken Starr, a regular target in his nightly coverage, to Nazi war criminal Heinrich Himmler in a question he posed to the Chicago Tribune's James Warren on his MSNBC program The Big Show back on August 18, 1998:
That sounded a little pro-Clinton to us.
In an interview with the Hartford Courant staff writer Liz Halloran, conducted last week via e-mail and published on Tuesday, Olbermann railed against what he called a "whole army of bloggers, radio hosts and TV people who have decided that any deviation from their political view is to be persecuted," and he singled out the "Bozell jokers [of Media Research Center and Parents Television Council] are foremost among them."
Here's the relevant exchange:
Q: You've described yourself as non-political and nonpartisan and have said you don't vote. But often the tone, if not the content, of your show can suggest otherwise, and conservative folks like those at the "Olbermann Watch" blog refer to you as "rabidly leftist." If not political, what are the basic standards you use to evaluate policy, for example, or candidates and politicians?
A: Boy, how soon they forget. I did 228 consecutive shows on MSNBC in '98 on the Clinton-Lewinsky story, and not a one of them was pro-Clinton. And I know that most of this ideological nonsense is predicated on my coverage of the Ohio [2004 presidential election] voting problems. What I found so amusing about the backlash to that was that the undertone to my coverage of Ohio was what a fool John Kerry had made of himself, dipping his toe in the recount water and then running away when it got too chilly. As an overall philosophy, I liked what Dana Milbank of The Washington Post said as he bowed out as White House correspondent: that he's basically antithetical to power. Me, too.
There is a whole army of bloggers, radio hosts and TV people who have decided that any deviation from their political view is to be persecuted -- and the "Olbermann Watch" and [Brent] Bozell jokers [of Media Research Center and Parents Television Council] are foremost among them. We made just as much sport of Kerry as Bush during the campaign, but neutrality is not what they want. They want conformity and a deliberate, institutionalized, pro-Republican slant. Guess what? They're never going to get it.
No matter what your political orientation is, if you don't stick up for freedom of all opinion, eventually the wheel will turn, you'll be the minority and you'll have written the rules by which you yourself are squashed.
END of Excerpt.
To read the entire item which the Romenesko site (www.poynter.org ) highlighted, go to: www.courant.com
Olbermann was recognized in the Best Notable Quotables of 2004 with his own category, the "Kooky Keith Award" for his conspiratorial rantings. His winning quote, from his April 5, 2004 Countdown program on MSNBC:
For a list of Olbermann quotes that were runners-up in that category, along with video excerpts, go to: www.mrc.org
Add former National Public Radio Morning Edition host Bob Edwards, who now has a show on XM satellite radio, to those who claim political dissent in America is being stifled. Speaking at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, Edwards insisted that the "Bush administration holds reporters in contempt" and has become the "all-time champion of information control."
Compared to Saddam Hussein's Iraq? The Soviet Union? If the Bush administration is supposedly in "control" of the press, it's doing a terrible job -- a study of last year's campaign news released Monday from the Project for Excellence in Journalism determined that "campaign coverage that focused on Bush was three times as negative as coverage of Kerry (36% versus 12%)." Sounds like Kerry had far more "control" of the press than Bush.
For a complete rundown of that study, see Tuesday's CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
[The MRC's Rich Noyes submitted this item for CyberAlert.]
Tuesday's Lexington Herald-Leader caught Edwards' wacky charges in staff-written write-up of his speech. The headline: "Newsman says dissent stifled," followed by the sub-headline: "Bob Edwards says current period like McCarthy Era."
According to the report, "He [Edwards] quoted Edward R. Murrow's famous TV response to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's communist witch hunt: 'We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,' and 'we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.'"
The newspaper's entire write-up can be found at: www.kentucky.com
Edwards' latest comments match a lecture he delivered at the University of Kentucky on April 8, 2003. The April 23, 2003 CyberAlert summarized:
The page for his daily 8am EST hour, which is re-run twice more each day: www.xmradio.com
In an interview last week with China's People's Daily, at least as transcribed by the communist newspaper, Washington Post Managing Editor Philip Bennett asserted that "I don't think there is much evidence that promoting democracy is what the U.S. is doing. It is what it says it is doing." Bennett also argued: "I don't think [the] U.S. should be the leader of the world" since "it is unhealthy to have one country as the leader of the world." Bennett raised the "colonial question" and decried how President Bush's policies may be leading to another such age: "The world has gone through colonialism and imperialism. We have seen the danger and shortcomings of those systems. If we are heading into another period of imperialism where the U.S. thinks itself as the leader of the area and its interest should prevail over all other interests of its neighbors and others, then I think the world will be in an unhappy period."
The DrudgeReport.com posted a link to the People's Daily posting on the interview, but I hesitated to put the material into CyberAlert given the source and my concern for whether a transcript from a communist reporter with an agenda could be trusted. Since then, however, FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, though hosted by Jim Angle, and Greg Pierce in his "Inside Politics" column for the Washington Times have picked up on the quotes and I've not seen any denial from Bennett.
The People's Daily touted their session as an "exclusive interview" with the number two man at the Post, holding the position just below the Executive Editor.
An excerpt from the interview conducted in Washington, DC, by Yong Tong of the People's Daily Washington bureau, which was posted on March 10:
Yong Tang: The Bush administration always claims that it is spreading freedom and democracy to all over the world. But there is widespread suspicion over the motives of What the Bush administration is doing. Some experts say democracy is just a beautiful pretext for America to seek its own interests. So personally I think there is a kind of hypocrisy here.
Bennett: The Bush administration believes that there isn't a contradiction between defending its self-interest and promoting friendly and democratic regimes. Because they believe that promoting those kinds of governments would make the world more friendly to the US and therefore it is in the interest of America to do that.
But if you look at the different parts of the world, it would be very difficult for the Bush administration to argue that they do not apply same standards to different parts of the world. Clearly U.S. is a great ally of Pakistan and Saudi Arbia, which are not democracies. US has a very complex relations with China, which is not a democracy either by American standard. The issues that were once on the top of that relationship, like human rights, were no longer on the top any more. If you still remember last time when US President talked about human rights in China as a major issue between the two countries, that has been a long time ago. So I think it is true there are different standards applied to different places. In that case You could call that hypocrisy or whatever labels you thought fit most appropriately. But it is clear that the U.S. government's ideas of political development around the world is not applied equally in all places. I am just observing that as I look out how political development in different countries operates around the world.
Yong Tang: Since the standard is not applied equally in the world, it is damaging Bush's effort to promote the so-called democracy, isn't it?
Bennett: It depends upon what you are trying to achieve. I guess the question I would ask is: if you look around the world in strategically important places, is the US actively engaged there promoting democracy or not? I don't think there is much evidence that promoting democracy is what the US is doing. It is what it says it is doing.
You were here in Washington DC During the Bush's inaugural ceremony this year. During the speech Bush said quite forcefully that spreading freedom is the No. One issue for his second term. Then a day after that he backed off from that statement. He said that spreading freedom is just a long term goal, not an immediate goal of policy. So I think there is still realism that is applied to different relations.
The ideologues in the Bush administration are very influential in decisions made toward Iraq and other provocative moves by the administration. But still there is a level of pragmatism that plays a role in the Bush administration's decisions. For example, The U.S. relations with China today is on a very pragmatic footing right now.
Yong Tang: In such sense, do you think America should be the leader of the world?
Bennett: No, I don't think US should be the leader of the world. My job is helping my readers trying to understand what is happening now. What is happening now is very difficult to understand. The world is very complex. There are various complex forces occurring in it. I don't think you can imagine a world where one country or one group of people could lead everybody else. I can't imagine that could happen. I also think it is unhealthy to have one country as the leader of the world. People in other countries don't want to be led by foreign countries. They may want to have good relations with it or they may want to share with what is good in that country.
That is also a sort of colonial question. The world has gone through colonialism and imperialism. We have seen the danger and shortcomings of those systems. If we are heading into another period of imperialism where the US thinks itself as the leader of the area and its interest should prevail over all other interests of its neighbors and others, then I think the world will be in an unhappy period.
Yong Tang: So the world order should be democratic?
Bennett: Democracy means many things. How do you define democracy? As a Chinese journalist, you may have your own definition of democracy which corresponds to your history and your way of seeing the world. I may have another definition. Someone else may have their own definitions. Democracy means a lot of different things.
Let me give an example. Democracy in one sense means the majority decides, but it also means the rights of the minority are protected. As UK late Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, democracy is the least bad system that we have ever thought of. So democracy is never perfect. It always has problems. Our democracy here in the U.S. has many contradictions, problems and challenges. So democracy is not a cure that could turn everything bad into good. It has its own advantages and its disadvantages.
END of Excerpt
-- Brent Baker