Today's Washington Post contained an unpleasant surprise. It reminded me that even comparatively progressive pundits can get it wrong. Dan Froomkin certainly did.
Froomkin, who writes the online Post column, White House Briefing, a generally excellent media-watching column, dissed Keith Olbermann in his latest post.
Referring to Olbermann's provocative and stirring segment, "Special Comment," which last night skewered President Bush for recent remarks attacking the patriotism of Democrats who had the audacity to criticize him, Froomkin wrote,
"the increasingly shrill Olbermann is fast becoming the Howard Beale of the anti-Bush era: He's mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore."Let's take this one insult at a time.
Shrill is defined by Webster's as strident and intemperate. It is a word used to describe something annoying, something that grates. It is used to describe people like Ann Coulter, or Nancy Grace...when Nancy is interrogating someone she suspects is dispatching their children.
Shrill is not a compliment, yet Froomkin offers nothing substantive to validate that assessment. He just reprints some of the text of the segment and links to the complete transcript.
In case his readers didn't understand the putdown, he compares Olbermann to the Howard Beale character from the movie "Network."
In the movie, Beale is a charismatic television broadcaster who warns about the evils of corporatism in network news. The movie spawned the famous phrase that Froomkin quotes, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore."
Beale, through his fevered oratory, develops a messianic-style and generates his own populist movement. That's the upside. He's also revealed to be pretty much a nut job and easily manipulated. The man is bonkers and ultimately gets assassinated by the network.
With all due respect Mr. Froomkin, Keith Olbermann is not shrill and he's no lunatic.
Perhaps the truth sounds harsh, because we're not used to hearing it.
Maybe if more people were honest in talking about the president, and stopped using words like 'misled,' and started using words like 'lied,' we could have a real dialogue. There is no effort at bipartisanship by the ruling party. It's what it is. Mr. Olbermann is just stating the truth when nobody else is even attempting it.
Going one step further, these are incredibly dangerous times for America. Our civil liberties, the very fabric of our society, is under assault. The mainstream media is allowing the Bush regime to get away with every over-reach of power.
What a wonderful injection of sanity to have a clear-headed voice, skilled in both text and presentation, cutting through the mediocrity and passionately presenting what is at stake.
For a man who has demonstrated, through his column, that he gets what is happening to this country, I'm disappointed to say that Froomkin did a disservice to his readers with his description of Olbermann.
I guess that's the price for honesty. You'll always find others trying to tear you down.