Friday, October 06, 2006

Olbermann Dissed By Froomkin In Washington Post

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.


Anonymous said...

Scoot: I couldn't agree with you more!

Last night, I commented on the previous post. I had just finished watching KO and was pumped because his used the "U" word ("Unfit") so effectively, I stood and shouted "YES!!!" at my poor PC.

Thinking that you may have written about it, I dropped by. Reading about that fat old fart, Reprehensible J.Dennis Bastard, brought me down. Bah! Humbug!

Then I catch David Sirota's "Another Open Letter to Thomas Friedman", and I'm back up again. And I'm shouting "Yes" again!

Whew! What a funhouse ride this election season is!

Anyway, finding not one but two political observers channelling Edward R. Murrow gives me hope.

I hope they both stay well and safe. I find it inconceivable that I fear for the safety of those who exercise Free Speech...


scootmandubious said...

Hi Naomi,

Thanks for the post. I posted on this at Daily Kos and was told that "shrill" was meant to be a compliment and it was written about on the Atrios board.

I have not been to the Atrios blog in a while and was unaware that the word had been co-opted.

However, enough people referred to it to make me wonder.

I still do not like the comparison to Howard Beale.

Olbermann's approach is based upon the passion of reason, not the passion of delusion.

Anonymous said...

I watched it again. It still struck me as cogent, coherent, compelling.

And I still got a chill when he challenged Bu$h's fitness!

What sets KO apart from the rest is that he doesn't smirk. He's not smarmy or condescending. He just takes 43 behind the barn and gives his 40 whacks...

As for shrill, it registered with me. As for Howard Beale, I admit renting the DVD, and getting bored with everyone but Finch. So much so, that FFing through so much of the film robbed me of the context, which bored and confused me further. (I liked "Good Night. And Good Luck!" better.) There was something about Holden and Dunaway that jangled--nothing real going on in their portrayal?

OT: On FDL tonight they were discussing the growing respect for blogs/bloggers. There was even something on WaPo today about their roles in recent weeks.

Here's my point: Without the Bu$h administration, would blogs have achieved this level? So quickly? So self-assured? So eager to be accurate? Would we be self-policing ourselves if it wasn't quite as important?

Necessity? No, desperation is the mother of invention! All hail the blogosphere!

Naomi (who uses VinylVenus when "blogger" lets her--which isn't often...)

Anonymous said...

Keith Olbermann is the most sane and sincere newsman since Edward R. Murrow and every newspaper should carry his comments!! I hope he continues telling it like it is...