Commentary: Olbermann, Beck, O'Reilly and Hannity aren't journalists

The Tri-City HeraldNovember 20, 2010 

Olbermann and his Fox foils aren't about the news By Ken Robertson, Herald Executive Editor

I found it disconcerting the past couple weeks as I watched the unfolding circus of Keith Olbermann’s latest transgressions against some long-held journalistic values.

I realize many may believe the very phrase “journalistic values” is an oxymoron.

And right-wing purveyors of opinion-first blather no doubt have enjoyed the spectacle of the left-wingman of MSNBC being strafed by the mainstream media and suspended for two days for donating money to liberal candidates.

But what’s important here is not that Olbermann is — to borrow a phrase from longtime TV journalist Ted Koppel — “the most opinionated among MSNBC’s left-leaning, Fox-baiting, money-generating hosts.”

It’s that too many people think Olbermann’s prose — or that of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly of the Fox three-ring circus — has anything to do with real news.

At best, these poseurs are carrion feeders who feast off tidbits from the carcass of the news, then belch out batches of baloney most remarkable for their adherents’ willingness to swallow its perceived “truthiness.”

MSNBC pretty much admitted that when it quickly reinstated Olbermann. He and his Fox equivalents deal only with whatever facts suit them, not with truth.

What this sorry mess does is taint the folks who still are trying to report real news. And it undermines a worthy tradition built largely in the latter half of the 20th century in newsrooms where reporters and editors strived to be even-handed in their reporting and writing.

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