November 16th, 2010
09:06 AM ET
3 years ago

Olbermann lashes out at Koppel criticisms

(CNN) - Less than a week after returning from his network-imposed suspension for contributing money to Democratic candidates, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann lashed out at a recent editorial from Ted Koppel, in which the former ABC anchor suggested MSNBC and Fox News have recklessly ushered in a new era of unobjective news reporting.

In a nearly 15-minute "special comment" on his program Monday, Olbermann said the media's greatest failing over the last decade isn't a lack of objectivity but instead a lack of truth-telling by major-network anchors and reporters like Koppel.

"Mr. Koppel did not shine that same light on the decreasingly coherent excuses presented by the government of this nation for the war in Iraq," Olbermann said. "The utter falsehood and dishonesty of the process by which this country was committed to the wrong war, by which this country was committed to dishonesty, by which this country was committed to torture – about that, Mr. Koppel and everybody else in the dead, objective television news business that he laments, about that, where were they? Worshipping the false god of objectivity."

In his Washington Post editorial published Sunday, Koppel wrote that, with an eye toward profit, Fox and MSNBC have dangerously embraced business models that do away with the traditional objectivity of journalism and instead spot only opinions their audience wants to hear.

"The commercial success of both Fox News and MSNBC is a source of nonpartisan sadness for me. While I can appreciate the financial logic of drowning television viewers in a flood of opinions designed to confirm their own biases, the trend is not good for the republic," Koppel wrote, adding later, "We celebrate truth as a virtue, but only in the abstract. What we really need in our search for truth is a commodity that used to be at the heart of good journalism: facts – along with a willingness to present those facts without fear or favor."

Olbermann appeared to take greatest offense to Koppel's suggestion that Fox and MSNBC have become merely mirror images of each other and vehicles in which political parties disseminate their own spin and doctrine.

"The very kind of fact-driven journalism Mr. Koppel seems to be claiming he represents and I fail, would not stand for his sloppy assumptions and false equivalence of 'both sides do it,' said Olbermann. "We do not make up facts here, and when we make mistakes, we correct them."

"While Fox may be such, we are not doctrinaire," Olbermann continued. "To equate this network with Fox, as Mr. Koppel did, to accuse us of having our own facts, is another manifestation of a dangerously simplified understanding of modern news."

The MSNBC host added that just last week his show killed a segment highlighting a Huffington Post article which claimed former President Bush lifted passages from other political memoirs in his new book.

"It was largely based on excerpts that mostly required heavy editing and still produced only weak evidence," he said. "We killed the segment. Would Fox have? Would CNN have?"


Filed under: Keith Olbermann
soundoff (139 Responses)
  1. PREDICTA

    Obermann is a wind bag. His loyal following of 3 must be very happy he's in the spotlight.

    November 16, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  2. Jesse

    True objective journalism died out a very long time ago. Let's face it.... Fox News ruined it for everybody.... To date, I have not seen a news cast, read a newspaper, etc. that doesn't have some sort of spin, whether to the right or the left. Now, people enjoy readiing/watching the news according to the "spin" they believe in. I must admit that I would rather watch MSNBC rather than Fox News, but even then, I still lament the idea of a "spin"...

    November 16, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. Michael in Houston

    I for one am grateful to have MSNBC and Keith Olbermann. In Koppels fantasy world it would be ideal if news organizations stuck to the news and dropped their biases. Take CNN and Palin...it has a borderline weird obsession with sarah palin.
    Olbermann understands that the Nation is at war politcally within its house and he is not in the least bit afraid to dish it right back. The republicans started this war and as far as I am concerned the dems have been far to weak in fighting it.
    Cable news has changed.....radio has changed. Its a war and everyone is participating in it. The republicans have nearly ALL the radio stations covered and they get alot of help from Fox and others. Every time one dem speaks out and calls it for what it is, their is this ridiculous outrage by a few.
    Koppel is a remnant. If he were so concerned, if anyone is so concerned about bias reporting why have they been virtually silent while Rush, Fox, Hannity, Beck, and everyone else that is pumped down our throats EVERY SINGLE DAY and who all make gazillions doing nothing but hating everyone outside their neanderthal thinking are free to spew their endless droning garbage. In other words MR Koppel...where the hell were you when this all started and where was your outrage then?

    November 16, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  4. mark

    Keith Olberman is nothing more than an angry clown.

    November 16, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. palmflood

    Koppel hit it on the head. The Fairness Doctrine should be restored so that public fiduciary responsibilities on the part of TV and radio organizations that discuss issues of public importance is returned to the fore. Without Fairness rules and proscriptions against personal attacks, hate, fear, and extremism sales are through the roof. Olbermann himself is merely the flip of Fox and "EIB", who find a tidy living at this.

    November 16, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. Chris - Denver

    Olbermann was spot-on. Ted Koppel and the rest of the false equivalence crown who somehow want to paint MSNBC as equal to Fox News are the problem.

    November 16, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  7. NoSpinDawg

    "It was largely based on excerpts that mostly required heavy editing and still produced only weak evidence," he said. "We killed the segment. Would Fox have? Would CNN have?"

    Umm... apparently, MSNBC is the ONLY one mentioned that thought had a segment to kill. The other two never let it get that far.

    Get the attention while you can Olberman, come tomorrow morning, nobody will remember who you are again... along with MSNBC.

    You know Koppel has lost it when he compares MSNBC to Fox. That's like comparing the Temple Owls football program with the New England Patriots. Olberman should be thanking him for such a compliment.

    November 16, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. maine liberal

    I love the republican type push poll / denial its not true

    The MSNBC host added that just last week his show killed a segment highlighting a Huffington Post article which claimed former President Bush lifted passages from other political memoirs in his new book.

    "It was largely based on excerpts that mostly required heavy editing and still produced only weak evidence," he said. "We killed the segment. Would Fox have? Would CNN have?"

    November 16, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. Sniffit

    I don't watch Olberman, but he's dead on here. The false equivalence is a complete and utter copout from a washed-up has been who is a competitor of both stations. Koppel appears to have mastered the art of starting from a lofty ideological premise witih which most would agree (i.e., that the news should focus on reporting facts and evidence and challenging those who seek to distort them instead of playing the he-said-she-said bobblehead game) and then winding his way through morally relativistic rationalizations to arrive at the same false equivalency every other news station sells us with respect to their coverage of Republican and Democrat policy positions and the hot-button issues of the moment. It's ALL about the controversy. Facts and evidence destroy controversy.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: ADVERTISING REVENUE IS THE NEW ARBITER OF TRUTH.

    November 16, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. Dwayne

    You got it wrong in the first paragraph! OMG ... what kind of journalist are you? Keith was not suspended for contributing to democratic candidates!!! He was suspended for not getting permission first from his management. Get your facts straight!!! L-A-Z-Y journalism, L-A-Z-Y writing.

    November 16, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. Big_D

    For real news watch BBC. They state the facts not how they feel about it and they certainly don't cry about their fear for the country like that moron Beck. The thing that is sick about Beck in particular is he cries for whichever team is paying him. He did his whole social medicine rant then joined FOX to kill it. He is for sale to the highest bidder.

    November 16, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. CTYank

    It's a matter of listening critically and intelligently (doing your homework?) to really absorb information, or identify fraud. Not just fitting the facts to your existing conclusions. Much of the misinformation techniques Fox uses are pretty transparent, as are their foregone conclusions.
    Where else in this world would you find someone like Glenn Beck and his Nazi-visions? Let's look at this in a fair and balanced way.

    November 16, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  13. Zack

    Olbermann commenting in the manner he did, just proves Koppel's point even further. I used to watch Countdown, back when they were more non-partisan. Not anymore, it raises my blood pressure. They should rename the show – The Olbermann Factor.

    November 16, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. DIANA

    All of journalisn has failed. No one said the emporer has no clothes when Bush took us to an unnecessary war. I don't know if it's the public's fault or the media for the way things are now. We've become a culture who's more concerned with what Paris Hilton, (the latest celebrity fad when Bush was President) was doing instead of what the President was doing. The media covered her more than the war and the crimes commited while he was President. Keith is right in that aspect, but he has to share the blame too. Where's our Woodward and Bernstein!

    November 16, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
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