November 16th, 2010
09:06 AM ET
12 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. hjs3

    How refreshing to see someone in this business a grow a backbone.....
    As we saw last week he already has .....

    Stay at it KO

    November 16, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  2. Brian, NJ

    Keith has a point. Fox ran with the $200 Million per day cost of the India trip for the President that was blatantly false and, with the exception of O'Reilly, no one corrected it.

    November 16, 2010 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  3. Carol

    Koppel is right. Whether they're right wing or left wing, these "journalists" don't give their viewers the full story in an objective manner. Just the facts, please, and then let us form our own opinions.

    November 16, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  4. Jimbo

    Sorry Keith, but Ted nailed it right on the head.

    November 16, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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."
    I might be missing something here, but I agree with BOTH Koppel and Olbermann.
    Facts are sorely and glaringly missing in news reporting these days due the MSM's quest for ratings. The populace is being misled and outright lied to in order to pander to the leanings of their audience.
    HOWEVER, as spirited and partisan as Keith may be in the years that I have been watching him I can truthfully say that unlike the "views" broadcasted on Faux Keith has NOT sacrificed truth in order to makehis point. And while we're at it neither has Rachel Maddow.
    Koppel's statement is 100% correct, but Keith was right in taking exception to it.
    Furthermore Koppel really did step in it when he went along with the "PATRIOTIC" CODE OF SILENCE VIS A VIS IRAQ.
    There was nothing "patriotic" about keeping mum regarding BUsh's lies that took us to war. It was in fact complicitly criminal ion the part of the media.
    Upon further reflection: Koppel should've kept his mouth shut on this subject!

    November 16, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  6. gt

    whacko keith.. is like the movie " you cant stand the truth" ... your viewers are all left wing nuts like hannity are right wing nuts,,, sorry but its the truth....

    November 16, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. Yolanda

    Keith, your 15 minutes are up.....

    November 16, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. Mike

    Yeah, because Olbermann always tells the truth! Give me a break. This guy is the epitome of false truths. He will air all the Repubs dirty laundry, which there is plenty, but completely fail to report on any failing of his own hapless Dem party. And you call that "balanced"? How is Old man berman any better than Fox news? They are the same.

    November 16, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  9. Joe

    Olbermann says "we are not doctrinaire"? Now, that's the funniest thing I've ever read. Keith, we all know you are completely full of yourself, but could you possibly be any less self-aware?

    Of course, few people watch MSNBC, so it really doesn't matter.

    November 16, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Well, if the shoe fits, then wear it. But who is telling Olbermann who is a bastion of facts.

    November 16, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. mike

    Financial success of MSNBC?

    November 16, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. Garvey

    d'Olbermann has lost it, blinded by his own sense of relevance.

    November 16, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. stayintrue

    I hate to be the one to break Mr Olbermanns' bubble, but between Fox News and MSNBC – I get a "fair and balanced" idea of what the RIGHT and the LEFT are thinking and supporting. CNN is squarely in the middle in my opinion, especially Wolf Blitzer, the CNN program I watch regularly. He is actually the only "voice of reason" these days. Keith, accept your role and be grateful. The LEFT is counting on you and Rachel. Fox News in my opinion is less biased than MSNBC. They have considerably more Liberal/Democrat opinions than ever MSNBC ever has Conservative opinions. AND-as an "average" political news junkie, I like having the choice of making up my own mind about whether MSNBC or FOX is giving me "the facts."

    November 16, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. gus

    Fox is not about news. It is full of lies, scaremongering and propaganda.

    November 16, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  15. Jack

    ESPN was the smartest of all, they canned the idiot Obermann when he failed at sports commentary. As far as claiming that he and his coharts are the sole contributors of facts is almost too funny to believe. Though Koppel does represent the first in many "celebrity" newsmen it does not approach either MSNBC or Fox for their current transition of "news" to entertainment. Koppel was right on with that point.

    November 16, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. Secular Nation

    Keith is one of the most intelligent newscasters on the airwaves today. He is exactly right that Fox and MSNBC are not mirror images – Fox is not fact-based reporting; it consists of made-up and exaggerated stories designed to aggravate the American public. Keith – never stop doing what you do. It keeps the sane sane.

    November 16, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. dj

    Good for Ted Koppel. There is NO DIFFERENCE between MSNBC and Fox. Both are filled with opinion shows that scream, shout, and ridicule anyone different then them. There is very little real, objective journalism on the airways any longer. Thank you for pointing that out, Mr. Koppel.

    November 16, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  18. Jon Torok

    Why was NBC even considering covering the ex-presidents memoir? Is that really newsworthy?

    November 16, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  19. Monster Zero

    Olbermann like many rabid liberals is so self consumed with his own ideological concepts of what the world should be they are unable to see it for what it is, their narcissistic self perception as the intellectually elite places them far above what the harsh reality of our world truly is. When confronted with facts, statistical analyses and historical evidence they are typically unswayed and unable to logically carry through with the logical thought process of associating consequences from implementation of their "well meaning" ideologies. Olbermann should just go ahead and go to work for Move George Soros personal man servant.

    November 16, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  20. George

    I can't believe that any sane person would agree with what Olbermann is saying about this subject. Koppel is right: good journalism allow us–we the people–to make up our own minds about political issues that are unfolding in this country and abroad. For editorialists to disclose their own values and beliefs along with the facts is doing our country a disservice, because it's done with contempt. Contempt is the fundamental problem with how news is reported today, because it's divisive, elicits anger and judgment, and encourages individual citizens stop making up their own minds about the issues our country is facing. Fox and MSNBC are both increasing national levels of contempt and anger. They are damaging the country.

    November 16, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  21. Sam Sixpack

    There is no unbiased news. Never has been. Never will be. Every reporter, every media company has an agenda. And it works just fine as long as you don't believe any of them. The scariest reporters are the ones claiming to be honest.

    November 16, 2010 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  22. rdepontb

    Mr. Mooney, CNN's Ticker has little room to jab at other journalists, with your hokey headline teases like this one. You even change them during the day for a particular story, I guess to get more readers interested in what _CNN_ is interetsed in. Cheap shot, guy. Grow up.

    November 16, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  23. Matthew

    Keith Olbermann can pontificate about honest journalism and objectivity all he wants. The fact of the matter is that if you are liberal, you get your "news" from MSNBC, and if you are conservative, you get your "news" from Fox. Everyone knows that. That's all the proof necessary to show that MSNBC and Fox News are mirror images of each other, whether or not Olbermann likes it or is willing to admit it.

    November 16, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  24. Right is RIGHT

    Olbermann is delusional!!!

    November 16, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  25. therealmarie

    KO ans Maddow, the only sources of truth in this corporate owned and operated M$M. Brave man who always speaks truth to power, that is why the neo-Cons and the corporate shills have taken the long knives out and are after him. History will prove him to be a valued member of this society. may God bless this brave soul.

    November 16, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
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