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. Marco555

    Olberman's possessed, and he wants to stomp on anyone who gets in his way.

    November 16, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  2. Right Leaning Independent

    Olbermann's 5 minutes of fame are long passed! And how in the world can Koppel claim that MSNBC is a commercial success?? Their ratings are dismal!!!!

    November 16, 2010 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Ted Koppel laments old objective journalism in favor of what he calls opinion dominated news shows. Excuse me but the News portions of Fox news are by far more objective than Ted's old show on the dinosaur network news who had no competition. My problem with the so called objective news Koppel misses so much was they did'nt treat Republicans, and conservatives in a fair manner, allowing equal time for both sides. Fox's opinion shows are just that, "OPINION", unlike MSNBC who purports Olberman's show as a News show but he never has guests who disagree with him and spouts opinions in a vicious, vile and hatefull way.

    Because of the internet and talk radio as well as Fox News, the public has many ways of getting information and they are using it and making decisions based on this information. Koppel, Olberman, other elites in the media and especially the Democrats think we are stupid. But, the American people are more informed than ever and we saw this on Nov. 2nd.

    November 16, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  4. Retired Army in San Antonio

    All I can say is; while MSNBC has a definate leftest bias, FoxNews has on dozens of occasions in just the past year reported (trumpeted, actually) stories that were dead false. Then.....never issued a retraction.

    The most recent example I can think of off hand is where in a 24-hour cycle, almost every FoxNews 'reporter', 'analyst' and program host lamented the $200 million per day trip that Pres Obama was taking to India (in the middle of a recession). They finally stopped reporting this 'story' when a Pentagon spokesman said that this story was NOT true.

    Fox ran with this story because it seemed to play into their 'Bash Obama' agenda; they sited unsubstantiated reports out of India (of all places) as their 'source'.....and when this story was shown to be false (Pentagon statement, Anderson Cooper, etc), nothing more, no retraction, nothing.....they simply dropped it and when on to the next 'story'.

    Something this blantently false......I don't recall ever seeing come out of MSNBC.

    I'm just sayin'........

    November 16, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  5. Steve

    MSNBC & FOX want to do our thinking for us. They want to sift through the news, decide what is true and what is false themselves, and supply us with their opinions. They don't want to leave to chance the possibility that we might look at the facts and arrive at a conclusion that differs from theirs. That is why Koppel is correct and Olbermann is wrong. Give us the FACTS, not your OPINION about the facts. Trust us to use our brains and STOP SPOON FEEDING US WHAT YOU WANT US TO BELIEVE. Be a journalist not a cheerleader!

    November 16, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  6. mrkusn

    Wake up Keith. Your claim to objectivity is woefully not credible. Your very selection of news and reporting is biased – your rants against the GOP are one-sided. For example, "Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?" is a jab that is void of relaity, as he has not even officially taken that position yet. You never said that to Pelosi or Reid. I'm no GOP lover nor a Democrat, but c'mon. I will not watch you again.

    November 16, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  7. Truth

    Wow. What a confused individual Olbermann is.

    November 16, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  8. observer

    Olbermann is a pontificating blowhard gasbag. Koppel's comments that MSNBC and Fox are the two sides of the same coin is exactly correct. The fact that Olbermann refuses to acknowledge that only indicates how far gone he truly is. He seems to be losing it.

    November 16, 2010 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  9. kd

    The truth lies somewhere between the two, though it leans far heavier in Olbermann's direction.

    November 16, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  10. thatguy371

    Anytime a journalist opens the dialog of news organization's weaknesses and failures, it's a good thing. And this is coming from somewhat of a fan of Olbermann's. Koppel brings up some good points... the news media does drop the ball more in recent years, but his bundling MSNBC and Fox is mainly off. There are some similarities in his depiction of both parading guests on a show to appease that show's political views, but that's about where the two network's similarities end. Fox definitely has less regard for facts than MSNBC has... but both men make some good points that needed to be said.

    November 16, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  11. Jeff in Ohio

    Sorry if the truth hurts Olbermann but MSNBC and FoxNews ARE mirror images.

    FoxNews is the news channel for conservatives and MSNBC is the news channel for liberals. And I'll take Ted Koppel over Keith Olbermann for reporting NEWS any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    Olbermann only reports his opinion...his LIBERAL opinion. Not the news.

    November 16, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. carolyn

    Who is Koppel to critisize anybody when he gave many editorialized speeches on his show in support of the war everybody knew was wrong. Koppels brand of hyed up unbalanced patriotism is far more dangerous, when peoples lives are at stake. Koppel repeatedly helped whip the nation into a feeding frenzy by supporting Bush claims that Saddam had WMD's. Many times he castigated anybody who disagreed with his clearly Republican leaning politics. He does have a point about the new modern attack journalism; but ain't that the pot calling the kettle black. Olberman is right At best Koppel is a hypocrit and opinions are still like butt orifaces- everybody has one.

    November 16, 2010 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. Anonymous

    Over the years, Ted Koppel began to think he was Ed Murrow or Walter Chronkite. He wasn't. I watch Olberman as he expresses his (and my own) frustration and amazement at how really stupid many people are and the nonsense they apparently accept as fact based news from FOX Noise and Michele Bachman, Demint, and the Wall St. bought and paid for Flat Earth Republican leadesrship (sic) in the House and Senate. I rarely disagree with his long winded rantings about either Party or the Presidency. Whatever Keith, Maddow, and MSNBC is, it is a direct reaction to the twisted demagogery at FOX.

    November 16, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  14. james

    Olbermann again proving what an absolute flaming idiot he truly is. Not liberal - just an idiot. There's no one on the planet except Olbermann who doesn't know BSNBC is all about liberal doctrine. The fact that he doesn't get it is a testament to just how incredibly stupid he is. The fact that he feels he has to attack others who have an opinion on every single show he does shows how amaziongly insecure he is. The fact that he doesn't even draw a 1.0 rating shows most of America understands how stupid and insecure he is and doesn't bother to listen to his banal drivel.

    November 16, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. Pete 68

    Truth hurts Kieth. A real journalist would not have responded to an editorial. Olberman can't take any criticism and is trapped in a left wing liberal bubble where coworkers have to leave sticky notes on his door because he can't deal with reality.

    November 16, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  16. nd

    Ted's correct. Kieth is just mad all of the time. I thought that he would chill after a dem was elected. Nope. He is just not a happy camper.

    Kieth, look in the mirror. You have burned bridges everywhere in your professional career. It is more likely that you are the problem rather than everybody else. I do not care that you went to an Ivy League school. I am unimpressed.

    November 16, 2010 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. AEJ

    Keith I love you. We are very fair in your reporting. I cannot miss your program at 8:00 p.m.

    November 16, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  18. Frank

    Keith is just angry because Jon Stewart and now Ted Koppel have had the courage to call it like it is- Olbermann is just a partisan mean-spirited jerk. Last night's tirade was similar to a child's defense of an indefensible position. Nanny nanny poo poo.....

    November 16, 2010 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Rick Saggau

    Ted Koppel is right Keith Olbermann is wrong.

    November 16, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  20. Chris C

    People actually watch Olbermann?? That guy is evil. His reporting is clearly partisan, even more partisan than O'Reilly and Hannity. The guy can't broadcast sports and he can't talk politics. I'm surprised what I, even as a Republican, considered NBC to be a reputable news agency is going down the toilet to have Olbermann and some of the others on.

    November 16, 2010 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. Aj2m

    Great Special Comment – I was worried where it would go, but upon hearing it, I was very impressed with what KO was saying and I agree. Where was the media outcry all during the early 2000's? The whole countyry knew that the was was improperly laid out to the american public, that the bank bailout was due to the rampant/unregulated greed on wall street, that waterbording IS torture... and yet, where was the journalistic angst against these issues...

    So glad you are back Keith, stronger and better than before – Keep up the good fight!

    November 16, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. joyce heard

    keith; you're wonderful. I am a senior novice on responding on line but I wanted you to know how much I support every thing you said in your commentary on Ted Koppel and the press. Keep doing what you're doing and history will prove you right.

    November 16, 2010 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  23. Lourie

    Fox and MSNBC are mean, hateful, spiteful twin sisters who try so hard to be "different" from one another that they end up looking just alike anyway. Between Olbermanns "Worst Person IN THE WOOOORRRLLLD!" and Bill O'Reillys "Pinheads and Patriots"... Olbermanns liberal diatribes and O'Reillys conservative rants.... between Hannity and Maddow, between Morning Joe and Fox and Friends... you really can't tell the two apart.. They are both using the same exact tactics to say the exact same things... they are only saying it about different political parties.

    Truthfully.. so long as the majority of journalists are self-important narcissists who think it is their jobs not only to tell us what is going on... but how we.. the "uneducated masses in need of enlightenment" should FEEL about what is going on, what we should BELIEVE about what is going on, and who we should BLAME for what is going on... we can forget ever having an un-biased news source again in this nation.

    In fact, I am not sure we ever did.

    November 16, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  24. Jeff Todd

    I think that Keith Olbermann has gone off the deep end and is in need of some serious therapy.

    November 16, 2010 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. Steve

    Sorry Keith, Dan Rather presented a story about George W Bush skipping out on his National Guard duties and lost his job for his effort. No one else, Koppel included, is as brave as Dan Rather or as Walter Cronkite was. The war in Afghanistan is unwinnable – ask any Russian. Why do we go to war and spend money when people all over the world want to buy our blue jeans and coca-cola and give us money? The logic eludes me.

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