As a commie, pinko, knee-jerk liberal atheist, I’ve been watching Keith Olbermann more or less religiously (har!) for two or three years.
Back then, it was refreshing to see someone in the mainstream media who didn’t just parrot the talking points of one party or the other, or both. Who was willing to call out the Bush administration on its misdeeds, and do so in a straightforward and entertaining fashion.
But I’ve been frustrated as, over the past year or so, he’s become increasingly shrill and partisan, less concerned with basic fairness and balance. He never has anyone on who differs with his point of view. He opens **all **his conversations with guests with leading questions with which the guest is expected to agree (and they always do). Hell, Keith, even Bill-O has guests who disagree with him. (Not that I can bring myself to watch that blowhard and liar more than once a year or so.)
But now that Rachel Maddow, one of Keith’s regular commentators, has her own show, I think I’ll be switching to her more often. Tonight she did something that really impressed me.
Her guest was David Frum, former speech writer for G.W.B., who decried (rather hypocritcally, IMHO) the decline of “tone” in politics, and within seconds named Maddow’s show as a prime example of that, with its “heavy sarcasm and sneering, and its disregard for a lot of the substantive issues that really are important.”
Having been blindsided when she expected to be talking about the McCain campaign (which Frum had been critical of), Rachel kept her cool and without being too defensive, engaged Frum in a discussion about whether her intentionally satirical tone was equivalent to McCain supporters calling for Obama to be killed, etc.
Frum continued with a very careful “more in sorrow than in anger” demeanor, saying that if she were really serious, she’d ask more McCain reps or conservatives on the show instead of just making fun of them. She replied that in the four weeks or so she’s been on the air, the McCain camp has provided one person for about three minutes.
I won’t recount the rest of the interview, but you can watch the replay of tonight’s show at 11 ET on MSNBC and several more times in the next 24 hours.
Anyway, it was a surprising attack on the host of a show, and I suspect it was Frum’s plan all along to try and take her down a notch. But she handled it very coolly, professionally, and politely, defending her choices without being defensive or offensive. I was extremely impressed.
And I seriously doubt that Keith could have handled it half as well. Perhaps he knows that, and that’s why he never risks having conservatives on his show.
So I think I may reset my DVR to record Rachel instead of Keith, and get my political commentary from her instead of him henceforth.