NYT MISSES THE POINT. Today's New York Times profile of Keith Olbermann as the great hope of MSNBC misses the most interesting aspect of his ascent. It focuses entirely on the humorous side of Olbermann's beef with Bill O'Reilly and the accusation that Olbermann is picking fights with O'Reilly to boost his ratings. The article never considers whether Olbermann may actually be going after O'Reilly's statements because Olbermann is legitimately offended by statements like this:

[O'Reilly's] declaration last year (in jest, Mr. O�Reilly said) that a resolution passed in San Francisco to ban military recruitment in schools was so un-American that he was inviting Al Qaeda to blow up Coit Tower.

Can you imagine how O'Reilly would react if a liberal pundit endorsed terrorist attacks on South Dakota for passing their draconian abortion ban? Nor does The Times even consider that Olbermann's increasing popularity is not merely a result of his provocative criticism of O'Reilly, but stems from the fact that Olbermann is simply less right-wing -- and more accurate -- than O'Reilly. There are other examples of Olbermann's sensible politics and responsible journalism earning him credit and attention in the liberal community, for instance his dogged pursuit of allegations of Republican vote suppression and fraud in Ohio and Florida in 2004. But those go unmentioned. It's a shame, because if people saw Olbermann's growing ratings as proof that there is a market for hard-hitting television journalism without a right-wing slant, the cable news networks might start to provide more of it.

--Ben Adler

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