Monday, June 21, 2010

Liar Liar Pants on Fire: Manipulative Media Types - Part II

Keith Olbermann doesn't vote.

True dat. He confessed as much in a post-electoral episode to the ladies of The View in November 2008.

A political commentator who doesn’t vote? Unheard of. OK, there’s no law – in fact, there’s tact – which says a commentator doesn’t have to disclose his or her political persuasion. Some had no need to do so – example: we always knew Bill Buckley was a Republican and Gore Vidal a liberal of the Democratic persuasion.

But then, until recently, we only had a few bona fide political commentators amongst us. Ed Murrow, Huntley-Brinkley, even Wise Uncle Walter, would shudder, rather than admit that they were commentators. Rather, they were newsmen, challenged with the duty of reporting news as fact and showing truth to their viewers, allowing them the respect and licence to make up their own minds about the subjects presented.

Today, everyone and his dog is a political commentator – or strives to be, until they’re caught in an intellectually compromising position, and then they protest that they’re only comedians or entertainers.

And that’s the crime of the 24/7 cable media today: news has got to have an entertainment aspect in order to hold the increasingly immature public’s short attention span.

Thus, Olbermann, a pompous and pedantic man, seeks to emulate Ed Murrow, and succeeds in becoming a narcissistic clown with no respect for his audience.

In the wake of last week’s Presidential Oval Office address, Olbermann resorted, nearly, to visceral carpet-chewing in his over-the-top critique of a speech, to which, it was clear, he didn’t listen in any way.

Olbermann and his colleagues, Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman, spent their analysis period, vicariously, criticising Obama’s message to his constituents – and, specifically, to his constituents directly affected by the Gulf oil spill – on the content of what THEY wanted the President to say to THEM.

It was the height of disrespect, both to the President and to the people in the Gulf. It was tantamount to telling these people that they were patently too stupid to realise what the President was saying was wrong – in the pundits’ opinions – and that they should be displeased and demand that he should have delivered their message.

It doesn’t surprise me that Olbermann should feel this way about his listening public. The French have a saying about people with an inflated opinion of themselves. Roughly translated, the French would say Keith Olbermann “farts above his nose” - meaning, he’s above smelling the whiff of his own bullshit.

I caught his Friday show online, which was being hosted by Laurence O’Donnell, except for the final bit, a Friday feature wherein Olbermann, seated in a comfortable chair, effects to READ a story from the works of James Thurber to his viewing audience. That’s right – a book at bedtime with creepy Uncle Keith.

What more proof that a commentator has absolutely no respect for the acumen of his audience than to have him read them a bedtime story?! What’s next? An invitation to climb into Uncle Keith’s ample virtual lap for a cuddle and a lullabye?

And isn’t this proof positive that, not only the neocon Right – who effected to keep their constituency reduced to the level of frightened children – but also the ueber Left, seek to keep the hoi-polloi in a distinctly puerile state of mind?

Olbermann’s show, at any rate, is like an echo chamber. For the most part, it’s a countdown of his five news items of the day, including someone who ranks as being his “worst person in the world” (again, childish hyperbole), along with the occasional “special comment” – Keith’s special message imparting to his fans his own iconic opinion about a particular incident or agenda. If there be any guests at all, they reflect Keith’s opinion and no divergence. Who said the Rightwing march in lockstep?

Last week, however, Keith made a major mis-step in his gratuitous critique of the President’s speech. Apparently, he received a plethora of messages left on his Facebook page and his Twitter account, in addition to the messages which melted down NBC’s switchboard, that his loyal viewing public were more than just mildly pissed off with Keith’s behaviour.

To say that Keith was mildly put out with the criticism received on the part of his adoring fans would be an understatement. Suffice it to say that he can dish it with the best of them, but – like his fellow Cornell alumnus and fellow narcissist, Bill Maher – he can’t take criticism. He issued a nine-part tweet, following it up with a special comment on his program, essentially bidding his recalcitrant viewers a cold good-bye, reiterating that perhaps they’d been watching his program for the wrong reasons.

Well, I’d like him to clarify what the right reasons are; because, quite frankly, I have a bit of a problem with anyone telling me or manipulating me into any point of view – much less, I have a problem with anyone who doesn’t vote seeking to influence my opinion on any political figure.

We all know the non-voters. We hear them enough in our daily lives – people who always have an opinion about a politician or government, but don’t vote because “all political parties are the same” or “all politicians are crooks” or whatever. Keith says he doesn’t vote because he feels he has to remain impartial. That’s bullshit.

Keith doesn’t vote because he’s simply afraid of commitment to one political philosophy. He’s ueber liberal – one can never imagine him adopting support of any Rightwing politician; but the fact that he doesn’t vote at all, precludes any right he has to criticize a politician from any side of the political coin.

My father had a name for such people. He called them “Pot Luck Peters,” saying that, like people at a pot luck dinner, they had to take the government on offer and lump it; because the act of voting gave a person a voice.

As a “Pot Luck Peter,” Keith takes Obama as he is, just as he had to take Bush; and his complaints, his whinges, his whines and all his special comments, should fall on deaf ears, simply because Keith doesn’t vote.

One should be wary of being influenced by someone who seeks to get others to vote vicariously in his manner, while he sits back and watches his own opinion get propagated as fact. I’m glad a lot of people said they’d turn off Keith. I hope they do.

Keith’s entitled to his opinions as much as he’s entitled to take the corporate penny from MSNBC who pay him for his particular brand of infotainment. But he should make his listeners aware that he doesn’t vote.

Inability to commit is a sign of social immaturity; basically giving your viewing public a polite eff-off because they dared to criticize your behaviour is another childish gesture too.

Time to turn off Uncle Keith and his sinister bedtime stories. Time to think for yourselves.

No comments:

Post a Comment