New York Times media columnist David Carr on Monday did the usual establishment cluck-clucking about how cable news is bringing down all the walls between news and opinion -- maintaining the strange pretense that the New York Times still separates the two with any effort. But Carr concluded by noting the very brief Olbermann exile underlined how partisan the cable networks are:
MSNBC ended up in a fight that resembled nothing so much as a brawl within a political party, with the base — in this case the audience — pushing back against the leadership. While Mr. Olbermann is not talking to the media, he is using Twitter to reach his supporters: “Greetings From Exile! A quick, overwhelmed, stunned THANK YOU for support that feels like a global hug & obviously left me tweetless. XO.”
Before its decision, there were more than 275,000 signatures on a petition demanding the return of Mr. Olbermann. The language seems less like the keening of a group of television viewers and more like an outcry from the progressive wing of the MSNBC Party.
This would presume there's a non-"progressive" wing of the MSNBC Party. (Joe Scarborough may be a flighty feather, but he's not a balancing wing.) Carr also oddly assumed that CNN is the current exemplar of "objective journalism" in cable, the Parker-Spitzer people:
Lately, the idea of objective journalism has been on a pretty rough ride (that means you, CNN), with viewers deciding to align themselves with outlets that share their points of view — warts, agendas and all.
On election night, that shift was outlined, oddly enough, by Tom Brokaw, the éminence grise of the network anchor desk, who sat in on NBC’s coverage. Mr. Brokaw wasn’t explicitly talking about mainstream media, but he might as well have been: he described how a war that was sold under false circumstances was still being fought, how people encouraged to buy homes now found themselves underwater, how globalization had buried the hopes of many.
“So almost nothing is going the way that most people have been told that it will. And every time they’re told in Washington that they have it figured out, it turns out not to be true. And you see a manifestation of that tonight,” he said, pointing to the pushback from the electorate.
Carr somehow found it "odd" that Tom Brokaw would venture an opinion on an Election Night broadcast. Is this really a way the New York Times demonstrates its intelligence (or lack thereof)?
Carr did offer balance to his analysis by noting that Juan Williams was dismissed by NPR as part of the "Foxification" of the cable universe, but seemed to think NPR took the comments of Williams on Muslims out of their context. He also dutifully noted how conservative bloggers embarrassed MSNBC president Phil Griffin:
Then again, the man who suspended him [Olbermann], Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC News, threw down a gauntlet before the election in an interview with The New York Times: “Show me an example of us fund-raising.” Conservative bloggers happily obliged and came up with numerous examples, including Representative Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida, pitching for dollars on MSNBC.