You might wonder the same after hearing what Rachel Maddow said in response to GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle's contentious interview with Las Vegas Sun columnist and local cable show host Jon Ralston.
Maddow, as is her wont, criticized Angle for avoiding left-leaning media prior to Ralston interviewing her June 29 -- followed by Maddow criticizing Angle after the interview. Suffice it to say, had Ralston ended up begging for mercy from Angle, Maddow would have accused Angle of torture.
"But when Sharron Angle's political career ended last night on local television in Nevada," Maddow said on her show Wednesday, "it was a perfect case study in what happens if you don't ever talk to people with whom you disagree."
After showing excepts from the interview, Maddow also said this (first part of embedded video) --
MADDOW: But the bigger story here and the more unexpected story here is how curdled and pitiful and inbred policy and even argument itself gets when it is never exposed to opposing views, how weak the political and rhetorical muscles get when they are allowed to atrophy. So, I lament the no-argue bubbles. I lament the reluctance of conservatives and Republican politicians in particular to come on this show, in part because arguing is fun and talking to people with whom you disagree is fun. But also because it makes us all better at what we do. And that's good for us and if you are a politician, that is good for the country.
That being the case, how could Maddow miss the fact that her MSNBC show is preceded every weeknight by the best example of a "no-argue bubble" on television -- "Countdown with Keith Olbermann".
In June, for example, "Countdown" had 54 guests, according to OlbermannWatch.com. Of that 54, 38 were described as liberal/progressive, 11 were Democratic politicians, and five were Democratic strategists. The number of Republican politicians, according to Olbermann Watch -- zero. Republican strategists -- zero. Guests described as conservative or traditional -- zero.
Same thing happened in May with the least happy warrior on television, aside from the obvious exception of Olbermann's red-faced, bellicose colleague Ed Schultz. As noted again by the intrepid observers at Olbermann Watch, Olbermann had 52 guests that month. Of them, 9 were Democratic pols, 11 were Democratic strategists and 32 described as liberal/progressive. The number of Republican politicians -- zero. Republican strategists -- zero. Conservative/traditional -- zero.
"Curdled and pitiful and inbred," indeed.
Olbermann's weak stomach for dissent became so conspicious that he was obligated to address the issue in a promo that ran in May (second part of embedded video). In the promo, Olbermann claims that "the premise of the guests is often misunderstood as some sort of, you know, political reinforcement or (sarcastically) Keith gets only the guys who agree with him. I ask a lot of these questions to find out whether or not I'm wildly incorrect about something. The point of the show is to illuminate. It is not to throw off heat. It is to throw off light."
As if the two are mutually exclusive, a belief belied by the presence of that warm, glowing orb in the sky on a clear day. And seldom does an illuminating cross examination in court, "the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth" as described by jurist John Henry Wigmore in 1904, not generate heat.
All three of the guests shown in Olbermann's promo were Democratic politicians and the promo was justifiably slammed by NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein, who pointed out the fatal flaw in Olbermann's unctuous claim -- "He's unlikely to find out if he's wrong if he hand picks guests who think he's right!"
Seeing how Maddow was careful to limit her lament about "no-argue bubbles" to conservatives and Republican politicians, Olbermann may not take offense at Maddow the way he did after Donny Deutsch stated the obvious by including Olbermann in a list of "angry talkers" in media.
To her credit, Maddow does include occasional conservatives as guests and frequently mentions that others were invited and turned her down. "I lament the reluctance of conservatives and Republican politicians in particular to come on this show," Maddow said on Wednesday, "in part because arguing is fun and talking to people with whom you disagree is fun."
But while Maddow doesn't share Olbermann's aversion to opposing views, it's what she does after the occasional conservative appears on her show that has others keeping their distance. Best example -- Maddow's shabby misquoting of Pat Buchanan in July 2009, after what he stated as a hypothetical she claimed on her show four days later that he stated as fact. Not surprisingly, Buchanan hasn't been back on her show since.
(h/t, Tim Graham)