Keith Olbermann has become very upset lately at people who claim MSNBC and Fox News are two sides of the same coin - ideological cable news counterparts. Olbermann is right to object to that characterization, but not for the reason he thinks.
Unlike his 8 pm Fox News competitor Bill O'Reilly, Olbermann prefers not to have dissenting voices on his show. According to Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky, Olbermann did not host a single conservative on "Countdown" last week. O'Reilly, meanwhile, brought 11 liberals on his show.
In short, Olbermann hosts just another liberal echo chamber. Despite all his pining about fair reporting and journalistic ethics (usually only mentioned in the process of bashing Fox), Olbermann has worked to project a single political perspective. His show is devoid of any dissent - unless, of course, it's dissent from the left (e.g. "Obama is unpopular because he hasn't fully embraced leftism").
And this of course is from the same person who proclaimed: "I'm not a liberal, I'm an American," and said in 2005: "My point of view is about delivering information and context. It has nothing to do with a political point of view."
Is Olbermann dishonest, or is his liberalism like water to a fish - so omnipresent that it's difficult to notice? In either case, Bykofsky's examination demonstrates just how absurd those statements of political neutrality are.
Bykofsky examined each episode of the "Factor" and "Countdown" last week and tallied the numbers of politically "left," "right," and "neutral" guests on each (h/t Johnny Dollar).
"The O'Reilly Factor" welcomed 20 guests from the right, 11 from the left and seven who were neutral. Left and neutral voices combined almost equaled those from the right.
"Countdown with Keith Olbermann" had 20 guests from the left, two neutral and not a single voice from the right. Zero voices of dissent.
So, if you never want to hear anyone challenge liberal views, lock in on Olbermann. While progressives disdain Fox's claim of being "fair and balanced," "The O'Reilly Factor" does present opposing views. O'Reilly will cut them off in midsentence, true, but he even does that to people who agree with him. (Shock therapy might help.) Olbermann seems unable to even listen to anything other than progressive orthodoxy…
When it comes to their sources of news, too many Americans live in "silos," protected from contrary views. We'd do better, learn a bit more, by listening to some opposing ideas.
You get that from Fox's O'Reilly, not MSNBC's Olbermann.
Furthermore, while Olbermann is fond of painting conservatives and their supposed cheerleaders at Fox as borderline-racist white men, the "Factor" actually had a more diverse makeup of guests than "Countdown", according to Bykofsky.
If the tea party wants a "theocracy for white males," as he said, Olbermann could be an imam. He offered a paltry four women among his 22 talking heads, 18 percent. (Wasn't Joy Behar available?) Only two African Americans got face time.
O'Reilly had three African Americans and scattered 18 women among his 38 guests, for 47 percent. (Don't expect NOW to give him an award.) O'Reilly had three Hispanic-surnamed guests; Olbermann had two.
Follow the link above for a detailed account of the breakdown of guests on the two shows.
Hyper-partisanship is of course Olbermann's M.O. He has demonstrated time and again his complete unwillingness to conduct a balanced debate. His ideological rigidity revealed itself in 2006, when an MRC study found that the "Worst Person in the World" segment singled out conservatives over liberals by a greater than 8-1 margin.
So it turns out that Olbermann was right: the claim that Fox and MSNBC are equally partisan is a "false equivalency" (at least at 8 pm). In fact, there is a large discrepancy between the level of opposing views the 8 pm talkers will allow.
O'Reilly doesn't mind some spirited debate. Olbermann, on the other hand, would rather project a singular message of liberalism. Opposing views would only inhibit his agenda, and he can't have that.