Olbermann in L.A. Times: I'm Not Making Facts Up Like Rush Limbaugh

Los Angeles Times media reporter Matea Gold is the latest journalist to push Keith Olbermann as a hot commodity now that he's boldly captured about one-fifth as many viewers as Bill O'Reilly. True, his left-wing howling at the moon may match the incoming Democrat committee leaders like John Conyers, but he's still denying he has an identifiable political agenda. The other unintentionally hilarious moment is his dismissal of Rush Limbaugh as a fabricator. When Robert Cox of Olbermann Watch suggested to the Times that Olbermann is as demagogic as his nemesis O'Reilly, Keith responded:

"I'm not trying to whip up a political frenzy," he said. "If I was out there every night beating people over the head with this, I would become a Rush Limbaugh. That's not my goal. I don't make the facts up to fit the political viewpoint that happens to parallel what it is I'm trying to express."

Gold laid out Olbermann's improbably argument that he has no identifiable political agenda and has made no attempt to pander, pander,  pander to the MoveOn/Daily Kosmonaut wing of the Democrats by describing Bush as the vilest of dictators and the Republican Party as the nation's leading terrorist group. (Of course, Gold doesn't actually offer the reader much of Olbermann's progressive patois.) The no-agenda-here claim unfolded like this: 

The longtime sportscaster, who doesn't vote and eschews any political identity — "I may be a Whig, possibly a Free-Soiler," he quipped — has nevertheless become an unexpected folk hero for the frustrated left. One woman approached him in a New York restaurant recently and burst into tears as she thanked him.

"People just think, 'He speaks for me,' " said Jane Hamsher, a Mill Valley, Calif., author who runs a liberal blog at firedoglake.com. "There was no resonance within the media for their perspective, and suddenly Keith came on the scene and gave voice to these long-simmering feelings of disgust with the war."

Olbermann said he never set out to court disaffected liberals.

"But there's a time when what you're covering ceases to look like news and begins to look like history," he said. "And you say, well, it doesn't matter how people might brand me or respond to this — I feel as if something very important is not being said."

In this story, MSNBC boss Dan Abrams somehow failed to get quoted as seeing Olbermann as a "role model" for future newscasts, but he did suggest, on a positive note, that MSNBC is NBC's petulant younger sibling:

Abrams said MSNBC is finally finding its identity, which he described as "NBC News' younger brother or sister."

"It doesn't mean the older sibling is more intelligent or better at what they do," he added. "It just means they've been doing it longer. We may be a little brasher, a little more petulant, but we are one family."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis