Olbermann Asserts Snow Pick Will Merge FNC's “Bias” With White House “Propaganda”

Citing reports that the White House might select Tony Snow to replace Scott McClellan as Press Secretary, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night ridiculed the journalistic integrity of Snow and FNC -- even claiming, contrary to what ratings show, that the number of people who “believe” FNC is becoming “increasingly smaller.” Near the top of his Countdown show, Olbermann noted Snow's Fox News affiliation before he snidely added: “As critics would suggest, as such he's already an unofficial White House spokesman.” To guest Richard Wolffe of Newsweek, Olbermann proposed: “If you go with Tony Snow of Fox News, are you not saying we're only talking to that increasingly smaller group of people who believe Fox News is the sole source of truth in the world?" In another segment, with the Washington Post's Dana Milbank, Olbermann, the host of a very slanted cable news show, presumed FNC is the only network anyone sees as biased: “Would the entire Fox News bias issue suddenly become connected at the hip with how the administration handles truth versus propaganda?" Milbank quipped: "I'm not sure it would necessarily be bad for the White House, but it does raise some questions. We first have to ask if Tony's going to get back pay?”

For some cable ratings, check this page on Mediabistro's TVNewser site. You'll see that anywhere from three to five times more people watch FNC than MSNBC, with the disparity at the greater end during Olbermann's 8pm EDT hour.

Snow was once much more involved with Fox News as host of the broadcast network's Fox News Sunday, the regular Friday host of Special Report with Brit Hume and Saturday and Sunday host of the 12-2pm ET Weekend Live hours. Currently, his only FNC duty is hosting from noon to 2pm ET Saturdays and he has a 9am -12pm ET weekday radio talk show distributed by Fox News.

Olbermann reported in his opening summary, on the April 19 Countdown, of the personnel changes at the White House:
“The rumor mill has already produced three names of possible successors for Scott McClellan and all of a sudden the job of White House Press Secretary seems to be like that of coach of a high-profile pro sports franchise. The first place you look for a candidate: Among the network TV analysts. Fox News reports the White House has already talked to Tony Snow. Which figures, since he works for Fox News on radio, sometimes on TV, and as critics would suggest, as such he's already an unofficial White House spokesman. Also mentioned by a series of news organizations: Victoria 'Torie' Clarke, the former Pentagon spokesperson who is, as of right now, an analyst for CNN. And just to round it out, the only candidate thus far rumored without a direct network TV news connection is the former spokesman for the provisional authority in Iraq, Dan Senor who just happens to have just become the husband of NBC's own Campbell Brown. Is that what they meant when they wrote in the vows for better or for worse?”

Olbermann to his first guest, Newsweek White House reporter Richard Wolffe:
”For a White House that prides itself on promoting from within, why are the rumored names outsiders, and if you go with Tony Snow of Fox News are you not saying we're only talking to that increasingly smaller group of people who believe Fox News is the sole source of truth in the world?”

Olbermann at the end of a session with Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank, mostly about Donald Rumsfeld's status:
“And lastly, with the worry lines that are in your forehead earned in the White House press room, we cannot let today's announcement about Scott McClellan go without you input on this. If the President really is pursuing Tony Snow from Fox, would that be frying pan and fire? Would the entire Fox News bias issue suddenly become connected at the hip with how the administration handles truth versus propaganda?”

Dana Milbank: “I'm not sure it would necessarily be bad for the White House but it does raise some questions. We first have to ask if Tony's going to get back pay [laughter from Olbermann]. We then have to as is this just the beginning of the trend? Does Sean Hannity replace Rumsfeld at the Pentagon? Does Bill O'Reilly get the FBI? Then the man is really going to have some cops, Keith, and your viewers are going to be in some serious trouble.”

Regular Olbermann viewers will get Milbank's cop allusion. If you don't, it's not worth your time to read an explanation.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center