Giuliani Rep Complained to NBC News About Olbermann’s Debate Participation

May 5th, 2007 12:42 PM

In the wake of Democrat presidential candidates canceling debates to be held by Fox News, it only seems fitting that similar concerns are surfacing regarding the inclusion of Keith Olbermann during Republican debates sponsored by MSNBC.

This seems even more appropriate given the disgraceful performance of clearly left-leaning media members at Thursday’s event in Simi Valley, California.

As reported by the Associated Press Friday, the Giuliani campaign actually expressed its concerns about Olbermann’s participation before the debate occurred (emphasis added throughout):

The Giuliani campaign would not publicly discuss what it thinks about Olbermann, or whether it had made those feelings known to NBC, a spokeswoman said.

But MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said a Giuliani campaign representative had called NBC News to complain about Olbermann being part of the debate telecast following his commentary.

What commentary was that?

In an angry commentary on April 25, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann accused Rudolph Giuliani of using the language of Osama bin Laden with "the same chilling nonchalance of the madman" to argue that Republicans would keep Americans safer than Democrats from terror.

Shockingly, the article included some conservative views on this issue, and did so by seeking the opinion of someone that should be well-known to NewsBusters readers:

To one critic, Olbermann’s actual performance at the debate and in similar situations was less important than the message sent by his presence.

"It’s sort of like putting a professional wrestler in an anchor chair and saying ’he can do this,’" said Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog. "Well, he can do this. But he’s known as a professional wrestler."

Unlike the Democrats who have made a point of standing up to Fox, there’s been little public protest among Republicans about MSNBC’s use of Olbermann at news events. That doesn’t mean it has gone unnoticed. Graham said there’s a real debate among conservatives over how to deal with him: should he be ignored or loudly criticized, knowing how effectively Olbermann has turned Bill O’Reilly’s attacks into a badge of honor?  

Yet, maybe even more shocking was the following conclusion:

Having Olbermann anchor -- as he will continue, with Matthews, for big political nights throughout the campaign -- is the MSNBC equivalent of Fox News Channel assigning the same duties to O’Reilly.

Fox has never done that, perhaps mindful of the immediate controversy that would result. Fox has tried to differentiate between its news operation and its prime-time opinion shows, even as its critics believe strongly that’s bunk. In this case, MSNBC doesn’t try to separate news and opinion people, even as it tries to separate news and opinion.

Amazingly accurate and unbiased assessment from an AP writer, wouldn’t you agree?

*****Update: Salon’s Walsh and Greenwald Attack AP’s 'Hit Job' on Olbermann