Howard Kurtz gave the lion's share of his Monday "Media Notes" column to MSNBC, which "has seen the future, and it is politics. Delivered with plenty of opinion." Except that opinion is usually liberal, sometimes fiendishly so. Near the end of his piece, Kurtz captures all of the recent MSNBC spin lines, proving these are no fluke, especially MSNBC chief Dan Abrams reciting his horror-movie line about Keith Olbermann's Countdown:
"His program could become a model for the newscast of the future," Abrams says. "It's a mix of straight news reporting with lighter fare and occasionally with some opinion."
Some opinion? Not only does Olbermann steer clear of conservative guests, he has added an occasional "special comment" segment in which he recently urged President Bush to apologize to American troops for starting and mishandling the war, going on to suggest that "you are not honest" and "you are far more stupid than the worst of your critics has suggested."
Olbermann said last spring that he is not ideological but that his growing conviction about the administration's failings puts him "in the same part of the ballpark as a lot of liberals."
Kurtz's quotes were not the strongest ones, such as Krazy Keith saying President Bush's reign represented "the beginning of the end of America," and that "the leading terrorist group in this country right now is the Republican Party." Kurtz also recaptures Joe Scarborough doing his I'm-almost-as-hard-on-Republicans-as-Keith routine:
Scarborough, for his part, says: "I see my job now as someone who holds both parties accountable, and I think I've proven that over the last year. Probably I've held my own party to a higher standard than Democrats. The burden is on me to prove I'm fair and down the middle." Both Olbermann and Scarborough did put aside their views while anchoring campaign news shows.
Abrams, who was no shrinking violet back when he hosted his own show, says CBS is edging in a similar direction in trying to make Katie Couric "accessible and personable. . . . In cable news, the most honest thing we can provide for our viewers is the sense that you know where the host is coming from."
Except that Olbermann doesn't seem to be honest enough to really declare where he is coming from -- the howling-at-the-moon Daily Kosmonaut left.