Monday, November 8, 2010

In Defense of Keith Olbermann

It's hard to avoid a whiff of schadenfreude when hearing about Keith Olbermann's suspension by MSNBC in the wake of the revelation that he donated to three Democratic candidates in contravention of MSNBC policies. But that would be too easy.

What's so wrong about political donations from opinion journalists, really? Is anyone surprised to find that Olbermann favors Democrats? Does anyone think: Hey, maybe this means Olbermann might be less than fair when talking about politics. It's one thing when supposedly objective journalists are caught donating. (Although is any journalist really objective? Question for another day.) But Olbermann, Hannity, Maddow, Huckabee: they are not objective. They are not hired to be objective, they are hired to give opinions.

Opinion journalists, pretty much by definition, operate in the open. They have to talk in order to do their work. They give their opinions as part of the job. So their opinions are already a matter of public record. There would seem to be nothing whatsoever lost by allowing them to donate or otherwise exercise their freedom of political speech.

Unless, of course, their employers want to maintain the fig leaf that they are actually objective journalists. But surely MSNBC doesn't think anyone believes that about Keith Olbermann. Right? Free Olbermann!

No comments:

Post a Comment