From the MSNBC show
Keith's Special Comment:
There is quite a bit that struck me as truly odd about this particular "Special Comment." Nothing was stranger than Olbermann's peculiar choice to attack" Clinton's advisers" for Hillary Clinton's statements. Just think about this for a minute. Hillary Clinton makes statements about Obama, or his staff and supporters, or her own staff and supporters, or the campaign in general or whatever. Olbermann becomes incensed by the statements as only Keith Olbermann can get, and then he attacks "Clinton's advisers" for the statements she has made. Why the advisers? Why not Clinton? What is the rationale behind that? I can think of only three reasons why Keith Olbermann would choose to formulate his very carefully and precisely worded "Special Comment" in that peculiar way.
"To Sen. Clinton’s supporters, to her admirers, to her friends for whom she is first choice, and to her friends for whom she is second choice, she is still letting herself be perceived as standing next to, and standing by, racial divisiveness and blindness.
And worst yet, after what President Clinton said during the South Carolina primary, comparing the Obama and Jesse Jackson campaigns; a disturbing, but only borderline remark. After what some in the black community have perceived as a racial undertone to the “3 A.M.” ad, a disturbing but only borderline interpretation ... And after that moment’s hesitation in her own answer on 60 Minutes about Obama’s religion; a disturbing, but only borderline vagueness ... After those precedents, there are those who see a pattern, false or true. After those precedents, there are those who see an intent, false or true. After those precedents, there are those who see the Clinton campaign’s anything-but-benign neglect of this Ferraro catastrophe, falsely or truly, as a desire to hear the kind of casual prejudice that still haunts this society voiced and to not distance the campaign from it...
Somebody tells her that simply disagreeing with and rejecting the remarks is sufficient. And that she should then call them “regrettable,” a word that should make any Democrat retch And that she should then try to twist them, first into some pox-on-both-your-houses plea to "stick to the issues," and then to let her campaign manager try to bend them beyond all recognition, into Sen. Obama’s fault. And thus these advisers give Congresswoman Ferraro nearly a week in which to send Sen. Clinton’s campaign back into the vocabulary ... of David Duke."
Honest to God, I cannot think of another reason to structure his presentation like this. If anyone else has a plausible reason, I'm all ears. Leave me a comment, and I'll update the post. In the meantime, I was inspired to create the first ever DWSUWF poll which you should find in the sidebar on the left. Let me know what you think the reason is that he delivered his "Special Attack" on Hillary Clinton by attacking her advisers. Does he think She is stupid? - Is he a chauvinist sexist pig? - or - Is he just afraid of Hillary Clinton? You decide.
1) Olbermann believes Hillary Clinton is too stupid or incompetent to think for herself, speak for herself, direct her own campaign, or formulate her own opinions.- or -2) Olberman thinks women in general are incapable of formulating their own opinons, positions, and/or direct their campaign without the help of a (presumably male) staff.- or -3) Olbermann is afraid to confront Hillary Clinton directly and instead chooses to make a dishonest and disingenuous indirect attack on her "advisors" for her statements and her positions.
But what do I know. I am just a pissant blogger and Keith Olbermann is a cable news giant. He must know a lot more about this than me. So let me take a crack at this:
DWSUWF's Special Comment:
Hmm. It is really hard to pontificate like Keith Olbermann. It's hard to maintain that kind of... incoherence. I'll just have to finish this my way.
To Keith Olberman's viewers, to his admirers, to his friends for whom he is "must see TV", and to his friends for whom he is a second or third choice after Anderson Cooper 360, Project Runway reruns, or Jerry Springer - he is still letting himself be perceived as a sanctimonious ass, a journalistic hack, an Obama cheerleader, and standing next to sexist divisiveness and blindness.
And worst yet, after what Olbermann said about the Geraldine Ferrarro remarks, comparing a respected progressive female American leader to David Duke; a disturbing, but only borderline remark... After what some in the feminist community have perceived as a sexist undertone to his dismissive and patronizing attacks; a disturbing but only borderline interpretation... And after attacking his own election night co-host for daring to expose an Obama spokesman's ignorance of his candidates accomplishments in the Senate; a disturbing, but only borderline bias... After those precedents, there are those who see a pattern, false or true. After those precedents, there are those who see an intent, false or true. After those precedents, there are those who see the Olbermann broadcast as an anything-but-benign neglect of this Ferraro smear, falsely or truly, as a desire to hear the kind of casual media bias and sexism that still haunts this society voiced and to not distance MSNBC and his show from it.
This is what I think - Olbermann has no idea of what he did to invigorate the Clinton campaign. With a single stroke he has done more to galvanize, crystalize, and motivate Clinton supporters than anything I can think of since the presidential campaigns began in earnest more than a year ago.
Conventional wisdom is that if Clinton wins the nomination, dispirited Obama supporters will not support her, but if Obama wins the nomination, he will get all the Clinton supporters to rally behind him. Conventional wisdom is that Obama’s support comes from passionate idealism and Clintons support is mostly cynical political machinations. Conventional wisdom is wrong on both counts.
There is a core of idealistic passionate support for Clinton (perhaps not as big as Obama's support, but still very big). That core support comes from feminists and professional women who have lived and fought the good fight against real hard-core sexism in the 60’s and 70’s. It was a different kind of sexism than we see today. Much more blatant. Impenetrable glass ceilings and widespread legal exclusion from many professions and career opportunities was the norm. Sexual harassment and a hostile workplace for women was an accepted work environment. The women who fought to change these conditions are women who have seen a lot, and done a lot, and made a real difference in our country. Women like Diane Feinstein, Gloria Steiman, and Geraldine Ferraro.
So... Geraldine Ferraro makes a comment about Obama in support of Clinton and is slapped down by Keith Olbermann and others. Gloria Steiman makes a comment about Obama in support of Clinton and is slapped down by Keith Olbermann and others. Diane Feinstein makes a comment about Obama in support of Clinton and... so it goes. These are women who have earned our respect, and are just not getting it from the Obamites and pundits like Olbermann. It is women like these, who - right or wrong - believe that this is their time - their one shot to see a culmination of a lifetime of struggle for women’s rights - and, right or wrong, have a sense of entitlement in this presidential race. Frankly, it is a very similar sense of entitlement that many blacks (justifiably) feel about the Obama campaign. The difference, is that one groups sense is validated by mainstream media - like Olbermann, and one is not. The depth of passion and resentment felt by Clinton supporters emerges in moments like we have seen with Ferraro over the last week, and - it is not always pretty. But when this passionate, idealistic Clinton support is dismissed, or mis-characterized, or unfairly smeared as racist (as happened Wednesday in Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment")... you are going to see some serious blowback. Minimally it motivates the opposition. In this case, that was just the beginning -Keith has seriously pissed off the wrong women.
There was another interesting bit of rhetorical dissembling in the conversation between Olbermann and Eugene Robinson in the same show:
You got that? Keith and Eugene are not calling Geraldine Ferarro a racist. Not at all. They are only explaining that Geraldine Ferraro says racist things. That does not make her a racist. It's a beautiful thing. An almost Clintonesque parsing of the language.
OLBERMANN: "... Does this end this? Or does it just sort of freeze it in a kind of nebulous zone that a lot of events in the Clinton campaign have been mired, the sort of nasty stuff they didn‘t say but somebody said for them?"
ROBINSON: "That does seem to have been the pattern, doesn‘t it? You know, I have a feeling this could go on for a few more days and hopes it faded out, but who knows. I mean, where do you start with this story, Keith?You know, first of all, Geraldine Ferraro says, you know, she‘s been called a racist and Bill Clinton was called a racist. Nobody calls her a racist. Nobody called Bill Clinton a racist.What was said is that what she‘s—you know, the sentiments she expressed, what she said was arguably a racist thing to say. But that‘s about action, that‘s about words. It‘s not about her essence or her being."
Fair enough. We will play by those rules. Permit me to clarify, so there is no confusion about the point of this post. Keith Olbermann is not an Obama cheerleader and a sexist pig. He just talks like one.
UPDATE: Saturday March 15, 2008
Sorry - you will just have to pardon me for taking a too long post, and making it longer.
On Friday's edition of
Barack Obama responded directly to Olbermann's questions with thoughtful, intelligent answers, as we've come to expect from the Senator. More interesting was the context of the interview and the analysis between Keith Olbermann and Jonathan Alter before and after the interview.
My view is that the hyperbolic rhetoric in the coverage of both Reverend Jeremiah Wright's sermons and Geraldine Ferraro's comments were way overblown by the media and bloggers. This is not about Wright, or Ferraro, or Obama or Clinton. This is about watching Keith Olbermann hoisted on his own petard.
Two days before, Olbermann was fanning the flames with his "Special Comment" to and about Hillary Clinton, saying "Clinton's tepid response to Ferraro is shameful...You must reject and denounce Geraldine Ferraro." Now, we know that Geraldine Ferraro is a public figure with a personal relationship to Clinton, and a supporter who was peripherally associated with her campaign. We also know that Jeremiah Wright is a public figure with a personal relationship to Obama, and a supporter who was peripherally associated with his campaign. Hence the need for a hastily arranged "Breaking News" interview with Obama on Friday to follow up the anti-Clinton screed on Wednesday.
Now, your assignment. Compare and contrast this Friday interview with Wednesday's "Special Comment" linked at the top of the post.
Note that Olbermann had a very different tone of voice when asking Obama whether he would denounce Reverend Wright, as compared to when he was demanding that Clinton denounce Ferraro. Obama replies, quite reasonably, that he will denounce the words but not the man. Note that the trademark Olbermann high dudgeon is noticeably absent. Absent also is the finger wagging insistence that Obama "must reject and denounce Reverend Wright" as he demanded of Clinton. Why the difference? Well... Keith was addressing a male candidate about a male supporter's offensive comments on Friday, but was addressing a female candidate about a female supporter's offensive comments on Wednesday. Was that the reason? You tell me.
Then Olbermann and Jonathan Alter (who recently wrote two columns advising Clinton to quit the campaign) sheepishly analyze what has just transpired in the interview. Maybe it is my imagination, but when I watch this sequence I see two embarrassed journalists fully cognizant of the discrepancy in their coverage of these two candidates and perhaps, finally recognizing that Obama is (surprise!) a politician just like Clinton - different only in degree and not in kind. If these two are not embarrassed about the difference in the way they have been covering Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton - they should be. Particularly Olbermann.