Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 309-Conflicted interests

Dear Mr. President,

I have mixed feelings about Keith Olbermann. On one hand, I recognize that he posses a unique combination of honestly liberal values and the courage to express them with pride. However he is prone to the kind of overly-sensationalized borderline hysteria that, I suppose, comes with having your own TV show and constantly trying to compete with FOX for viewers. I am uncomfortable being too critical of a reliably liberal voice in an increasingly conservative media environment, but I think, at his worst, Olbermann was nowhere near as crazy as Glenn Beck on his most rational days. That he has been suspended over personal political donations to candidates he used his show to support is ridiculous. I just cannot believe that $2400 had a more significant impact on the candidates' success, Olbermann's objectivity, or MSNBC's credibility than on Countdown's very public and very uncontroversial promotion of these candidates and their party every single night.

So, apparently, the tea-soaked trifecta of Bachmann, Beck and Limbaugh (among others) are perpetuating the demonstrably false rumor that your trip to India will cost $200 million per day (more than the war effort in Afghanistan- $190 million/day.) This would be funny if the implication wasn't so disgusting. The very idea that quibbling over the price tag of Presidential Protection is acceptable discourse appalls me, especially in the case of Michele Bachmann, as she actually holds public office. I know your trip is not going to cost $2 billion and require 34 warships. I know this. I just want to say, even if it did, I'd still be OK with it. The point is that this outrage and obvious lie was repeated in the right-wing media and then by actual elected officials. How is that not more damaging to the credibility of Beck, Limbaugh and the networks they represent than the personal donations of Keith Olbermann to candidates he publicly endorsed?

And, for all of his faults and missteps, Olbermann was quick to admit mistakes and issue corrections. (Reflection after Jon Stewart's Rally to restore Sanity caused him to suspend one of his show's most famous and inflammatory segments, for example.) Unlike the irresponsibly close relationship between pundits and politicians on the right, Olbermann's words were rarely, if ever, parroted by elected Democrats. (Sadly, many Democrats also lacked much of the courage he showed in speaking out against Islamophobia, homophobia and racism.) After such a tough election cycle I am deeply saddened by the loss of a political ally on the national stage.

I hope that your trip to India is safe and productive, no matter how much it costs. I'm sorry that this controversy may take attention away from the trip's important purpose. I hope that, even without the reliably, unapologetically liberal voice of Mr. Olbermann, you and other Democrats remember that being a liberal, even in the era of FOX News, is nothing to be ashamed of.

Respectfully yours,


Hey all, check out what Rachel Maddow had to say about this.

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