As bad as it is for an elected official like Rep. Alan Grayson to say publicly that “Republicans want you to die,” at least his status as a politician (and Grayson’s record as a politician lacking rudimentary respect, fairness, and honesty) alerts most listeners that his statements cannot to be trusted. Such statements are more harmful and less tolerable when they come from media commentators, however, even shameless partisan blow-hards like Keith Olbermann.
Olbermann began his coverage of the fire department in Tennessee that allowed a man’s home to burn down by calling it “a preview of an America as envisioned by the Tea Party…just a preview of what would come in a kind of a la carte government.” Has any Tea Party candidate…or any candidate at all… anywhere suggested that fire departments are not core government functions, even for small government advocates? No. Has any Tea Party candidate, or any candidate from any party, local or state, endorsed an “a la carte” in which officials would allow one’s house to burn down under circumstances like those in Obion County? No.
Is Olbermann intentionally and grossly misrepresenting the philosophy, positions and character of citizens he disagrees with in order to create hostility, fear and hate? Yes, he is. And if his bosses at MSNBC had any sense of fairness or decency, they would stop him.
Pandering to his partisan rapid-left audience is one thing; stating falsehood as facts is another. Is Olbermann more unethical than Glenn Beck, who grotesquely misrepresents the intentions of Obama Democrats over at Fox? Close call, but I think so. Beck’s apocalyptic interpretation of the long-term motives of progressives is fanciful and paranoid, but it is clearly his opinion. Olbermann was misrepresenting, without any truth whatsoever, the position of a many national candidates for office, saying, in effect, that “these people want to let your house burn down.” Beck is irresponsible, but Olbermann is lying. (For the record, I believe neither Beck nor Olbermann meet the minimum standards of responsible broadcasting that news networks are obligated to maintain.) The MSNBC host is also guilty of outrageous hypocrisy, as he has been outspoken in his condemnation of fear mongering by the Right. Gee, Keith, how would you describe, “these people want to let your house burn down”? Or, for that matter, “Republicans want you to die”?
This Olbermann slur was worthy of Alan Grayson, which means that it was not worthy of anyone who calls himself a journalist, a reporter or a news commentator.
Addendum: I admit to being surprised, disappointed and annoyed by how many voices on the web are taking up the same intellectually dishonest line of attack that Olbermann did, and are attempting to make political hay out of this fiasco when there is none to be made. No limited government advocate that I’ve ever heard or read has argued that fire fighting services are outside the purview of legitimate government responsibilities, any more than paving the roads, guarding the borders or national defense. Since the limited government folks know the difference between what they consider essential services and non-essential government functions, the silly accusations of Olbermann and others leftward suggest that they don’t…that fire departments and roads are all part of one big “essential” nanny state package along with health care, subsidized colleges, regulation of small business and welfare. The illogic of Olbermann, et al., therefore, doesn’t make the limited government advocates look mean; it makes him sound ignorant.