Huh. Is it possible that we liberals really don’t need pundits to tell us what to think?
Today, former punk music writer/Hollywood movie producer Jane Hamsher lost her cool over the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations between Pres. Obama and Congressional Republicans, applying to “ardent Obama supporters” one of the viler slurs I’ve heard in a long time. Given Hamsher’s excessive rhetoric over the past couple of years, today’s slur engendered more ridicule than outrage, which, I think, was precisely the right reaction.
Over/under on number of days until Hamsher is on @KeithOlbermann's new Countdown to have her boots licked?
Mr. Olbermann took umbrage:
@iboudreau It's so nice to meet traditionally uninformed wingnuts. How many times do you think she has ever been on any of my shows?
Now, Ian may be a lot of things – but a “wingnut” he ain’t. And he is, as I say, a friend of mine and I’m from Chicago, where you defend your friends. Even against Really Important Television Personalities like former ESPN SportsCenter host Keith Olbermann. So … I said this:
To which Mr. Olbermann responded:
@Dave_von_Ebers And who are you?
Charming, yes, but after all, Mr. Olbermann is a Really Important Television Personality; so it was a fair question. I mean, who am I to (a) defend a friend who had the audacity to criticize a Really Important Television Personality like Keith Olbermann; and (2) express my own personal frustration with self-appointed Really Important Pundits Who Have Television Shows?
Of course, I could have responded thusly: “You’re right, Keith. I’m nobody – least of all somebody who used to talk about baseball on television, fer Chrissakes. I’m just a guy who’s practiced law for going on twenty-four years in Cook County, Illinois, the largest unified court system in the world. I’m just a father of three who runs his own business, stays on top of the news, runs an occasional marathon, and blogs a bit. I’m not, heaven forefend, a Sports-Reporter-Turned-Liberal-Television-Pundit. So, pardon the interruption.”
But that’s not the point. I don’t think Keith Olbermann meant that comment – “And who are you?” – to be as condescending as it sounded. I think he was taken aback at the suggestion that he would be connected to Jane Hamsher (though I’m not sure that’s much of a stretch, quite frankly), and he didn’t expect to be drawn into the Hamsher controversy du jour. Maybe she’s small potatoes to him too.
The point is, I actually like Keith Olbermann well enough, although I think he’s far less analytical than, say, Rachel Maddow, and he’s not as consistently “on” as, say, Jon Stewart. But that’s okay; nobody’s perfect. What I don’t like is the Cult of Keith Olbermann. Or the Cult of Rachel Maddow. Or the Cult of Jon Stewart.
In fact, I don’t like the Cult of Any Liberal Television Pundit.
The point of my Tweet – that some of us are frustrated with pundits generally – is that they, or, perhaps more accurately, their adoring fans, seem to think that liberal pundits cannot be questioned under any circumstances. We saw this once before with Mr. Olbermann, when he allowed Michael Moore (another person I more or less like) to completely misrepresent the assault accusations against Julian Assange (accusations that, whether true or not, are, in fact, quite serious), all the while nodding in agreement. Olbermann and Moore were wrong, but their ardent supporters (with apologies to Jane Hamsher) simply couldn’t acknowledge that mistake.
I’m not suggesting that Keith Olbermann or any of the rest of them should be held to a standard of infallibility. I think all of them – Olbermann, Maddow, Stewart, Moore – are reasonably intelligent, well-intentioned people who generally do a good job advocating liberal positions, and that’s just fine. But they are, obviously, fallible just like everyone else. So let’s just abandon the pretense that any of them is above criticism, okay.
And, above all, let’s stop investing so much importance in any of them. Watch their television shows if you want, but don’t pretend that they are more important than the causes we all believe in.
© 2011 David P. von Ebers. All rights reserved.