91 thoughts on “Olbermann Returns!

  1. Mike Thomas says:

    I hope you are being compensated as Olbermann’s Press Agent for this.
    If Olbermann had a knack for building large and loyal audiences MSNBC wouldn’t have cared what his personality is. Let’s call out some facts. His audience has been shrinking the last two years, he is a self parody of himself – cherry picks facts, guests, and journalists that echo his personal opinions. If this guy is so educated and literate why not bring on some Republicans or “tea party” activists? Why does he fear debate?
    The Current cabel network will follow the same death march that Air America did? The only difference now is that Olberamnn is taking Al Franken’s place as the star of the network, but like his equally fired and failed friend Franken the Current’s audience will fall somewhere below Lawrence Welk reruns or that home imrovement show starring Vanilla Ice.

    1. Danny Bredahl says:

      1. Mr. Olbermann started Cornell at the age of 16 and graduated at 20. While I may disagree with his politics and framing of certain issues, I can’t disparage anyone who finishes an Ivy League education before they are old enough to drink.

      2. In regards to your question on variety of guests, do you have proof that the Republicans and “Tea Party” activists want to come on and debate? If they won’t come on the show, Keith can’t force them.

      I don’t have proof that my 2nd point is valid, but I don’t think you have proof that Keith avoids them intentionally either.

      1. Mike Thomas says:

        Olbermann did an ad on MSNBC last year defending his position by not brining on opinions of dissent on his show. It was something to the affect of…”I bring on people to illuminate my points..”
        And let’s get real there is no shortage of people in this country who want to be on TV….I think the point that he doesn’t invite them on his show is a little more believable than they have all refused. Say what you want about Bill O’Reilley, he brings multiple perspectives on his show (oh and has ratings)…

      2. john sherman says:

        We can make a reasonable estimate whether conservatives weren’t asked or wouldn’t come on his show from the case of the less confrontational Rachel Maddow who has pointedly asked prominent conservatives on her show to no avail.

      3. Yeah, somewhere along the line Keith started becoming a parody of himself. Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell, who can owe their success to him, at least offer up opposing arguments and seem slightly less hostile. I’ll be interested to see how this turns up and I wish him the best, he’s good when he really wants to be.

      1. Mike Thomas says:

        My vehemence will never compare to that of which Olbermann had with Bill O’Reilley. While I joined the very few other viewers that watched Countdown occasionally, I never invested the time, hours, and anger that Olbermann obsessed over the Factor. It was some sort of self masochism. In the end Bill never brought up his name and eventually won handily.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Yes, Mike, and, since you’re all about the balance, it’s worth noting that Olbermann subsequently played Stewart’s piece in its entirety on his show, offered himself as a guest for “The Daily Show,” and responded with the below apology:

      “You know what, you’re right,” Olbermann said to Stewart. “I have been a little over the top lately. Point taken. Sorry.”

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/23/keith-olbermann-apologize_n_434129.html

      1. Mike Thomas says:

        Yea I know Jim….but as much as Olbermann continued to kiss up to Jon Stewart, Stewart wasn’t impressed. I don’t seem to recall Stewart inviting him on the show, but I do remember many clips of Olbermann in Stewart’s Media Monster montage he played at the rally last fall.

  2. bertram jr says:

    Current TV?

    Is that subsidized by the government, like The Current radio station?

    BTW, that Souder fella has some chops.

  3. Gary Pettis says:

    Oh, the highs that come from Great Expectations. Even I had a small adrenaline rush this morning when I heard that Keith Olbermann is moving to Current TV. Indeed, I want him to succeed and cultivate a high number of viewers.

    Don’t be fooled in believing that he is going to be the David slinging a rock at the Goliath of FoxNEWS. Instead, Olbermann’s success will create a trio of cable voices that target their content and opinions to the left. In essence on the cable, Current TV, MSNBC and CNN will become the Three Stooges of left-leaning news distribution, each one hoping to create the kind of magnet that pulls in the most left-leaning viewers.

    Demographicswise, there are only so many folks on the left or the right who watch cable news in the first place. The creation of a competitor on the left side will cannibalize viewers from the other like-minded competitors.

    Since being unmercifully sacked under the harsh glare of the public spotlight, Olbermann’s aspirations have to be poke the eye of his former employer or “Larry” in this instance. Shortly thereafter, Olbermann can pull the ear of the cable news company that started it all, CNN, or for today’s example, “Curley Joe.”

    What about the three major network news organizations? We can just call them “Shemp.” They are just okay, even with slipping ratings, but not as good as their cable cousins that have set today’s news and opinion standards.

    If Olberman’s success comes close to equalling Conan O’Brien’s move to TBS, the real loser will be CNN.

    But then again, that’s a cable news network that can’t be saved from itself, even if Anderson Cooper mixes in a little slapstick with his news reports and ends his broadcast with “This is Anderson Cooper, nyuk-nyuk-nyuk.”

  4. john sherman says:

    Brian, could you provide a list of people on cable news who have small, or even moderate, egos? I imagine it’s pretty short.

    I notice Ed Schultz has gotten even professedly angrier, but I don’t know whether that’s to fill the KO void or because he’s on later when the kids are supposed to be in bed.

    1. John: If your point is that there’s no one in front of a network camera with an under-sized ego, I freely and immediately concede your point. as it applies to Olbermann, he’s a gargantuan ego … with a larger than normal collection of high-functioning neurons attached.

  5. Joe Loveland says:

    I couldn’t stand Olberman’s endless monologues, childish feuds with Fox peers, goofy literary readings or, especially, his Worst Person In The World bits. He bugged the crap out of me. And Ed Schultz and Chris Mathews are about as cartoonish in their own ways, as is Maddow, except when she is interviewing instead of monologueing.

    Still, I find myself spending an hour or so per week watching MSNBC prime time programming, for one reason: They carry viewpoints and content that you will find nowhere else.

    Anyone who seriously thinks that NPR, CNN, Public TV, NYT, the Strib or Katie Couric’s CBS show are liberal can tell from 5 minutes of watching MSNBC in prime time what true liberally biased coverage is, and it certainly doesn’t sound anything like NPR, CNN, Public TV, NYT, Star Tribune or CBS Evening News.

    For my tastes, I wish MSNBC was significantly less cartoonish and Fox wannabe in tone. But given a choice between MSNBC and no liberal media, which truly is my choice when it comes to mainstream media, I’m glad an MSNBC emerged.

  6. The crowd that thinks CNN and CBS and Don Shelby were advocates for liberal issues leave me mostly speechless. You have to remind yourself that some people really do live in a tight, self-defining bubble.

  7. Keith built a pretty solid primetime line-up, I wonder if he’ll be able to build a channel. It’ll be tough. Keith’s show had deteriorated in quality, maybe he just needed a change of scenery? Who knows…

    1. From what I’ve read, the interior conflicts at “Countdown” were at a boil for well over a year. The campaign donation stuff, with his “go [bleep] yourself” attitude toward management only snapped the final straw.

  8. Joe Loveland says:

    I don’t know if this is true broadly, but it feels like everyone I know who seeks out MSNBC freely admits that it is an intentionally liberal voice while just about everyone I know who seeks out Fox maintains that Fox is balanced, and not biased. That kind of delusion I cannot understand. Both Fox and MSNBC are obviously biased, by design, and I worry that folks can’t seem to recognize that.

    1. Gary Pettis says:

      Just maybe, the unspoken question here is “what will be the impact on cable network news coverage and brand positioning once Comcast takes control of NBC?”

      A brief glance at the tea leaves might tell us that Olbermann rubbed the Comcast guys the wrong way. But maybe they have more changes in mind. Don’t forget that the MS in MSNBC stands for Microsoft, and the teal leaves aren’t saying what Bill Gates’ approach will be to co-branding a cable product that might be going through some sort of paradigm shift once the merger is finally under way.

      Do you think a news organization owned by a large cable company will play by Walter Cronkite rules or will its market research and brand positioning take once was known the MSNBC cable brand toward another direction?

      When you write “I worry that folks can’t seem to recognize that,” that’s another way of saying the city folks are sure a lot more smarter and wily compared to those country bumpkins. Elitism at its best.

      People have more access to news and information than in any other time in history. They are smart and savvy when it comes to knowing what they like and prefer, be it news or hamburgers. Some people still like McDonald’s, some like Wendy’s and other are going out on a limb and trying SmashBurgers. They have plenty of options and gravitate toward the brand they like the best. Some are very brand loyal for the comfort of familiarity and others like to try different brands for a more robust experience. God bless ’em all.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        Gary: When I say “I worry that folks can’t seem to recognize (that both MSNBC and Fox are by design not balanced coverage),” how do you presume to read my mind and say that what I really mean is that “city folks are a lot more smarter and wily than country bumpkins.”

        WHAT?

        Look, I’m sure it was very carthartic for you to write such a colorful and hyperboic sentence, but that is a completely unsupported leap of logic.

        I can’t believe I even need to say this, but your mind reading is inaccurate — I’ve observed no difference between rural and urban opinions on the issue.

        It’s just lazy argumentation to go with this whole “when you say A that’s another way of saying Z (outrageous thing)” form of logic.

      2. Gary Pettis says:

        There’s the cable news product, MSNBC, and the Web product, msnbc.com. From what I have seen, msnbc.com is still a joint venture between NBC Universal and Microsoft. The point is, with the Comcast takeover, can two separate entities share the same brand name, especially if one adopts an completely different point-of-view?

        If you were Bill Gates, would you cling to the msnbc.com name or change it? What will Comcast do? Maybe the MSNBC brand name will go away and soon be a thing of the past.

        If you consider the whole MSNBC, CNN and Current TV discussion, something’s got to give. One of these cable news companies is going to have to go off the air or go through one heck of a makeover.

        Some links to check out:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Msnbc.com

        http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/24/business/media/24msnbc.html

        http://www.mediaite.com/online/nyt-msnbc-com-may-change-name/

      3. Gary Pettis says:

        Joe,

        This is where we differ.

        My point-of-view: Folks have so many media consumption and news delivery options these days that they can tell whose coverage is balanced and not balanced. Generally, they are able to recognize a liberal bias and a conservative bias. They deserve that level of credit.

        My opinion is that many folks embrace the bias with which they agree. It’s the “They Talk and Think Like Us” appeal.

        In the Crowd, I have heard comments about the Star Tribune’s liberal bias. I have may own opinion about that, but still read Star Tribune stories every night on my iPhone. Rarely buy a hardcopy paper these days.

        I have a few liberal friends who have gasped when I have told them that I watch FoxNEWS. So now, I keep my media consumption likes to myself.

        If you worry that folks can’t recognize bias, the flip side will drag us into a debate about when persuasion ends and manipulation starts.

        Sorry about the heartburn. It was not intentionally done.

        Gary

      4. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Uh-huh, well, you’re the guy who said “cable news product.” To be honest, I really can’t follow what you’re on about.

      5. Gary Pettis says:

        Can’t follow what this thing about products is all about.

        If I decide this morning to buy the actual Star Tribune newspaper, am I buying the news, a product, a service, a thing, or something else, and if it is something else, what is it?

        (It would be nice to get an answer on this question from differing political outlooks.)

        If I read the Star Tribune this morning on my iPhone, am I getting the news for free or getting a free product, free service or a free thing?

        By the way, doing the later can save me more than $300 a year in cash. Thank you very much for the free stuff.

        http://www.startribune.com added videos, sometimes with its reporters in front of video cameras. The web portal product was enhanced to meet the growing demand for multi-media on Websites.

        This newspaper, like so many around the world, needed to create and sustain new “products” as the means to generate revenue from online advertising sales considering the loss of print classified advertising sales–forever.

        Isn’t the Daily, the first digital news publication, available as an iPad app, a new product that was just introduced?

        http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/productization

      6. Joe Loveland says:

        Gary, I’m with you that people SHOULD be able to recognize bias and consume it with a grain of salt.

        I consume Jason Lewis, Soucheray, Beck, Limbaugh, Kersten, Kristol, Powerline, etc. too. I’m all for having all sides represented in the marketplace of ideas, as long as you understand what is opinion and what is coverage about facts.

        My conclusion that people often don’t recognize that Fox News is not biased isn’t based on speculation or paranoia. It’s based on the fact that people in my life frequently say to me “Fox News is not biased” or “Fox News is less biased than network coverage.”

        THAT is what I worry about. Not paranoid little voices in my head that say “people don’t differentiate coverage that is biased by design from coverage that actively is working to avoid bias,” but people actually saying to me “Fox is unbiased.”

        Regardless of your political stripe, that’s worth worrying about. If people can’t do solid critical thinking about the information coming at them, it gets hard to run a decent democracy.

        Appreciate the apology. No sweat. I’ve got Tums.

      7. PM says:

        Here is the problem, stated in another context.

        Despite the amazing flow of information, people still willingly believe things that are wrong–this article focuses on things like the Shroud of Turin, but you could just as easily go to homeopathy or chiropractic medicine for similar example–or more recently, the autism is caused by vaccination crowd.

        http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2011/02/14/110214crat_atlarge_gopnik?currentPage=all

        Frankly, i put Fox News in the same category

    2. Joe:Your point about MSNBC partisans generally describing that channel as “liberal” and FoxNews partisans describing that channel as “unbiased” is an interesting one. Obviously there’s no science to draw on, but it sure fits the anecdotal survey meter, doesn’t it? More to the point, it fits the way each channel implicitly markets itself … which then speaks to the credulity of their respective audiences.

      1. Gary: This one needs a bit more explication: “If you worry that folks can’t recognize bias, the flip side will drag us into a debate about when persuasion ends and manipulation starts.”

        Frankly, i do worry about the inability to recognize bias. You’re absolutely right about the “They talk like us … ” appeal. But as a guy who covered media for (way) too long and has something of an obsession over how modern media manipulates passive audiences, I am forever startled by people — whatever their persuasion — who apply a near-religious zealotry to characters in the media. A minimal level of sophistication requires an emotional detachment … unless of course (amateur psychologist here) they desperately need their own thinking coalesced for them and a “team leader” to rally around.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Brian and Gary, here is some 2009 Pew Research survey data on the question. It’s not encouraging, but frankly not as discouraging as I pick up in my daily interactions:

        “The Fox News Channel is viewed by Americans in more ideological terms than other television news networks. And while the public is evenly divided in its view of hosts of cable news programs having strong political opinions, more Fox News viewers see this as a good thing than as a bad thing.

        Nearly half of Americans (47%) say they think of Fox News as “mostly conservative,” 14% say it is “mostly liberal,” and 24% say it is “neither in particular.” Opinion about the ideological orientation of other TV news outlets is more mixed: while many view CNN and the three broadcast networks as mostly liberal, about the same percentages say they are neither in particular. However, somewhat more say MSNBC is mostly liberal than say it is neither in particular, by 36% to 27%.

        The perceptions of those who regularly tune into these news networks are similar to those of the public. Nearly half (48%) of regular Fox viewers say the network is mostly conservative. About four-in-ten (41%) regular viewers of CNN describe the network as mostly liberal and 36% of regular MSNBC viewers say the same about that network.”

      3. Gary Pettis says:

        Brian asked me to go a little deeper on persuasion and manipulation.

        From my view of the world, persuasion is good and manipulation bad. In this series of comments to Brian’s original post, I felt that we were teetering on a discussion about who is doing the manipulation to convince some but not all viewers that watching news from Fox and MSBC is straight news free of bias. Wink. Wink.

        Who’s pulling the wool over the sheep’s eyes telling the sheep that it’s receiving just the scoop but in reality the scoop is the news with a slanted twist? I contend that the sheep can partake of the information they select (or consume) and in the end draw their own conclusions.

        PM writes that people are still willing believe things that are wrong. Why should we care about how they interpret the media content that is presented to them–so long as they don’t hurt themselves or others?

        Remember the Life Cereal commercial “Mikey likes it?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYEXzx-TINc

        We could update this script and make the product pitch about biased news coverage. Because news coverage is an activity that is evolving and driven by market and technology changes, sometime in recent media history the idea of biased news coverage rose to the surface. Surely there were skeptics and journalistic traditionalists whose mission is to keep things unchanged and believed newspaper readers, radio listeners and TV watchers were adverse to change.

        Lo and behold, lots of Mikeys and Michelles liked it, that is, biased news coverage. Joe’s inclusion here of the 2009 Pew Research on the Fox News channel verifies this, in light of the fact that Fox News is the leading news cable company in America today.

        The tools of persuasion were applied to find more “likers” and cultivate a base upon which to achieve high ratings. They include creating a look, feel and tone that reflects the biased position. They breed comfort, familiarity and repeat viewing. That’s why people might see Bill O’Reilly, Anderson Cooper and Keith Olberman as “friendly” and “likable like family.”

        Brian wrote “I am forever startled by people — whatever their persuasion — who apply a near-religious zealotry to characters in the media.” A character that comes to mind is Walter Cronkite, but that was pre-bias. Liberals see the conservative media characters whom I like as cartoon characters, but frankly, there is a shortage of liberal media characters for folks on the right to lampoon.

        Credit that to CNN and MSNBC adrift in dismal ratings; their characters struggle to capture a following. Throwing the Olberman character into the mix on Current TV dilutes the liberal bias on cable TV.

        Manipulation is in the media, in business, in commerce and in every walk of life. The two-word mantra that everyone should have on the tip of their tongues under the threat of manipulation is “Buyer Beware.”

      4. PM says:

        Sure, caveat emptor is well and good, but at some level, society as a whole benefits from truth, from trust, from accuracy.

        we all feel that it is important for the government to invest in basic R&D–should they invest in R&D based on homeopathy instead of biosciences? Would that be good for all of us?

        Bottom line–there are things that are right, and things that are wrong. The world was not created in 6 days. plenty of people might really, in their heart of hearts, believe that, but it still is not truth. And it can be proven that the world is a lot older than 6,000 years, despite the belief of many in the inerrancy of the Bible as the Word of God.

        The point is that those incorrect, fallacious beliefs can hurt both them and others, and can hurt the country as a whole.

      5. Joe Loveland says:

        To my original point that “Fox and MSNBC are obviously biased, by design, and I worry that folks can’t seem to recognize that.”

        This survey proves that contention. It shows that over half (53%) of Fox viewers don’t understand that Fox has a conservative bias and 64% of MSNBC viewers don’t understand that MSNBC has a liberal bias.

        That’s why I worry, and why I’m not tracking with Gary’s contention: “Generally, they are able to recognize a liberal bias and a conservative bias. They deserve that level of credit.”

        Suggesting otherwise isn’t elitism. The data says that more than half don’t recognize the bias in these most biased outlets.

        (The data also show that my liberal brethren are even further in this fog than conservatives, contrary to my earlier anecdotal observation. I was wrong about that. But the larger point remains: A huge chunk of the nation is in a fog.)

        I realize that no outlet can ever be completely unbiased. But Americans need to understand that there is a big difference between outlets that have designed their operations around doing their very best to avoid bias and outlets like MSNBC, KTLK, Fox News, and KTNF that have designed their operations with the express purpose of pushing a biased point of view.

    3. Gary Pettis says:

      The other day after my truck was fixed, one of the mechanics behind the counter was on a tangent about “this Rap sh_t.” He hates the music, hates the people with big sound systems in their vehicles, and hates the fact that people don’t recognize that the lyrics of rap music is sexist , racist and promoting violence.

      Joe, you’re making the same sort of “why don’t they get it?” argument in your comments. That is, some people should be smarter or be made smarter to understand that the news they are watching is the scoop with a biased twist.

      The mechanics point was “why don’t those people understand the quality of the music made by the Allman Brothers and Bob Seger?”

      Oh, the good old days. What is one to do when things today are not as good as they were yesterday (e.g,,unbiased news coverage)?

      If you are seeing flaws in how the message in being delivered, let the forces within the market make any corrections necessary. Still, rap music and biased news coverage will be with us for a while. And maybe the market as a whole doesn’t see a problem with either.

      We could start a non-profit called “Beware of Media Bias,” and use a zombie theme in our communications, as there is a resurgence of zombie popularity. But getting funding might be a problem.

      1. Joe Loveland says:

        The difference is that the health of the democracy isn’t dependent on critical thinking about music and coverage of music. It is dependent on critical thinking about issues and coverage of issues.

      2. Gary: As Joe suggests, the disconnect for me in your argument is the inference that the market matters most. The market will decide what argument stands or falls, and that whether a large-ish chunk of people are, even temporarily, believing a lot of stuff that has no basis in reality doesn’t matter all that much in the long run.

        And over the course of a millenia or the time it takes to carve the next Grand Canyon that is true. (Assuming you’re not one of those conservatives who chooses to believe that Canyon carving went down in six days, just like the Bible says.) But none of us are going to last that long. We live only now. (Other than the conservative “rapture” crowd, of course.)

        The discussions here are in the context of issues of this day, and how best to resolve them. The market will always present consumers with products it can consume easily. But the market has no stake in problem resolution beyond increasing shareholder value.

        This is why I often say that there’s a nihilistic quality to arguments like yours. When it comes to the “selling” of information for decision-making, there is, I’m arguing, a higher standard, a moral standard, to be met well beyond than “what plays best in the marketplace”.

        I often get the response that if FoxNews wasn’t telling it like it is it wouldn’t be the highest rated cable news channel. I think you can see the dissonance there. Porn would “outsell” Fox if it went to basic cable.

        I have all sorts of problems with what we now think of as old-school mainstream news, your Walter Cronkite model, for example. That model too is based on very commercial calculation. Its default logic is that the status quo is something you challenge only irregularly and with high deference. That model needed an adjunct.

        The on-going FoxNews v . MSNBC debate is obviously a microcosmic focus. What I was trying to say as regards Olbermann is that he is emblematic of the new “sell” of 21st century news — news with opinion and advocacy embedded within. It fills a marketplace vacuum. But beyond that, and this is my essential point, for all his cartoonish bluster, ego and self-importance, Olbermann and the rest of the MSNBC line-up seems to have a commitment to the most vital aspect of information, namely the truth of it, than the competitor it spends so much time ridiculing. Far — far — too often FoxNews has ignored if not flagrantly distorted the truth of the matter in pursuit of “market” appeal.

        Truth matters.

      3. Mike Kennedy says:

        Ah, morality. There is a moral obligation to tell the truth. Really?

        Is is moral or truthful to quote one part of what a person said but leave out the rest that could change the meaning and/or context?

        Is it moral or truthful to charge someone with thinking or believing something in which you have no proof?

        Is moral or truthful not to report something that could contradict something that you did report? (I believe it’s called errors of omission).

        The laugher to all this is that MSNBC is dedicated to “the truth.” Anyone with any functioning grey matter knows Fox News isn’t without bias. I would argue most of its fans want the bias.

        And in the end, what’s with all the morality, anyway?

        Those religous nuts who believe in an after life have it all wrong. We’re just here for the short term so why not try to screw anyone and everyone we can?

        Perhaps most humorous of all, though, is the challenging the status quo. Liberal minded people who place all their faith and hopes in government are the last to challenge the status quo (unless the status quo is Republican).

        Yes, there are news outlets that attempt to report just the facts, but, being run by people, bias can’t help but remain ever present and sometimes it shows, perhaps ever so subtle.

        Being biased is part of being human. We all have biases and we tend to navigate toward those who confirm them, and we tend to seek out evidence to support them.

        In the end, we each have to try to recoginze those biases the best we can and try to test them by seeking out other views and evidence. But that takes a lot of work and effort.

      4. Jim Leinfelder says:

        I take it then, Mike, that it’s your contention that the folks in the streets of Cairo represent the conservative sentiment in Egypt triumphing over entrenched liberalism.

      5. Mike Kennedy says:

        Jim:

        Well, it was Joe Biden (or as I like to call him Sir Foot in Mouth) that characterized Mr. Mubarek as “not a dictator.” So, I guess I’m all wet about what form of government Egypt had.

        Let’s ask Uncle Joe. Was Mr. Mubarek a liberal or a conservative?

        In reality, I’m not sure how what’s going on in Egypt lends any illustrative example to our politics and philosophies here — oh, wait. They are identical. I see, now.

      6. Mike Kennedy says:

        BTW, JIm, you bring up a good point.

        Far lefties ridicule those who believe in Christianity — that crazy Jesus. He pulled some early David Copperfield’s on the dopey masses.

        But they are the first to defend Muslims and their beliefs — after life and all. Why, aren’t the Muslims just as looney, daffy and misguided as the Christians? Funny. I’ve never heard that.

      7. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Mike:

        Religions have their conservative and their liberal thinkers. Jesus = liberal. The Pharisees = Conservative.

        In general, the fundamentalists of any religion are not the liberal thinkers, they are the conservatives. The Taliban, for example, cling to a conservative, backward-oriented strain of Islam. They generally use force and fear to enforce their calcified orthodoxy.

        Liberals perform the hermeneutics. Conservatives generally resist it. It’s the yin and yang of human evolution. One’s the engine, the other’s the governor on the engine.

      8. Gary Pettis says:

        Once someone made this remark about the Internet and the availability of information to the masses, paraphrasing, of course:

        “We are not a society about to be under the thumb of Big Brother, instead, we are about to become a society of Little Brothers with videocams, blogs, boutique news Websites, etc.”

        These Little Brothers include CNN’s i-Reporters and those protesters on the streets of Tehran who shot video with their mobile devices and posted the videos on YouTube. Replay this scene in Egypt. The number of news disseminators around the world has grown at least a thousand-fold since the days of ABC, NBC and CBS.

        The truth comes out in the wash more today than ever before. There are simply too many reservoirs of information flowing news, data and opinion to those who want to fill their cups.

        However, there will always be that tug-a-war between the public’s right to now and the need to keep information private or classified. There are always filters delivering spin or one-sided talking points.

        The truth is out there and there is plenty of folks chasing it down in addition to Mulder and Scully. Like it or not, Wikileaks stretched the size of the playing field.

        Who among us does not have the itch to break out their mobile devices with video camera features if we sense a news story is about to break and we want to shoot video of it?

      9. Mike Kennedy says:

        Oh, brother.

        Wait………..I thought liberals were all about evolution, you know…….there is no God, no after life. Jesus was a man. The Bible is fiction and all of that. I’m confused. Please explain.

      10. PM says:

        Mike: there are both conservative and liberal atheists. see: http://secularright.org/SR/wordpress/about/

        Further, there are both liberal and conservative believers–see Desmond Tutu for an example of a liberal theist.

        Further, there are some evangelicals who are liberal (Jimmy Carter).

        And, there are religious believers who support evolution (the Catholic Church does, for example)

        There are, i think, very few if any liberal fundamentalists. Frankly, i think that someone who believes in a rigid unchanging absolutist view of the world can not, by definition, be liberal–a liberal being someone who is, in general, far more embracing of change than someone who is a conservative.

        Of course, liberal and conservative have changed their meaning over time–classic liberalism (think Burke and Hume) which was quite radical for its time, now forms the basis for what we today consider conservatism.

      11. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Well, I cannot help the errancy of your beliefs, Mike. As always, you paint with a broad brush dripping with beige paint.

        God or not, Jesus was a liberal thinker who was promoting egalitarianism and, like any other threat to the orthodox power structure of the era, was nailed to a cross for his efforts at the direction of conservatives seeking to hold onto and consolidate their hegemony–the Romans and their local enablers.

        Evolution and religion are not incompatible, Mike, in the minds of many religious scientists. They are not operating along the same line of inquiry. And no credible practitioner of either science or theology would claim to have reached any ultimate conclusions on the fundamental questions that animate their life’s work.

      12. Mike Kennedy says:

        Thanks, PM. You, as usual, make sense, and I agree with your points.

        My reason for starting this was that some on this board like to talke subtle and no so subtle shots at religion, but seem to be hypocritical in which religion and which political party they target.

        Jim, as usual, I have to marvel at some of your bent, yoga-like postures and poses.

        The Romans were conservative? Uh, the last I looked, conservatives didn’t want any overpowering central government. They want limited government (though some of more recent leaders didn’t practice that).

        Convervatives, also the last I looked, wanted to be left alone to practice their religion. I hardly think Roman rulers had that in mind.

        We do agree on one thing, however. Evolution and religion are not incompatible. Again, my remarks are directed at those who practice selective bashing of religion as it relates to politics.

      13. Mike Kennedy says:

        Besides, Jim, your labels of what you believe described conservatives and liberals back in Jesus’ time hardly fit today. Again, quite a stretch.

      14. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Mike:

        Make an effort.

        I’ll use your usual forensic gambit and assign you some reading: “Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography” by John Dominic Crossan, who also wrote: “The Historical Jesus.”

      15. Gary Pettis says:

        Since giving out assignments seems to be the theme of the day, may I suggest the downloading of “If Jesus Walked the World Today” by Alan Jackson and “Heart Like Mine” by Miranda Lambert?

        Miranda sings:

        ‘Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine
        I bet we’d get along just fine.
        He could calm a storm and heal the blind.
        And I bet He’d understand a heart like mine.

        So let’s put away those crayons being used to color those pages from Sunday School’s coloring book. The Good Lord looks a little off kilter when those funny colors are used like Wild Blue Yonder and Jazzberry Jam.

      16. Jim Leinfelder says:

        I have to go gargle after reading that, Gary.

        That post read like a Thomas Kincade painting looks. But, despite his financial troubles, Kincade’s living proof that nobody ever lost money underestimating the American intelligence/taste.

        Certainly that’s especially true when it comes to religion.

      17. Gary Pettis says:

        Hallelujah Brother!

        Your post brings this series of comments to a complete circle to the point where it all began.

        So here it is, nobody ever lost money underestimating the American intelligence/taste when it comes to preferred and selected news coverage. Some like a little Fox News and a little avant garde. Some like a little MSNBC and a little impressionism.

        Like tastes in art, let the viewer have the critical eye when it comes to watching cable news and trust the viewer to know what his or her likes and dislikes are when to comes to receiving the news from any source.

        To each his (or her) own.

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

        By the way, your post alludes that Thomas Kincade suffered personal financial troubles, but actually it was one of his affiliate companies that filed Chapter 11, similar to Northwest Airlines did when it was strapped for working capital. Minor slip up, I know, but as Brian stated so clearly today, “Truth Matters.”

        Gargling? Let’s hope that sore throat starts feeling better or your breath is wonderfully fresh for this Friday night.

      18. Mike Kennedy says:

        Well, now, professor Jim, thanks for the heads up on the addition to my reading list.

        Somehow, I suspect the author’s portrait of Jesus fits your views — shocker, there. I’m sure this guy has “the truth” about Jesus.

        There are plenty of religious scholars out there. What is it about this guy that has you so enamored? Just curious.

        Also caught your comment about the intelligence and taste of the American public. It’s that attitude that epitomizes for me what’s wrong with the left today — they are just too gosh darn smart for all the rest of the hicks in the sticks. The old if you don’t agree with me….you’re dumb. I marvel at the powerful logic there.

      19. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Well, Crossan’s no country and western lyricist, it’s true. And his theology is definitely heterodox. I’d say that my exposure to his work in my theology courses at that radical institution, the University of St. Thomas, definitely challenged some of the traditional catechism of my youth and helped me dovetail them with my more sophisticated and evolving adult worldview and cosmology.

        If you enjoy Elaine Pagels’ work, you might also enjoy Crossan’s stuff. For an economist such as yourself, I recommend Fr. Bernard Lonergan.

        As for your intellectual and aesthetic nihilism, well, I can’t get too interested in it, Mike, because it brings to an end any sort of meaningful intellectual discourse. So I’ll pass.

        I think that we can look to objective criteria and generally recognized aesthetic guidelines in order to assess the merit of art, craft, cuisine and, of course, people’s political/philosophic arguments, according to its foundation and coherence, as PM alluded to earlier. Lonergan calls it “critical realism.”

      20. Mike Kennedy says:

        Yep, just as I suspected on Crossan.

        You are nothing, Jim, if not predictable. However, I’m glad you are convinced you have a sophisticated and adult worldview from your university classes.

        I do find it amazing, though, by reading someone for any length of time, how you can see right through that person’s coat of psuedo intellectualism and clearly make out their well endowed ego/sociocentrism.

        It’s one of the more interesting things about interacting with others in writing, where you have more time to consider and ponder the words.

        Also, I believe PM was referring to finding truth by people seeking the truth it from a variety of sources and following or attempting to follow the tenants of true critical thinking. Yet even then, there remains doubt or should.

        After all, what was it that Bertrand Russell said about fools and fanatics always being certain of themselves? Can’t recall it off hand, but it seems to resonate.

      21. Erik Peterson says:

        Someone please direct me to the vintage Mother Jones or Nation article where atheistic, Marxist liberals first critique conservatives as nihilists. It obviously had a lasting impact. I’m quite serious, I really want to see the source for this amusement.

      22. Jim Leinfelder says:

        Okay, Mike, I guess we’re just down to personal insults now. You reference a book, the expectation is that people have a look at it. I do it, and, well, I couldn’t completely follow what you were asserting. But I got the derogatory drift, basically indicting me as a human being.

        As for the nihilism, it’s this consistent contention by Mike, whenever an issue arrises and anyone tries to assign responsibility, that every body does everything, there are no criteria for judging the merit of things and if you do you’re an elitist, etc.

      23. Gary Pettis says:

        I’m starting to feel like the Tom Cruise character in the movie “Vanilla Sky.” The reality around me is not as real as I imagined and the only recourse is to start shouting “tech support.”

        I found this to be a very lively and passionate series of comments from everybody and unsure of why things indeed went to the level of personal insults.

        So let’s throw this thing back to the Crowd leadership team and see what the next post is.

        And then let’s take it from there, and see how things progress. Is this the natural course of events that lead to insults or is it an anomaly?

        We’re all gentlepeople, aren’t we?

        My kudos to Newt for posting the latest cable news ratings and to Festus for providing the link regarding the Jesus Seminar.

      24. Mike Kennedy says:

        Jim, dimissing me in any meaningful intellectual discourse because you perceive me to be an intellectual nihilist basically threw down the gauntlet.

        You want to argue and debate issues, fine. You want to use authors to illustrate your points, fine. You want to provide evidence….fine.

        But if you want to take the gloves off and start going after one another personally, like you did…..well, I can go that route, too.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      So, do I also find this interesting because I’m biased against stupidity or cynical pandering? But is there any real way to know which of my ungovernable and unknowable biases inform my preference?

      1. PM says:

        How to recognize truth.

        yes, that is always a hard one. many people who get frustrated by this will go for the simple and clear root, and become rigid believers (maybe its scientology, maybe olbermann, maybe beck, maybe even Reagan hagiography) because they can’t deal with dissonance.

        Others go for the “its all relative, there is no truth” gambit. Cynicism and irony are kind of fun–make you feel very superior, after all.

        Still others fall back on others that they respect (which can sometimes lead into the first approach i noted before). But if you choose wisely, this might not be such a bad thing–or at least be willing to adjust when the one you respect displays feet of clay.

        Personally, i tend to opt for the coherence theories of truth–you need a bunch of sources (more is often better, but this can be a false god also), and you need to find things that cohere–fit together, and make sense.

  9. Festus says:

    Please explain the existence of Morning Joe.

    Saying Fox is biased is accurate since the programming is uniformly so. Saying MSNBC is biased is too broad a brush. At most you could say it is opinionated.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Very fair point. I’m talking about prime time programming on MSNBC, not the rest of it. In prime time, they clearly have organized around liberal commentary, not unbiased coverage or balanced commentary.

      1. Festus says:

        Survey responders might be taking a different view, and be talking of the programming as a whole when they don’t call MSNBC biased.. It is like a survey asking if you like the health care law. People who hate it are lumped in with people who think it doesn’t go far enough.

      2. Festus says:

        Also, although I watch very little cable or other TV, my impression from what I do watch is that the so-called liberal shows are overwhelmingly focused on refuting rightwing talking points. Which is to say, they are still talking about rightwing talking points. It seems there is very little airtime devoted to advancing a positiive progressive agenda without regard to what the rightwing might think of it.

  10. bertram jr says:

    Bertram Jr recommends that all you Fox News haters pick up the new Esquire, which contains a fantastic piece on Roger Ailes, the man behind the most succesful cable news network.

    It’s so successful because it simply provides a more honest and visually appealing analysis of what is happening in the world.

    With honest talent and an honest presentation. America LOVES it!

    THINKING american LOVE it!

    Oh, and the Brooklyn Decker cover is also pretty good stuff.

      1. Mike Kennedy says:

        In the immortal words of Ozzy Osbourne, “who the f…………is Brooklyn Decker?”

        And, I might add, what am I missing? Is she hot?

      2. PM says:

        Mrs. Andy Roddick, you mean? Si swimsuit model? Star of newest Adam Sandler movie? (and jim is right–the reviews, particularly of her acting ability, are not very good)

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      Hmmmm, note the inadvertent, but no doubt appropriate, use of the adjective, “fantastic,” regarding the Esquite piece on Roger Ailes, a brilliant impresario of the agitprop.

      Definition of FANTASTIC

      1
      a : based on fantasy : not real
      b : conceived or seemingly conceived by unrestrained fancy
      c : so extreme as to challenge belief : unbelievable; broadly : exceedingly large or great

  11. Newt says:

    Roger Ailes is without peers in American broadcasting. He’s two steps ahead of the nearest network boob, and five steps ahead of the nearest cable exec.

    In the marketplace of ideas, liberalism (and liberal content) has no buyers. Ailes (and Limbaugh) knew that and turned it into gold.

  12. Newt says:

    CABLE NEWS RACE
    THURS., FEB 10, 2010

    FOXNEWS O’REILLY 3,325,000
    FOXNEWS BAIER 2,335,000
    FOXNEWS HANNITY 2,293,000
    FOXNEWS BECK 2,243,000
    FOXNEWS SHEP 1,936,000
    FOXNEWS GRETA 1,744,000
    CNN BLITZER 1,036,000
    CNN MORGAN 941,000
    MSNBC HARDBLL 844,000
    MSNBC O’DONNELL 843,000
    CNN COOPER 826,000
    MSNBC MADDOW 765,000
    CNN PARKERSPITZER 724,000
    MSNBC SHULTZ 575,000

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