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In Tebow We Trust

From The Scrapbook

Jan 23, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 18 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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But it would be inane to criticize Romney like this in a news story, because he’s not actually putting the word “apologize” in the president’s mouth. Does Brisbane seriously not know the difference between a factual assertion and a characterization? It appears he doesn’t. A reporter might be expected to challenge the former, but the issue of refereeing characterizations in the name of fairness is a much more complicated one that goes to the heart of a paper’s credibility. More often than not, it’s not within the purview of news reporters. 

The sane response for Brisbane would be to ask why some readers are so incensed by the accurate quotation of Mitt Romney’s rhetoric on the front page they can’t be bothered to turn to the editorial page, where columnists such as Krugman are employed precisely to give voice to their objections.

But if the New York Times has to ask whether it should report the facts and then answers its own question in such a way as to convincingly demonstrate it has no concept of what being objective even means, it truly is doomed.

The Olbermann Deficit

The Scrapbook has fond memories of Keith Olbermann, the volatile cable talking head. In a career distinguished as much by its instability as its substance​—​in a handful of years he has been variously employed by CNN, Fox, ESPN, MSNBC, and Current TV​—​we came to enjoy his impassioned, Senator Claghorn-style denunciations of Republicans and, in particular, President George W. Bush. Not because we agreed with anything he had to say​—​Olbermann is a mindless liberal partisan and, in the words of one former boss, a self-evident “nut”​—​but because the saying of it was so entertaining. Kind of like watching somebody else’s deep-voiced toddler having a meltdown. Olbermann’s unique combination of left-wing piety, uncontrollable rage, comic pomposity, and manic glossolalia could be found nowhere else in the televised universe.

Unfortunately, The Scrapbook has been Olbermann-deprived for several months now. Last year he had an inevitable falling-out with the “Lean Forward” folks at MSNBC, and settled in at Current TV, a media project of former Vice President Al Gore and one of his rich friends, Joel Hyatt. Never heard of Current TV? Neither had we, and despite The Scrapbook’s residence in the nation’s political capital, we haven’t been able to find it on any of the local cable services, either.

That is, The Scrapbook​—​and 312.8 million other Americans since, according to the New York Times, Olbermann’s present audience is estimated to be about 200,000 viewers, ​down from a reported million at MSNBC. But we still love him, and here’s why. The Times informs us that Olbermann and Current TV are furious with one another (he and Gore reportedly don’t speak), and it is probably just a matter of time before Olbermann explodes, yet again, and stalks away from his employer of six months, which is paying him $50 million over the course of a five-year contract. By The Scrapbook’s rough calculation, that’s approximately $50 per viewer, on an annual basis, being drained from the wallets of Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, and wasted on Olbermann.

Thanks, Keith!

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