MSNBC trying out “unbiased” replacement for Imus; whither Olbermann?
So, Matt Drudge is reporting that MSNBC is going to try out Michael Smerconish for the Imus spot. Word floating around is that they won’t even consider a progressive host (like the folks at Air America, for instance) because they’re “too biased.”
Okay, that’s fine in principle. So this means that Smerconish is “unbiased” – cool! Except, well, judge for yourself, courtesy of Media Matters:
- On the June 20 edition of Scarborough Country, Smerconish trivialized reports of detainee abuse as “naked pyramid pictures” at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and “play[ing] Christina Aguilera music a bit too loud” at the U.S. detention facility in GuantÃ¡namo Bay.
- Substituting for host Bill O’Reilly on the April 4, 2006, broadcast of Westwood One’s The Radio Factor, nationally syndicated radio host Michael Smerconish repeatedly discussed “the sissification of America,” claiming that political correctness has made the United States “a nation of sissies.” Smerconish also claimed, several times, that this “sissification” and “limp-wristedness” is “compromising our ability to win the war on terror.”
- On the November 23, 2005, broadcast of The Radio Factor, while guest-hosting, Smerconish took issue with a decision by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority to provide a designated prayer area at Giants Stadium. The decision was in response to a September 19 incident involving the FBI’s detention and questioning of five Muslim men who were observed praying near the stadium’s main air duct during a New York Giants football game. Smerconish stated: “I just think that’s [the men’s public praying] wrong. I just think they’re playing a game of, you know, mind blank with the audience. And that they should know better four years removed from September 11.”
- On the November 23, 2005, edition of The Radio Factor, Smerconish interviewed Soo Kim Abboud, author of Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers — and How You Can Too (Penguin, 2005). Smerconish asserted that “if everyone follows Dr. Abboud’s prescription … you’re going to have women who will leave the home and now get a great-paying job, because you will have gotten them well educated.” He continued, “But then they’re not going to be around to instill these lessons in their kids. In other words, it occurs to me that perhaps you’ve provided a prescription to bring this great success to an end.”
Now, I’m not here to argue politics. But I do take issue with the suggestion that Air America is biased and Smerconish isn’t. If you’re saying that either you’re stupid or you think I am, and neither path leads to Credibility City, you know?
So I got an e-mail from somebody we’ll call a “well-placed source in the broadcasting industry,” and said person prefers to remain anonymous. Here’s what he said:
This is outrageous. So, Smerconish who is a complete right-wing conservative, Scarborough, Tucker Carlson and Glenn Beck are not biased because they are conservative but all liberals are biased by definition.I am seething over this. This is what I’ve been screaming about for the last four years – if they only put conservatives on cable news, our message gets bottled up and dies on the vine.
77% of Americans still get their news from television. Plus, those three stations (CNN, MSNBC, and Fox) are on in every newspaper, radio, magazine and television office in the country. They have undue influence on the rest of the media.
How do you fire Imus and hire another right-winger? And Smerconish by the way will be a lot more right wing and Republican than Imus ever was.
It would be a crime if they put this guy into that slot under the radar and then we have another conservative talk show host on cable. And yet another slot doesn’t go to a progressive. And this is MSNBC for Christ’s sake, the only reason they have any ratings is because of Olbermann. Will these guys never learn?
The Olbermann issue is the most interesting for me, and the more we see this kind of behavior from MSNBC the more I think it opens KO up to charges that he’s not really Ed Murrow, he just plays him on TV. If you really are the thing that Olbermann presents himself as, how do you sit quietly?
I’m not punking Olbermann – I’m asking what strikes me as a valid question. Maybe there are good answers there, and given the righteously well-deserved nard-stompings he’s laid on Dubya and Cheney and other members of the Kleptocracy I want to give Keith every benefit of every doubt. But the easy question, the one those of us who follow the money tend to ask first, is whether he sees political perspective as product. If I’m asking the question, you can bet there are those out there looking for a way of depostioning him who might want to work the angle, too.
NOTE and UPDATE: I have edited slightly since my original post. Feedback at that time (Booth, Marsh, Nix) made clear to me that I hadn’t communicated very clearly on my Olbermann point and that I was coming off as being unduly critical of him.
Perhaps violating blog etiquette a bit, I “fixed” my post in ways that I hoped came closer to my original intent. In the process, I may have inadvertently pulled the rug out from under those commenters – in the context of the post as it now reads, their concerns may seem a bit off-base.
I apologize for inadvertently decontextualizing them. Their remarks were dead-on as the post originally appeared, and I’m grateful to them for illustrating my errors. Mea culpa.