Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comment” last Friday regarding Hillary Clinton’s RFK remark prompted this special comment from Time blogger James Poniewozik: “Every time [Olbermann] turns up the volume to 11 like this lately, he sounds like just another of the cable gasbags he used to be a corrective to.”
Poniewozik’s larger point, however, about Olbermann’s “outburst” is that it:
[R]eminds me of how the long Democratic primary has divided the left-of-center media (or at least, the media outlets with a left-of-center audience) into camps, like a bad divorce. Personalities and institutions that were once universally beloved by people who were sick of the Bush administration have either taken sides, or have been perceived to, splintering what used to be a unified and largely uncritical amen chorus.
Most of the perceived side-takers have been on the Obama side, as we’ve seen—it’s not just Olbermann, Daily Kos and the Huffington Post, but even some viewers of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report…have gotten alienated by the shows’ attacks on Hillary Clinton. (I haven’t sat down with a stopwatch to see if they mock her more than Obama, but they certainly mock her better.) There are fewer pro-Clinton equivalents, but Saturday Night Live, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and my old employer Salon.com have all taken criticism for carrying water for Hillary, from the same sorts of people who loved them when they were knocking Bush and Cheney.
Back to Olbermann:
It’s probably asking too much, but maybe the experience of being annoyed by someone you used to constantly agree with could teach political audiences something about how they have appeared all along to their adversaries. Think about it: if you’ve found yourself suddenly irritated by any of the people or outlets I mentioned above this election, is it really they who’ve changed? Or are they simply less charming when they’re not confirming your comfortable beliefs?
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.