Lefty WaPo Columnist Quits Olbermann’s ‘Countdown’ Over Dispute With Host
By: Warner Todd Huston
It appears that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has dumped his appearances on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” Host Olbermann issued a DailyKos diary explaining the dust up on Monday, August 4. According to Olbermann, the problem came in when Milbank violated Keith Olbermann’s well-known journalistic standards. Of course, I jest about that… not that there was a disagreement but that there are any journalistic standards in the Olbermann camp.
Now, for a man that is supposed to make his mark with words and for a man the left constantly claims is eloquent, Olbermann’s diary explanation is quite badly written. But, the gist of the matter is that Olbermann has supposedly been asking Milbank for “nearly a week” if an Obama quote in one of his Washington Post stories was sourced and reported accurately. Apparently Milbank took exception to having his own journalistic integrity questioned by a sports guy.
(Milbank’s original column was headlined: President Obama Continues Hectic Victory Tour)
Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, who notified us today that after four years appearing with us, he had accepted another television offer.
This saved your crack Countdown staff an increasingly difficult decision.
For nearly a week we’d been waiting for him to offer a correction or an explanation for his column from last week in which he apparently reported an Obama quote without a full context turned the meaning of the quote inside-out.
Then he called criticisms of his column “whines” even though the dispute was over whether Obama said the self-deprecating: “It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign — that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions” — or only the part about “I have just become a symbol…”
We had decided not to have Dana on this news-hour again until this was cleared up, and, sadly after some very happy years, he’s apparently chosen to make that cloud permanent.
Of course, I don’t claim to be the best grammarian, but this thing is a mess.
Anyway, on his DailyKos diary after the main announcement, the MSNBC mouth also added some obsequious, meely-mouthing apparently trying to making sure his fans don’t imagine he is too harsh on a fellow traveller. Not a very brave stance to take. After all, a man with conviction would stand up for his standards whether violators come from his side of the ideological divide or not.
Anybody who would come on television to talk about the Dick Cheney shoot-up, wearing an orange safety vest and a hunter’s cap automatically gets my benefit of the doubt. But even that had a shelf-life, which was nearing, when he took any further decision-making out of our hands. It was quite a surprise conclusion, obviously, and I’ll take it (before anybody tries to take it back).
I’m sure that wasn’t his intention, but often one’s best work is inadvertent. I’m just as sure his version of the provenance of the original version of the quote the Post’s source provided was accurate. What happened thereafter was the problem.
This is one thing that definitely stands out in this situation. Olbermann’s feigned deference to Milbank is so hypocritical it elicits outright laughter. Too obviously Olbermann is bending over backwards not to call Milbank a liar over his earlier column about Obama and he falls all over himself to give Milbank every benefit of the doubt, deserved or no. But there is no mistaking the fact that Olbermann is calling Milbank a liar, regardless.
But, in contrast to his absurdist rants on the air about how he hates those he normally finds less than forthcoming, despite his posing as the brave, stalwart standing up for what is right, in spite of his excoriation of those that don’t live up to his supposedly high standards, Milbank is treated with kid gloves here. One might call Olbie quite a hypocrite for his soft touch with someone on his own ideological side of the line… and I think I shall, if you don’t mind too terribly.
A big question is, if Keith Olbermann was so upset at Milbank, if he felt Milbank was not telling the truth, why did Olbermann not call him out on the air like he does his ideological enemies? Was he really so afraid that the fans would be upset? Is Olbermann’s dedication to his “principles” so shallow? Shouldn’t one hold to principle no matter who gets mad over it? That’s what Bush does, doesn’t he? He holds to his principles no matter who gets mad. Is Olbermann made of of less moral fiber than Bush? (I know you can answer that question) False bravado does not speak well from the so-called champion of the people.
Of course, there is the other thing that smacks of a playground taunt. Olbie said that he had “decided not to have Dana on this news-hour again” until Milbank addressed Olbie’s questions. But, since Olbie never said any of this on the air and since the question was never aired in public so everyone knew what was going on, it seems more like Olbie is acting the part of the beaten up third grader yelling to the school yard bully, “Yeah, you better run,” after the bully was long gone from the playground. How do we know that Olbie made any such principled decision? The truth is we don’t.
I also find it amusing that Olbermann keeps referring to his little circus as a “news hour.” His is obviously an analysis and opinion show, whether you agree with his politics or not, and not “news.”
So, the man who prides himself on standing up and speaking truth to power gives one of those on his own side a pass, and grovels while he does it.
Quite hypocritical, indeed. And very unseemly.