Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm just now reading the piece in The New Yorker profiling Keith Olbermann. It's a pretty good read but I get to this sentence and pause: "Olbermann’s success, like O’Reilly’s, is evidence of viewer cocooning—the inclination to seek out programming that reinforces one’s own firmly held political views."

I'm willing to concede that most viewers watching Olbermann most likely agree with the partisan slant of his show, fine, got that, but when will the media stop trying to symetrically compare a Bill O'Reilly with a Keith Olbermann? I watch Olbermann not just because he's a welcome relief from the overt, extreme right-wing slant of Fox (and yet they're "fair and balanced"), but more so because I believe truth and reality is being reported and conveyed on his program. That is a HUGE difference between these two on-air personalities, something that goes far beyond partisan stripes and so-called "cocooning." If I began to even remotely sense that Keith was distorting things here and twisting things there to better get his message across, I would be gone in a heartbeat. Needless to say, O'Reilly does just that, fabricating and distorting on a nightly basis, AND he's called out on it BUT his audience doesn't seem to care.

That's the big difference, I believe, between Keith viewers and O'Reilly viewers. Yes, Keith viewers are going to want a liberal slant to the program content BUT they're also going to expect and demand that whatever is stated on the program is as accurate and truthful as possible, and frankly Olbermann does a pretty darn good job on this front. O'Reilly violates the accuracy and truthful litmus test regularly and yet his audience doesn't seem to care a wit; as long as the warm and comfortable "cocooning" is occurring, they're happy as a clam -- facts be damned.

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