Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Clinton, Wallace, Olbermann

I just reminded myself why I don't watch a lot of TV news.

President Clinton's smackdown of Fox News' Chris Wallace yesterday is all over the news, of course, but not having seen clips of it, I figured I'd check out “The Most Trusted Name In News” to see what was up.

So I watched a segment of CNN's Paula Zahn Now. With remarkable effort, she tried to get James Carville and Paul Begala to admit that Clinton's response to Wallace was a calculated ploy to stir up the Democrats before the election.

Timing, don'cha know.

I wish I could properly convey the vibrating glee Paula showed during the exchange. The smirking, the impatience with their answers, the insistence of a political motive. Truly bile-inducing.

Fortunately, Carville and Begala were having none of it. Both essentially said his response was appropriate, and that if it stirred up the Democratic base, fine. But it certainly wasn't his primary objective.

But this is what news has become. The bias is so pervasive, it's hard to remember what news should be. For a glimpse of that, I watched the last half-hour of Keith Olbermann's Countdown. Sure, there was some silly stuff--the “Oddball” segment, and the bit about “kung fu racecar drivers.” A break from the morbidity, I suppose.

Then he got down to Number One, his take on the Wallace/Clinton interview. Olbermann's analysis was so thorough and so lucid, I had to remind myself I was watching cable news. For those last ten minutes or so, I really found some hope for television journalism.

That hope is still tempered by the lack of a Fairness Doctrine, but I found myself wondering, if Keith Olbermann can do it on MSNBC in 2006—provide a counterbalance to the histrionics of the Right—maybe others might see the wisdom in following his example.

I can dream.

As for the Clinton interview, I hope Olbermann was right: Our former President basically gave us (Democrats) the green light to call the current President's bluff on terrorism, the Republican cornerstone of this election cycle. We should step up to that challenge.

He said, essentially, you're not going to blame this one on me. This guy was in office for eight months prior to 9/11/01, and he did nothing about bin Laden or terrorism. I tried, I failed, but I did try. Bush did not try.

And wasn't it nice to have somebody respond in an impassioned, forceful, articulate way to a right-wing sniper? We may have to thank Chris Wallace after all, if Olbermann turns out to be right.

For my part, I'll still rely on the few dozen RSS feeds I have for news, plus my local paper and a few magazine subscriptions. At least until we have more Keith Olbermanns out there.

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