A Stunning Assault On The Citadel Of Media Objectivity

Today MSNBC indefinitely suspended Keith Olbermann, the host of the cable network’s Countdown program, after it learned that Olbermann had made contributions to three political campaigns — all for Democratic candidates.

I applaud MSNBC management for acting promptly to safeguard the network’s hard-earned reputation for objectivity and balance in its coverage of American politics.  It is hard to believe that Olbermann, who is one of the paragons of temperate commentary and unbiased reporting in the new media, would not have understood that contributing money to political candidates was grossly inconsistent with MSNBC’s high standards of journalistic integrity.  After all, it is not as if the network would allow news show hosts to routinely describe political figures of particular viewpoints as “the worst person in the world,” or to regularly launch harshly worded, mean-spirited attacks in an effort to drum up better ratings.

I’m sure that MSNBC’s other prime time news show hosts, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow, have never provided any support, financial or otherwise, to any political party or movement.  Both Matthews and Maddow are universally recognized for their even-handed treatment of political news and have contributed tremendously to high esteem which every rational person must feel for MSNBC and its fair and credible treatment of opposing viewpoints.

Bye Bye Blue Dogs

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Time and time again polling data seems to indicate now more than ever that we Americans want our politicians to work together to achieve compromise on issues that are important to us. The problem which this article points out is that one faction of the Congress, the Blue Dogs took a huge hit after Tuesday’s election.

The Blue Dog Democrats have always been intriguing to me because they are the moderate to conservative Democrats committed to financial security and national security who favor compromise and bipartisanship over ideology and party discipline. What an interesting concept !

The Blue Dogs have faced criticism from the political left because of their efforts to find common ground and the left feels that their initiatives have been watered down because of them. It’s only my opinion, but I think we need more of these types of politicians right now as opposed to less. People who are willing to work on bridging the gap between the right and the left trying to find common ground.

It’s not only happening on the left, but as I mentioned in a prior blog, George Voinovich, a moderate broke ranks with the Republicans and sided with the Democrats by voting for a much needed Small Business Reform package. He did so not only because it was the right thing to do for the country, but because he wasn’t seeking re-election. Lincoln Chaffey from Rhode Island and Arlen Spector from Pennsylvania were moderate Republicans who were either forced out of the party or had to change party.

Due to the large number of Tea Party candidates and the loss of so many Blue Dogs and moderate Republicans I am afraid compromise, bipartisanship and common ground will be if the aren’t already things of the past.

A Chance To Do Some Comparison Shopping

The 2010 midterm elections will leave the United States House of Representatives controlled by Republicans and the United States Senate controlled by Democrats.  It is unusual for one House of Congress to be controlled by one party while the other House is controlled by the other party — and it will give American voters a real opportunity to do some comparison shopping.

We should be able to compare how each party runs their House during the same political environment.  Which issues will get the most attention in the House, and which in the Senate?  Will there be significant differences in their focus?  Will they respond to the inevitable crises in different ways?  How will they conduct their affairs and discharge their duties?  Will robust debate and floor amendments be permitted by the rules in one House, but not in the other?  Will congressional hearings and fact-finding really address the nuts and bolts of issues, or will it be used for grandstanding?  Will members of the minority party be treated with decency and respect and be given a chance to meaningfully participate?  Will the legislators roll up their sleeves and discharge their constitutional obligation to do things like establish budgets and pass appropriations bills?

I, for one, would like to see Members of Congress stop trying to become media celebrities and instead focus on doing their jobs — so that Congress actually will fulfill its constitutional legislative role in a meaningful way.  During the next two years of a Congress divided, we will see, from their actions, how the Senate Democrats and House Republicans actually attempt to govern.  That is a lot more instructive than listening to the latest set of talking points.