The recent buzz around the conservative blogosphere (and a bit on the liberal side, too) is that Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews will no longer be anchoring MSNBC’s election coverage specials. 

I have never considered hosts of opinion shows — including Matthews and Olbermann, as well as O’Reily, Beck and Dobbs — as examples of bias at a network one way or the other.  The sum total of “opinionators” and their leanings at a network might be indicative (i.e. if they all lean one way or the other), but their specific pronouncements never seemed to me to be fair game for claiming bias.  Of course they’re biased; that’s their programs’ stock in trade.  They have an opinion, and it comes out in their “Talking Point Memo” or their interviews or whatever.  The bias is the purpose for the show.

On the other hand, bias when it comes to those in the more pure journalistic endeavors — news anchors and reporters — those folks have a higher standard to attain to.  Their stock in trade is their even-handedness and objectivity.  When they abdicate that responsibility, then I see it as fair game for scrutiny.

In this, MSNBC crossed way, way over the line putting Matthews and Olbermann in the anchor chairs for their convention coverage.  The idea that they thought they could get away with this and still insist they’re objective and balanced strained credibility to the breaking point.  All the networks had other opinion folks on to give their takes on the events of the day, and that’s fine, too.  But MSNBC put guys with their own opinion shows in the anchor chair during two events that are already very partisan.  This says a lot about the editorial leanings at the network.  At least they’re doing the right thing now, though why they thought this was ever a good idea is beyond me.  The liberal bias in the editorial room is probably mistaken for “mainstream”.

Filed under: DougLiberalMediaTelevision

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