To that end I watched both Bill O'Reilly on Fox and Keith Olbermann on MSNBC from 8 to 9PM on Monday and Tuesday evenings. (Olbermann wasn't on Wednesday night.) I flipped back and forth to make sure I didn't miss any guests.
My impression was confirmed.
On Monday evening, most of O'Reilly's guests had conservative views, but he did have Juan Williams, a liberal, and also Mary Ann Marsh, a Democratic strategist. Williams generally tones himself down when on Fox, so let's count Monday night's tally as one and a half Democrats. On Tuesday, O'Reilly interviewed Joe Sestak and Anthony Weiner, both Democratic Congressmen. He interviewed Alan Colmes, one of Fox's two token in-house liberals. And he had on legal expert Jennifer Smetters, who argued vigorously with O’Reilly, although she didn't seem a political animal. We’ll call that three and a half Democrats for Tuesday night.
Keith Olbermann had on exactly zero Republicans Monday night. His guests included Chuck Schumer, Ariana Huffington, Chris Hayes (the
This trend tends to continue, by the way, for the next hour. Sean Hannity of Fox does occasionally have Democrats on (though generally not as many as O'Reilly), whereas Rachel Maddow of MSNBC has no Republicans on her show.
What does it say about a talk show host that he won’t allow any opposing viewpoints? Is he afraid to get into an argument because he knows, or at least senses, that the facts won’t back him up? Is it intellectual laziness? Is he afraid that the brittleness of his personality will be exposed by having to face an actual opponent?
Is it all of the above?
Liberals are always forever congratulating themselves on their open-mindedness. Yet one would think true open-mindedness would require at least hearing the counter argument. But neither Olbermann nor Maddow is willing to do this. (So much for "diversity.")
This is in keeping with attitude of liberals on campus, who will often shout down conservative speakers in an effort to prevent them from getting their message across. Part of the reason for this, of course, is their fear that an audience might be swayed by their opponents' arguments. (Conservatives on campus simply don’t do this to liberal speakers.)
In election years, candidates will often try to make it appear that their opponent is the one unwilling to debate. Fox seems to have won this battle.
Watch O'Reilly, and after a while it becomes apparent that crocodile smile exudes smugness. His driving force seems to be egotism. Watch Olbermann, and it quickly becomes apparent that he’s driven by hate, the emotion liberals love to disparage yet themselves indulge in so frequently. With Olbermann, it’s his very lifeblood. You’ll never hear him say much positive about the left; he far prefers to spend his hour insulting Republicans.
There are also undercurrents of hysteria and compulsiveness that pervade Olbermann's presentation. He doesn't seem able to help himself: he absolutely must sneer at every Republican he mentions. On Tuesday night alone, Obermann referred to Rick "Mad Dog" Santorum," "Failed presidential candidate Fred Thompson," "Lead teabaggist Dick Armey," "apparent Adirondack expert Newt Gingrich" (who had gotten into an argument with other Republicans over whether to support the Republican or Conservative candidate in a local race), "streetwalker for the insurance industry" (in reference to a Republican who didn't support the health bill, I didn't catch the name), and "the torture President" (Bush).
The reference to Armey, for those unfamiliar with it, was Olbermannn's way of twisting the Republican term "tea parties," named after the famous Boston one which preceded the Revolutionary War, into "teabagging," a sexual practice among gay men. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other, making this a completely gratuitous and nonsensical reference on Olbermann's part. Had a Republican said this, he would of course have been accused of being homophobic.
When O'Reilly and Sean Hannity have Democrats on their show, they are generally polite, if argumentative. One gets the sense that this would be beyond Olbermann's capacity.
This isn't even an indictment of all of MSNBC. Chris Matthews, a liberal who hosts an earlier show, exudes earnestness and good will. Pat Buchanan, of all people, is a regular commentator. Unfortunately, MSNBC has reserved prime time for their most rigid, strident voices.
[This post was accepted by Takimag.com; here is the link:
I hadn't been sure what the etiquette/rules are for this, but the editor there, Richard Spencer, told me it was fine to have it both places.]