I like Keith Olbermann’s TV show, Countdown, and I couldn’t care less about Paris Hilton. But watching him last night I was dismayed — again — by the meanness and stupidity and exploitative nature of his coverage of Paris Hilton. She isn’t news anymore. If he insists on covering her, doing it in such a vicious and meanspirited way can only be to entertain and pander to the basest instincts of TV viewers. It says something about Olbermann and his TV colleagues on all the channels, regardless of politics, who are doing the same thing. What it says about them isn’t very pretty.
I’ll grant you the Hilton coverage doesn’t rise to the obcene level of the news media’s distortions and cheerleading in the run up and aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. But it is still malignant and venomous, even on its tiny scale. And I think it’s fair to call him on it. Of course it’s not just Olberman. Almost all who are covering Paris Hilton at this point are doing it in the same smarmy and brutal way. I’m singling him out because he ought to know better.
And we need him to know better. If he wants the respect of political progressives he has to earn it and not squander what he has legitimately earned through taking courageous and eloquent stands on principle.
Meanness is not a progressive value.