GetReligion tweaked Keith Olbermann when he turned an e-mail campaign by Focus on the Family into national news on his weeknight MSNBC newscast. Liz Halloran of the Hartford Courant revisits the Olbermann-Focus battle of darkness and light in an email Q&A. Halloran uses a few sneer quotes (and the equally subtle phrase so-called) to telegraph her sympathies. A few sample softballs:
Q: "Countdown" mixes news and commentary with humor and edge. With ever more readers/viewers convinced that journalists are biased anyway, do you think your show's format is the way of the future -- a "Daily Show With Jon Stewart" attitude, but with real instead of fake news?
Q: You've described yourself as non-political and nonpartisan and have said you don't vote. But often the tone, if not the content, of your show can suggest otherwise, and conservative folks like those at the "Olbermann Watch" blog refer to you as "rabidly leftist." If not political, what are the basic standards you use to evaluate policy, for example, or candidates and politicians?
Q: Do you think criticism of the so-called mainstream media is warranted, and why? What must the mainstream media do to recapture the trust of readers/viewers?
Olbermann says he believes criticism of the mainstream media is always justified, so long as it's real media criticism and not a political campaign.
And there's this exchange, in which an organization's incorporated name cannot be taken at face value, but must be qualified with those precious inverted commas:
Q: On [Bloggermann], you tweak O'Reilly, quote Felix Ungar, give Brit Hume of Fox News the business for "premeditated, historical fraud," ponder the identity of Deep Throat, and pretty much start a war with the "Focus on the Family" religious conservatives. What can you do on your blog that you can't on "Countdown"?
A: Mostly the blog is an opportunity to go at length on topics, to tear off the restraints of writing copy to fit time deadlines. With breaking news, of course, it's like being your own wire service. And there is a little more space for opinion, although I believe in something rare on the Net -- that you shouldn't just spout; you need to prove.
Q: To follow up on your contretemps with "Focus on the Family": On [Bloggermann], while writing about the "SpongeBob" controversy, you gave your credentials as a religious man and said: "I believe in God." Why did you decide to do that?
A: A majority of the first few thousand of the spam-mails from the FOF site stated that I was obviously against religion and an atheist, and I thought these folks needed to understand that. It stunned a lot of them. So much thinking in our society has been replaced by following. I know God didn't make us for that.