I have had my disagreements with Keith Olbermann the last few years, but I have been watching in admiration lately as night after night he's covered the Occupy protest movement like no one else in the media.
I am surprised that he has not received more praise for getting to this major story before anyone else and understanding the massive sociology of it better than anyone yet.
Olbermann understands that Occupy Wall Street is an eruption of the pain millions of Americans are feeling. He sees it as the sign that it is of something deeply disturbing that has happened to the quality of American life and our ability to believe in the future any more.
And that is especially and heartbreakingly true for young adults who have paid their dues and gone to college only to discover there are no jobs for them. Those college students and young adults who were dancing in the streets on election night in 2008 after seeing TV coverage of Barack Obama in Grant Park are some of the same people sitting in tents in the cold and rain in American cities tonight. And no one in the media speaks to them and is telling their story like Keith Olbermann.
Olbermann has been telling their story every night while cable channels like CNN have been sending smug, superficial anchor-hosts like Erin Burnett down to the Occupy Wall Street encampment to ridicule those who are protesting. And they are doing it in empty-headed, right-wing, 1960's, pot-and-bongo-drum stereotype-think worthy of Spiro Agnew -- or Pat Buchanon.
There is a big piece here that I simply don't have the energy to write tonight. It's a piece about TV show hosts as activists and advocates. I still have deep reservations about advocacy journalism because it can and does so easily cross the line into propaganda. And then, facts are ignored or distorted because they don't fit the narrative of righteousness that the advocate wants to tell.
But that said, I have to admit, Olbermann has left all the other cable and network TV journalists in the dust on this big story. And by telling it so passionately, while others at first ignored it, he has been providing a great public service.
Yes, and that means he is legitimately operating on this story in the tradition of his hero, Edward R. Murrow.
Wednesday night, Olbermann spoke to Cullen Nawalkowsky about the Occupy Baltimore movement at McKeldin Square.
I know, in these days of hyper-local journalism, some folks are going to think I buried the lead by just getting to Nawalkowsky now. But here's the video of Olbermann's interview with him, and you can see for yourself what a strong spokesman he is for the local branch of the movement.
Check it out. And I hope the powers that be in Baltimore will check out the rest of the video from Olbermann's Wednesday night show to see what happened in Oakland when police moved on protesters there and left a Marine who fought in Iraq in the hospital with a shattered skull.
Let us hope nothing like that happens here.
Just by focusing a segment of his Wednesday show on Baltimore Olbermann has sent Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake a message that more than just the eyes of Baltimore are on her. I hope the promise of such press scrutiny will make a difference for the better.
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