Walter’s Perspective: Politics & Journalism

CHICAGO (CBS) – When it comes to politics and journalism, reporters need to be careful not to cross a certain line. MSNBC recently suspended “Countdown” Host Keith Olbermann after he donated thousands to the political campaigns of three candidates.

CBS 2’s Walter Jacobson says he has no problem with that suspension, but he has a big problem with what happened next.

If you rarely watch the cable news channels: CNN, Fox or MSNBC, Larry King or Bill O’Reilly; even if you never watch cable news, you must have heard about what MSNBC did to its most popular personality Keith Olbermann, who covers government and politics, and anchored MSNBC on election night, while secretly contributing nearly $10,000 to three of his favorite candidates running for Congress.

He did not tell his management or his viewers about it, then invited one of his favorite candidates to an interview on MSNBC to serve him up some softball questions.

When Olbermann was found out, he was suspended indefinitely, preached the president of MSNBC, because Olbermann violated journalism ethics, creating an appearance of partiality. The right thing for MSNBC to do.

Good news for the news business, except that in less than one week the indefinite suspension has been lifted.

Keith Olbermann is back on the air Tuesday night, which is bad news for the news business.

It’s no wonder some people don’t trust the media.

  • Joey Miller

    Politics & Journalism ?

    What a crock of commentary. It seems like you really ought to have mentioned the FOX News so-called journalists who have more than donated to their favorite Republican candidates over a very long period of time and in consideably greater sums than Olberman. While you are at it, don’t forget to mention that FOX is not a news organization, rather they are the news arm of a political organization. Everyone seems to fail to mention this. Shame on you.

  • S. Davis

    Walter, you need to get your facts straight BEFORE you issue a perspective. Keith Olbermann provided an explanation of the contretemps on air this evening and explained that he made the donation to arizon Rep. Raul Grijalva AFTER the congressman was interviewed on CountDown…NOT before as you implied in your perspective.

    This text is from this evenings Countdown:
    “it is accurate that i contributed to the campaigns of conway, giffords and gribalba, but the reporting assumed that i donated then interviewed and should have disclosed it when i interviewed. the sequence was the reverse. ”

    Get your facts straight and issue a retraction.

  • Michael Bissett

    Walter, I know you are trying to be controversial and interesting, but this evening’s commentary was really just silly. You might want to do a little research before you open your mouth. Without at least a little credibility, you very soon have no more value to CBS than a blogger in their boxers.

    Olbermann has never even pretended to be unbiased, and his political contributions are PUBLIC information, not “secret.” Whatever you may think of Olbermann, you can never call him a hypocrite. He walks the walk. I wonder if YOU can make the same claim.

  • Dennis Gorecki

    Walter, you’re an idiot. Did you ever watch Keith Obermann? If you have, you would know that Obermann is unabashingly and admittingly partial. He does not try to be impartial. He is not a “journalist” but rather a political commentator with a definite bias. Why don’t you criticise Hannity for his political contributions? I’ll let you in on something – Hannity is not a journalist either, and Fox “News” doesn’t even require its commentator/host to refrain from political contributions. Wht don’t you criticise Fox “News”. Obermann did anchor MSNBC on election night, not NBC on election night. Can you tell the difference? Keith’s retlurn to the air “is bad new for news business”? Get a clue. He’s not a “news journalist”. He doesn’t attempt to “create an appearance of impartiality”. If you don’t get it, it’s time to retire again and let someone who is actually aware of things as they really are do the job. Is Glenn Beck impartial? Is Bill O’Reilley impartial? Is Rachel Maddow impartial? Are any of those people journalist? Hang it lup, Walter, or at the least keep your comments to things you actually know about..

  • Steve

    Agree with the two comments above.

    If this is typical of your investigative standards and accuracy in reporting you are not fit to tie Olbermann’s shoelaces.

    He is a good reporter with integrity who sometimes gets it wrong while you are a nasty little man who either cannot be bothered to do 5 minutes research before slandering someone, or worse, you do not care. I hope that Olbermann completely ignores your tirade.

  • Michelle Cahill

    Walter, $7500 is not nearly $10000. Also, Olberman is not quiet about his political views. I agree with all the other comments. Your personal views are bleeding through in this commentary. I think the number of incorrect statements you have stated as facts make you an ineffective journalist. You and Sarah Palin must have the same fact checkers. That is not a compliment.

  • terry f mc govern

    Now that the new tax law has been passed how long is it going to taake for our great reps to think about voting themselfs a pay raise like they always do . If everyone else is going to pay a higher tax with no extra money comming in and more money going out they should not be aloud to vote them selfves a pay raise when they like.

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