Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


Hi Keith,

I hear you and Fogiv got in a tussle.  In the diary in question I commented at great enough length to feel the desire to expand my comments a bit further.  I’ve copied my first ramble below and I’ll add a little more here as well.

If the two of you were other people I’d tell you to take it outside, but the tiny tempest is illustrative of points worth pondering, as they apply not just to you two but to all of us.  Because you are a public voice of some stature and because Fogiv is a bright and engaged citizen you both represent groups that are fundamental to our ability to function as a culture.  The faults I would like to point out are less about you than they are about us, so please take my commentary with that intent.

We have come to a point in American news media where a notable media figure is enraged by a single comment of an anonymous blogger, and enraged because he did the same thing he accused the blogger of – not doing his homework.  What does that tell us?

As we work through what news media looks like in the coming decades we have to look back to see how we got to where we are.  Everyone watched Walter Cronkite in that era (78% of us watched I Love Lucy), today Glenn Beck is seen as a leader in television political commentary because 1% (now 0.5%) of us watch him.  What was virtually a sole source for news and information has become a niche.  

So, with the veneer of Public Servant stripped away leaving little more than the same competitive motives of every business, is it any surprise that there is open questioning of the line between journalistic integrity and financial success?  Are you, Keith, any more or less guilty than any of us of drawing direct assumptions about the actions of the FOX employees based on your read of the motivations of the executive staff?  Am I, because from my perspective the motivations of Murdoch seem to shine through the words and actions of his team?  Either all of the individuals at FOX involved in reporting the Tea Party were knowingly and cynically Astroturfing the whole thing for their cynical benefit, or they were not.  Is it at the same time ridiculous to question the motivations of MSNBC executives and wonder aloud about the machinations they might construct to address their financial goals?  Those questions are no more or less offensive to you than your statements about FOX are to anyone there, and likewise they are questions that at least have to be asked.

Your response to Fogiv does nothing to help you answer any such questions.

Instead of climbing on a soapbox and attempting to refute by proclamation, you could have engaged Fogiv as a person.  You could have taken a moment to understand that behind each of these anonymous voices here is a person who is likely to understand at some level what I have said above.  That all of us Out Here beyond the studio are capable of perceiving the complex position of you and your employer, and while not all of us are unsympathetic each one of us still wonders how our traditional news media can balance the business model they are faced with against the challenges of providing honest and unbiased content.

I don’t believe Fogiv accepts the idea that you and your colleagues are knowingly and willingly plotting to spin the news to your employers’ advantage.  I don’t.  But we all see you and your peers and we wonder where MSNBC and FOX are going to be in one and five and ten years.  We wonder if corporate logic will dictate continued sharpening of ideological messaging and widening of divides.  We wonder how the need to maintain dwindling and/or demographically-specific audiences will change the executive motivations, the hiring practices, the programming.  We wonder whether anything resembling journalistic integrity will survive the shifting marketing requirements of the companies who pay for sets and studios and staff.  If the answer to that is “no” – and that is a possibility – then we must wonder whether that line has gotten crossed yesterday or whether it will be today.

So, Keith, you had and still have a chance to be part of that conversation.  Your ability to speak with us from inside the curious creature we are watching evolve could help us all understand where you and it are going.  Together we might even help you see that path yourself.



My original comment:

I don’t think you did a thing wrong. (0 / 0)

You prefaced your comment as unfounded and it was contextual.  If you were a conspiracy theorist and the group you were engaging with were tinfoiled and you were agreeing with them because your mom confirmed it at the cleaners then you all would be open to dismissal.  But you are demonstrably not that sort of person and the group is not that sort of group (though there are leaners in Left Blogistan ;~).

I know the source of that rumor as well as you, and as far as these things go it’s a source you can put some amount of weight into beyond the lady-at-the-cleaners level at least.  Yes, I’ve never confirmed this person’s employment but I’ve talked with him or her for several years and the person works in the media industry or is obsessively good at pretending.  Yes, the person is much more cynical intrinsically than I am, but as everyone can I am more than capable of factoring in such biases.  No, I wouldn’t take that one person’s word that there is any sort of Casablancian conspiracy going on at MSNBC, but yes, I can see how the motivations of a pressured top brass could trickle down to effect the tendencies of their employees (and a savvy executive team knows that and plays it.  I would).

All that I have said above is, in the end, basic journalism.  Every source is questionable (even when you have the tape) and each has to be taken in context.  Every person who performs the act of Reporting – professionally or not – is saddled with the burden of presenting with appropriate verity the information they have gathered.

For those who are doing it professionally, it is a measure or their art to do this part well.  Before making declarative statements about something you heard a few words of from an unknown source you spend a little time – say at least a solid hour – seeing what is behind that disconnected piece of data.  You correlate it with other words the person has said and the contexts he has said them in.  Then you decide whether it is sound and wise to stake the value of your word on the information, and what level of factuality to associate it with.

Keith, this is where you lost this argument.  You found your outrage and exclamation about someone else who based an opinion on a few random words… on a few random words.  If you had looked only a small bit as deeply at Fogiv as he has at his source you would have a more nuanced reaction.  I, for one, would have been fascinated to hear those thoughts from you.  But, if I may, that, sir, is your albatross.  By nature I see you as someone who leans towards snap reactions, in fact that has likely been the strength of your recent career.  You quickly voice common thoughts while others are still putting them into words.  Our media landscape has become full of such voices, however, speaking from both sides of the aisle.

Perhaps, just perhaps, we are evolving a bit beyond that, however slowly.  It just may be that there will be more attention for restrained voices in the post-“Introducing: Sarah Palin!” era.  Maybe there was an appetite that was eager for a Sarah and Glenn and Rush and Bill, and to some extent their Left-handed counterparts, but those sort of appetites are usually followed by gorging and regret.

We’ll see how that all works out, but in the smallness of the events that lead me to write all these words I have to call this as your foul, Keith.  You’ve found yourself Pot and Kettled and it would serve you better to understand that.


  1. spacemanspiff

    fogiv is my heroe! Dude! You made Keith-O GBCW the DailyKos. This is so fucking awesome. Seriously, adrenaline is pumping (yes, I’m nerdy like that) and feeling all happy about this. PERFECT! BRAVO! Wow.

    Now I want to get a fogiv tatoo. Not as in “have him sketch it”. No. I want a tatoo of fogiv’s mug on my HUGE biceps (just kiddin! about my biceps being HUGE that is). lol!

    I read the other diary completely plus the links. I can’ believe how low Dkos has gone. The response to Keith’s whiny and pathetic diary was just that… pathetic. DKos has completely lost its relevance and it’s kind of sad. The way Markos has handled everything reminds me of Jerome and MyDD. He took a hands off approach as well when trolls and flamewars started taking over and now the D is in ruins.

    I’m to happy to type right now but I’d like to let Lil Fog know that this is one of the most beautiful moments in my bloggy blog career.

    Wow! I’m so proud of you bro.

  2. What the KO GCBW alerts us too – as have all the recent failures in Blogistan as much as mainstream media – is the premium place on grandstanding, showboating, and moral one-up-manship.

    What do these elements have in common: the proclamation of high mindedness,  the calling out of enemies,  protestations of outrage or innocence…

    They’re all self regarding. They’re all about my power over you, or your power over me. They are the antithesis of what J S Mill meant by ‘progressive debate’.

    They have nothing to do with dialogue.

    Your message to Keith, Chris, seems to be all about dialogue, whereas Keith’s message to the world had a lot to do with victimhood and witchhunting.  

  3. jsfox

    When I first saw your post over at Kos my first reaction was -Duck! However, it seems to be going far better than I thought it would. But it’s still early 🙂

  4. Bit of Dkos Cross posting here

    Maybe it’s a moment. Or maybe it’s part of a larger malaise. I speak as a Brit who could blame Hitler or Roosevelt for imperial decline, but – and I’m just riffing here – you all are angry at what’s happened to the US, not in the last two years, but in the last 19 years.

    The discourse is all about blame. KO got angry (maybe justifiably) at Obama’s speech for being 57 days too late. Others blame him for his blame. He blames them for blaming him for his blame…

    There’s a pattern of disaffection here which must be stopped.

    Fogiv did a great job by taking the blame, and making an apology. Personally, I think your president does that pretty well too.

    The politicians and commentators I like least never say sorry.

  5. it feels like if you write anything substantial in a comment that after a few hours the odds of anyone ever reading it again are zero.  After writing on the Moose so long it feels almost pointless, whether more people may read it in those few hours or not.

    For that reason, since I spent enough time writing it there, I’ll paste it here:”

    That search for civility is why the Moose (0 / 0)

    was created.  The conversations take longer there but the tone is more conducive to thoughtful discourse.  Whether the environment could survive scaling to DKOS size is an open question, but it seems to me that there is room for both fiery and more considered conversations and spaces for both will be carved out as they always are.

    The real nugget behind this whole diary is my on-going search for a glimpse of the elusive form of future online political discourse.  It has seemed to me for many years that the knotting of lines between all of us has enormous positive impact on the practical implementation of Open, Involved Democracy.  The current blogospheric state of the unfolding saga is a fascinating display of the latent potential, and it has schooled millions in the basic concepts involved.

    Now that we have roughed in the shape of the place we begin to get into the subtleties.  

    This dust-up between Fogiv (who I know very well) and a guy who works for a TV station (who I know much less well, though I have seen his face and heard his voice) is in itself interesting for all the reasons I and others have stated.  It is also interesting because it stands as a data point in the evolution curves of television news and this online forum we are creating.  For those of us who noticed it at all, the event may stand as one of those moments you recall looking back:

    “Cronkite was the end of that era, CNN took us all into 7×24 and cable, FOX and MSNBC played the ideological line game for a few years fighting to sweep back the Internet tide then one of the cable anchors lost it over a blogger comment and over the next couple years….”

    I think “over the next couple of years” will see more people having been involved long enough in forums like this (or the Moose or whatever comes next) and tiring of flamewars and agent provocateurs.  That the trend on the ‘net will be from a sometimes ruder to a more generally civilized environment as more people move in and wear useful paths in the ground, and at the same time the trend of the legacy telemedia will continue to move in the opposite direction.

    That – assuming anyone bothered to read it all – is why I find this incident particularly interesting. ;~)

    (quoting yourself – is that the actual peak of narcissism?)

  6. fogiv

    Countdown with Keith Olbermann, June 26, 2009:

    That’s next, but first time for COUNTDOWN’s number two story, tonight’s worst persons in the world.

    The bronze to Missouri State Representative Cynthia Davis.  You know, the chairperson of that House’s Children and Families Subcommittee, who was opposed to free meals for under-privileged school kids over the summer because she thinks hunger can be a positive motivator and that government is interfering with family meal time by offering free meals to families who can’t afford to feed their own kids.

    When Representative Davis stuck to her guns Wednesday and suggested nobody had the right to criticize her, the state House Democratic leader, Paul Levota (ph), wrote to its speaker, suggesting Davis’s views on child hunger were, quote, Dickensian, and that she should be removed from the committee chair.  It was also a spectacular post-script provided by a reader of the “Kansas City Star” website – can’t verify this – posted by somebody identified only as embarrassed in, quote, “Cynthia forgets how she takes multiple plates of food from committee and lobbyist dinners to feed her hungry children when she is in Jefferson City.  She has been observed at receptions wrapping and stuffing food in her over-sized hand bag.  Maybe that’s what other hungry children should have, their poor working parents do, just steal food to bring home to them,” unquote.

    Check, Please.

  7. spacemanspiff

    If I had wandered on to Kos before that I would feel what I feel now. Nausea.

    I’ve been trying to get a better feel of the place since “K.O. vs. Lil Fog. I came to a conclusion on how the dynamics breakdown.


    blackwaterdog (Obama) vs. slinkerwink (Not Obama)

    Whine. Whine. Whine.

    The diaries are not that bad. The comments? It’s the same thread over and over and over again. I like my meta. I can get in to it a bit. But this? This is crazy. All they do is talk about themselves.

    I actually wrote a very positive diary on Daily Kos once. It’s fucking embarassing now. I can’t read most of the comments without rolling my eyes. The meta wars are just lame. I can’t believe people would exert so much energy and time arguing over the internet. If you’re going to argue. Debate! My candidate is better than yours (see primary wars). Think. But fighting over nothing?

    On a positive not. I’ve been checking out Black Kos where Denise Velez blogs.She is pretty high profile over there and not seeing her in ANY of the trainwrecks is exactly the reason I love her. So yeah. Check out Black Kos. Ignore the rest (pootie diaries are always nice too).

  8. lojasmo

    about as much patience for K.O. as I do for Huffington…that is to say, zero.  Maddow too.  A bunch of shrill, whining, babies.  I have no use for any of them.

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