This is now the second or third time I write to praise a blogger from across the aisle, Rich Moran of the unfortunately named Right Wing Nut House. Today he rightly condemns an utterly bizarre and inexcusable article in Murdoch’s NY Post that mocks liberal cable TV pundit Keith Olbermann for being victim of an anthrax scare. It is really too vile for words. Moran throws the article’s malevolence right back in the reporter’s face.
In what, in my opinion, is one the most disgraceful and shocking exhibitions of callous disregard for journalistic standards not to mention human decency, the New York Post gossipy Page Six ran a story describing MSNBC host Keith Olbermann’s terrifying experience with a threatening letter that contained a ‘white powder.’
Here’s the piece:
September 27, 2006-MSNBC loudmouth Keith Olbermann flipped out when he opened his home mail yesterday. The acerbic host of ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann’ was terrified when he opened a suspicious-looking letter with a California postmark and a batch of white powder poured out. A note inside warned Olbermann, who’s a frequent critic of President Bush’s policies, that it was payback for some of his on-air shtick. The caustic commentator panicked and frantically called 911 at about 12:30 a.m., sources told The Post’s Philip Messing. An NYPD HazMat unit rushed to Olbermann’s pad on Central Park South, but preliminary tests indicated the substance was harmless soap powder. However, that wasn’t enough to satisfy Olbermann, who insisted on a checkup. He asked to be taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where doctors looked him over and sent him home. Whether they gave him a lollipop on the way out isn’t known. Olbermann had no comment.
The fact that the story is not considered ‘straight news’ is absolutely no excuse. The columnist, Paula Froelich, should be fired immediately.
The tone of the piece is not only insulting but attempts to make light of what must have been a horrifying experience for Mr. Olbermann. And, as Dave Neiwert points out, sending the letter is considered an act of terrorism – hardly something to yuck it up about with references to ‘lollipops’ not to mention the attempt to portray Olbermann as something less than courageous.
Moran admits to savaging Olbermann just the day before, but makes it clear that there’s a huige difference between going after a pundit on your blog and mocking them for being the victim of a very scary threat that should be wished upon no one.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.