Tuned In

Olbermann Scolds Clinton

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On last night’s Countdown, Keith Olbermann weighed in–in no uncertain terms—on Ferrarogate, castigating Hillary Clinton and her campaign for not repudiating Geraldine Ferraro’s claim that Barack Obama was “lucky” to be a black candidate in this primary [Update: The embedded MSNBC video was, annoyingly, causing the Tuned In homepage to automatically jump down to it–at least on my Safari browser–so I’ve moved it after the jump.]:

A couple weeks ago people were arguing whether “scolding” is a gender-linked term, but despite the fact that Olbermann’s a dude, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this counts as one.

I’ll let you and/or Swampland argue the merits of Olbermann’s argument, but it’s an interesting step for him and MSNBC in a couple ways.

First–well, if MSNBC felt any pressure after the David “Big Pimpin'” Shuster incident and the ongoing criticism of Chris Matthews to prove that it’s not the anti-Hillary network… this is not exactly going to help.

Second, it’s a bold move for Olbermann, not just editorially but branding-wise. It’s not exactly a secret that Olbermann’s show has been successful because of a strong (not to say exclusive) liberal and Democratic fanbase, who see him as the anti-O’Reilly. They’ve loved his outspokenness when it’s been directed at the Bush administration, but now he’s speaking out on a Democratic primary in which, presumably, a lot of his viewers back Clinton. (Yeah, I know, he said his commentary was not an endorsement of Obama. I’m sure that’ll make the Clinton camp much more cool with it.) Are they going to applaud his Edward R. Murrow turn now as much as they did when he was calling on Bush and Cheney to resign?

The answer, I guess, depends in part on whether Olbermann’s audience sees him as a straight-shooter who could no longer keep quiet about something he saw as intolerable, or just another man in the Big Media who has it in for Hillary. I’ll admit that I don’t watch Countdown regularly enough to have a real handle on the tenor of his coverage of the primary, but watching him anchor MSNBC’s election coverage, he’s seemed to carry himself as the neutral observer grounding the broadcast while Matthews fulminates with his panel. But then, I voted for Obama. Anyone out there have any thoughts on this?