Last week, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann delivered a special comment criticizing Rudy Giuliani for his recent partisan fearmongering. This week, he hosted MSNBC’s coverage of the Republican presidential debate.
Olbermann’s presence on debate night coverage angered the Giuliani campaign. The AP reports:
The Giuliani campaign privately expressed its concern to NBC News about Olbermann’s role in the days leading up to last Thursday’s debate. … MSNBC spokesman Jeremy Gaines said a Giuliani campaign representative had called NBC News to complain about Olbermann being part of the debate telecast following his commentary.
The Giuliani campaign has a right to make its complaints known, just as many on the left have raised arguments about the bias of Fox News’ participation in Democratic debates. But it’s the role of the media to place the story in its proper context, and the AP account fails to do that.
Blindly accepting the Giuliani campaign’s argument, the AP story singles out Olbermann for criticism. “Olbermann’s popularity and evolving image as an ideologue has led NBC News to stretch traditional notions of journalistic objectivity,” the story reports. It continues, “Even for television hosts unafraid to say what they think — Chris Matthews, for instance — there’s still a little mystery about what they’ll do inside a voting booth.”
The AP fails to note that another MSNBC host who was involved in debate night coverage — Joe Scarborough — campaigned for President Bush in 2004. Media Matters has noted that Scarborough also helped propagate partisan talking points. There is certainly no mystery as to who he voted for.
The issue here isn’t Olbermann, who fairly and ably quarterbacked the debate coverage. By uncritically reporting the Guiliani campaign’s argument, the AP engaged in the very bias that its report implies it is above.
UPDATE: More from Media Matters.