As a journalist, I keep my politics out of my reporting.
I'm a centrist by nature, and I've voted for both Democrats and Republicans in every election since I've been old enough to vote. And I'm fairly certain that no one could read any of my politically related articles and determine my thoughts on an issue.
That's pretty important, because if people thought I was a rabid conservative or liberal, they could legitimately question whether or not my work was fair.
It's that mindset that made me laugh about the whole ridiculousness surrounding the latest Keith Olbermann brouhaha at MSNBC. The network suspended him indefinitely last week after learning he had contributed to three Democrats running for Congressional office. Indefinitely lasted all of two broadcasts after more than 300,000 left-leaning viewers protested the suspension. He'll resume his show tonight.
The whole joke of it is that MSNBC tried to apply journalistic standards to Olbermann in the first place. Anyone who has watched his show knows his liberal tendencies. His show has essentially been a platform for Democrats from the beginning.
That's not to say I like or don't like Olbermann. Sometimes I've agreed with him, sometimes I haven't. What I am saying is that it's wrong to classify Olbermann as a "journalist." There's no hint of impartiality when he does a broadcast, tending to go light on left-leaning guests and hit hard the conservative guests he lines up.
(If you think the above means I'm a conservative, I could write the exact same paragraph from above, switching out Sean Hannity's name for Olbermann's and flip-flop the conservative terms for liberal.)
Hannity, incidentally, has also given money to conservative candidates, but Fox News doesn't offer up the pretense that he's supposed to be objective, especially since the network itself gives money to Republicans.
If MSNBC's parent company, NBC News, had the same issue with anchor Brian Williams, I could see the suspension. After all, Williams is a well-respected journalist who has rarely shown himself to take a side on an issue. So his contributing to a political candidate would undermine how people could view his reporting.
But Olbermann is a commentator, a pundit. He's not a journalist. The $7,200 he gave in contributions to three candidates is paltry compared to the airtime he has given Democrats.
The whole saga just underlines the basic problems this country has. Instead of trying to find news sources that really are fair and balanced, they run to either the most conservative or liberal channel on the dial and get their news from that, and from people who have clear-cut agendas. No wonder the divide in this country continues to grow deeper. If you only listen to Fox or MSNBC, you close yourself off to a lot of other perspectives.
During the last election, MSNBC had Olbermann anchor its convention coverage, but I don't see that happening any more. Certainly, he may very well be there as a pundit, which is what his job is, but these extreme networks should stop the pretense that their coverage is anything but biased.
It's giving the rest of us real journalists a bad name.
TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: As always with November sweeps, some big name guest stars pop up all over the place. Most notable tonight is Michael J. Fox, who plays a slimy lawyer on "The Good Wife." (CBS, 10 p.m.) Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease in real life, plays a lawyer who exploits his condition to win sympathy points with the jury. It follows a new "NCIS," which has Robert Wagner returning as Tony's (Michael Weatherly) dad, and "NCIS: LA."
Cybill Shepard and Bruce McGill play Stephanie's (Julie Benz) parents on "No Ordinary Family" (ABC, 8 p.m.) as the clan tries to keep their superpowers a secret. It's followed by "Dancing With The Stars" and "Detroit 1-8-7."
In the digital age, bullying has unfortunately become an even worse problem in society, and "Glee" (Fox, 8 p.m.) tackles the issue tonight. It's followed by "Raising Hope" and "Running Wilde" from 9-10 p.m.
NBC has two hours of "The Biggest Loser," followed by "Parenthood." The CW offers up "One Tree Hill" and "Life Unexpected."
On cable, "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 10 p.m.) continues to build toward a climax as the tensions between the Sons and the IRA escalate.
Finally, for those that follow it, the World Series of Poker is down to the "November Nine" as the final table competes for a top prize of $8.9 million. Nice work if you can get it.