Friday, April 11, 2008


Gene Weingarten, writer for the Washington Post Magazine, got an idea: he would lock himself in a room for 24 hours straight with 5 TV's, 2 radios and a laptop all tuned to loud, opinionated pundits. After basically losing his mind, he tells us what he learned.

Comments [15]

Jack from Chicago

I thought this piece was a waste of time and added to my doubts about the value of having won a Pulitzer. That being said, from an entertainment and educational value (not necessarily mutually exclusive), I have to agree that Rush is engaging and Olberman extreme beyond any value (I consider his show torture to wach). However, O'Reilley is great at his job and the ratings show it.

Apr. 18 2008 03:10 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Oh, yeah, another thing; I used to be in a theater company that would rehearse up to three plays in the same small loft simultaneously and I would love to listen to the interplay of the various dialogs. Every once in a while I would notice that the same loaded word would pop up said at the same time in two or more rehearsals.

I can't imagine that something of that ilk hadn't happened while Weingarten listened and that sort of observation would have been a lot more interesting than his opinions of the comparisons and contrasts of these propagandists.

As for Keith, maybe he should have called W a neo-fascist to take some of the sting out of it. George likes neo.

Apr. 18 2008 04:36 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Weingarten must have watched that scene in "The Man Who Fell To Earth", where David Bowie's truly alien character watched twelve televisions at once, a few too many times.

Apr. 18 2008 04:09 AM
F Mays from New York

Weingarten says he barely followed Olberman's argument and focused instead on Olberman's "extremism," saying "He was busy calling George Bush a fascist and comparing his stance on this relatively minor issue to the Alien and Sedition Act." Er...the "relatively minor issue" Olberman sputtered about is is the Military Commisions Act. Plenty of Americans, left and right, are utterly aghast over it. Just so you know.

Apr. 17 2008 07:12 AM
Michael from New York, NY

As the other commentors have noted, Weingarten's impressions of Olbermann are puerile and off-base -- a lazy journalist's attempt to find balance in his or her criticism of the right wing shows. This little project of his was a stunt unworthy of On The Media's time.

Apr. 16 2008 12:58 PM
Jason Cravat from Brooklyn

I am sad that Gene Weingarten's comments were so glib and sad that Bob Garfield didn't really challenge him. I'm not talking about Olbermann, who has plenty of defenders and doesn't need my vote. I'm talking about Limbaugh. Weingarten gives him a by because he thinks it's obvious that Rush doesn't mean the virulent things he says whereas O'Reilly is just nuts. The observation is accurate, I think, but the attitude is sickening. I have more respect for a pundit who--probably for reasons best left to psychiatrists--has an angry, paranoid worldview but believes what he's saying than a shill who who peddles Republican talking points he knows are nonsense to tens of millions of people who cast votes in this country. Weingarten can go home with his Pulitzer and yuck it up over Rush's showmanship, while the rest of has to live with the consequences. Where were you, Bob?

Apr. 15 2008 05:02 PM
David Quigg from Seattle, WA

I respect OTM. You guys can't be perfect. And you weren't in this case.

For an excellent example of how Weingarten might be unfairly shrugging off Keith Olbermann's denunciations of President Bush, visit ...


Yes, in the very same show that you spent almost 10 minutes detailing Lichtblau and Risen's vitally important reporting on warrantless wiretapping, you let Weingarten hold forth on his silly little stunt. Twenty-three hours into his experiment in overstimulation and sleep-deprivation, I can only wonder how Weingarten would have caricatured some of Bob Garfield's more pointed, principled critiques of Bush Administration policy.

Who knows? Maybe Weingarten was right about Olbermann in this case. But your coverage gave me no way to assess this. I wish you'd at least asked Weingarten to flesh out his assertion that analogizing a Bush action to the Alien and Sedition Acts betrayed a lunacy on par with broadcasting claims that all liberals are potential child molesters.

As I said, OTM can't be perfect. But you can do better.

Please try.

We count on you.

Apr. 15 2008 05:41 AM
Dobbs Fox from Chicago, IL

I find Weingarten's charictarization of Keith Olbermann as a "sputtering lunatic" whose style is the left-wing equivalent to Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly laughable in all aspects. Olbermann is the one mainstream media pundit who has had the courage to call out the George Bush administration on its numerous violations of the Constitution and public trust. Perhaps Mr. Weingarten was trying to be "Fair and Balanced?" There is simply no liberal analogue to the likes of Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Michael Savage, men who don't hesitate to use blind patriotism, bigotry, and fear-mongering to entertain their audiences.

Apr. 14 2008 06:57 PM
Sean from New Jersey

This is the dumbest report I have ever heard of. 5 tv's of channels and 2 radios and online at the same time will drive any one insane, not just pundits. He gained no insight from this experiment. What a waste a time. If any one had thought about this for a second, they would have realized that there is nothing to gain from this experiment.

Reports like this are why people getting tired of the media.

Apr. 14 2008 11:29 AM
Peter Perez

You know, Olbermann is vehemently critical of the Bush administration, but he's never tortured anyone. And I can't think of a single extreme leftist policy or person he's endorsed. Unless "Hey, this is the US, we DON'T TORTURE," has become an extremist position...

Uh oh.

But anyway, NPR, cut Olbermann some slack--if the rest of the media were doing it's job, he wouldn't have to shout so loudly.

Apr. 13 2008 07:13 PM
David Werling from Little Rock, AR

Obviously, Gene Weingarten is not a true liberal or he picked the wrong day to watch Keith Olbermann. Keith is an excellent anchor for the day's top news and is not simply a pundit. He listens respectively to those he interviews often calling them sir or madam. He has twist of good humor often listing himself in his "worst persons of the world" segment. But, he is also very tough on the Bush administration--something "liberals" in other big media are scared to do.

Many of us "true" liberals think his show's interviews on torture, on the perversion of justice in the attorney general's office, imprisonment without habeas corpus, government surveillance and the complicitance of large corporations all define the word fascism.

Well, when are other liberals going to call a spade a spade! At worst Keith's special comments, as on Bush as a fascist, are an inflation of his ego to be another Edward R Marrow.

Apr. 13 2008 04:43 PM
Pam from rural New Mexico

Was’t Weinngarten so clever and insightful. What about 24 hours of Entertainment Tonight type shows? Real Loud. What would happen then? What about 24 hours of PBS real loud? BBC? That would be so interesting. What was the tally of those pundit show offerings? Pro administration --? Critical ? I didn’t catch that. What the hey....It’s Springtime for the USA

Apr. 13 2008 03:09 PM
Robert from NYC

I am so sick of the pundits that I switch off as soon as the next one comes on. I would have killed myself if O'Reilly and Limbaugh were on even at different times. I don't listen to each.

Apr. 13 2008 10:42 AM
Cogito from Norwood, MA

Sorry, it's not a rant to call Bush and cronies fascist.
Merriam Webster def of Fascism: 1: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition 2: a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.
The Bush administration has gone well beyond a "tendency" towards dictatorial control; instances of this abound: "signing statements" wherein the President indicates he's not bound by laws; promotion and supervision of torture by the executive branch; starting an illegal war based on lies and misinformation; the muzzling of civil servants in the administration's "war on science"... the list goes on and on. Either Weingarten lives in a separate reality-bubble, or he feels that he must be spinelessly and stupidly even-handed, to equate the anguish on the Left with the hate-media of the Right.

Apr. 13 2008 09:29 AM
Stephen Booth from Laporte, Minnesota (northern Minnesota)

I loved listening to Gene Weingarten's chargrinned enjoyment of Rush Limbaugh's style of right-wing punditry and his sharp criticism of Keith Olberman's rantings on the left. Only a liberal could open his heart and mind enough to appreciate Rush and condemn his own. No wonder Limbaugh and the right dominate the airwaves: us lefties tolerate all forms of opinion except extremism in our own ranks.

Apr. 12 2008 06:33 PM

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