Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I am getting more and more creeped out by Keith Olbermann

Yes, he is speaking the truth about Bush and the war in Iraq, and I am grateful to him for that, since speaking the truth in public is practically a lost art. But in other ways, Olbermann is making me increasingly uncomfortable.

Consider first his recent sexist attack on Paris Hilton, in which he made it clear that women who maybe have more than one sex partner are sluts. And then there is his fondness (shared by many so-called liberals) of criticizing a woman by attacking her looks, or by referring to her as a body part.

Frankly, I don't have a problem with Olbermann's calling a woman "dumber than a suitcase full of rocks" if she is (though really, I have a problem with any uncivil discourse on the air). I do have a problem, however, with his recurring use of sexual terms to describe women he holds in contempt. Like Bill Maher, Olbermann, for all his intelligence and progressive views, is contemptuous of women. For that reason, he is not someone I admire and I do not go out of my way to watch his show.

Sometimes the show is on in my house, however, and I do see parts of it, so I know that he gives air time every night to the exploits of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. This is meant to be funny, of course, and ironic--"here we are, folks, with the real news American wants to see." But--considering Olbermann's obvious contempt for women--I'm getting creepy feelings about this obsession with Spears and Hilton. Men like Olbermann and Maher (and Bill Clinton) get away with an incredible amount of sexism and misogny because they are "liberal."

Tonight, Olbermann showed another little ugly part of himself by introducing Rep. Barney Frank as an "openly gay" Congressman, right before their discussion of bipartisanship. What on Earth, I wondered, does Frank's sexual orientation have to do with bipartisanship? The answer, of course, is "nothing," yet Olbermann felt compelled to mention it.

The more I see and hear, the less I like about this "leftist" media hero.


I can't speak to the Olbermann issue, since I haven't watched him either, but I have noticed attacks by other liberals on women's appearances, particularly Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin.

This make me more than uncomfortable. I couldn't help but take it personally when I saw Coulter's looks mocked over at Shakes' Sis once. Some people are born with angular faces and bone structure, and I'm one of them. I don't find comments and cartoons mocking people's "skinniness" one bit funny. (I look more normal now, but in college I weighed about 114, despite a normal appetite.)

I thought it was just a habit of the internet, for people to say things they'd never say in person, but sounds like it's made its way to television as well.

By Anonymous KathyF, at 3:50 AM  

i think he mentioned th eopenly homosexual part to indicate that frank is not a hypocritical closet gay. he is open, proud, sees nothing to hide...idk...sometimes keith is creepy, i emailed about the paris hilton incident. someone should send him an update folder. i.e a list of things/comments/ect. real women do not appreciate. i also noticed their new intro, for the channel in general, very sporty now, much more geared towards men...i know, i know...we're 50% of the population but invisible unless naked...

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:10 PM  

Ugh, yeah. I saw one interview with Bill Maher, some time ago, and wast totally turned off. I thought "yeah okay, he's liberal, sure, but still an asshole." So I could never get into him or his show and became increasingly annoyed at hearing about how great he is.

Anyway, about the time you posted this I was telling a friend "you know who's cool? Keith Olbermann." I've only seen a few clips of things he's said online and read about him and things he's said on liberal blogs and such, so I guess I've been guarded from his misogynistic side. I'll have to start looking out for that I guess, and move him down a few rungs on my mental ladder of general like...

How unfortunate.

By Anonymous Emily, at 11:58 PM  

I consider myself a dyed-in-the-wool, adamant feminist, and I'm utterly baffled as to how any of you can consider Keith Olbermann misogynistic when his frequent feminist behavior is one of the primary reasons I admire him as much as I do.

I do not find his attacks on Paris Hilton sexist at all; on the contrary, I see him as standing up for women by deriding her as a generally useless human being who has made herself into a sex object, rather than behaving as a fully dimensional person. I have never received the impression from him that women in general who have more than one sex partner are sluts--only that people (men too) who are as promiscuous as she is are behaving in a slutty way. I have seen him be just as critical of male celebrities on that count, believe me. I have also seen him attack men's looks or call them by "body part" names just as much as he does women. It's not at all a matter of his being contemptuous of women; it's a matter of his being contemptuous of people he regards as stupid, be they male or female.

I don't get the impression that he has an "obsession" with Spears and Hilton" at all; they merely tend to get in the news a lot for what they do, so they end up in the gossip portion of his show more often than not. In any case, he certainly doesn't deserve to be tossed in the same bin with porn-star-dater Bill Maher. Olbermann's track record is utterly undeserving of it. When he worked at ESPN, he was known for (and became unpopular with management as a result) tesifying on behalf of women who were charging male coworkers with sexual harassment. He felt these women were nearly always telling the truth, and yet they were almost universally disbelieved by the male management of the network. Women at ESPN began to realize that they could come to Olbermann with their horror stories, and he would believe them and help them go to management and bring charges against these men. Also, he was and is unfailingly respectful of women in the sportscasting business who have worked hard to get ahead in a field where women have often been treated with outright prejudice. He has reserved his contempt in that area for women who have traded on their bodies to get ahead as sportscasters without bothering to learn anything about the sports they are asked to cover, and shown all due admiration for those who know their stuff and truly regarded them as colleagues. Does that sound like a misogynist to you?

Olbermann was merely being factual by introducing Rep. Barney Frank as an "openly gay" Congressman. Frank's sexual orientation is public because he has made it such and because it is newsworthy that he did so. Gay-friendliness is another place where Olbermann is so far above his peers that I can't help but admire him. It is especially surprising given his past career in a place where homophobia runs rampant, the predominantly male world of sportscasting. He has been constant in his standpoint that gays deserve to be treated like human beings and that their orientation is no one's business unless they choose to make it so. (Keep that in mind, lest you asssume he is homophobic merely because he says something against, say, Rosie O'Donnell. He likes or dislikes individual gay people, just as he likes or dislikes individual women.)

The more you truly see and hear about Olbermann, rather than jumping to conclusions based on only a few things, the more you should find yourself liking him. I have.

By Anonymous orinenglish, at 9:52 AM  

"The more you truly see and hear about Olbermann, rather than jumping to conclusions based on only a few things, the more you should find yourself liking him."

I have watched him for years and years, probably much longer than most people who are blogging. I will take your word that he calls men demeaning names based on their sexual body parts, but I have never heard him do so, and, come to think of it--the only body parts men have that he could refer to would have Olbermann fired if he said those words on the air.

I am certainly willing to concede that he meant something positive when he mentioned Frank's sexual orientation, though I still do not see it as such.

And Paris Hilton's self-promotion as a sex object is something I find extremely objectionable, but it doesn't give anyone the right to suggest that her having sex is somehow wrong, which is exactly what Olbermann did in his "funny" remark about her. Even women who promote themselves as sex objects should be left in peace to have all the sex they want, just as men are.

And--though it has nothing to do with this post--I am also fed up with Olbermann's chronic belittling of animal rights subjects.

By Blogger Diane, at 10:05 AM  

The bit he does that is on my last nerve is playing the clip of the Berlesconi look alike humping the meter maid, over and over at every opportunity.
I have watched him from the start and it seems to me the show is getting more gossipy sexist rather than less.

By Blogger the bewilderness, at 6:09 PM  

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