KEITH! KEITH! HE’S OUR MAN!
Re “Olbermann Rules!” by Marvin Kitman [Oct. 8]: bravo! A perceptive, thoughtful article about an articulate and courageous man. Thank heavens there’s still intelligent life in the universe.
Thank you for affirming my belief that Keith Olbermann is the only news person worth paying attention to. It does my heart good to finally have someone who voices my concerns for the sanity of this country and my belief that we are better than the crackpots running it.
Mercer Island, Wash.
Finally, a much-respected publication has given Keith O. his due. His is the most refreshing, articulate, well-informed, passionate and persuasive voice and mind on network TV. His demeanor is both dignified and droll, and he seems never at a loss for the right word. I think Ed Murrow would be proud to have his signature sign-off repeated by one of the very few in his class.
Marvin Kitman’s piece brought tears to my 77-year-old eyes, validating a point I’ve tried to make during a half-century in print journalism. We newsies have not only a right but a duty to transcend mere uninvolved reportage by interpreting and commenting on events.
St. Paul, Minn.
I strongly disagree with the notion that evening news shows need “less ‘objectivity’ and more analysis.” What the public needs is more journalists who understand that objectivity, analysis and, yes, passion, are not mutually exclusive. Molly Ivins never lacked passion, but she was never fact-challenged either. Nor is Keith Olbermann.
I concede that objectivity is not the sole journalistic virtue. The most objective news is probably on NPR, which is why NPR is so boring. But I thank God we still have NPR every time I see or hear corporate broadcast media, that wasteland of debased, sensationalistic, moment-by-moment coverage, devoid of context or depth.
I am grateful to Marvin Kitman for bringing Olbermann to my attention. I watched him for the first time and agree that he’s brilliant. Olbermann proves that lefties can be entertaining, too.
ERIC PAUL JACOBSEN
La Mirada, Calif.
Keith is passionate, principled, must-see TV at our house. Wrote the first fan mail of my life and urged MSNBC to notice the modern-day Edward R. Murrow amid the slop posing as news on other channels. Some nights we stand up and cheer; others, we share his sadness and anger at the loss of our beloved country.
Contrary to Marvin Kitman, Ed Murrow never anchored the CBS Evening News. Walter Cronkite’s only predecessor conducted the 1948-62 newscast Douglas Edwards With the News and the CBS News With Douglas Edwards. Murrow’s news-centered TV series was the 1951-58 documentary See It Now, the sequel to his Hear It Now radio series.
TERRY K. SHELDAHL
I find it remarkable that anyone besides Keith Olbermann thinks he is the reincarnation of Murrow. Edward R. must be spinning. MSNBC has had a succession of personalities who rise and fade away as the public tires of their shtick. I expect Keith to someday be sharing a Court TV desk with Ashley Banfield.
Morgan Hill, Calif.
I disagree with Kitman’s assertion that the Murrow legend began with his evening news program. I think it started earlier, with his broadcasts from London during the Blitz. I was only 8, but I still get chills when I recall the first simple words of the broadcasts: “This… is London.” If there’s a God and he speaks, he’ll sound like Murrow. Olbermann has earned the right to use Murrow’s closing line: “Goodnight and good luck.”
A RUSSIAN SOLDIER’S STORY
Victoria, B.C., Canada
Having served in Afghanistan as a Soviet soldier in the 1980s, I read “The Other War” by Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian [July 30/Aug. 6] with great interest. Making notes in its margins on the parallels with the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, I quickly ran out of space: objectifying an occupied population, indiscriminate use of violence, dehumanizing a largely invisible enemy, committing war crimes while not recognizing them as such, believing our adversaries deserve what they get.
In the 1980s, while Soviet media focused on “normalization” of life in Afghanistan, insurgents’ brutality and the personalities and experiences of the Soviet soldiers, the West concentrated on the legitimate question, What right do the Soviets have to be in Afghanistan? As the victims of aggression, Afghans were the focus of sympathetic Western media coverage; some were even brought to the United States to testify about their suffering. But current coverage of Iraq turns a deaf ear to the voices of Iraqis.
“The Other War” is a lonely attempt to bring the Iraqi side of the story to Americans, who, like the Soviets in Afghanistan, can’t take responsibility for destroying Iraq because they don’t know the truth. It took me years to recognize the Soviet occupation for what it was. Now I see the same lack of awareness in America. In the 1980s the West believed “there is no denying the legitimacy of the [Afghans’] fight against a destiny imposed by foreign tanks” (Gérard Chaliand, Report From Afghanistan). Afghans’ right to self-determination was taken for granted. Today, it’s not even suggested that Iraqis have the same right to resist occupation.
The Soviet media condemned any comparison of Soviets in Afghanistan to Americans in Vietnam. Now I see the same denial by Americans of how similar they are to the Soviets. After experiencing both Soviet and Western cultures, I find the war illusions of both to be the same. Westerners reject being compared to “those crazy Communists,” and Russians, including my veteran friends, are angered by the same comparisons. They don’t see similarities with American soldiers, who “just shoot Iraqis and Afghans indiscriminately.” Everyone insists “we’re not like them.” Nobody is willing to turn a critical eye in their own direction.
When a work similar to “The Other War” appeared in Russia, it upset many people. Like US vets labeled “unpatriotic traitors” for telling the truth, Soviet soldiers were accused of “smearing their homeland” by speaking out. Soviets were divided into those who were “proud of our soldiers” and those saying “bring our boys home.”
The history of any occupation is the story of its victims. It took nine years and 1.5 million Afghan lives for the USSR to leave a devastated country. In Iraq, an estimated 1 million people have already died since the US invasion. How many more will it take before Americans will do what they rightly demanded from the Soviets a mere twenty years ago?