Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Art of the Unfair Criticism

Frequent readers of the Nexus must almost certainly by now know your not-so-humble scribe's opinion of Keith Olbermann: normally, Olbermann is just intelligent enough to sound intelligent, but simultaneously enough of a lunatic to frequently make himself sound like a lunatic.

But there are legitimate reasons to criticize someone, and there are illegitimate reasons.

The recent criticisms offered by PJTV's Alfonzo Rachel squarely slide into the latter category.

Complaining that Olbermann didn't accept an invitation to attend a Tea Party rally in Texas, Rachel accused Olbermann of "hiding behind his daddy". As it turns out, Olbermann's father is in intensive care, preventing Olbermann from leaving New York City.

A great number of negative things could be said about Olbermann's commentary. He is unquestionably bombastic. He thrives on sensational hyperbole, and his recent performance on Jon Stewart's Daily Show seems to acknowledge that he knows it.

But it simply isn't fair to criticize Olbermann for taking care of his sick father -- nor should he feel obligated to hold his tongue on his criticisms of the Tea Party movement (no matter how wild they may often be) until his father is (hopefully) better; nor could he be expected to anticipate any challenge offered by his political rivals.

As far as being a political commentator goes, Alfonzo Rachel excels in the same manner as Keith Olbermann -- that of being an infotainer. He often excels in this particular role, particularly when he works with Steven Crowder. But as far as insightful commentary goes, he could hardly be considered to excel.

Olbermann can at least effectively disguise his infotainment as inspired and informed commentary. Rachel does this far less effectively, and when he targets Keith Olbermann despite the illness of his father, he falls far short of reasonable or responsible.

Alfonzo Rachel would serve himself -- and his viewers -- far better by restricting himself to the art of the fair criticism.

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