Keeping tabs on the newsmen

Some of us might remember Keith Olbermann as the SportsCenter anchor who popularized the phrase “En fuego!” when we were younger, circa 1996-1997. He was great in that job, teaming with Dan Patrick in “The Big Show” but like some of his ESPN peers — Craig Kilborn among them — he moved on.If you remained more or less sportscentric during the last decade, you may have lost track of Señor Olbermann, who has since pursued a career as a news-commentary anchor and currently has a newscast on MSNBC.Rather than stints on late-night television and a few movie roles (think: Kilborn), Olbermann is taking his broadcast journalism chops seriously, and trying to make a difference.We recently came across a YouTube clip in the newsroom that featured Olbermann on his “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” program. It is dated, but remarkable, and as relevant today as it was when it originally aired. Not entering too deeply into the minutiae of the video clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2KU02lsfH8), Olbermann calls out the conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly for blatant misinformation on his own show, “The O’Reilly Factor.”Olbermann tears apart O’Reilly for his statements — the second time in eight months, Olbermann points out –labeling the 84 American soldiers who were massacred at Malmedy, Belgium in World War II murderers themselves.Bill-O, Stephen Colbert’s hero, got it wrong.His history was wrong — saying that Americans murdered Nazis, predating and thereby rectifying the horrifying exposure of Abu Ghraib to some degree — and he was wrong twice. O’Reilly was wrong twice and apologetic never, not once clearly correcting his horrifyingly false statements.This is neither a hate-on-Bill- O’Reilly festival, nor an exaltation of Keith Olbermann; this is the rehashing of a sad truth, and one of which we all need to be increasingly aware. With the presidency on the line in the months to come, as well as nearly any and all other civic, social and economic developments, we have to be careful about how we listen to the media.Our collective grant of credibility should be a badge of honor, something that must be earned, rather than a right bestowed upon anyone with a primetime television spot.Simply put, don’t let them fool you.Just because it’s on television and they are wearing a nice suit, everyone makes mistakes — in some cases on purpose to further an agenda — and they should be held accountable for them.If it weren’t for Olbermann in this particular situation, O’Reilly could have pulled the wool over thousands of viewers eyes, without their hesitation.It’s not Olbermann’s responsibility, it’s ours as well.It’s not going to get any easier anytime soon. The world is just too dynamic. We need to wise up, pull our weight and more importantly, get our facts straight in this age of non-stop information from assumedly credible sources.Good information about the world is the lynchpin of a thriving democracy.