At a midday ceremony at New York’s Marriott Marquis hotel on Wednesday, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) presented the first annual Molly Ivins Award to MSNBC news anchor Keith Olbermann. The award was recently named in honor of Ms. Ivins, who served as co-editor of AAN member Texas Observer early in her muckraking career, and who died of breast cancer on January 31, at the age of 62. It is intended to recognize a journalist or media figure whose reporting or commentary has had a profound impact on the public’s understanding of vital national issues, and whose work embodies the spirit of Ivins’ courageous legacy.
“Speaking truth to power can and does take many forms, and, happily, there was no shortage of candidates for this first Molly Ivins award,” said AAN president and Memphis Flyer publisher Ken Neill as he presented the award to Olbermann (full text here). “But the members of this organization felt that the courage, clarity, and willingness to challenge the powers that be, displayed on his Countdown program over this past year, made Keith Olbermann a worthy recipient.”
“It’s an extraordinary honor. Molly Ivins was a crossover icon,” Olbermann said in his acceptance speech. “I didn’t plan to do this, or to become eligible for the first Molly Ivins Award, and it is overwhelming to me that I received it.”
Using a walking cane as a result of a foot injury he suffered the previous day, Olbermann spoke about his foray into the world of political journalism and commentary, and used the recent “terror plot” in New Jersey as fodder for why it’s important to have a watchdog press.
“Another way I’d like to emulate [Ivins] — and I think I have — [is that] I don’t recall her facts ever being attacked,” Olbermann said. “I recall her being attacked, which is something I’ve gotten to experience in the last 8-to-10 months … and I’m still waiting for somebody to come back with a rebuttal to the facts that I’ve tried to elucidate.”
Blogospheric reaction to Olbermann’s receipt of the Ivins Award was fairly predictable, ranging from elated at Daily Kos to disgusted at Olbermann Watch (bonus: they called AAN a “radical leftist group”). Olbermann’s MSNBC blog also wrote about receiving the award.
Here’s a video clip of part of Olbermann’s acceptance speech: