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Decision Actually Based on Attempt at Neutrality

October 31, 1987

For two years, I have accepted without complaint the often vicious criticism of my work by your TV-radio columnist, Larry Stewart. Being a journalist, I would defend to the proverbial death his right to comment as he pleases, whatever his motives.

However, in attacking my editorial decision not to broadcast highlights of NFL strike fill-in games (Oct. 16), he accused me of trying to "manipulate the news to flaunt" my own views--an offense I liken to an athlete throwing a ballgame.

Fully a month before the actual strike, my production staff and I reached the conclusion that to automatically televise the highlights in question was to endorse management in the strike, and to ignore the assault on football's history (and its fans), and the damage to the schedule, that the fill-in games presented and still present.

There is endless free publicity, free promotion--and in the case of the fill-in games, free legitimization--of the NFL by television and television critics. Mr. Stewart's columns have never analyzed this unsettling phenomenon, but merely perpetuated it.

The only "manipulation of the news" here is in Mr. Stewart's reservation of editorial decision-making as his right and no one else's. There was a specific process, and an attempt at neutrality, behind my actions. As I have come to expect, Mr. Stewart simply missed the point.

KEITH OLBERMANN

KTLA

Los Angeles

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