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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Jan. 31
Host: Keith Olbermann
WHAT IS THE U.S. EXIT STRATEGY IN IRAQ? Tom Squitieri, USA Today
WHAT WILL INSURGENTS IN IRAQ DO NEXT?: Steve Emerson, MSNBC terrorism analyst, author of "Jihad in America"
Read the transcript to the 8 p.m. ET show
Updated: February 2, 10:40 a.m.
OLBYWATCH GUIDE: You wouldn't believe it if you didn't see it with your own eyes. What kind of OlbyConvergence does KO come up with to report on Hillary Clinton's fainting spell?
Three years and 18 days after President Bush blacked out at the White House during a pretzel malfunction, the junior Senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton, fainted five minutes into a scheduled speech...
After this forced non-sequitur, Olby mentions the mayor of Baghdad's plans to build a statue of President Bush. No surprise, his spin twirls out of control:
Given the fact that Major Fadell is only assuming his office because his predecessor was assasinated 27 days ago, maybe he wants to hold off on this idea a little bit.
And all this crammed into the opening minutes before Keith even gets to reporting the election story, where his lead is not the number of people who voted, but something else:
That the insurgents ultimately had no impact on yesterday's voting turns out to have not been for lack of effort. The number of attacks yesterday, originally reported as eight, is now estimated at 100 by the US military.
Some fun with statistics there from Olby (what constitutes one of those 100 "attacks"?) but guest Steve Emerson didn't bite on any of KO's one-track questions:
Are there expectations or anticipations about any ways the insurgents might change strategies as they try to resume operations?
Let's say that yesterday was a one-day pause...Can that still have a dampening effect on the entirety of the insurgency, on their supporters, on their backers?
Then Olby finally decides to report on the turnout:
[Turnout was] lowest in the Sunni triangle....Some polling stations never even bothered to open. Few voters actually made it to the ones who did. Despite rumors that food rations would be taken away if residents failed to vote.
Several negative anecdotes were hit hard, but Keith just didn't have time to mention how many people did turn out. He had more important fish to fry, like missing money that "happened under the watch of L Paul Bremer". Then, picking up on today's DNC talking points, KO has a discussion of "exit strategy" with Tom Squieteri. After an Al Jazeera item, the #5 story on the backwards countdown finally concludes. But not before Olby can plug the next segment:
While most think the election in Iraq was a success, that has not translated into warm feelings in the neighborhood for the President.
#4: International reaction to the Iraqi elections. Keith Miller's taped, re-cycled report again mentions the phrase of the day, "exit strategy". A David Gregory report speculates on the future of Iraq. A federal judge ruled against "enemy combattant" status. KO even puts a quote from the ruling on the screen. He does mention that this conflicts with an earlier ruling by a different judge, but did Olby give that decision the same prominence as this one?
#3: The Michael Jackson case. 'Nuff said.
#2: Margaret Spellings "jumped the gun" by complaining to PBS about a "Sugar Time" episode that promoted homosexuality. Snidely referring to the program as "dangerous" and "mind-warping", KO added that there was "an implicit threat to cut off funds for PBS". What better time to bring up James Dobson and SpongeBob once again? Another chance to play the video! Then Olby complained that Dobson was encouraging people to send him what KO called "spam". (Oddly enough, Keith considered emails to be "news tips" when they were about VoteFraud2004inOhioButNotPennsylvania.) KO had fun reading some of the sillier messages, as his off-camera crew laughed on cue.
After what seemed like an eternity, Keith finally arrived at the #1 story: beer with caffeine. Does anyone think Olby was on that story long before the program began?