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Looking past all the partisan propaganda, one must conclude that the President's Wednesday speech on the Iraq War scored some points. Why else would we find Olby, a few hours later, making it his personal mission to try to counteract Bush's address in every way possible? Referring to the published National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, Keith asked:
Is the implication here that we didn't have one of those already?
The speech broke "no new ground"; it had "very little in the way of actual strategy"; what strategy there was is "debatable". These are not opinions of analysts or clips from Democrat leaders. These are the words of the impartial, nonpartisan Olbermann, in just the first two minutes of The Hour of Spin.
KO introduces a clip of Sen Reed by describing him as a "West Point graduate and former paratroop commander in the 82nd Airborne". Perhaps Olby will make it a habit to lay out the military record of everyone he runs a clip from. Or perhaps not. Pundit-for-all-occasions Howard Fineman offered the observation that the speech was "great theater", and shrewdly referred to not dates but milestones to "buy time" before he withdraws troops. Since Howie didn't immediately parrot KO's talking points for the evening, the nonpartisan host thought it was time for another of his patented leading questions:
Make these speeches about the need for Iraqi self-reliance, then declare that there is increasing amounts of self-reliance, withdraw troops, repeat a few times, and then define victory and get out?
Fineman immediately got with the plan: "That's what I think is going on." He added that in truth the Iraqi battalions have to be "led around by the hands" by US troops. A taped report from NBC on Iraqi capabilities continued the work of the evening, using Bush's words and then undercutting them with "yes, but..." formulations.
By now we're at the halfway mark, but even in the #3 segment Olby is still spinning his web. Here he exposed stories written by US military personnel that end up in Iraqi newspapers. "Fake news!", proclaims KO. Mark Mazetti of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote the article that so fascinated Keith, is the interview guest, but he refuses to characterize the articles in question as false or deceptive.
Other than a sleazy report on strippers and fluff about fat bottoms, the only other element of note is, what else, the "worst person in the world". Olby was in hog-heaven tonight, as he named Bill O'Reilly as worse, worser, and worst--an Olbsession Trifecta! Apparently Mr Bill's most grievous sin was:
This whole attack on Christmas nonsense that he made up, some sort of fantasy in which the liberals are coming to your town to force you and your family to not call it Christmas anymore
That of course is a moonbatty caricature of the issue, but we don't exactly expect Keith to traffic in truth. He is up in arms that one can buy "holiday ornaments" at the Fox News online store, and adds triumphantly:
Who is trying to change Merry Christmas into Happy Holidays? Bill O'Reilly, that's who!
As usual, KO's shot lands wide of the mark. Bill O'Reilly has nothing to do with the Fox News online store. He doesn't run it; he doesn't sell the items; he doesn't write the wording of the descriptions. In fact, if you go to Bill O'Reilly's own online store, it doesn't sell ornaments at all. And the heading reads: "Bill O'Reilly's Christmas Store".
Olby is so obsessed with slamming Mr Bill that facts just don't matter. What pushed him over the edge tonight? Maybe it was the today's release of the November ratings, giving The O'Reilly factor well over 2,500,000 viewers. And The Hour of Spin? Less than 1/5 that number. How to counteract the votes of America's news consumers? Fire another salvo of false charges at the nation's most-watched cable news program. Yeah, that's the ticket.
It's Tuesday, the technical problems here at OlbermannWatch have been resolved, and Keith is back with another installment of The Hour of Spin. Leading off tonight was Bush's upcoming speech, and KO framed the questions to Newsweek's Richard Wolffe in his usual leading fashion:
Is there anything that's going to separate these, in the final analysis, these speeches from the previous ones, or are we going to get this repeated drumbeat, or are they going to try a series of different drumbeats and see if there is one that really works?
Is there anybody in power telling the President, you know what, we're in charge of the White House, the Senate, the House, if we can't get this message out now either we're not very good at getting out messages or the message isn't very good?
Wolffe's opinion was that Olby is "right to be skeptical", and referenced "the people who believe that you represent the liberal media conspiracy". Who could possibly believe such a thing about our Keith?
After some anonymously sourced reports (channeled by Sy Hersh) designed to portray President Bush as too religious, in comes Wayne ("Bush's Brain") Slater to pontificate about how Bush is...what else? Too religious. Slater speculated that the President sees the Iraq war as "a test of his faith", and worried about Bush imposing a "narrow religious agenda" on an unwilling populace.
The Great Leak Case made the #4 position. Unfortunately for Keith, today's Washington Post story suggests that Viveca Novak's testimony might actually help Karl Rove's defense. But Olby has a way around that; drag in Dana Milbank and bring up a "report" from one of Keith's favorite moonbat sites: the left-wing Raw Story. Milbank properly warned Keith that Raw Story has not had a great record of accuracy. But since KO had already given this rumor from a discredited source equal prominence with the Washington Post article, Soros got his money's worth on this one.
The #3 story on the Countdown was sports stuff, focusing on something about Terrell Owens, restraint of trade, and Senator Specter. The next segment dealt with stress. (We know all about it; we have to watch Olbermann five nights a week.) Monica Novotny did a piece on health care for artists. In the #1 slot: apologies, inspired by Rep Duke Cunningham.
Nothing political in the "worst person in the world" segment tonight, but that gives us a chance to document Olby's winners during our short hiatus. Last week he managed to award the prize both to anyone who believes in Intelligent Design, and to Ann Coulter. And yes, he used that same picture of Ann with the eye patch. His reason? Olby disagreed with her latest column. That's all it takes, you know. If you don't parrot Keith's spin, you are a bad person. Who are we to argue with megalomania?
Thanks to the efforts of Alex Yuriev my Movable Type database which became corrupted last week has been recovered and is now back on line. At this point it's late so I will be back posting tomorrow.
Countdown opened with the most important news of Tuesday, November 22, 2005: the "cut and run" comments made last week by Rep Jean Schmidt, which Olby flogged just one day earlier in his "worst person in the world" segment:
Today, the individual whom she claims she was quoting, says he never said that.
The colonel she quoted, Ohio state representative Danny Bubp, is now denying ever having said what Miss Schmidt said he said.
Well, not exactly. According to Rep Danny Bubp's office:
he did not mention Congressman Murtha by name nor did he mean to disparage Congressman Murtha.
You'll note that Bubp's office did not claim he "never said" it. That formulation is strictly a creation of the Hour of Spin. Keith went on to a "potential bombshell": Bush was told ten days after 9/11 that Iraq wasn't involved in the attack. Well, duh! Added Olby:
Some might call all that a conspiracy.
Countdown Crony Howard Fineman showed up to chew over all this big news, along with the non-developments in the Tom DeLay case. It's all part of the "crumbling" of Bush's Republican support, according to Fineman. After a bit on Thanksgiving and pardoning turkeys, KO found a way to drag Richard Nixon into all of this. Very nicely done.
In the #4 slot we got a combo: a taped piece on the prosecution of Jose Padilla (whom Olby suggested was not that much of a threat), and questionable loans in the aftermath of 9/11 (via a taped Lisa Myers report). After a "top 3 newsmakers" bit where the on-screen list didn't match the text Keith was reading, we got #3: weather and travel nightmares. NBC's Michelle Kosinski (of the phony canoe in the water stunt) was the ideal choice for this segment.
In the #2 slot, we got yet another taped NBC piece, this time about convicts who escaped during Katrina and posed as college students. With all these recycled reports from network headquarters, it seemed like Keith was hardly even trying.
But there's always the #1 story, a chance to bash a conservative with an unfunny installment of "Robert Novak Puppet Theater". He turned yet again to Air America for fair and balanced commentary. Jeanine Garafalo immediately called Novak a "right-wing partisan hack". Olby giggled in appreciative agreement, but when they went off on a tangent about the evil of Fox News, that's when we threw in the towel. No point in wasting any more time with these two arrogant buffoons if it means we might miss even one minute of The Amazing Race.
Keith Olbermann will be back on the radio dial Monday thru Friday alongside Dan Patrick at 2pm. Even if MSNBC doesn't like it, too bad it's good PR.
A good video clip is like money in the bank to Keith Olbermann. So it is that tonight Olby jumped on the video of President Bush trying to open a locked door. He played it not once, but twice--and that's just in the opening teaser! When the show proper began, Keith intoned:
For metaphors, nothing could surpass it in a year's time.... Our fifth story on the Countdown, we'll show you the President's struggle to achieve a literal exit strategy in a moment...
You will? Twice wasn't enough already? But first KO ran clips from Dick Cheney and Joe Biden; to avoid any sense that the Hour of Spin is balanced, he brought in Countdown Crony Dana Milbank, and fed him loaded questions:
In terms of using that reference to the intelligence being bad, does that represent cutting their losses?
Is [Cheney] trying to hold four fundamentally opposing positions at the same time?
Milbank mumbled something about Cheney using a "have you stopped beating your wife" approach, so Olby got his money's worth. And then it was time to run the locked door clip for the third time. This is Big News, so let's bring in the big guns: David "Turncoat" Gergen. Keith started right in on the talking point of the day:
Is it unfair to call that one a metaphor for what's going on?
Gergen giggled that doing so is "inevitable", which it is, on the Hour of Spin at any rate. As the interview continued, the video clip ran twice more (one of these as a series of still frames!); Olbermann continued, bringing up Scott McClellan's Murtha comments:
Those don't qualify as accidents. Those qualify as sloppy mistakes, do they not?
Turncoat rushed to agree (the best posture for anyone who appears on Countdown and has any interest in being invited back). Keith brought up the "rift" between Bush and Cheney again, Gergen patronized him, and the first commercial break mercifully interrupted.
In the #4 slot, the Iraq Quagmire report, a summary of all the bad news of the day. Then a topic of actual relevance, what would happen if US troops withdrew? Colonel Jack Jacobs opined that announcing a troop pullback wouldn't have "any deleterious effect" on our forces, but might not be too beneficial for the government of Iraq. Olby tried another loaded question:
Is this debate now, by itself, the kind of danger to morale or to safety that the administration has been portraying it as?
Jacobs said ours is a highly professional force. The debate doesn't have a deleterious effect, it's healthy. It could over a longer term, but by then we'll be withdrawing forces.
Because he actually reported a little real news, the nightly specularama on The Great Leak Case got bumped back to the #3 position. Citing such reliable sources as "Raw Story", it was another fun guessing game: who is Bob Woodward's source? Last week Olby wanted it to be Dick Cheney, but that was all forgotten tonight as the speculation circled around Stephen Hadley and Richard Armitage. More GOP corruption coverage: Jack Abramoff's former partner enters a guilty plea and perils unnamed "top administration officials" (according to Norman Ornstein).
Radio news was the #2 segment. Afterwards Olby managed to slip in a plug for his new expanded role at ESPN radio. Shameless self-promotion: how O'Reillyish. #1 was an oh-so-hip, irreverent look at political bloopers. Hey, let's show that Bush locked-door video a sixth time!
The "worst person in the world". Was this the night that the glass ceiling would be broken? Will a Democrat finally achieve the ultimate notoriety? The runner-up was Col James Brown. His crime? He was "trotted out" to reply to Rep Murtha, but yesterday he was rotated out of Iraq. And that makes him a bad person...why? Don't ask. It's OlbyLogic.
The winner, of course, was a certified GOPer, the Congresswoman who relayed a comment from a constituent: "cowards don't cut and run". She is evil, Eeeeeeevil, personally attacking a Democrat. Of course, the personal attacks from Democrats (including Murtha) on the Vice-President, the President, or any other Republican just never seem to measure up to "worst person" status. On the Hour of Spin, that sort of thing just makes them more likely to be invited in for a friendly chat.
Only on the Hour of Spin would the top story of the day be another Olbermann specularama. Thursday night a good eight minutes were spent bloviating about who Bob Woodward's source is. Olby framed the story with a bunch of photos on the screen, carefully selected so that he could rule all of them out except for one: Dick Cheney. Dana Milbank joined in the guessing game, but when all was said and done, there was no news at the top of this "newshour".
After a few shots at Woodward (Keith is always right on top of the Soros talking points), Jonathan Turley came in to, you guessed it, take a few shots at Woodward. With the enforced unanimity of viewpoint that is a Countdown staple, Olby and his guests are the conversational equivalent of synchronized swimming. Incredibly, KO again trumpeted his great "known" insight from Wednesday. Maybe Keith ought to read the transcript of Fitzgerald's press conference, where at one point he flatly stated:
He was at the beginning of the chain of phone calls, the first official to disclose this information outside the government to a reporter.
Note to Olby: he didn't say "the first official known to disclose". He said Libby was "the first official to disclose". Got that? Can you please put away your new toy now and talk about something else?
The #4 story was, predictably, Rep Murtha calling for a pullout from Iraq. Murtha said the war was unwinnable and discussed pulling out over a year ago, though Olbermann made no mention of that. Then a clip of John Kerry from Hardball (that aired less than an hour before), but no clip of Matthews's other guest, John McCain. The topic morphed into "white phosphorus", described at least a half-dozen times as a "chemical weapon". Sheesh, even the BBC realizes it is not a chemical weapon.
In the #3 slot was talk of a rift between Bush pere and fils. This was from a Washington Times article, and Keith brought on the reporter who wrote the story--to dish some dirt about the President. That's all a writer for the DC Times, usually an object of Olby derision, has to do to get Keith's attention. Just print something negative about Bush, and KO's welcome mat is out.
#2 was another Olbermann antismoking piece; #1: Japanese game shows.
What Republican was named "worst person"? All of them! Well, not all of them, but a goodly number: the Republican National Committee and its webmasters, because of the song they used on a video. Olby is truly scraping the bottom of his smear barrel if this is the best he can come up with.
Ever wonder what goes on behind the curtain at Countdown? How exactly do Keith, The Laughing Stagehand, and their happy gang of toadies ensure that every broadcast will contain the requisite amount of propaganda? Inside Cable News has alerted us to this interesting account of just how the Countdown staff chooses its guests. It won't come as any kind of surprise to OlbyWatch readers. But it's always interesting to see someone peel away Olbermann's phony facade of nonpartisanship, and reveal the real facade.
Bob Woodward delivers manna from heaven for the Hour of Spin. His revelation that he heard about Valerie Plame way before Libby did gives Olby carte blanche to make the Great Leak Case the lead item on Wednesday's Countdown. Keith took full advantage of Woodward's involvement to make a link to Richard Nixon, Watergate, and the "I am not a crook" speech.
Woodward's testimony puts in doubt Prosecutor Fitzgerald's claim that Libby was the first person to leak the information to the press, but Olby was ready with immediate damage control. Fitzgerald didn't say Libby was the first person to leak, he said he was the first person "known" to leak. And according to Mr Humility:
The word "known" will appear prominently around the country, I think, tomorrow morning, and the explanations thereof.
Keith Olbermann, the man who sets the news agenda around the country, and a legend in his own mind. Unfortunately, his brilliant insights ended there. It never occurred to Olby that the prosecutor about whom he ran one shameless puff piece after another has proven to be a rather incompetent investigator. Whether or not he said "known", Fitzgerald didn't even get this basic fact of the case right, and completely missed critical evidence that made a shambles of his purported timeline.
Next comes Olby's favorite felon, John Dean, who delivers several minutes of meaningless speculation. Dean does some more damage control for Fitzgerald, and congratulates KO for pointing out the word "known". That gives Olby the opportunity to point out other news agencies that didn't catch this mind-boggling insight, humbly hyping his own brilliance once again. As he goes to a break, Keith again brings up the "crucial word". Looks like we know what tonight's talking point is.
Hardly a surprise: the #4 story is more on the Great Leak Case. Mr Subtlety again brings up "known". Former prosecutor Solomon Wisenberg then appears to pooh-pooh any notion that this has any negative impact on the Libby case. And they discuss--what else?--the impact of "known".
The return of the FEMA-bashing segment is #3, complete with the obligatory reference to "Brownie". Then Keith runs the soundbite of the day, which turns out to be Howard Stern replaying yesterday's Rush Limbaugh "worst person" bit and then lauding Olby as a "hero". But praise from Stern is rather like a civil rights leader getting the endorsement of David Duke. But Keith will take an ego massage wherever he can get it.
Fast-forwarding through more Michael Jackson puppets (#2) and celebrity news, we have the worst person in the world. Why do we have the feeling Bill O'Reilly is going to show up here once again? Could it be because KO flashed his picture at the top of the show? Maybe it's because Media Matters ran another O'Reilly quote (something about a San Francisco militia) and Olby's contract with George Soros dictates that he use every quote they run on his program. The lameness of this O'Reilly "offense" was so obvious that KO hardly even tried to make a case for its worstness.
Finally, the #1 story, about dating farmers. At last we can purge our minds of Olby's toxic waste and enjoy an hour of Lost. And no, that is not a documentary about the mind of Keith Olbermann.
The US Senate delivered the top story for Tuesday's Hour of Spin, passing a non-binding resolution about Iraq. Olby likened it to Walter Cronkite's famed comments about VietNam, and chatted with Dana Milbank of the Post, who called it a "rebuke" to the President. There was more reporting of poll numbers--never much of a concern to Keith when the President was riding high, but now it's a nightly feature. And just as some guy who heckled Dick Cheney during the hurricane coverage was Big News, tonight KO made it a point to spotlight some other guy who heckled Cheney.
After Olby made fun of a conservative song supporting President Bush, we got the #4 story: torture. A recycled NBC report detailed a "torture chamber" found in Iraq, attributed to Shia militia. But Keith was in hog heaven with #3: a resolution from San Francisco to take Bill O'Reilly off the air. Feeding KO's principal Olbsession is akin to offering free crack to Marion Barry. "Obnoxious and perverted but fundamentally buffoonish" was how Keith described Bill O--a textbook example of projection that would have impressed Dr Freud himself.
So we got replays of O'Reilly's hyperbole, then clips of a later O'Reilly interview, followed by still more O'Reilly sound bites (where he refers to it as a satiric riff). Keith falsely described this last as O'Reilly "changing his story again", adding "and you thought Sen Joe McCarthy was dead". In the spirit of fairness and balance, Olby brought in the San Fran commissioner sponsoring the resolution. Keith noted that O'Reilly was engaged in "hate speech", and is "several light bulbs short of a marquee". At the end of the interview, Mr Freedom of Speech wished his guest "good luck" in silencing Mr Bill.
Porn on the iPod was story #2; #1, Michael Jackson and Michael Musto (they deserve each other).
And of course, Countdown wouldn't be the Hour of Spin without bashing Republicans and conservatives in the "worst person in the world" segment. The runner-up was Brent Bozell; the "worst person" was Rush Limbaugh. We keep saying it: never a Democrat or liberal as "worst person". As long as Olbermann persists in saying he is "nonpartisan", we will continue to remind people of the proof that he is a liar.
The Monday night Hour of Spin began with Olby introducing a clip of the President's Alaska speech in his typical fair, nonpartisan manner:
He met the troops, and also to mete out a little punishment to any Democrat irresponsible enough to criticize the war in Iraq and how we got there.
After that misrepresentation, KO talked about poll numbers and brought in the chameleon of punditry, Howard Fineman. Howard, of course, is like silly putty--whether he's interviewed by Olby, or Laura Ingraham, somehow he always seems to give 'em what they want to hear. Keith repeated his misrepresentation:
...essentially accusing anybody who's critical of the war in Iraq...of being deeply irresponsible. We just heard tonight, in Alaska, he did exactly the same thing.
Olby must think that if he tells this lie often enough, people will swallow it. And Howie, by nodding in agreement, is his enabler. A taped NBC report from Andrea Mitchell followed, dealing with how much intelligence data the Democrat critics actually had. It started with a straw man fallacy:
[VIDEO - BUSH]: [Democrats] had access to the same intelligence... [MITCHELL]: But did Senate Democrats really have as much intelligence as the President?
The President said they had access to it; Mitchell changes the wording to did they actually have it? She makes points like, oh that was buried on page 84 of a report so it doesn't count, and her piece has several Democrat soundbites but none from Republicans. There were a few bones of fairness thrown in at the end, but the thrust was clear.
With the #4 story Olby faces his nightly dilemma. How exactly does he make the Great Leak Case one of his top stories when there is no news to report? In the grand tradition of the National Enquirer, if there is no news, just create some. A "new theory" that the target of the investigation is actually Dick Cheney. It must be a reliable theory, since it's being promoted by Keith's favorite felon, John Dean. The ex-con speculated about release of classified information, but neither he nor Olby ever addressed a key question. How can someone (like the Vice-President) who is authorized to declassify information possibly be indicted for declassifying information?
In the #3 slot, the Jordan bombing (via a recycled NBC report) with Steve Emerson opining. #2 was eye candy: amateur video of a twister; and #1 was wacky inventions.
And oh, KO named another worst person in the world. Now what Republican (because Democrats and liberals never qualify) was the horrible, evil person for Monday? The Governor of Alaska. There is no corner of the USA too far-flung for Olby when he's on the hunt for Republicans he can smear.
Friday night's Countdown can be summed up in one sentence:
Bush is a liar.
But we can't let it rest at that. Here at OlbermannWatch we go the extra mile, as repellent as the job may be. So put on your toxic waste encounter suit, we're about to wade into the sewage that is the Hour of Spin. Olby started out with his first cannon blast:
With nearly six in ten Americans calling him a liar, President Bush chooses Veterans Day to call them something else. [VIDEO OF BUSH]: it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began.
But wait, there's more:
If you are part of the 57% of this nation that believes, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, that the President deliberately misled us to make the case for war with Iraq, Mr Bush has just called you deeply irresponsible.
Is that whom the President was talking about? Here is the entire quote. We report, you decide:
While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decision or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began. Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war. These critics are fully aware that a bipartisan Senate investigation found no evidence of political pressure...
If KO is to be believed, the President accused 57% of the American people of trying to "rewrite the history" of the war. Is that whom Mr Bush was talking about? Or is Olby just lying to make a dishonest point? For the answer to these and other questions, let's go to Countdown Crony Craig Crawford. You'd think there wouldn't be room for both Crawford and Olby on that high horse, but you'd be wrong. Crawford managed to perfectly parrot the statement of Sen Kennedy:
Getting so partisan here on Veterans Day was quite surprising.
Keith again warned Republicans that this speech was going to backfire (he only has their best interests at heart) and pulled out the L-word. Again:
He's got liar poll numbers now.
And when Olby suggested that Bush shouldn't be distracted by replying to his critics (in other words, just bend over and take it), Crawford (hereafter "Olbermann's Brain") giggled that even Republicans don't like the President's new approach:
Many of the President's supporters, Keith, are very concerned because they see some good things coming out of Iraq...some of the other positive news they want the administration to focus on, instead of engaging this old partisan debate with Democrats.
Really?!? The President's supporters don't want him to answer his critics? Just what Bush supporters would those be, Craig? Olbermann's Brain didn't name a single one, and we doubt that he could. Meanwhile, Keith derails the conversation to bring up Karl Rove. Big surprise.
Continuing with the "Bush lied, people died" talking point for the evening, the #4 story was "the truth test". Did Democrats really have access to the same intelligence as the White House, as the President said? Richard Sale was the guest expert for this Olby Investigation. Richard Sale. Why does that name sound familiar? Perhaps because he has written for the far-left truthout.org, where he fearlessly predicted five indictments in the CIA leak case? Maybe it rings a bell because Sale is said to hate neocons with a vengeance. No point in transcribing the conversation, because you already know Olby's questions, and Sale's responses. Once again, a single guest is brought in to echo the host's chosen spin. Investigative journalism, Olbermann-style.
The #3 story was talkative kids; #2 was a taped report about English usage. Meanwhile, top stories on the MSNBC web page that Olby didn't think were important included the Jordan bombing, Arab reaction, Secretary Rice in Iraq, an accused rapist now charged with murder, and the Pope's comments on creationism.
The worst person in the world was another twofer: a conservative runner-up (from the Federalist society) and the winner, Republican Rick Santorum. The amazing streak, that defies all laws of probability, continues: no Democrat or liberal is ever the worst person in the world.
The #1 story was another manifestation of the biggest Olbsession of them all: Bill O'Reilly. What did the evil Mr Bill do this time, other than amassing an audience of viewers that is anywhere from six to ten times the paltry bunch who stomach Olby every night? San Francisco doesn't want to allow military recruiting in schools, and O'Reilly said that maybe we shouldn't protect them from the next terrorist attack.
It's a talk radio show. It's the kind of thing people say all the time, like "He should be shot for doing that". Or "If I tell you, I'll have to kill you". But when you have Keith's peculiar fascination with O'Reilly, this is huge, Big News. It's "demagogic". It's "traitorous". KO dragged Pat Robertson into the equation, flogging yesterday's news once again (it's so much more fun than dealing with today's). And then in comes Mo Rocca, "television personality" and Olbermann's ideological clone. The combination--a whining pseudo-comedian and a sissy wannabe newsman--was too much for us. We're outta here.
Smoking Gun! Smoking Gun! It's an OlbyAlert:
New questions now concerning the judicial ethics of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito.
Judge Alito did not recuse himself in two cases involving Vanguard and Smith Barney. It turns out he owned mutual funds from the companies in question. And what's more, he ruled in favor of Vanguard! Olby was in rare form on Thursday night's Countdown:
I'm a layman, but it would seem to me these are throat-cutters!
Selective editing of facts is a standard propaganda technique. Just cherry-pick what you want the audience to hear, and the credulous will never know the difference. In this case, these are the things Keith didn't say:
Not only did Olby omit telling his 178 viewers any of this, he actively spouted nonsense that contradicts the facts:
One way or the other, ruling about financial issues or financial gain at least, for two companies in which he had some kind of financial stake.Fer cryin' out loud, sports guy! Mutual funds are a freaking product, not a share of stock.
After Jonathan Turley came on to parrot KO's spin, the subject switched to Bush's poll numbers, and Olby brought in the country's premiere Bush-bashing conservative. Pat Buchanan did get in a good line about using torture on captured terrorists, but Keith immediately got Buchanan back on tonight's talking point: Sam Alito. After a smart-aleck bit about Pat Robertson, we mercifully came to the first break. Now maybe we'll hear about Jordan, or the riots in Paris, or the investigation into the CIA prison leak--all listed on MSNBC as among the day's top stories.
But no, #4 is some kerfuffle between the White House and a transcript company about what McClellan actually said at a press briefing. This is the second-most-important news item of the night? Must be--Olby devoted an entire segment to it. The impartial guest to "analyze" all this was the head guy from Editor and Publisher, now being run by, and in full service to, the lefty moonbats from The Nation.
By the halfway point, Olbermann has stuck to his spin and successfully avoided stories his own news channel lists as the lead items for the day. But he finally gets around to the Amman attack--to note that one of the bombers was Iraqi, and raising the Democratic talking point that the country is a "breeding ground". Two taped pieces recycled from NBC carried the segment. No in-studio guest, no interview. After all, this isn't important news. It's only terrorism.
The #2 story? Children in restaurants. And #1 was the newly elected teenage mayor of Hillsdale. Olby referred to the city as "Hillside" and asked the mayor-elect if he gets to wear a "goofy hat".
So Keith smears Judge Alito by leaving out facts that don't fit his slur. And he elevates footnotes to Big Story status, thereby distracting from the real news that he just ignores. Tonight's lesson is that, if you're Olby, it's not just what you say that makes Countdown an Hour of Spin. It's also what you don't say.
The top story on CNN at 8:00 pm? The bombings in Amman, Jordan. The lead story on Fox? The bombings. The top stories on the network newscasts? Bombings. The lead story on Countdown? "Dawn of the Democrats." There is nothing that happens anywhere in the world that will prevent Keith Olbermann from fulfilling his propaganda duties.
Olby's election rundown included the two gubernatorial wins for Democrats in Virginia and New Jersey, and the loss of Arnold's reform issues in California. Naturally, the election of Michael Bloomberg in New York was skipped over. Doesn't exactly fit the frame. Oh, and didn't a Republican take the Lt Governor spot in Virginia? KO made no mention of that. Not what he wants his audience to hear.
We're more fascinated by Ohio, where Keith pushed the claims of flawed voting and fixated on recounting ballots for weeks after the last Presidential election (check our archives to see how extreme this Olbsession was). Inspired by the moonbat theories that KO promoted, Democrats put a passel of proposals to "reform" the state's voting procedures on the ballot. They were backed by a huge influx of out-of-state money, courtesy of the moveon wing of the radical left. One would think KO would be all over this story. But all of a sudden, Ohio is not on Olby's radar. Why is that? Could it be because all those radical proposals lost? That doesn't make for a very convincing "Dawn of the Democrats" spin, does it?
In comes Dana Milbank to talk about poll results. Olby leads off with:
Would that be the kind of thing the Democratic leadership would look at and say, it's impeachment time?
When Milbank doesn't bite, KO goes on to note that Arnold "got his clock cleaned" because his initiatives didn't pass, but again, makes no note how George Soros and his gang went down the toilet in the Buckeye state. Fickle Keith: he used to hold the Ohio story close to his heart, but now he doesn't call, he doesn't write...
Eleven minutes into the program and Olby is now on the subject of Dick Cheney, the pretext being that Achmed Chalabi is in town. Finally, after 18 minutes of spin, we get to the #4 story: the Jordan bombings, via some recycled NBC news tape and guest Roger Cressey.
What will be the #3 story? Paris riots? Ohio election returns? That's not news. #3 is ethics class at the White House--the gift that keeps on giving. It was reported Friday, but it's found its way into the Hour of Spin every night this week. And KO picks up yet another talking point from the minority party as he asks about Karl Rove:
Why isn't he turning in his top secret security clearance when others get theirs yanked for so much less?
Less than what? Judge Olbermann has rendered a finding of guilt against someone who hasn't even been charged with a crime, let alone one that involves security. Since it was Harry Reid who wanted to make this an issue, Olby gave it the deluxe treatment, reading off a long list of people who had lost their clearances for seemingly small transgressions.
Keith brought on attorney Mark Zaid to parrot his spin. Zaid did his duty, talking about what a "bad example" Rove is. But Zaid also let it slip that the litany of cases KO had read previously all just happened to be his clients! Small world, isn't it?
The #2 story was a fluff piece on adult schooling with Monica Novotny, who these days prevents the excessive soiling of her reputation by limiting her appearances with Olby to one or two a week. Coming in at #1: a woman selling her house on ebay.
So what did we learn from the Hour of Spin tonight? The Democrats won everything. There were no elections in Ohio or New York. The rioting in France does not exist. And Karl Rove is guilty. Of something. And whatever it is, it's bad. Judge Olbermann has ruled.
Tuesday evening Keith opened Countdown with an free campaign advertisement for the Democrats. He ran a lengthy clip of Harry Reid's evidence-free charges about Dick Cheney, and demands that the President pledge not to pardon Scooter Libby. Then an even lengthier clip of Helen Thomas, David Gregory, and others hectoring Scott McClellan about torture. By the time KO got to White House Ethics Class Puppet Theater we were ready to puke. (Olby is getting a lot of mileage out of a story that might have been news last Friday but sure ain't today.) So The Hour of Spin kicked off with unfounded political charges, obnoxious showboating by the Washington press corps, and puppets. On OlbyPlanet these are the most important news of the day.
After the break, we meet the #4 story: same as the #5 story! Shapeshifting pundit Howard Fineman comes in to analyze (read: pound into the skulls of credulous viewers) all this Big News. Fineman, ever-adaptive, got with Keith's platform immediately. He declared that Scott McClellan was attacking the press, and called him "Nixonian". Olby offered the spin that the Republicans shouldn't ask to investigate the CIA Prison story leak--Keith is always ready to warn the GOP not to do this or that. He knows what's best for them, don't you know?
By the halfway point of the program, Olby has yet not mentioned anything about the riots in France that are spreading to other European countries. Not one single word. But he did find time to tease--twice--an upcoming segment about cheerleaders making out in a bathroom and glue on a toilet seat.
So after the break, he finally got the riots in France? No way. Instead the #3 story was excerpts from a Dateline report on sexual predators. Yes, the Dateline report that has been seen so many times on MSNBC over the past few days that the oxide is starting to shed from the video tape. Going into the break: another tease for the cheerleaders in the bathroom. In the middle of the break: the fourth promotion of the potty stories. If you get the idea that Olby's news judgment is in the toilet, then you get the idea.
Naturally the #2 story is not the riots in France. It's the much-touted potty report, though by now it's been teased so many times viewers must feel like they've already heard all they need to know. And the coveted #1 spot? The inside story (i.e. sarcastic snottiness) about Scooter Libby's novel, plus some anti-Republican "humor" from Andy Borowitz. All of this way more important than that meaningless, trivial stuff happening in Europe--which was completely ignored by Olby on MSNBC's "newshour of record". Why should Keith care about those people? They didn't make out in a bathroom.
Monday's Countdown began with a favor to Carl Levin, who released an obscure memo that cast doubt on the credibility of one pre-war source of intelligence. This must be Big News since it prevented Olby from opening yet another show with the Great Leak Case. Keith brought on Col Patrick Lang, identified only as the head of Middle East intelligence during the Gulf War I. Unmentioned is that Lang is a long-standing critic of Bush II and a favorite guest of outfits like Democracy Now and their ilk. Keith channeled Harry Reid and his talking points:
Is it now time to look at the intelligence on which this country went to war...and to start asking, was any of it right?
Michael Duffy was next, and Olby again played defense counsel for all the Democrats (Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Chuck Shumer, etc) who had warned about Saddam's WMDs in the past:
If the government has 100% of the information...how is the minority party, which presumably has access to less than 100% of the information, supposed to have stood up and said, no, you're wrong?
Never one to inflate the importance of one story out of all proportion, Keith added:
Did the whole pre-war intelligence house of cards just collapse here?
Duffy cited Harry Reid in his reply, which boiled down to "maybe". Olby worried that the Republicans were going to prevent a "meaningful" investigation, and suggested archly that things would go better "if the Democrats are in charge of one of the houses or both". All that was lacking at this point was a disclaimer: Paid for by the Democratic National Committee.
It's always fascinating to see just how KO will manage to make The Great Leak Case one of the top five stories of the day, even when there is no news. Monday night, he picked up on speculation about Karl Rove's future at the White House and conflated that into a theory that "Bush's brain" (as he insists on referring to Mr Rove) was on his way out no matter what. Countdown Crony John Harwood wasn't so sure about it all, unintentionally demonstrating just how thin Olby's justification for flogging this story has become.
A UN report (surely an authoritative source!) that blamed Halliburton for excess expenses in Iraq was cited by KO as if it were gospel. Then came Philip Giraldi, identified as "a contributing editor for The American Conservative". But don't get your hopes up. Olby hasn't committed fairness. Mr Giraldi is an Iraq war opponent extraordinaire, having claimed not only that the case for the war was forged, but also that Dick Cheney has a secret plan to nuke Iran. Keith, of course, treated Giraldi's criticisms of the war effort with awe and reverence ("Extraordinary!"). See, even conservatives are against the war! Olby wouldn't have it any other way.
Olby sneers at people like Rush Limbaugh as "reactionary parrots". But with this sort of relentlessly partisan propagandizing, Keith has devolved into little more than Howard Dean's trained monkey.
Countdown for Friday night followed the usual format: the top stories of the day, chosen not for the newsworthiness but rather for how badly they portray the Bush administration. Naturally the riots in Argentina were the first story, with both Olby and NBC's Kelly O'Donnell characterizing the protests not just as anti-American but also "anti-Bush".
When KO did a phone interview with a Washington Post reporter, suddenly the connection was lost. What followed was a demonstration of Olby's brilliance at ad-libbing, not to mention a fascinating display of just what pops into Keith's mind when he isn't reading from a script but has to "think" on his own:
Uh, we'll now, uh, turn it over instead, uh, to, uh, as we said, uh, uh, uh, the uh, the picture here was muh, probably not as simple as it seemed, it's very possible that the majority of those violent protesters have no interest in who Karl Rove is or in Iraq...
Karl Rove? Karl Rove? What in the Wide World of Sports does he have to do with this? We thought Olby was obsessed with Bill O'Reilly, but when he starts babbling, Tourette's style, and the first thing that comes out of his mouth is "Karl Rove", it's really time for him to adjust his medication.
The next segment (story #4) was a chance to bask in the latest Bush poll ratings (without bothering to note the curious oversampling of Democrats). Countdown Crony John Harwood joined in the fun, suggesting that somehow Arlan Specter's scheduling of Alito hearings in January was because Republicans are upset that the White House hasn't fired more staffers.
The #3 story comes after the halfway mark, and sometimes it represents a respite from the rampant bias and partisanship that mark the Hour of Spin. But not Friday night, as Olby dedicated this segment to the Big News that there were forged documents about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa, and that the Italians have figured out who was behind it. Keith declared the very idea that Saddam was after uranium "preposterous", and added:
The President used the false information in his State of the Union address.... Surely American intelligence agencies should have been independently determine that they were not legit before the President referred to them in the State of the Union.
The famous "16 words". That SotU reference was not to the Italian documents, but to the findings of British intelligence. Perhaps that's why Olby ran a silent video clip of the SotU. The President's lips were moving, but KO spoke over the video, telling us what he wanted us to think Bush was saying.
Keith recently hacked a statement from Patrick Fitzgerald into pieces in order to distort what was said, and now he's trying to fiddle with the wording of the State of the Union speech. After all, if he actually ran sound on that video clip, it would be clear that Bush specifically cited British intelligence, not Italian documents. Then KO would run the risk of someone remembering that the British report was not based on these documents at all, and that the Brits still stand by the findings.
Robert Collier was there to serve as Olby's echo chamber. Keith described him as from the SanFran Chronicle, and didn't bother to note that he has also written for Robert Reich's American Prospect, "an authoritative magazine of liberal ideas, committed to a just society, an enriched democracy, and effective liberal politics". How surprising.
Another huge surprise: the "worst person in the world" segment slammed Republican Tom DeLay. His crime? He accepted free transportation to DC to do a media interview. Fully reported, and completely legal, but good enough for Olby to plant another implication in the minds of the credulous.
And yet, DeLay was only a runner-up. The winner? "Fox News Channel", for paying DeLay's expenses. (Not quite true--it was Fox News Sunday, a program on the Fox broadcast network.) Keith was on his high horse, because that sort of thing would never happen at NBC. They wouldn't allow Meet the Press to cover travel costs for their interview subjects, would they, Nancy Pelosi? Mr Hypocrisy didn't bother to explore this angle.
A few days ago Blackboxer Kathy Dopp sent me the startlling news that she and the kooks over at the National Election Archive Project had "proven" that it is possible that vote fraud in Ohio cannot be "ruled out".
Not sure what that proves but whatever it is they thought they had proven turned out to be a bit flawed.
I got another email a few days later stating:
The National Election Data Archive's paper analyzing the Ohio exit poll data has been temporarily withdrawn due to an error in the assumed definition of data given in the ESI report...On October 31st, the Election Science Institute's own analysis [PDF]of its Ohio exit poll data was mathematically proven to be invalid.
Of course this news only went out to people on the mailing list - the web site still has the original, erroneous, report on the group's web site with no mention that the report was retracted.
Just like Keith, let's start out with a rhetorical question. What do these headlines have in common?
We'll spare you the suspense. These are the top 10 stories as listed Wednesday night by the Associated Press. Which of these was the top story on Olby's Hour of Spin? None of them! No, Countdown began with another rehash of The Great Leak Case:
Another conservative leader asks if Karl Rove should stay on at the White House.
The "prominent conservative leader" turned out to be someone from the Cato Institute. It's not surprising that Olby thinks libertarians are the same as conservatives. Keith is hardly what one would call knowledgeable.
All of this was just a warmup for the fawning interview with The Great Man, Joe Wilson. After noting that Wilson's book has rocketed all the way up in Amazon sales to 769, Keith gave Wilson the floor and pretty much avoided asking anything that might annoy The Great Man. Near the end of the propaganda piece, Olby decided that he had to at least feign being a reporter. So he did bring up a few of the criticisms of Wilson:
You can turn on Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or any other reactionary parrot, and you can hear these same talking points about you.
Wow, was Keith careful not to displease The Great Man, or what? Talk about weasel words! By the way, this is the second time in as many nights that Olby described someone as "reactionary". Yesterday he applied that pejorative to the pro-choice, pro-environmentalist Dick Morris. Once again, we expect ignorance from Keith. But back to KO's tough, aggressive questioning:
They say your wife was not a covert officer because she posed in Vanity Fair magazine...
Say what? The argument that was being made is that his wife wasn't covert under the terms of the Identities Protection Act (she was not assigned overseas within the previous five years). Is Olby deliberately misstating this or is it just more ignorance?
They say that your report on Niger was debunked at some point, and they said that you claimed that the Vice-President had sent you on the Niger trip, and when you said that you were lying when you said that.
Wilson ducked the first question (saying his wife was "classified"--not what was asked), and delivered his usual evasions on the others. That's as far as KO went. Nothing about Wilson's claim that his wife didn't recommend him, and nothing about Wilson asserting that he exposed forged documents he hadn't even seen. And if you think that Keith asked any kinds of follow-ups, then we have some lovely oceanfront property in Utah to sell you.
More softballs about "threats" and civil suits, and the puff piece finally creaks to a close. But Keith isn't through. The #4 story turns out to be more on the Great Leak Case with Pundit for All Occasions Howard Fineman. It's several minutes of pure speculation, but hey, who wants to report news when you can salivate over the Libby trial?
The #3 story is the Washington Post article on "secret CIA prisons". It doesn't occur to either Keith or guest Dana Priest to ask who in the CIA is leaking this info, whether these leaks are a violation of law, and if they endanger anyone. The agenda of the leaker? Not interested. And how about the timing? Olby loves to question the "timing" of everything from terror alerts to flu vaccine. But with this leak that issue never occurred to "journalist" Olbermann.
Coming in at #2 was the Rosa Parks funeral; #1 was Tom Cruise. The "worst persons in the world" included runner-up Elaine Chao (Republican), and "winner" Donald Rumsfeld--because he has stock in a company that may be making bird flu vaccine. Amazing. They should listen to Olby and just not produce the vaccine. That'll show 'em. We've already lost count of how many days, weeks, months KO has gone without ever naming a liberal or a Democrat as "worst person in the world". Olby wouldn't do that. He wouldn't want to disappoint Joe Wilson.
Kathy Dopp, the math genious cited by Keith Olbermann, who "proved" vote fraud in Florida panhandle counties because they went for Bush even though there were more registered Democrats now has "the smoking gun" to prove vote fraud in Ohio.
Dopp, who was apparently unaware that Democrats in the South have been voting Republican in Presidential elections for the last 30 years, take her mathematical expertise to Ohio to evaluate whether "Bush voters lied much more than Kerry voters on exit polls". In Doppland, located 5 clicks due west of the Grassy Knoll, everyone is in on the vote fraud conspiracy including John Kerry, Howard Dean, the national Democratic Party, every major newspaper in Ohio and more.
If you've witnessed vote fraud or at least heard of someone who has a cousin who knows a guy who heard two Republicans talking in a coffee shop about stealing the 2004 presidential election Kathy Dopp wants to hear from you:
Kathy Dopp firstname.lastname@example.org 435-658-4657 or cell 917-656-0066
No doubt Keith was none too happy that there was actually a news event today. It meant bumping his nightly specularama about The Great Leak Case to the #4 slot. So on Tuesday night's Countdown the Senate's closed session was #5 (top story on the backwards newshour). Olby got Chip Reid to claim that Harry Reid's arguments in favor of the stunt were valid, and then Countdown Crony Richard Wolffe gleefully enthused about how well the tactic worked.
But once that bothersome business of current events was out of the way, KO could move to his monomaniacal fixation with The Great Leak Case. His guest was E.J. Dionne, who published a bizarre theory about a conspiracy to delay indictments until after the November 2004 election. Olby's contribution to the propaganda was to cite Prosecutor Fitzgerald as substantiating this theory:
OLBY: There is a sixth charge against Mr Libby of course, in the court of political opinion. It is when Fitzgerald said this, he was tacitly blaming Libby:
FITZGERALD: I would have wished nothing better than when the subpoenas were issued in August 2004, witnesses testified then, and we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005.
OLBY: In other words, Fitzgerald's indictments might have come before the Presidential election of 2004, not a year after it.
What Keith isn't telling you is that Fitzgerald's statement had nothing whatever to do with Libby. The Prosecutor was referencing the reluctance of reporters to testify--that was the question he was responding to. In order to hide from viewers that salient fact, Olby cut off the last sentence of Fitzgerald's answer:
FITZGERALD: ...we would have been here in October 2004 instead of October 2005. No one would have went to jail.
What a difference seven words make. They show that Fitzgerald was specifically talking about the delay caused by reporters resisting subpoenas, not an imagined delay cooked up in the West Wing as a secret plot by Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby. Keith's selective editing of the prosecutor's words, changing their meaning to suit KO's own agenda, is sleazy hack "journalism" at its worst. But don't expect to find Olby named as today's "worst person in the world". Standards don't apply to the Hour of Spin.
By the way, Dionne's notion that there would have been no delay had Libby testified truthfully is dumb. Fitzgerald had to subpoena the reporters regardless of how Libby testified, particularly since even the "truthful" version of events still didn't establish a criminal violation. No prosecutor can accept a suspect's version of the facts, especially when it doesn't make out the crime he's looking for. But we digress.
KO moved on to Sam Alito, referring to him as "another fortunate son". Olby also addressed those who have been wondering about terror alerts. You'll recall Keith proclaimed that alerts are called to distract from bad news for the administration. We've had several troublesome weeks for the White House, so where are the terror alerts?
Keith's paranoia is like a "living and breathing document"; it adapts quickly when facts get just a little too inconvenient. So the terror theory mutated into new territory--now it's talk about the avian flu that's just another crafty scheme to distract the poor, gullible people of the United States:
OLBY: As for the White House response to the growing political subindustry over the war--bring on the bird flu news!
As he spoke, the banner underneath read:
KO minimized the threat, said only 62 people are dead, and counted the number of times Bush used the word "pandemic" in today's speech. There was no evidence presented that the bird flu is not real, or that it is being ginned up as some sort of evil Karl Rove trick. But evidence is hardly a requirement in the Hour of Spin.
Tuesday's "worst person in the world" was Geraldo Rivera again, because he said he's tired of being made fun of. Don't try to figure out why that would make him a terrible person. It's not like Rivera took a quote from Patrick Fitzgerald and selectively edited it to change its meaning. No, he's a bad person because he works for Fox. That's all Olby needs.