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The Thursday edition of the Hour of Spin began with a shocking revelation about the President's latest poll numbers. It's another precipitous slide, another indicator careening downward like an out-of-control snowball in the midst of an avalanche:
The President's political free-fall may not be over, not yet anyway. Fewer than half of those surveyed by Gallup for USA Today offering a favorable opinion of the President as a person, 53% unfavorable, the worst rating yet of the Bush Presidency. That's a new kind of rating slide for him.
It's no surprise that Olby would make plummeting poll numbers his top story. But when one looks a little more closely, things aren't exactly as KO portrays them:
Asked their opinions of the president, 46 percent said they were favorable, a figure statistically equivalent to the 48 percent who gave that response in a July 25-28 poll.
To talk about this, and an alleged tactical disagreement between Karl Rove and Dan Bartlett, who better than Olbermann's Brain, Mr Craig Crawford? The Brain giggled and chuckled his way through a singularly uninformative interview, trying to make sense out of inquiries constructed around F Scott Fitzgerald quotations. When Olby wasn't showing off his literary pedigree (anything to distract from the fact that he doesn't even know who is in the cabinet), he was posing his usual loaded questions:
Will reassuring the public be enough for very long?What a great question! The answer could be: Yes, all he has to do is reassure the public and it will work forever. But the desired answer is the obvious one: No, it's not enough. Next Keith will be asking his Brain: Is wearing a t-shirt really enough protection for a midnight stroll in Anchorage? We suggest a different question: Is a .4 rating really enough to survive on any channel except A-Mess-NBC?
A taped NBC piece on behavior detection to identify terrorists came next. Since being hip is more important to KO than making sense, he quipped, "I feel safer already". Texas fires led off the #4 segment, via another taped NBC piece; the parade of recycled network reports continued with one about New Orleans. Then a block of prestigious NBC News programing time was consumed with yet another replay of an "oddball" video of Japanese game shows.
Leading off the #3 slot with a quote from HL Mencken (how desperate is this guy to convince people he is erudite?), Olby repeated more "oddball" videos. Then for a change of pace, Keith ran new "oddball" videos, this time to the accompaniment of The Laughing Stagehand. The #2 story was reserved for something more serious: crazy news stories from Florida! (By this point Olby wasn't even trying. He didn't even have an obscure literary reference.)
With #1 devoted to sports, there is only the "worst person" segment to comment on. As we noted before, Media Matters is not publishing between the holidays, and as a result, Olby's "worst" nominees turn out to be ordinary people, like town drunks and incompetent robbers. No Republicans, no Fox news folk. They will be back in Olbermann's spotlight when the Soros crew is back on the job.
Friday's Hour of Spin is the 3rd or 4th (we've lost count) rerun of a taped year-end special, so this is the last Olby! Live! for this year. See you in 2006, which can hardly bring much worse than what the Hour of Spin gave us in 2005.
Just for the fun of it, we wanted to see if we could write the start of tonight's OlbyWatch report before the program even aired. Here is what we came up with, verbatim:
Tuesday's Hour of Spin began with the NSA surveillance controversy. The new wrinkle Olby used as a pretext to make this his top story again: the effect on the prosecution of various terror defendants. KO warned convictions may be in jeopardy, and to parrot that chosen talking point, Keith interviewed Jonathan Turley. As is standard practice, no one was brought in to present an opposing point of view.
Hey, we didn't do too badly! [As long as you don't count our writing Tuesday instead of Wednesday.] Yet even we didn't anticipate that KO would flatly decree the eavesdropping program to be "illegal". But in the opening moments of the program, that's just what he did:
What happens to terrorism prosecutions when it turns out the evidence came from illegal wiretaps?
What Judge Olby based his ruling on remains unclear. The last time we checked, the legality of the operation was a subject of debate. "Debate" is what John Kasich did with the issue: have legal experts that give both sides of the question. But presenting multiple viewpoints is antithetical to Keith. How can you have an Hour of Spin unless you only present one side of the story?
KO followed up the Turley love-fest with a brief taped piece about John Yoo, the legal scholar who formulated many of the legal theories favored by the White House. But before you get the idea that Olby may have committed balance, Mr Yoo was permitted to utter all of one sentence in this NBC news vignette, while another expert who disagreed got twice the time. Will Keith invite Mr Yoo in for a friendly chitchat a la Turley? Not likely. Chances are Mr Yoo will never be permitted on the Countdown set and will become the forgotten man, while the Turleys who echo the KO talking points will keep coming back like the proverbial bad pennies.
An NBC report from David Gregory reviewed the President's year. Note the graphic Olby used:
The #4 story was a recycled NBC piece on possible fraud at the Red Cross. In the #3 slot we got another one of those over-the-top Olby productions, this one dealing with athletes and steroids. Keith was so hysterically manic that we wondered if he was on something. Probably not; chances are he's still on a high from the thrill of having served as judge, jury, and executioner in Tuesday's heresy trial of John Gibson.
Countdown dragged to a conclusion with more fluff about a man who drank at 1,000 bars (#2) and the year in weird (#1). As for the "worst person" segment, Olby is having a hard time coming up with any zingers for his favorite targets this week. Media Matters is apparently on holiday vacation. So Olby's picks were all about stuff like bottles of urine and do-it-yourself cemeteries. When Brock's brigade is back next week to do Keith's research for him, KO will be back to slamming Republicans, conservatives, and those evil Fox people.
The time between Christmas and New Year's is the least important rating period in television news. It's the week when substitutes rule the airwaves. There was no Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room, no Paula Zahn on Paula Zahn Tonight. Soledad O'Brien slept in, and Lou Dobbs was nowhere to be see. On Fox most every program on the schedule has had a substitute anchor today. Perennial also-ran A-Mess-NBC played Hardball without Chris Matthews, and Rita Cosby was not in the house. The reason for this carnival of stand-ins is simple: the programming bosses don't want to waste their big names during a week when viewership is low, only to have them take off for vacation when their ability to draw an audience is more important. That's why Bill O'Reilly is on vacation: he draws a Nielsen crowd, and they'd rather have him off now so he will be there when the ratings matter. This week is for the second team.
So it is that tonight's Countdown was hosted by Keith Olbermann.
Olby appears to have put The Great Leak Case on the back burner so he can flog the NSA spying story. It was the lead item on the Hour of Spin, and served as a convenient excuse for Keith to promote the Impeachment of The Great Satan. After citing "news" from such reliable sources as The Huffington Post, Olby reached out to his extensive cadre of irreproachable experts to bring in...John Dean! Keith's favorite convicted felon was given a platform to repeat his fringe hypothesis about all the crimes The Great Satan has committed and why he should be impeached. The interview with the ex-con ran a generous nine minutes, and no guest appeared to give an opposing point of view. After all, this is the Hour of Spin.
The "interview" was about as hard hitting as a softball game between the Society of Friends and the Little Sisters of the Poor. They compared Bush to Nixon, and raised the specter of the 1950s "Red Scare". Judge Dean ruled that the President "violated the law", then Keith went to the ex-con's book to recycle thirteen talking points that supposedly were grounds for impeachment. The entire segment was an archetypical example of one-sided partisan propaganda. Err America couldn't have done it better.
The #4 story concerned Anna Nicole Smith before the Supreme Court, and the Justice Department siding with her inheritance claim. KO yukked it up with another Puppet Theater installment, but nobody bothered to mention the pertinent legal fact that preserving federal court jurisdiction in these matters (which would favor Nicole) is important to the feds because of the implications for tax revenues.
Keith elevated his "worst person" bit to an entire story segment. In the #3 slot, he whined about John Gibson and Bill O'Reilly for daring to respond to Olby's attacks. In O'Reilly attack #49, Keith stated:
It is curious, isn't it, that he brands me a smear merchant, yet instead of trying to refute just one of the hateful things we've quoted him as saying or doing, he instead turns to the ratings.
Well, Mr Olbermann, maybe that's because when the hateful things you've said have been refuted, and more than once, you ignore the facts, never give the other side, and refuse to admit you're wrong. Ya think?
Then Olby turned to John Gibson, this time running the complete audio tape from Media Matters to "prove" that what he said is even "worse" in context than in the cut-down bit he ran. He again called it "intolerant", and suggested Gibson was "clearly the worst person of all time" and should resign, while reminding viewers again of how much he really liked the guy. [gag!]
#2 was the flap about Schwarzenegger Stadium in Graz, and #1 concerned the image of Mother Teresa in a bun. Meanwhile, there was today's "worst person" segment, where Olby once again had to twist the facts to fit his agenda:
People who usurped [Santa Claus's] identity, like the idiots who trotted a guy in a suit out on tv and insisted Santa is a Republican
What Keith didn't bother to note is that the "guy in a suit" who was being interviewed was Bob Phillips, who has been Santa for the White House and the Secret Service for years. He was talking about how he got the job, why he applied, and his experiences in meeting the President and other DC notables. The official White House Santa is a Republican. What a shocker!
On reflection, it appears the bosses at A-Mess-NBC aren't so dumb after all. Let this clown blather on the night after the night after Christmas (or, to mollify Olby, after Xmas), so they can put in a competent substitute when people are actually watching. Someone in Seacaucus sees Olby for what he really is.
Do you know people whose sense of self-importance is so overbearing that, no matter what, they always have to get the last word in everything? Even if they're just saying the same thing, over and over? If you don't, you know one now.
John Gibson made an off-hand comment on his radio show yesterday about the propriety of NBC having a primetime newscast that seeks to name the "worst person in the world" every night. When TVNewser reported those comments today, Keith Olbermann, like Pavlov's dog, immediately reacted. He fired off an email, eagerly repeating the fallacious drivel he used to attack Gibson in the first place. Plus he took the opportunity to up the smear ante, pompously accusing his "friend" Gibson of "hatred and bigotry".
What a classless clown.
Keith chose his words carefully after the President spoke tonight; he referred to Bush:
admitting that in this case much of the pre-Iraq-war intelligence was wrong...yet also insisting that among those opposed to it are defeatists...and insisting again that we are winning the war in Iraq.
"Admitting" negatives, and "insisting" when advancing his own arguments. Ain't pejoratives grand? After bandying around words like "belligerance" to describe the speech, Olby asked Joe Biden:
You've been quoted in several places as saying...the President has been more open to dissenting opinions than in the past. Did you see that in the speech tonight?
Biden's answer is not what KO expected:
Yes. [awkward pause as Olby is rendered speechless] Yes, I did see that in the speech.
The look on Keith's face at that moment was priceless:
Comments are open. Submit your caption!
How many biased wisecracks can Keith Olbermann cram into a single paragraph? He did his best to set the Guiness record on Friday's Hour of Spin. Let's see how well he did in just the opening minutes:
To discuss NSA surveillance, KO brought in a reporter from the leftist Boston Globe, who talked a lot about snubbing the Congress and the Court. Neither he nor Olby bothered to note that Congressional leaders and the FISA court were informed of these actions.
The entire #4 slot was given over to the latest jib-jab internet cartoon; #3 was all about Howard Stern--complete with what must have been the 89th replay of the interview with Katie Couric. Then followed segments on a credit card snafu (#2) and penguins (#1). The elites love to praise Countdown as "the future of tv news", even as KO devotes the vast majority of his "newscast" to noxious drivel and reruns. Meanwhile, there just isn't time to report on insignificant trifles like the Iraq election. But there we go again, lecturing an acclaimed journalist on what is or is not news.
Finally, in the Media Matters Minute, Olby names Bill O'Reilly "worst" (Olbermann O'Reilly attack #48):
The latest part of his delusion about this war on Christmas, that it's partially the fault of the Catholic Church.
Keith was not telling the truth; O'Reilly said no such thing. Mr Bill's point was that Church leaders should speak out and address the issue; one of his guests, Father Jonathan Morris of the Vatican, agreed with O'Reilly. Since Olby doesn't watch The Factor and just takes talking points from the web, he wouldn't know that--the Soros smear site edited out Fr Morris and everything he said.
So Friday's Countdown was top-heavy with a concentrated block of spin in the first segment, while the remainder of the hour was filled with trivial inanities that would embarrass the producers of A Current Affair. Another groundless attack on Bill O'Reilly served as Olby's cherry on the sundae.
Oh no, that reminds us. The President speaks on Sunday. And a-mess-nbc is letting Keith anchor the "analysis". No wonder people get depressed over the holidays.
If there is anyone well connected to the echo chamber, it is Keith Olbermann. Tonight's Hour of Spin gave us a perfect example. Yesterday, the President gave an extensive interview to Brit Hume on Fox. Last night Olby ignored the sitdown and everything said in it. It just wasn't news. However, overnight the leftist bloggers started focusing on Bush's statement that he thinks Tom DeLay is innocent. (Which he is, until proven guilty.) Conference calls were made, talking points emailed, and questions formulated. Harry Reid and his cohorts gave an accusatory press conference. And by tonight, as if by magic, the meaningless, unimportant, non-newsworthy interview was suddenly The Top Story. It provided an entire segment of fodder for Keith and guest Dana Milbank to chew over. Too bad he didn't think to report any of this yesterday, but how could he? He didn't have his marching orders yet.
After all this important news, the Iraq elections were a mere footnote, relegated to a two-minute tape recycled from NBC. More of KO's insightful news judgment at work. Then, in introducing a follow-up on the great expose of the Pentagon gathering information on war opponents, Olby stated:
When during VietNam it turned out the Pentagon was doing this, even the Nixon administration got apoplectic and ordered it stopped.
But the Nixon administration wasn't just gathering data. It was actively spying on protesters and infiltrating their organizations. Even Lisa Myers, who did the original report and the follow-up, doesn't claim to have proof of infiltration. This is the sort of rhetorical embroidery that Olby delights in ridiculing others for, but any notion that he himself is misinforming the public would just go over--way over--his head.
In the #3 slot, Keith again took up the Christmas issue. KO talked about the Congressional resolution regarding the traditions of Christmas. He played John Dingell's poem about Bill O'Reilly as proof that the whole controversy was "imaginary", inserting clips of Mr Bill at random points. Hey, it's an excellent way to give more free publicity to O'Reilly. Mr Bill had over 2.5 million viewers on Wednesday. If Olby keeps this up, O'Reilly may go over three million by the end of the week.
You know Olby would want to interview a guest who would parrot his talking points and not offer any kind of opposing point of view. And as KO himself might put it, as sure as there's an "X" in Christmas, that's just what he did. Keith talked to Dingell, and immediately brought up O'Reilly (again!) and John Gibson (note to self: keep an eye on the ratings for The Big Story). Keith repeated the mantra that the whole controversy was made-up and a fabrication, but didn't mention that Gallup has just completed a poll on the issue. That's right, it's such a non-story, concocted out of whole cloth by Bill O'Reilly, that Gallup is now polling on it.
But there was one great moment. After Olby said--twice--that the house never did pass the resolution, Dingell corrected him. "It was voted on today." (And passed, overwhelmingly.) When Keith sighed, we suspect that it was a way to cover his embarrassment. Not only does he not know who is in the cabinet, he didn't even know what happened to the bill that he spent an entire segment misreporting on!
The #2 story was the man who caught a baby dropped from a burning apartment building, courtesy of Monica Novotny (who deserves better than scrounging for scraps at the egotist's table). #1 was a self-plug for Olby's own inclusion in an article about mavericks and troublemakers. "Egotist" wasn't so far off, was it?
In the "worst person" segment, KO acknowledged the previous day's error (he showed a picture of Max Cleland while slamming Neel Boortz), and gushed that Cleland is really one of the "best people" in the world. But Thursday's worst was Jeanine Pirro, a Republican (natch!) candidate for Senate in New York. She was seen laughing after a funeral. Wow, that's pretty serious, Keith. You've never gone to a wake? And don't try to tell us you never saw this video. C'mon Olby, it's not too late to name him "worst".
The other day Robert Novak made an offhand comment that he thinks the President knows who Novak's Plame source was. It was the smallest of straws, but enough for Keith Olbermann to grasp with relish, and elevate The Great Leak Case to the top story on Wednesday's Hour of Spin. And lest anyone get the notion that he will ever play fair while flogging this story, he again dragged in the discredited Lawrence ("Liar! Creepy Liar!") O'Donnell as his expert witness.
O'Donnell suddenly had a newfound respect for Bob Novak, calling him a "well-wired" reporter. He opined that even though there's an active investigation now, the President could have called The Source into his office before the investigation began and demanded answers. Well yeah, unless the source was a former administration official, which happens to be what Bob Woodward has suggested. Bush can't very well demand answers from Colin Powell or Richard Armitage. But hey, O'Donnell is the "expert". The most interesting facet of his appearance was the unmistakable sound of Larry backpedaling furiously. The predictions of "at least three high level indictments" have been forgotten; all of Larry's overheated pantings about the impending arrest of Karl Rove have suddenly been dispensed with. Now O'Donnell thinks, hey, Rove might not get indicted after all. Larry's expertise is nothing if not flexible.
Richard Wolffe of Newsweek showed up to discuss Bush's handling of Iraq. Wolffe wrote the "President in a Bubble" article, a perennial favorite of the Big Media that they reserve for Republicans (Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Bush again). A recycled NBC report went into Pentagon propaganda efforts (Olby wondered "Why are we still doing it?"). The #3 slot was dedicated to the woman who survived a skydiving accident, a story that was news several days ago. Better late than never. Then a segment on sports fans and finally a roundup of the year's wildest news videos.
Since Keith stated he doesn't do "'bad guys' and 'good guys' and all of that TV nonsense", we thought that maybe the "worst person in the world" segment was no more. How silly of us to think that Olby would practice what he preaches. Tonight's "worst person" bit (hereafter known as the Media Matters Minute) skewered a Republican (Bill Frist) and a conservative (Neil Boortz), the latter lifted, as usual, from the Soros smear site. On OlbyPlanet, Democrats and liberals are never, ever "worst".
In the midst of it all, KO found time to plug a special edition of Countdown next week: a full hour of recycled "Oddball" videos. Yes, that's the kind of journalistic genius that makes Keith Olbermann "the future of tv news".
Keith Olbermann is quoted in Rolling Stone, pontificating about news anchors who also offer commentary and opinion, and how he intends to continue his practice of only doing so on rare occasions:
It's not going to be talking points and 'bad guys' and 'good guys' and all of that TV nonsense.
At which point he returned to his computer to write another "worst person in the world" segment.
Tuesday's Hour of Spin began with Bush poll numbers (some up, some down), and a chat with Howard Fineman, who compared the President to a hedgehog. Keith cited a statement from Scott McClellan about Bush's plan for Iraq, and asked:
Other than Mr McClellan's established willingness to always do the HL Mencken bit, to keep repeating something again and again in the hope it will eventually come true, is that statement based on anything?
Objection! Leading. Next came a taped NBC report from Lisa Myers about Pentagon "spying" on war protesters. She neatly fuzzed the difference between gathering information and infiltrating, and did not prove anything more than the Pentagon keeping records of things that are public knowledge.
The #4 slot featured John Holley, a father whose son, killed in Iraq, was flown back to the states as freight on a commercial airline, without an honor guard. #3 was about entertainment, specifically Christian entertainment, via another recycled NBC piece. Olby suddenly found the discredited Golden Globe nominations worth reporting, possibly because they seem to favor Brokeback Mountain, the gay cowboy movie that is said to be the best gay cowboy movie ever. Keith also referenced a quote from Samuel Goldwyn:
Legendary is the movie mogul so clueless that he described a screenplay as "too blood and thirsty", and then made the film anyway.
Next came a segment about how packages get shipped (another tape recycled from NBC), and lastly robotic samurai. But there's always the "worst person in the world" segment. And in case there was any doubt, our Olby is back, in style.
His bete-noir, Bill O'Reilly, was mentioned on Media Matters today, so--insert gasp of astonishment here--KO dutifully parrotted their propaganda. Apparently Mr Bill said that a school district in Plano Texas had told students not to wear red and green during Christmastime. On the word of Media Matters, Olby said Mr O'Reilly was making it all up:
You know how we've been telling you he's been making up this blarney about a war on Christmas? Well I had meant that term 'making up' metaphorically. Silly me.... Where does O'Reilly get this nonsense?
Here's is precisely what Mr O'Reilly said:
In Plano TX, just north of Dallas, the school told students they couldn't wear red and green because they were Christmas colors. That's flat-out fascism. If I were a student in Plano I'd be a walking Christmas tree after that order.
According to Olby, O'Reilly made this up and he's the "worst person in the world". But, like so many salvos in Olbermann's War, he has missed the mark again. There was a lawsuit, Jonathan Morgan, et al., v. the Plano Independent School District, et al., filed in Federal Court. As one of the attorneys said:
School officials have gone so far as to prohibit students from wearing red and green at their 'winter break' parties because they claim they are Christmas colors. Even the plates and napkins must be white. The district's policy is ludicrous to even the most common observer.
What's more, a federal district court judge granted an injunction against the school district.
You mean it all really happened? Yes it did, last year. O'Reilly never said otherwise. It looks like the evil Fox guy was right. And Keith Olbermann--who insisted it was all made up--is wrong all over again.
Oh, by the way, that Sam Goldwyn quote Olby read earlier on? Guess what? It's an urban legend. The "legendary quote" really was just made-up. He never said it! Nice work, Keith.
Update: The Dallas Morning News reports that the Plano school district is demanding a retraction from Mr O'Reilly, apparently hanging their hat on the defense that they never banned red and green clothing, only items like napkins. That defense is disputed, but in the spirit of Christmas, let's suppose we'll be generous and give them that point. It wasn't clothing. So where does that leave us? Bill O'Reilly's comment on banning the colors, vs Keith's rant that O'Reilly made it all up out of whole cloth. Olby, who didn't mention the ongoing lawsuit, the allegations of the parents, or anything else that didn't fit his agenda, is just as wrong as ever.
Monday's Countdown opened with the Bush speech on Iraq and the Democratic response. Keith actually suggested that the latter sounded rehearsed. That's odd, we're sure the channel was set to MSNBC. Then lengthy excerpts from Brian Williams's exclusive interview with the President. Olby contended that it was "unusual" for Bush to do sit-downs with reporters. We've lost count of how many times the President has done so (plus another one coming up in a few days with Brit Hume).
Coverage of The Great Leak Case is mandatory; this time David Shuster claimed that "the betting" is that Karl Rove will be indicted. It will be interesting to revisit that statement in a few weeks. Segments on Richard Pryor and Tookie Williams were unremarkable. KO made a half-hearted reference to the war on Christmas regarding a taped piece on professional Santas, but overall Olby was unusually restrained. Maybe it's just a gloomy Monday for Keith. You know, like the song:
Talking to myself and feeling old
Sometimes I'd like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin' around, nothing to do but frown
Rainy days and mondays always get me down
What ever happened to days off? Can't Keith skip a Friday now and then? Does he have to be there every evening? It's no fun, you know, putting up with the Hour of Spin five nights a week. Tonight, Olbermann led off with an old story, adding a new twist. Al-Libbi, the informant who recanted prewar statements that were a part of the justification to invade Iraq, was tortured. Well, not exactly. The report said "harsh treatment", and Keith talked to a reporter from the Boston Globe about what exactly the New York Times meant by that phrase. Instead of making this poor fellow guess the answer, why not ask the Times reporter himself?
The topic turned to the Great Leak Case: what Viveca Novak said, and whether it could mean this or that. To say that Olby was trafficking in pure speculation is to state the obvious:
If Luskin's revelation of the Novak-Luskin conversation is presumably all or most of what kept Karl Rove being indicted through the first grand jury, does it follow that, if the Luskin account falls apart because of that March-October timeline difference, that the result could be an indictment of Mr Rove?
The questions were posed to MSNBC's ace spinmeister, David Shuster:
Is it just us, or does he have the widest mouth in all of show business? Showing off, Keith threw in a quote from Clarence Darrow, possibly to make up for yesterday, when he let slip that he didn't know who was in the Cabinet.
Airplanes were the focus of the #4 story, with the Chicago accident and Miami both getting recycled NBC reports. As for the latter, Keith cited a "third witness" that the man never said he had a bomb. He also referenced Mary Gardner to the same effect (without noting that she also said that other passengers did hear him say it). All that said, KO, finally, did tell his viewers that there are, in fact, witnesses to the "I have a bomb" statement. There was no formal correction for his two days of false and misleading reporting, however. Baby steps, but a step forward nonetheless.
After gratuitous crack #46 about Bill O'Reilly (one step back), Olby did a segment about auctioning off JFK assassination artifacts. For all his paranoia and conspiracy theories, Keith actually evinced a healthy skepticism about the bizarrely contorted plots that have been dreamt up about the case. He even cited a book that isn't a loony leftist tract but rather a serious, well-researched study. Another baby step forward (we're back at +1 now, if anyone is counting).
#2 was some fluff about voicemail, recycled from NBC. The #1 story was about a Paris Hilton Christmas display, more fluff except that Olby just had to introduce it by telling us that the "war on Christmas" is phony and made-up. Another step backwards, leaving Keith and Countdown right back where they started: still the most biased hour in all of cable "news". The Hour of Spin twists on.
Thursday night's Countdown opened with a brief mention of the New York Times poll showing an uptick in the President's approval ratings. Olby quickly moved to speculation that Joe Lieberman might replace Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Lieberman? Who's he? He's that fellow whose speeches on Iraq don't get covered on Countdown. Oh, that Lieberman.
We're mentioned before Keith's ignorance of the news that he spins five nights a week. Tonight gave us a fresh example. In questioning Ken Bazinet, Olby had this brilliant insight:
A Democrat of any shape, stripe, or form in the Bush administration? Would there not be rioting from the hard right?
Um, Mr Olbermann, there's been a Democrat in Bush's cabinet since 2001, when Norman Mineta was named Secretary of Transportation, a position he still holds today. Where does Keith get his knowledge of current events from, the backs of Wheaties boxes?
After the Bad News from Iraq report, we got fresh insights into The Great Leak Case, courtesy of Lawrence ("Liar! Creepy Liar!") O'Donnell. Only KO would keep resuscitating this discredited hack, and you can be sure that he never asked him about the "at least three high-level Bush administration indictments" he predicted, or his other fantasized fictions.
For the #4 story, Olbermann again brought up the London subway shooting to frame his "report" on the Miami events. He said his skepticism "seems to have been justified" and then lied for the second day in a row that "no witnesses" have "come forward" who heard anything about a bomb. To make the smarminess complete, he boasted there was a witness who supported his loathsome theory that this is all a cover-up of a cold blooded murder. You see, this witness said he didn't hear anything about a bomb. Aha! Proof positive! Never mind that the witness was in the middle of the plane, and the incident took place in the back--something KO didn't bother to report. Never mind all the people who did hear it. Guest Mary Schiavo was remarkably tolerant of Olby's repulsive insinuendo.
Afterwards Keith moved on to police videos, pandas, and John Lennon. But not before his 45th attack on Mr Bill O'Reilly. It was another double-header, with O'Reilly both runner-up and winner of "worst person in the world", dutifully lifted from the pages of Media Matters. The transgressions that outraged KO were so lame there's hardly any point in analyzing them. The best response will be the next set of Nielsen ratings; the way Keith's numbers are going, they might change the name of the program from Countdown to SunkDown.
On Wednesday night, Keith Olbermann opened the Hour of Spin with a segment about the White House Christmas Card. Err, make that Holiday Card. Olby, with the help of Dana Milbank, analyzed every word on the card. Well, almost every word. They somehow skipped over the scripture (from Psalms). But this was just typical Olbermann juvenalia. What came next was truly noisome.
Introducing a report on the airplane shooting in Florida, Keith began with an especially repellent OlbyConvergence. He began by recounting the tale of the innocent man who was killed in the London subways, when the police there all lied about what happened. This juxtaposition was offensive enough, but then KO went even further over the line:
Tonight at the airport in Miami, there is no evidence of a terorrist attempt, but there is another dead man, killed by a counter-terrorism expert, this time a US federal air marshall. Officials, but so far no witnesses, say the man claimed he had a bomb in his carry-on bag and then refused to respond to their instructions.
No witnesses? No witnesses, Mr Olbermann? Over on Fox, well over an hour before you said "no witnesses", Steve Harrigan reported the following:
We did have the opportunity to talk to some people who were on that plane.... Those passengers said that they were in a state of shock, that the man was running up and down the aisle of that plane saying he had a bomb on board.... These passengers, many of them Columbian families, say they are very relieved to be alive after what happened today.
Instead of pettifogging every word that comes out of Bill O'Reilly's mouth, perhaps Keith Olbermann should start watching Fox's news coverage. Maybe next time, he won't go off half-cocked, implying that US law enforcement personnel may be guilty until proven innocent, all because of his own ignorance.
On Tuesday night's Countdown, Keith Olbermann opened the show by framing the top story as a "war of words" between Vice-President Cheney and Howard Dean. If one had any doubts as to which side was favored at the Hour of Spin, they were erased when Olby put a graphic up on screen showing a snarling Cheney side-by-side with a jovial Dean:
After a clip of Cheney saying "we will prevail", KO subtly opined:
And HL Mencken thought journalists kept repeating things in the hope that eventually they would come true.
Olbermann also ran a clip from Rep Murtha, prefacing it with the preposterous statement that Murtha is "trying to break through the din". As if there is any Congressman as little-known as Murtha had been who is getting the kind of press he's getting these days. Olby dragged Murtha into this not because the representative made any particular news, but because Murtha had appeared on the Today show. Meanwhile, Keith once again totally stiffed Sen Lieberman, who gave a major foreign policy address today. Hey, it's not like he did something important, like appear on a tv show.
Olby brought in one of MSNBC's house experts, Col Jack Jacobs, who dismissed as meaningless all of the clips that Keith ran:
From a military standpoint, not a single one of them knows anything at all about what he's talking about.... The only statement I've heard recently that made any sense at all was one today from Sen Joseph Lieberman, who said all these public statements don't make any military sense.
Oops! That's the speech Olby spiked--in order to make time for meaningless rhetoric from Murtha et al. Another Great Moment in News Judgment. Keith tried another tack, bringing up Rumsfeld's plan to streamline the military, framing it by giving Col Jacobs two alternatives, both of them negative:
Was it a bad idea altogether, or did it merely not fit Iraq?
Col Jacobs is too smart a cookie to fall for the Fallacy of the False Alternative:
It's a good idea globally. It's actually not a bad idea for Iraq.
Not surprisingly, Olby ended the interview. After another Bad News from Iraq report (recycled from NBC) and Saddam's trial, the subject turned to poll numbers, Tom DeLay, and Duke Cunningham, via another NBC piece.
At the halfway point, the #3 story proved to be a lame attempt to one-up Olby's bete-noir, Bill O'Reilly, who will be running a cable exclusive interview with Howard Stern Wednesday and Thursday. Keith introduced what he bannered as a "Howard Stern Exclusive", Stern's sit-down with the perky Katy Couric--also recycled (in this case from the Today show, not counting all the other showings on MSNBC). In a desperate attempt to blunt the Factor juggernaut, KO will be playing the second half of this "exclusive" rerun tomorrow night.
The #2 story was sports fluff, while the #1 slot was reserved for the "widely made up" war on Christmas. It was a red-and-green opportunity for Don Quixolby yet again to make war on his enemies: O'Reilly and Fox News. (He tactfully avoided any mention of Joe Scarborough, or Tucker Carlson.) As if Keith alone weren't bad enough, alleged comedian Mo Rocca joined in. His shtick was so painfully unfunny that even The Laughing Stagehand couldn't muster a chuckle. It just laid there, and died there. But be warned: Olby teased that Rocca will be his guest again tomorrow night. We can't wait.
As another week of Countdown begins, we are back with our "hate-Olbermann" website that is "spewing hate" with its "hateful diatribes". It seem there are Olby acolytes who are afraid that he just cannot withstand the heat of criticism. Still, our goal is to continue reporting on Olbermann's follies at least until he officially names us the "worst people in the world".
On Monday's Hour of Spin, Olby was befuddled that Hillary Clinton is looking to outlaw flag-burning. Wouldn't you know it? When he's critical of a Democrat, it's for not being liberal enough. Said Keith:
Hillary Clinton waving the flag for anti-flag-burning constitutional amendment.
[Clinton] has taken on one giant, incongruous step to the right. The Junior Senator from New York to cosponsor legislation that would make it illegal to desecrate the American flag by, oh, say, burning it.
Plans and verb-tenses and positions on flag-burning can always change...
There was also talk of poll numbers. You will recall that when Olby talked about the President's approval rating a few weeks ago, it stood at 36%. Tonight, KO announced:
The new batch of polling finding fresh ways to chart the President's descent.
Only 41% of those surveyed for Time magazine approving the job he is doing...
...one point lower than it was in the magazine's poll in September.
Tom DeLay got a mention too, for having one of his charges dismissed on a "technicality"--the technicality that he was indicted under a nonexistent law! Howard Fineman, Pundit for All Occasions, joined the party, and at least clarified for Keith that Hillary's proposal was legislation, not a constitutional amendment. Howie also bloviated about the poll numbers, parroting KO's spin about a "decline", adding:
If you take all the polls together, he's at about a one-third job approval rating, which is about as low as you can go...
Howie also mentions the DeLay dismissal, noting that it is really not a win but a loss. He didn't look surprised that the charges had been quashed, even though a little over a week ago he scoffed at the possibility, dismissing it with: "They've made that argument before".
In the #4 position, a taped NBC report about Rice abroad and torture, followed by war news. Next came the 9/11 report, and for a fair and balanced appraisal of its findings, who better to interview than Sheila Jackson Lee? Isn't this the great mind who thought the Mars rover could somehow find its way to a flag planted on the moon? The same. Apparently she was the most qualified Congressman Olby could dig up, since he limits himself to Democrats and liberals.
The rest of the show dealt with sports stuff, and celebrity garbage with the creepy Michael Musto. In the "worst person" smear segment, Ford Motors was a runner-up because they "caved in" to those "homophobes" at the American Family Association. The AFA's version of what this was all about differs greatly from Olby's. Nobody of note made "worst", but guess who turned out to be the second runner-up? This is really tough, so think hard. Give up? It's Bill O'Reilly, because he said his reporting, and that of others, influenced the oil companies to lower prices.
By some counts this makes 44 times Olby has gone after Mr Bill on the air. And it's having an effect. After Olbermann's brilliant ploy of giving O'Reilly all three of the "worst" slots on Wednesday, thereby giving him three times the publicity, the ratings for Thursday night reflected the benefits of Olby's efforts:
The O'Reilly Factor: 2,532,000
Maybe Keith can get Howard Fineman in to spin these numbers.
On tonight's Hour of Spin, Keith Olbermann found a way to make The Great Leak Case the most important story of the evening. The New York Times speculates that Time reporter Viveca Novak may have "tipped off" Richard Luskin (Karl Rove's lawyer) to what Matt Cooper's testimony may be.
It's unclear how this would affect the case in any way, but Newsweek's Richard Wolffe showed up to engage in some guesswork. It also gave him the opportunity to take a few shots at Viveca Novak, who, if tonight's Countdown is any indication, is about to get the same volley of knives in her back from fellow reporters that have already been fired off at Bob Woodward and Judy Miller.
Other journalists (e.g. Deborah Orin) report from their sources that the Novak-Luskin conversation had nothing to do with Matt Cooper at all. But Olby didn't bother to let his viewers know about that. What, you expect Keith to be fair and balanced? For that matter, as Wolffe voices his criticisms of Time magazine, no mention was made that MSNBC has a content relationship with Time's chief competitor.
After playing a clip of the President giving some good economic news, we had another delightful visit from Olbermann's Brain, Craig Crawford. Brain giggled about "loss of credibility", while Olby inquired:
Are the civilians tuning him out?
Crawford, whose incessant chuckling puts that of Pat Robertson to shame, opined that the President is "afraid" to appear before civilian audiences. All of this an excellent prelude to the Bad News from Iraq Report, via taped pieces from Richard Engel and Mike Boettcher.
Pet rescues and reunions were the #3 story (no, we're not kidding!); then we got sports items and finally "mad scientist" experiments. Just as on Thursday, the "worst person" segment was a double-header of one Republican and one Fox News employee. Ann Coulter was the runner-up, but John Gibson was "worst" because he dared to suggest that murderous terrorists might be following the "wrong religion". Picking up on a smear from a Soros website, Keith Olbermann accused John Gibson of "intolerance".
This deserves a bit of analysis. Olby's suggestion that it's wrong for a believer to consider his religion more valid than another is an ignorant, illogical construct. How can all religions be equally valid when they all differ on matters of doctrine? In truth, people who express Keith's view are people for whom such beliefs have little or no importance. To them, it really doesn't matter what the articles of faith are, because they are all irrelevant. Sure enough, Olby stated that one's faith doesn't matter: "What's the difference?"
Which brings us to John Gibson's "intolerance". "Tolerate" is defined as "to allow without prohibiting or opposing; to put up with; endure". One shows tolerance to things one disagrees with, or even things one believes to be invalid. There is no "tolerance" required whatsoever if one holds the view that one religion is as good, or as meaningless, as another. Tolerance is a discipline for believers, not relativists or skeptics.
Keep in mind that Olbermann's quotes are not to be trusted. He read off Gibson's comment about religions, but didn't read Gibson's very next words:
as long as they're civil and behave, we tolerate the presence of other religions around us without causing trouble, and I think most Americans are fine with that tradition.
Exactly how does this show "intolerance", Mr Olbermann? One suspects that you are a lot more intolerant of conservatives and Fox News employees than Mr Gibson is of other religions. At least he doesn't slice up quotes from you to change the meaning of what was said.
Olby made it a point to mention that he considers John Gibson a "personal friend". This smarmy, repugnant indignity earns Olby an 11 on the puke-o-meter.
In discussing the debate over the Iraq War on Fox Thursday evening, Charles Krauthammer opined that "the headline is: disarray among the Democrats". And on Thursday night's Hour of Spin, Olby opened with his top story: disarray among the Democrats. It's not often that these planets find themselves in alignment!
We're still not sure what Keith was up to here, beyond giving more free publicity to Air America by playing a clip from Tim Robbins ranting about Hillary Clinton. Dana Milbank offered damage control for Hillary, and before long, Olby was back in familiar territory, shifting the discussion to G.W. Bush:
Who's vetting the President's information, and how much is he undercutting himself because the fact-checking seems to be less than it was on my high school newspaper?
If KO was in charge of that paper, he may have a point. A taped piece on "fake news" in Iraq followed. The rest of the show is an uninteresting blur, except for the nightly bash-fest called "worst person in the world". Regular OlbyWatchers know this is designed to attack Republicans, conservatives, and Fox News employees; and Keith hit a double-header tonight.
Rush Limbaugh was the runner-up. And the winner? Yesterday Olby named Bill O'Reilly as worst because the Fox News website was selling "holiday" ornaments. As we pointed out, that makes O'Reilly bad...how? It's not his online store. Obviously the great fact-checker Keith reads OlbyWatch, because tonight he made Fox News Channel "worst", again because of the ornaments. But with a twist. Now Fox is worst because they are not selling "holiday" ornaments.
Don't try to make sense out of it. It's OlbyLogic.