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It was only days ago that Keith Olbermann was mumbling about how George Bush was insulated, living "in a bubble". On Tuesday night's Hour of Spin, with the prospect of a State of the Union speech minutes away, Olby's spin suddenly careened upside down and backwards:
Is this speech really necessary? Since his last State of the Union, Mr Bush has held seven televised news conferences, and made at least six televised addresses, the last just 45 days ago.
Note the absence of the honorific "President" Bush. We're probably lucky to get "Mister". Talking to Dana Milbank (again!), KO played an old Bush clip about wiretaps and court orders, and asked: "Is that going to be problematic?" Milbank basically said not really, and explained how it was not the same things as the NSA program. We heard Bush the oil-man, Cheney the Halliburton-man, complaints about why the Democrats aren't wearing anti-Bush T-shirts, and so forth. Then came a wish-fulfillment piece about the purported six-year curse for second-term Presidents.
A recycled tape from NBC covered the death of Coretta Scott King. After a few words about Woodruff and Alan Greenspan, Keith brought us a shooting "caught on tape". Then KO violated all the laws of nutrition, and decided to go for dessert before he was half way through the meal.
The "worst person" segment was pushed up to the first half hour, with Olby objecting to Bill O'Reilly's Monday talking points memo. Keith did his translation shtick again, going line by line over Mr Bill's points and making the snark. This would have been an ideal time for KO to fess up and admit to his false story from Friday, but Keith don't need no stinkin' corrections. An obsessed Olby (aka The Liar) teased this segment with a banner reading "Factor Fiction". That's the banner he should have used on Friday, but The Liar still has that beam in his eye.
State of the Union speeches of the past, via another NBC rerun, preceded another giggly session with Craig Crawford. Olbermann's Brain was his usual lickspittle self, immediately congratulating The Liar on O'Reilly attack #59. Olby hardly needed him at all, declaring that the Bush proposals are "bland", he's probably going to leave "a bad taste in the mouth", and his last year was "bad". How bad?
The worst year of the Presidency.
Not the worst of his Presidency. The worst of the Presidency. Then for the second time Keith brought up his new spin, that George Bush is on tv too much. Brain fell right into line. And because he just isn't getting enough time on MSNBC tonight, Chris Matthews shows up. What, you thought Olby would bring on A-Mess-NBC's token conservative, Joe Scarborough? Once more KO complained about the President holding too many news conferences, and Chris ingratiated himself by referencing Bill O'Reilly. The Liar brought up Cindy Sheehan (for the umpteenth time), whom Matthews seems to view as "a sort of burlesque of antiwar people".
Then the good news: the Hour of Spin ended ten minutes early. For us it was like an early parole. As we settle back for the big speech, we wonder: just what will be in O'Reilly's talking points memo on Wednesday?
Keith Olbermann began The Hour of Spin on Monday by suggesting another conspiracy. He sarcastically said that the release of the Zawahiri tape with the President's low poll numbers, and just before the State of the Union, was, "like everything else, just a huge coincidence". Roger Cressey provided something often lacking on Countdown: a voice of reason. Olby asked about his SotU conspiracy theory, and Cressey shot it down, adding that Bush's low poll numbers work in Al Qaeda's favor. Quick, somebody start a boycott!
Next Keith salivated over those latest numbers, bringing in John Harwood again. KO was back on more comfortable turf with his ideological bud, who ticked off all the bad news for Bush in the polls. Here Olby was in form again, delivering one of his patented mega-run-on questions:
Does that [the Alito nomination] help, hurt, or have no impact on the President heading into the speech, because the fight over the judge seemed to be as polarizing and split down the middle as everything else, on the other hand, it did not seem to be an A-1 priority for the voters either?
#4 brought us an NBC piece on hurricane relief. Next was a series of stories on Bob Woodruff. Keith said, "We have four reports for you tonight", but should have added, "all of them taped, none of them live". There was an interesting piece on past ABC anchors, with footage of Max Robinson and the greatly missed Frank Reynolds. True crime and celebrities filled the #2 slot, and then a segment on a female author who posed as a man.
This being Monday, the pickings at Media Matters are slim, so there were no "worst persons" named from the worlds of politics or broadcasting. Something else that the segment did not include: Keith Olbermann apologizing for Friday's attack on Bill O'Reilly for something the man never said. The best Olby's defenders have come up with is to claim he just made a mistake. If so, why doesn't he correct the record and tell the truth? Just last week Keith was bloviating about how important fact-checking is, adding:
We are so not used to straightforward apologies in this country that we're gushing over somebody just doing the right thing for a change.
But Olby won't do the right thing. If he made a mistake, it demonstrates carelessness, shoddy reporting, and a whole lot of arrogance. Still, it is just a mistake. But the refusal to rectify a mistake, knowing that you are letting a false story stand uncorrected, is more than a mistake. It is a lie.
On Friday, OlbermannWatch caught Keith using a phony quote to make a false charge against Bill O'Reilly. Now that we have exposed his latest bit of treachery, Olby has a decision to make. Will he stonewall, ignore the truth, and let his false story stand? Or will he admit his mistake, apologize to O'Reilly, and take it like a man?
To help Keith decide, we offer these words of advice from the one person he has the highest regard for:
Words to live by.
Keith Olbermann, who imagines himself to be oh-so-hip and funny, can dish it out but he can't take it. When Scott McClellan joked about John Kerry calling for a filibuster from the slopes of Switzerland (and it clearly was a joke--even the newswolves of the DC press corps laughed), Olby instead characterized it as a "cheap shot":
The White House showed it was not above mischaracterizing the nature of his presence in the Alps.
As the Friday Countdown continued, KO showed why he's worth the big bucks in reporting results of a New York Times poll:
For the first time Mr Bush heading into a State of the Union address with a majority of Americans disapproving of the job he is doing.
Compare and contrast with this:
The public also divided on Mr Bush's domestic spying program.
Presidential disapproval rating (described as "a majority"): 51%.
People approving of NSA wiretaps (described as a "divided public") 53%.
Do you think there is any chance in the metaphysical universe that Olby would have said it the other way around: the public is divided on the President's job approval, and a majority of the American people approve of the NSA surveillance? Based on the numbers, that would have been a more accurate description. But on The Hour of Spin, propaganda takes precedence over precision.
An interview with John Harwood devolved into an OlbyWhine about why the Democrats aren't being more effective, with Our Hero claiming again that Bush is "Clintonesque". A taped piece from David Gregory included some soundbites from Fred Barnes. Yes, the man who comments on the eeeevil, loathsome Fox News Channel. A recycled NBC report is the closest Fred will ever get to actually appearing with Olby.
The #4 story proved to be another rerun from the mothership: Norah O'Donnell on lobbyists. In the #3 slot Countdown assumed the Rita Cosby mantle with a series of taped reports on the latest tabloid crimes. Then another taped piece on car chases, followed by the ever-popular "Keeping Tabs". And because it has been so shamefully neglected on The Hour of Spin, Oprah was the #1 story.
Poor Ann Coulter must feel snubbed. She was only a runner-up for "worst person" based on a joke about feeding rat poison to Justice John Paul Stevens. The winner? Hey, do you have to ask? It's attack #58, and this one's a pip:
[O'Reilly] has now ripped us here at MSNBC on the air, for supposedly not covering the case of Judge Edward Cashman in Vermont...
Stop the tivo! Before we go any further, suppose we look at what Mr O actually said:
Americans should also remember that the big liberal newspapers like The New York Times and the network newscasts totally ignored the story.
Hmm. No mention of MSNBC yet. Let's read down a little further:
Outlets like MSNBC, a true ratings disaster, continue to cheap-shot FOX News on a daily basis. The boss over there, far-left martinet Rick Kaplan, has virtually destroyed that network as a credible source of information. Kaplan badly damaged CNN as well before he was fired there.
Aha! So he did mention MSNBC. But where is the part where Mr Bill claims MSNBC was "not covering" the Cashman story? Read the whole thing. All of it. Be warned, it will hurt your eyes. How so? You'll hurt your eyes trying to find where Bill O'Reilly claimed MSNBC didn't cover the story. But back to the tivo:
Here's the thing, Bill. The Judge Cashman story? We covered it here on Countdown on January 6th of this year. You didn't start covering it until January 9th.
Shall we check the record? The transcript for January 6 shows that Coundtown's coverage of the story consisted of making Cashman a runner-up for "worst person" (fitting the pattern, since Cashman was a Republican appointee). That was it. That was Countdown's "coverage". And as for Bill not covering it until January 9th? That's because on January 6th, Bill O'Reilly wasn't on. He had the day off! Olby doesn't bother to mention that little detail. And January 9th just happened to be the following Monday, the next day Mr Bill was on the air.
Although he can make snarky insults about Scott McClellan, obviously Keith Olbermann is not above mischaracterizing the nature of Bill O'Reilly's broadcast, when he was on, when he wasn't, what he said, what he didn't say... Hypocrisy, bias, arrogance, and a new O'Reilly attack based on a lie. What more fitting way to conclude another week of The Hour of Spin, than with a hopelessly deranged Olby tilting at those invisible O'Reilly windmills that are out to poison his precious bodily fluids? He's certifiable.
You may recall that back in November, Keith Olbermann named Fox News Channel "worst persons in the world", because they paid Tom DeLay's expenses so he could appear on Fox News Sunday. We noted at the time that Meet the Press has done the exact same thing.
NBC's "Meet the Press" occasionally digs deep, paying $9,550 in travel costs to interview Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., in 2000 and $9,000 to question Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., in person in 2001. "Face the Nation" and "This Week" also have chartered flights, spokeswomen said.
Keith Olbermann: Worst "Journalist" in the World!
Tom Cruise. Michael Jackson. Howard Stern. We've been wondering why so much of Countdown is taken up by these people, turning at least part of the show into a clone of Entertainment Tonight. Thursday, as Olby took the ultimate step and made Oprah Winfrey his top story, it dawned on us. If it works for Rita Cosby, why shouldn't it work for him? More tabloid means more ratings. Looks like Keith is after a bigger share of those 800 billion flies.
But it's still The Hour of Spin, so after running what seemed like endless clips from Oprah, KO dragged in the one the most far-left, rabidly anti-Bush columnists in the country, Ms Maureen Dowd. Her face looking like an animatronic wax figure, she opined on the Oprah controversy. But the real reason for her appearance was to give her "reaction" to the President's press conference. What exactly will she say? That has to be the least mysterious query since Groucho asked, Who's buried in Grant's Tomb? Olby teed up one of his famous leading, run-on questions:
On several occasions in the last few years this White House has seemingly defied this idea that a lot of, uh, societies have been held together by, that no man can hold back the tide. They're gonna stand there, they're gonna try to do exactly that, if it doesn't really work they'll say, well yeah, it did work, uh, you're wrong, and if you question them about that they'll get you in a semantical discussion. Is not the whole idea of the, this definition, international vs domestrick, domestic, it this not, by itself, a red herring--I mean, you could call it intergalactic spying and the issue is the legality, not the name? Right?
Always leave it to Keith to ask the tough questions.
The Dowd hit Olby's softball out of the park:
Dick Cheney wants to throw off all of these rules. He wants to go to war without permission. He wants to torture without permission. He wants to snoop without permission. Because he and Rummy were Ford officials at a time when Presidential power shrank. They felt emasculated.
Then KO said to Dr. Dowd that George Bush is conducting a "fingers-in-ears, shout 'la-la-la-la-la' presidency". And it went downhill from there. Bush is in a bubble, Bush is a liar, you know the drill.
In the #4 slot, we got more clips from Oprah and another interview on the subject, this time with writer Seth Mnookin. He passed KO's litmus test because he not only does he write for Vanity Fair, but Salon.com too. Olby opened the #3 segment with another of his patented literary references, this time to the novel 1984:
The White House could not have created more parallels to that book if they'd named George Orwell Chief of Staff.
After clips from the President's press conference, Dana Milbank was back yet again! By now he must have his own parking spot right next to Keith in that Seacaucus strip mall. More loaded questions, more predictable responses. These two have gone down this road so many times that it felt like the Countdown version of Groundhog Day.
In the #2 slot: a recycled NBC report about a wrong photo on a CIA website. No mention was made of the time Olby put up a photo of Max Cleland and claimed it was talk show host Neil Boortz. More celebrity news followed, including a bit on George Galloway getting kicked off British Big Brother. No mention was made of the tape that just surfaced showing Galloway meeting Uday Hussein and promising that he would support him to the end.
After giving a local Young Republicans chapter runner-up status, The Obsessed One named Bill O'Reilly "worst person in the world" for doing an interview about dominatrixes whose clients die. KO wrapped it up by screaming, "Loofah!" After O'Reilly attack #57, Olby ended the hour with a scintillating discussion of a newly discovered planet. No, not OlbyPlanet. That's the one Keith lives on.
Right off the bat on Wednesday night, Keith gave us an Olby News Alert:
The White House charges taxpayers for this, an actual press release...
Can you believe it? Press releases cost money! And what's more the government actually uses tax revenues to pay for them. As opposed to, say, a donation cup outside the White House? Keith went on to dismiss the notion that the NSA phone calls were "international" rather than "domestic" as Clintonesque word parsing. Then he ran a clip of the President's speech (less than 30 seconds), adding:
A trick question. He did not say what those predecessors authorized...
A trick question? What question? Bush didn't ask a question. Nobody asked a question. But KO describes "it" (what?) as a "trick question". Maybe that's the trick: there was no question at all. Don't try to understand it. It's OlbyLogic.
There were the usual clips from Scott McClellan's press conference, featuring David Gregory who, according to Olby, "brought his A-game". And since the Democrat talking point of the day is the Katrina investigation, Olby stuck to the script and referred to White House "stonewalling" over and over. He claimed there were complaints from "members of Congress in both parties", but other than one Democrat, he didn't name any names.
Ken Bazinet, of the New York Daily News, offered the speculation that the administration is trying to cover up the fact that people were on vacation when the hurricane hit. Then KO shifted gears and asked him why Rumsfeld hadn't read a report commissioned by the Pentagon, Bazinet had to correct him, pointing out that the report wasn't out yet, only an early draft. But the newshawk made amends by delivering the money quote that Olby was waiting for:
[This administration] is trying to turn really stonewalling into an Olympic sport, and really going for the gold.
He'll be back.
Then yet another reporters-vs-McClellan clip about the difference between "domestic" and "international" (we thought Olby had covered this earlier, but there's nothing like repetition to make a spin point). KO took the press release referenced earlier and then picked it apart, line by line. It was one of those painful, supposed-to-be funny bits that makes anyone to the right of Hugo Chavez wince. Even dragging Jack Abramoff into it didn't help.
In the #4 slot was a taped piece on the dangers of mining, courtesy of NBC. #3 dealt with a family tragedy story lifted from ITV, and a strange your-son-is-dead hoax via a report by an NBC local station. Then we got a segment on iPod piracy recycled from NBC, and one on Richard Hatch going off to the pokey.
The "worst person" winners were the people at that "special interest group" Accuracy in Media. (Has KO ever referred to Media Matters as a "special interest group"?) Their offense was suggesting that Fox News may be drifting to the left. Of course Keith couldn't resist feeding his Olbsession:
One of AIM's emailers did, however, observe, "O'Reilly has really gone bonkers". So anyway, that's unanimous.
#56 and counting.
There was a dog that did not bark. A large dog. A big, big dog. So big that MSNBC was plugging it endlessly just yesterday:
Keith shows you the facts, shows you the law, so you can decide if warrantless eavesdropping on Americans is a crime. Countdown, MSNBC tomorrow at eight.
Somehow, with all the Big News about iPods, Richard Hatch, and Michael Jackson, the Great Olbermann Legal Seminar never took place. False advertising? Bait and switch? We report, you decide.
Did you know that The Great Leak Case today "roared back into the headlines"? That's what Olby claimed on Tuesday night. How many papers made it their big headline? How many news programs led with the story? We know of only one: The Hour of Spin. The Big News? Scooter Libby wants to use classified information during the trial, and therefore some of the proceeding may not be made public. Wow. Can't you just hear those headlines roaring from coast to coast?
Countdown Crony Dana Milbank showed up to play along with Keith's hyping of the Great Leak Case, along with those yet-unseen purported photos of Abramoff with the President. Plus he worked in a mention of Halliburton. You can be sure Milbank will get a return invite. Then Olby went back to yesterday's news: Gen Hayden's speech about the NSA surveillance program. In fact, he showed more of the General's appearance on Tuesday than he did on Monday. Why would he do that? Can you guess?
Time's up. Keith claimed to have caught the General in a mistake. So he played the footage to embarrass him! If Olby were any more transparent, he would be cellophane. The General was asked if the 4th Amendment required "probable cause" to search and/or seize. The questioner claimed it did; the General said no, the standard for search and seizure in the constitution was reasonableness. Keith arrogantly stated "maybe they have a different constitution at the NSA" when he read this:
The right of the people to be secure...against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated; no warrant shall issue but upon probable cause...
Note to Mr Humility: the General wasn't asked what the constitutional standards are for issuing a warrant (probable cause). He was asked what the standards are for search and seizure (reasonableness). There have been gazillions of warrantless searches that were legal because they were found to be...reasonable! In other words, the General was right, Olby was wrong. But that's no more Big News than KO's Libby scoop.
Those were not the only painted ponies Olby was riding. Another major spin point of the evening dealt with Katrina. A pre-landfall report said that the levees could fail. KO repeated, over and over, the President's statement that "no one anticipated" that the levees would fail. Now the President has explained, more than once, that his comment was regarding the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, when headlines were claiming New Orleans "dodged a bullet" and it appeared the city would escape serious damage. But KO saw no need to offer any of that context. Telling just one side of a story is bias. Doing so five times in 20 minutes escalates it to propaganda.
The Bad News from Iraq was covered with a recycled NBC piece. In the #3 slot was another slam at Oprah and her embarrassing book club gaffe. (We're not sure why Olby thinks this merits updates week after week. Is there a photo somewhere of Oprah with Jack Abramoff?) Some free PR for Howard Stern followed touting Sirius Satellite Radio's 3 million subscribers. XM's subscription base (nearly twice that number) was not mentioned. Then: penguin eggs, celebrities, and TomKat with the eerie Michael Musto. Slim pickings at Media Matters, so KO had to settle for worst person Barry Bonds.
The most frightening moment of the hour came during an MSNBC promo:
Keith shows you the facts, shows you the law, so you can decide if warrantless eavesdropping on Americans is a crime. Countdown, MSNBC tomorrow at eight.
That should send the spinning wheel into overdrive.
It's Monday. The Hour of Spin is back, and Olby was off and running:
[the Bush administration] is deadly serious about relaunching as its campaign theme: Only we can save you and anyone who disagrees with us is unpatriotic and maybe a terrorist sympathizer.
After linking Usama Bin Laden and Karl Rove (because both "emerged from the shadows" last week--a subliminal nod to the tin-foilers who are convinced one is doing the bidding of the other), Keith made much out of the fact that Bush and his allies are now calling the NSA program "terrorist surveillance". He played clips of Dan Bartlett saying it over and over. KO didn't display an ounce of irony, despite how often, and repetitively, Olby himself pounds home the phrases "domestic spying" and "spying on Americans" (nearly a half-dozen times in just the first 8 minutes of Monday's show). Richard Wolffe stopped by to comment on Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, and other favorite topics of Keith.
Olby showed a brief clip (maybe ten seconds, and that's being generous) of Gen Hayden's defense of the NSA program, and then he brought in rabidly leftist Kate Martin. As Keith put it, she was there for a reason:
For a reality check on that claim [from Gen Hayden] and everything we heard from the Bush administration today...
This encapsulates the modus operandi of Countdown and its host Keith Olbermann. Run a 30-second clip from the President (because the news of the day forces you to) and then devote several minutes to ridiculing it. Play ten seconds of Gen Hayden and bring in a notorious anti-administration radical for five minutes of Bush administration bashing.
Olby's other big story turned out to be about water quality and Halliburton. [snicker "He said Halliburton!" snicker] Of all the pollution stories in the country, this is the most important? Well it is if Keith wants to bring in a lefty Senator to chant the usual anti-Halliburton mantra. And to no one's utter surprise, that's just what he did: a lengthy interview with a partisan Democrat, and no Republican or Halliburton defender allowed to state a case. And people wonder why we call The Hour of Spin the most biased news hour on television.
Very brief mp3 audio clip: Matt Drudge takes a jab at our Olby:
Friday night, Keith Olbermann managed to make NSA surveillance again the lead story on the Hour of Spin. Tossing off references to "Big Brother", "George Orwell", and the NSA "spying on you", Olby was in rare form:
...the administration's latest push to convince everybody else that the President has the constitutional power to order all the spying, with none of the bothersome warrants, that he wants.
Just saying it does not make it so.
Just to make this a little bit more divisive, Karl Rove addressed all this in a speech today and associated it with the pre-9/11, post-9/11 mindset drivel.
There has been a lot of condescension from the administration over the years since the election but, honestly, do they, do they think everybody here is a six-year old idiot?
The way Craig Crawford cackled at that last barb would lead any rational viewer to think, yes, everybody there is a six-year-old idiot. Otherwise, Olbermann's Brain added nothing to KO's rants except to serve in his usual capacity as a living, breathing rubber stamp.
Then Olby moved on to the Google subpoenas, painting the issue in the broadest, vaguest possible terms. Despite his conspiratorial concerns about what the government is going to "do" with all that data, Keith never mentioned that the Justice Department wants statistics, not the identities of the people searching. No matter, according to Olby, it means "more is being sought here than meets the eye".
As the #4 story, Keith took up ethics in the House again. Aha, finally he gets to the bribery scandal surrounding William Jefferson (D). Um, no. Instead he came up with something about Bill Frist, asbestos, and stock traders getting tipped off about upcoming legislation. For an impartial look at this manufactured issue, in came Brian Baird (D):
Apparently Tony Rudy, one of Majority Leader Tom DeLay's top staffers, was actually making day trades while in the service of Tom DeLay. Now we don't have necessarily solid evidence yet...
Well done, Mr Baird. Joe McCarthy couldn't have said it better. When Keith brought up--who else?--Jack Abramoff, Baird went straight to the talking points: Duke Cunningham, Tom Delay, and the Culture of Corruption. He didn't mention William Jefferson (D), and of course neither did Olby.
After a recycled NBC report on the kidnapped journalist, KO decided it was time to do some PR work for Usama Bin Laden. In his latest tape, the terrorist recommended an anti-American book, and eager to give UBL a helping hand, Keith gave the far-left author (William Blum) some free PR by doing a live interview with him! We couldn't make this stuff up if we tried. According to Blum, you have to understand the terrorists, because they have "a very clear and good motivation". They're only terrorists because of "the things we do to them"--the bombings, the torture, all under the command of that Great Satan in the White House.
Whales, celebrities, and dating consumed the rest of the program, except for the "worst person" segment. One of Olby's choices was Frank Abramoff, for, if you can believe it, criticizing George Clooney's crude remarks at the Golden Globes. You see, everyone is allowed to criticize Abramoff: Clooney, Olbermann's Brain, and Keith himself. But if anybody says one word against George Clooney--even a 78-year-old man defending his son--he is an evil swine, and will be ridiculed on national tv by a hypocritical sports guy with a bad wig. just when you think Olby couldn't get any more loathsome and repellent.
It was hard to recognize Countdown in Thursday night's top story: the Bin Laden tape. Keith interviewed two terrorism experts (Steve Emerson and Ben Venzke) who were knowledgeable and informative. How were they allowed onto the Hour of Spin? In discussing the kidnapped journalist, Olby brought in Kevin Sites. We're a little suspicious of him, but he didn't sound unreasonable or partisan either.
Things were starting to get back to normal when Keith decided to make a big deal out of a statement from the Catholic church that evolution was not inconsistent with Catholic teaching. Hey, I was taught that in catechism class decades ago. How is that news? Sports and puppets were also a big part of tonight's show. Now Olby is back on track.
In the Media Matters minute, we thought KO would go for Rush Limbaugh, since he has that graphic of Rush with his cigar that he likes to flash on screen. We had overlooked the Media Matters piece on Glenn Beck, and now it makes sense that Olby named him "worst person" tonight, since he indirectly did so yesterday, and nobody can obsess like Keith. We're starting to get the impression that maybe, just maybe, Olby is not going to cite Ray Nagin (D) and his divine retribution hurricanes.
On the Hour of Spin, the bias starts even before the titles run. On Wednesday night, Keith's opening tease used this elegant bit of phrasing:
The Democrats propose their own lobbying reform the day after the Republicans rushed out theirs.
Into the story itself, the hits kept on coming:
Not surprisingly, the Democrats much tougher on those trying to curry favor with the government, if not bilk it outright. One provision of theirs calling for criminal and civil penalties for companies defrauding the government in time of war. Halliburton? Halliburton who?
[snicker "He said Halliburton!" snicker]
And it is not often you will hear us praise the Democratic Party for political savvy...
[insert spit-take here]
...tapping Illinois Senator Barak Obama to be point man on ethics and reform: pure genius.
[what a shocker]
Olby went on to describe the Republican proposal as full of "loopholes". We'll be watching Thursday night to see if he seeks out the loopholes in Obama the Great's presentation. The topic changed to Hillary Clinton down on the plantation, and Keith poked some mild fun at the New York Senator. Surprisingly Newt Gingrich wasn't mentioned. Dana Milbank wasn't impressed with either ethics proposal, while Olby kept harping on those "loopholes".
Recycled NBC reports followed: the abortion decision, the kidnapping in Iraq, the plot to abduct Tony Blair's son, and the Pakistani air strikes. Yes, the taped piece did concede that several top Al-Qaeda operatives were likely killed in that strike. If you expected that Keith would acknowledge, let alone explicitly correct, his Monday statement that the people killed were all "innocent Pakistanis", then maybe you'd like to invest in our newly-perfected perpetual motion machine.
In the #3 slot, car chases that cause accidents. Olby again had telegraphed the spin for the night in the opening seconds of the program:
Why do police chase them if this could be the outcome?
Um, maybe because the police don't want to give escaping felons a get-out-of-jail-free card just because they go over the speed limit. Ya think? KO talked to an activist who is against these pursuits. The rules of Olbermann's Court were strictly observed: nobody with an opposing point of view was interviewed.
More recycled NBC pieces: cell phone privacy, a submerged car, and a rescue at sea. In the Media Matters Minute, Olby called Andrew Jones the founder of a "radical group" because, sez Keith, he wants to:
expose any UCLA professor who expresses left-wing political views.
This is, of course, an Olbyfication of what the group's actual purpose is:
to provide information on instructors who are "abusive, one-sided, or off-topic" in advocating political ideologies. The year-old Bruin Alumni Assn. says its "Exposing UCLA's Radical Professors" initiative takes aim at faculty "actively proselytizing their extreme views in the classroom, whether or not the commentary is relevant to the class topic." Although the group says it is concerned about radical professors of any political stripe, it has named an initial "Dirty 30" of teachers it identifies with left-wing or liberal causes.
How did the latter get morphed into Olbermann's caricature? It's all in a day's work for KO. But this is just small potatoes. It's the Media Matters Minute, so there must be allegiance paid to Olby's primary source, and he does so by making tonight's "worst person" none other than...[drumroll please]...Mr Bill O'Reilly! His crime:
I don't think Dr. King would be disappointed in where the economic situation is in the USA right now. I really don't. Because our system of government and economy gives more people the chance to pursue happiness in a meaningful way than any other system in the world. I'm the poster boy for that. And, you know, no matter what color you are, if you work hard, and you're persistent, and you get educated, you can make it here.
Now there's a worst-person-caliber statement if there ever was one. Fully deserving of Olbermann on-air O'Reilly attack #54. Somehow, it's much more serious than Ray Nagin (D) blaming the hurricanes on divine retribution. In case you had any doubt, Nagin's comments are still unreported on Countdown. Not to mention the other dog that again did not bark tonight: the William Jefferson (D) bribery scandal. Just like our world, Countdown with Keith Olbermann spins on.
On Monday night's Countdown, Keith Olbermann declared that the air strike in Pakistan killed "over a dozen innocent Pakistanis". That would seem to be everyone buried there, since there were 13 graves. We wondered at the time how Olby knew they were all innocent.
Today ABC News reports that among the dead was Al Qaeda's master bomb maker. So veteran OlbyWatchers, give us your predictions:
Just last week, Keith Olbermann brought in one of his typical impartial experts to analyze the NSA surveillance issue. On Tuesday night's Hour of Spin, James Bamford was back, and--surprise!--it turns out he is one of the plaintiffs in a frivolous lawsuit against the government over the eavesdropping program. The lawsuit is being sponsored by the American Criminal Liberties Union and what Olby only described as the "Center for Constitutional Rights". Keith gave his viewers no background on this organization, which has what might be called a colorful history.
KO complained about all the "useless leads" that the surveillance turned up, as if intelligence gathering didn't always turn up a lot of useless leads. Wasn't it just last year that Keith was complaining about not connecting the dots? Bamford called it all a wild goose chase, and said that anyone who Googled Al Qaeda "might" have been spied upon. With that kind of evidence, it's going to be fun watching Bamford and his cronies demonstrate to the federal courts that they even have standing to file a lawsuit.
Need we mention that no one with an opposing point of view was interviewed? In Olbermann's Court, every dispute has only one side. Olbermann's side.
A taped David Gregory report documented attacks by Hillary Clinton and Al Gore, and generously included one sentence of the White House response. Another taped piece summarized the kidnapped reporter in Iraq. Sprinkled around these were teasers for a segment on Hillary's "plantation" comment, with every tease bringing up today's talking point (all over the blue blogs) that Newt Gingrich once used the term "plantation" as well.
Olby got to the plantation story in the #3 slot, and again brought up Newt Gingrich! Soros is getting his money's worth tonight. Yet again Abramoff (and his head wear) are brought up, but not the scandal surrounding William Jefferson (D). A seemingly endless montage of reporters hectoring Scott McClellan (always a favorite on the Hour of Spin) preceded KO finally addressing Hillary's statement. Keith brings up Newt yet again, but without noting that Gingrich wasn't speaking at an MLK event, and didn't follow the reference with Hillary's "You know what I mean"--in other words, attention people, these are code words.
Olby interviewed E.J. Dionne and once more referenced Newt (he probably got more mentions than Hillary did), describing critics of Hillary as "holier than thou". (John Gibson would no doubt find Keith's use of that phrase to be deeply ironic.) Dionne blamed it all on "right wing blogs" and agreed with every one of KO's postulations (a requirement if you ever want to be invited back onto Countdown). Keith quickly diverted the conversation to Abramoff, and Dionne was so considerate of KO's spin that he too refrained from bringing up William Jefferson (D).
Aside from the fluff that consumed the rest of the show (the only clip KO played from the Golden Globes was George Clooney's about Jack Abramoff), there's always the Media Matters Minute. This time the "worst person" was the head of CNN Headline News, for daring to hire Glenn Beck. Media Matters fits into this because Keith obediently lifted a Beck quote from their latest screed expressing outrage that CNN would hire anyone to the right of William Kunstler. Choosing the CNN guy was just a pretext for taking a shot at Beck, and when Olby squeezed in a crack about Bill O'Reilly (attack #53), that just confirmed what he was up to.
But what happened to Ray Nagin's (D) comment that the hurricanes were divine retribution? Again that didn't merit "worst person" status? It always has for Pat Robertson. We know that Media Matters doesn't have it on their page, but can't Olby, at least once, be something other than a shill for the blue blogs? Not tonight. Like the William Jefferson (D) scandal, Nagin's remarks have not even been mentioned on the Hour of Spin, let alone given the "worst person" treatment. Conclusive proof of Olbermann's hypocrisy and blind partisanship. As if we didn't know.
After two riveting hours of Jack Bauer saving the world on '24', there is no more effective mood-killer than going to the tivo for a replay of Monday's Hour of Spin. And that goes double when Keith Olbermann decides that the biggest news of the day is Al Gore making a speech. Olby made much of the fact that it's not just Gore, it's also Bob Barr. What an amazing collaboration, he enthused, comparing it to historical events like Teddy Roosevelt splitting from the Republicans and forming a new party.
With all the gee-whizzing between Keith and Richard Wolffe of Newsweek, nobody bothered to mention that Bob Barr is now working for...the ACLU. Al Gore and the ACLU on the same side--not exactly the "odd couple" news event that Olby wanted to portray. Then, introducing clips from the Gore stem-winder, Keith made what was even for him a wildly incoherent assertion:
[Al Gore] calling on Congress to launch an investigation into NSA wiretapping, since the legislative body can't be trusted to do any investigating itself.Say what? The Congress should investigate, because the "legislative body" can't be trusted to do so? Isn't Congress the legislative body? Even if Olby doesn't know who's in the cabinet, he should know who passes legislation. Shouldn't he?
Actually, Gore called for the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor. That hardly makes that much more sense than Keith's incomprehensible mangle, since the Attorney General's office has already rendered their opinion that the program is legal.
KO wrapped up the segment with a taped NBC report with the Big News: Congressmen Ney, under suspicion in the Jack Abramoff brouhaha, has stepped down from his committee chairmanship. But as always with Olby, there is a dog that didn't bark. In this case, it's one William Jefferson.
Who he? He's a Congressman from the great state of Louisiana. Last week, his ex-aide entered a guilty plea, and the court documents state that Jefferson demanded bribes in exchange for promoting a couple of business deals. Keith didn't report this last week, and he didn't report it tonight. With KO's incessant flogging of Congressional scandals, how did this escape his notice? Oh, we forgot to mention: Congressman Jefferson has a (D) after his name.
In the #4 slot Olby reported on the air strikes in Pakistan, via another taped NBC piece. He teased the piece by saying the attack "seems to have killed more than a dozen innocent Pakistanis, but not Al-Zawahiri" (he must have exclusive, ultra-top-secret early access to the DNA findings). But as the NBC report pointed out, five bodies were quickly removed from the scene. 18 people killed, 13 grave sites. That math is too complex for Keith to dissuade him from his patented conclusion-jumping.
Segments on sports, the homeless attacks, a sex offender posing as a Duke, and the "file footage hall of fame" rounded out the hour. We waited with anticipation for the "worst person" segment, because we know how outraged Olby has been in the past at people like, say, Pat Robertson. Robertson, it will be recalled, was slammed by Keith for suggesting that Sharon's heart attack was the will of God, and for claiming that the hurricanes that hit the gulf were sent by God as retribution.
So we were certain, positive, 100% sure that tonight Olby would zero in on New Orleans Mayor Nagin. Nagin is claiming that the hurricanes were sent by God because He is paying us back for invading Iraq. A "worst person" utterance if there ever was one. Yet Nagin didn't make the list, even on a day where apolitical nonentities were the best KO could do for all three slots. How did KO overlook this? Well, there is that letter after Nagin's name: (D).
Another dog that did not bark.
Things we learned from Keith Olbermann on tonight's Hour of Spin:
What were the talking points for Schumer, Kennedy, and the Democrats? Judge Alito is not answering questions. What was the talking point for tonight's Countdown? Judge Alito is not answering questions. Out of hundreds of queries and responses, Keith Olbermann selected about a half-dozen where Alito could not reply and that became the theme of the first segment:
How many of those [questions] did he answer?... Given all that the nominee didn't say...
Olby also seemed obsessed with ridiculing Arlen Specter's statement that Alito had been asked about 700 questions. KO broke it down by minutes, then divided by the number of questions, carried the four and adjusted the cosine versus the tangent, and decided that it couldn't have been 700. Court TV disagrees with Keith--they are obviously aware that a bunch of short questions can make up for Senator Biden's 13-minute spectaculars.
Another parade of taped NBC reports: New Orleans, Iran, Oprah's fictional nonfiction book choice, and companies that prohibit smoking. Discussing animal books, Keith asked Mo Rocca:
How many dogs have written political books, not including Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter?
(#52!) Through the entire painful give-and-take with Rocca, Olby affected a strange, gruff kind of forced laughter that sounded more like gastric distress than amusement.
In the "worst person" segment, the only entry even vaguely political was a runner-up position for Kathleen Rice, a newly elected District Attorney who hired her sister-in-law as an executive assistant. The novelty here is that the D.A. is a Democrat. Of course, Keith neglected to mention her party affiliation, which would not be known by most viewers.
How did this particular case, a menial offense (if an offense at all) by an unknown DA, make it into even a runner-up slot? Maybe it's a kind of affirmative action move by KO. Toss in an obscure local Democrat nobody's ever heard of, give her a runner-up position, and he's inoculated. "See, I go after Democrats too!" Now he can continue to ignore Howard Dean, Richard Durbin, Al Franken, Randi Rhodes, Harry Belafonte, and all his other soul mates.
The record stands. Still no liberal, no Democrat (not even a little known local politico), gets named "worst". Some things never change.
Control the language and you control the propaganda. Keith Olbermann gave us an object lesson on Wednesday's edition of the Hour of Spin. The top story was not the Alito hearings, of course, but the emergence of one of the NSA leakers. Um, no, not "leaker". At least not on OlbyPlanet, where the source was repeatedly called a "whistle blower", and so identified on-screen. How often did KO refer to Scooter Libby as a whistle blower? We'd say approximately, more or less, never. And not once did Keith use the term "leaker".
What Olby doesn't tell you is that you are a whistle blower if you go to the hill and talk to Congress. You are not a whistle blower when you give classified national security information to a newspaper. The technical term for one who does that is "leaker". Get the difference, Keith?
Talking to far-left "journalist" James Bamford about this noble whistle blower who had failed his NSA psych exam, Olby found an even more innocuous term than "whistle blower":
Some people besides me will recall that defining protesters or whistle blowers as mental cases was a very popular thing to do at the height of, the heyday of the Soviet Union, among other places.
Next came Craig Crawford. Olbermann's Brain giggled and chuckled, saying little of any substance. Then KO finally got around to the Alito hearings, and another small bit of OlbySpin was exposed.
At the top of the hour, Keith intoned:
Why did Mrs Alito leave, evidently crying? Was it because Senators Kennedy and Specter fought in front of her?
Later, he reinforced the insinuation:
The nominees wife crying, senators arguing...
Eventually, he admitted that it was something else entirely (Lindsay Graham's emotional defense of the nominee) that led to the tears. The recycled NBC report from Pete Williams finally cleared it up. Then there was an entire segment devoted to bad behavior "caught on tape". Rumor has it that starting next week, Olby will devote one segment every night to "When Animals Attack".
Finally, the Media Matters Minute. In Keith's world the worst persons are Republicans, conservatives, or Fox News employees. Just by coincidence, tonight's three nominees neatly covered each of those categories. A slam at Pat Robertson (the conservative slot), for pulling back on his Sharon comments. A swipe at an Idaho state senator (the Republican slot), for suggesting that prisoners sleep in shifts. And of course, Olbermann on-air O'Reilly attack #51, because Mr Bill was critical of UNICEF for having Harry Belafonte as its spokesman, and joked:
if Joseph Stalin was still alive, he'd be the UNICEF spokesman.
Olby called it O'Reilly's "latest debate with reality" and warned him to wear a helmet. But Keith didn't explain why Bill objected to having a broken-down calypso singer as UNICEF spokesman. Maybe it has something to do with Belafonte calling the President of the United States the "world's greatest terrorist". Ya think?
Of course Keith knows that, because it was on the Soros site he lifted the quote from. But the viewers are only told enough to make O'Reilly look nuts, and Keith Olbermann look smug and all-knowing. The same Olbermann who moments before made a serious comparison of the US government to that of the Soviet Union! Hey, Olby makes the rules so he's above the rules.
Let's recap. O'Reilly makes a joke about UNICEF. Worst person nominee! Belafonte calls the President a terrorist. Not a worst person nominee. What wrong with this picture? Answer: Keith Olbermann.
Tuesday's Hour of Spin opened with Olby pretending that there were two huge news events in Washington competing for attention. One of these: the Alito hearings. The other: the Abramoff scandal. Keith's excuse for making the latter his lead story was that a lobbying firm that employed Mrs DeLay has closed. Stop the presses!
Mention of DeLay gave KO an excuse to run, for free and in its entirety, an anti-DeLay ad allegedly running in his district. Is this the only ad running in his district? Who knows. But it's the only one Olby has given this much free publicity to. Since Dana Milbank was in yesterday to chew over the political news, today Keith interviewed...Dana Milbank. Tonight's moment of unintentional humor was Olby pronouncing Republican Congressman Boehner as "Bonner". Too bad Boehner's not in the cabinet--Keith wouldn't get his name wrong then since he wouldn't even know who he was.
Lots of recycled video from NBC tonight: the Alito hearings, the kidnapped journalist in Iraq, the whereabouts of Bin Laden, a dead cat, and a fact-challenged bestseller. You'd think the author of this last would be a natural choice for "worst person" (if Olby could verify that the author worked for Fox). But no, Keith had bigger fish to fry. Tuesday's worst was Andrea Peyser, for reporting this.
Olby described her as a "sniveling eavesdropper" and used the age-old defense of mistaken identity (I didn't say it, it was that guy next to me). Keith neglected to mention what he replied when that other guy purportedly said these insulting things about one of his coworkers. He also went out of his way to make fun of Ms Peyser's name ("Andrea Pays-her, Pies-her") not just once but twice. (What was that all about?)
It was another OlbyEmbarrassment, but we couldn't help noticing that when he read the quote from Peyser, he cut it off in the middle of the sentence. The part he didn't read:
...and [Olbermann] groused jealously about Bill O'Reilly's superior ratings.
That part he didn't try to palm off on some innocent bystander. That part he didn't deflect with a tall tale and a few personal insults. That part he didn't deny.
Sometimes it's not what you say that counts. It's what you don't say.
There was Keith Olbermann. Before things got rolling, he could be heard loudly ridiculing his new MSNBC colleague Connie Chung for re-emerging, cockroach-like, in his airspace--and groused jealously about Bill O'Reilly's superior ratings.
In real life, Olby proves to be as full of himself as he is on A-Mess-NBC. And for all his bravado about "800 billion flies", Keith remains seriously envious of O'Reilly's ratings. When you peel away Olby's phony facade, you end up revealing his real facade. What a shocker.
What with the indictments of DeLay and Libby, the NSA surveillance leak, and the death toll in Iraq, Keith Olbermann has been facing a dilemma. Not that long ago the talking point du jour was that George Bush distracted from bad news by ordering up a terror alert. The only problem is, there hasn't been a terror alert lately. No matter, Olby's conspiracy theories are as flexible as the Reynolds Wrap that sits atop his wig:
The Supreme Court confirmation hearings begin, amid informed analysis that Republicans might pick a fight with Democrats over Sam Alito, just to keep the focus off the Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay scandals.
Keith showed them who's boss. He led with Abramoff, not Alito. So there. No way he's going to let any little thing like a Supreme Court hearing keep him from putting negative stories at the top of his show.
Before turning to the Post's Dana Milbank, KO ran a few clips from the hearings. Even though there are more Republicans on the committee than Democrats, somehow Olby managed to run more clips of Democrats, and gave them more time. Milbank sipped from Keith's Kool-Aid as usual, quickly adopting the "distraction" theory first floated by Time Magazine (whose "informed analysis" cited unnamed "Republican officials").
Keith also did an entire segment on Howard Stern's satellite debut, heavily laced with footage of Olby at the scene. Ever the doyen of humility, Keith bragged that he was the first reporter not on Stern's payroll to ask him a question. Someone should alert the Pulitzer people; it might not be too late to get this into the latest round of nominations. The memorable moment of unintentional humor came when Stern tried to butter up Olby, saying: "We love Keith Oberman!"
The runner-up in the "worst" contest was an Eagle Forum activist; she didn't want the gay cowboy movie playing in her neighborhood, so Keith ("that Jewish head wear looks like it came out of a cartoon") Olbermann declared her to be a bigot. So if a conservative came in second, that would mean a Fox News employee would have to be first, right? Brian Lewis, a PR man at Fox, for saying this:
Perhaps (NBC Universal chief) Jeff Zucker should think twice about tying his future, not to mention the reputation of General Electric, to an unstable ratings-killer like Keith, who uses an NBC property for his personal attacks.
Keith, like all bullies, can dish it out but can't take it, so he had a clever retort. He spouted off a list of Fox programs that supposedly were weak in the ratings. The irony is that every program he named has way more viewers than Countdown! He even included Fox & Friends First, a 6:00 am broadcast that, despite its time slot, attracts more viewers than anything, at any time, on the entire A-Mess-NBC schedule.
By the way, Olby's graphic read "Faux News". That's the Hour of Spin: cutting edge, clever, and original.
Howard Stern had a special guest on his satellite premiere: Keith Olbermann. Check out The Cable Game for a report on how our Mr Humility comported himself.
Keith Olbermann had the long knives out on Friday's Hour of Spin. He took a tempest in a teapot and blew it up to gargantuan proportions with tabloid words like "firestorm" and "outrage". A rather tepid letter from John McCain and John Warner about torture was the hook on which Olby hung such phrases as "sparks will fly" and "fireworks". Howard Fineman was obsequious to Keith's spin as always:
[Bush] did everything but rip up the legislation with this so-called 'signing statement', which has become very fashionable with this President.
Olby described the President's statement as reserving the right "to ignore that ban when he felt like it". Neither KO nor Howie bothered to note that McCain himself has stated that the torture ban could and should be ignored when the circumstances are "urgent".
There were more little digs at Bush, the White House, and enemies of The Great Olbermann. Yesterday's Pat Robertson story was revisited with Bob Edgar from the National Council of Churches. (This also gave Keith the opportunity to do some free cross-promotion for a new NBC series that depicts religious families as dysfunctional.) It should be recalled that Mr Edgar, a former Democrat Congressman, was among those who made a PR visit to Baghdad before the war and wrote about the delights of the potluck dinners and religious freedom. Olby's representative of mainstream Christianity had even argued that there shouldn't be sanctions against Iraq.
In the Media Matters Minute, Keith carefully scanned the Soros site for an appropriate zinger to toss at one of his enemies. One might think that, since he named Robertson "worst person" yesterday for implying that Sharon's heart attack was divine retribution, tonight he would focus on the President of Iran. After all, that wild man went much further than Robertson ever did, saying that he hoped the heart attack would kill Sharon. But, alas, that comment was not on Soros's smear list. So Olby picked Rush Limbaugh as "worst", because he had made a mistake in attributing something to the FISA Court. Media Matters just pointed out Limbaugh's error, but, in what is starting to be a pattern, Keith took it on himself to escalate the odious rhetoric:
He lied about it, told it backwards, which his why his listeners live in ignorance.
It's not enough just to lift stories from a Soros smear site night after night. Olby also has to crank up the invective, call people liars, and impugn their motives. Not everyone who hosts a failed tv show is so desperate as to turn to character assassination, but then not everyone is as egotistical, arrogant, and hypocritical as Keith Olbermann.
On Thursday night The Hour of Spin opened with the President's meeting 13 foreign policy officials from prior administrations:
Not everyone in attendance actually having agreed with Mr Bush on his decision to go into Iraq. That by itself may be a first in the Bush White House.
Whatever happened to all that talk about how Colin Powell argued against the action?
The day on the ground in Iraq far from successful. At least 130 people dying in a series of attacks.
When there's bad news from Iraq, you'll hear it on Countdown. If it bleeds, it leads.
The President's strategy for victory in Iraq mysteriously shrinking to only two elements, having been threefold just last month.
[VIDEO CLIP OF PRESIDENT BUSH, Dec 18: In all three aspects of our strategy--security, democracy, and reconstruction, we have learned from our experiences...]
Reconstruction, schmeecontstruction. Only cynics would point out that Halliburton has evidently already moved on to the American gulf coast.
Across the country, Olbermann buttheads were in ecstasy: "[snicker!] He said Halliburton! [snicker!]" We haven't had time to figure out what blog Olby dug up this brilliant insight from, but the truth is out there, somewhere.
Next Keith turned to Abramoff, and this time he cited the Wall Street Journal correctly (without, of course, correcting his original error). Maybe that's because the WSJ writer was there to slap him down if he tried any of that spin on him. We'll come back to this interview; we're saving the best part for last.
Taped reports from NBC followed on various topics: Abramoff's charities, Sharon's health, the effect on the Middle East, the cause of the mine tragedy, the lives of the victims, and antismoking campaigns. There was an abundance of celebrity news, with the disturbing Michael Musto. One way to try to force those rating numbers up is to turn half the program into Entertainment Tonight. At one point, Keith said of the latest hot news about Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards:
This was a publicity stunt to extend their careers by 45 minutes each, rather than just 15.
In the Media Matters Minute, the lucky winner was Pat Robertson, again named "worst person in the world", this time for comments about Sharon's heart attack. According to KO, Robertson flat-out stated the stroke happened because Sharon was giving away land. It's another OlbyLeap, and even the Soros site used the weasel word "suggested", but such fine distinctions are lost on Keith.
Finally, we return to the Abramoff interview, where Olby got to the heart of the matter:
Is there any explanation regarding the big black hat that he wore in Washington Tuesday, and the baseball cap that he wore in Florida yesterday?
Brody Mullins referred to it as a "Halloween costume", and Olby added:
It's a little like Boris Badenov from, uh, from, uh, the cartoons.
We're just taking a flyer here, Keith, but do you think it might just have some connection with Abramoff being Jewish? Do you always get your yucks poking fun at other people's religions?
KO is one of those people who think all religious dress codes but his are mistaken. You know, the way a lot of these religious nut bag terrorists think. It's the same kind of misunderstanding and perversion of religion to which we react in horror when we see it in terrorists who have twisted religions for their own purposes. Might as well be a commentator on some All-Access Al-Qaeda show on Al Jazeera talking about infidels.
We would hope Keith would now have the self-respect to apologize for what he said, and to leave the airwaves for good. Because he has forfeited his right to stay there.
Wednesday night's Countdown was almost totally devoted to the story that got such short shrift the tonight before: the coal miners. Olbermann covered the latest developments, areas of possible wrongdoing, and the role of the media (for a different perspective on this last, one of Olby's growing number of nemeses has some thoughts). The upside to all this was that Keith acted like something resembling a journalist. No oddball videos, no puppets, no mug shots, no worst people.
There was one segment to cover all the other news. This included the latest on Jack Abramoff, where Olby, eager to inflate what is already a major story to even greater heights, stated:
The Wall Street Journal reporting today that the Republican lobbyist has information that could implicate 60 lawmakers.
In fact, the WSJ did not report that Abramoff had such information, only that he claims to have it. A small but meaningful distinction, reminding us that, even when KO tries to behave, the spin never really comes to a complete stop.
The top story on Tuesday's Countdown dealt with the trapped coal miners; Olby wrapped the topic by stating:
Updates on this story throughout this news hour...
Since Keith likes to take every word spoken by his enemies in the most literal way possible, we wonder if he realizes that updates on the coal miners "throughout" the hour means that the rest of the hour will be nothing but updates. That's what "throughout" means. We assume he really meant "now and then", though even that proved to be false advertising, as he didn't say another word about it.
In the #4 segment, a recycled NBC promo piece for the book State of War, written by the man who exposed the "NSA spying program". A friendly interview with James Risen concluded with Andrea Mitchell offering as balance a one-sentence quote from the CIA, who stated that the book:
demonstrates an "unfathomable and sad disregard for US national security".
The segment was over (video of dolphins was already on screen) but Olby couldn't resist a follow-up:
No doubt something that some of the administration's supporters--or critics would say about the administration.
It's gratuitous asides like the above that make this the Hour of Spin.
In the #3 position, David Shuster gave us a rundown on the Jack Abramoff case, with a lot of guilt-by-association video showing the disgraced lobbyist with Ronald Reagan, Ralph Reed, George Bush, Tom DeLay, and others. Dana Milbank expressed mock surprise that the Justice Department was going to use Abramoff to get further indictments. KO asked him to speculate:
Who is most likely to be on that hook? Is it Mr DeLay? Is it Congressman Ney of Ohio?
Milbank disappointed Keith, who had named the possible targets in backwards order: Ney is the most obvious, DeLay the least likely.
Amidst the fluff about food labels and words that should be banned, tonight marked the return of the Media Matters Minute. The Soros website was back in business today, and Olby's constant refreshing of the page finally paid off: they had a Bill O'Reilly quote! KO obediently made Mr Bill one of the runners-up for "worst person". As usual, Olby did not reveal that it came from the Soros Smear Machine.
Olbermann on-air O'Reilly attack #50. Keith is feeding his Olbsession again. All is right in the world.
After Monday night's Hour of Spin, we thought we were through with Olby for the evening and could relax with some escapist entertainment. We went to the tivo and settled on Surface, the NBC series about a marine biologist who discovers an unknown species of underwater creature. After many adventures she finally has her video proof, and gets it to a tv station. It's an NBC affiliate, and the report ends up on MSNBC, anchored by...you guessed it...Keith Olbermann!
The faux Countdown report looked real enough, with the actual set and music. And Keith, never exactly credible trying to be a newscaster, seems to have found his calling as an actor playing a newscaster. But the best part of it was a dose of authenticity from the writers who obviously know KO as well as we do. He makes fun of the biologist, gives her report the horse-laugh, and dismisses it all as an amateurish hoax! In fiction as well as in real life, Olby gets it wrong again.
[Sometime in the next day or so, the episode will be available for download from the iTunes Music Store.]
Monday marked the return of Keith Olbermann to the Hour of Spin. It also brought us an unusually extensive parade of taped reports from NBC: the student who went to Iraq, the trapped miners, floods, Dick Clark. Throw in a segment on mug shots, plus more oddball videos, and the really meaningful content was all concentrated in the first fifteen minutes.
Naturally, the NSA surveillance story was the lead item on Countdown, but Olby's new twist was the "extraordinary" development that Attorney General Ashcroft and his deputy refused to sign off on the program:
Chief of Staff Andy Card and then White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez went to see Ashcroft in ICU, and according to Newsweek's version of the story, asked him to overrule Comey, which Ashcroft refused to do. President Bush spending part of the first day of 2006 visiting wounded troops...
Isn't there something missing here? Like, for example, what happened after they didn't approve? Keith tries to give the impression that the President just went ahead with the program over the objections of the Justice Department:
Obviously the program did not stop, either with James Comey's objections nor with John Ashcroft's pancreatitis.
But even Richard Wolffe couldn't let that Olbyism slip by:
But actually, it did seem that it had stopped.
After being exposed as either ignorant or deceitful, KO turned to the notion of an investigation. But first: there is still an element to the Ashcroft/Comey involvement that Keith has left out. Can you guess it?
While you ponder, we quote another of Keith's famous loaded questions:
Maybe I'm being cynical here, but I'm having a hard time convincing myself that a Republican-led Congress is really going to be investigating whether the Republican-led White House overstepped its powers on this. Is there a sense that there is a need for or a desire for an actual investigation, or one in name only?
We ran this paragraph through the Olbyspeak Babelfish Transmogrifier, and it translated to:
You'll never get the truth, so make sure you vote for a Democratic Congress.
At the top of the show, Olby trumpeted the possibility that the leaker might be protected as a "whistle-blower" (a notion we don't recall occurring to him in The Great Leak Case). But that proved to be more distraction: when Pete Williams appeared, he pointed out that the whistle-blower concept is protection for an employee from employer retribution. It ain't a defense to a criminal charge involving national security. Williams also gets kudos for finally telling the viewers that missing piece of the story, the part Keith so carefully avoided:
...by the time the review was finished, the Deputy Attorney General, James Comey, was convinced the program was legal and constitutional. And this official says that Comey was one of the people who ultimately prevailed on the New York Times not to disclose the information.
At last, the other shoe drops, only 13 minutes into the report! It was such an "extraordinary story"--Comey not agreeing to the program--that it led the Hour of Spin. But Olby didn't tell the viewers that after an audit Comey pronounced it "legal and constitutional" and gave the go-ahead. That news only got slipped in 13 minutes later because a real journalist was there. Better late than never, but Keith's intent to paint a partial, distorted picture of it all is undeniable.
Speaking of intent, let's do a short analysis of OlbyRhetoric. It's a rule of good writing not to use the same words, over and over, in one sentence after another. When the New York Times broke the story, they varied the terminology: "eavesdropping" (some 30 times), "spying", domestic "surveillance", etc. That also prevents the bias of favoring a specific term or phrase. How did Olbermann do in this respect?
And he wasn't even subtle about it, like when he awkwardly shoehorned the spy-word into questions where it wasn't needed. Example: Richard Wolffe says of Congressional oversight that Senator Specter "wasn't really kept in the loop on this in any way", and Olby retorts:
We assume that the Vice-President and the Defense Secretary were kept in the loop in the whole process regarding the NSA Spy Program?
Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. The key to successful propaganda.
KEITH OLBERMANN: It was in the reign of Emperor Charlemagne, light years ago, that people would gather every December 31st to welcome the change of seasons. Little did the Emperor know the startling repercussions that his actions would have decades later. Good evening, this is Keith Olbermann reporting from Times Square, and our top story tonight--our only story--is the changing of the guard, if you will, the movement from one calendar year to the next, one might say, as has been declaimed by the ancient Chinese philosopher Charles Chan, "Patience leads to knowledge," the proverbial phrase that suffuses with its undercurrent the happenings taking place here tonight, in the square that takes its name from the beleaguered newspaper that is so often the target of baseless attacks from mindless simpletons, so to speak. Once again, we welcome Howard Fineman. Howard, would it be fair to say that, all things considered, the year 2005 has been one of miscalculation, misery, and mendacity for the current occupant of the White House, or would it be more accurate to describe it as a time of deceit, desperation, and dissembling?
HOWARD FINEMAN: Keith, I think you have it exactly right.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman, great thanks as always. It should be noted that this night, like all nights, is not without controversy. There continue to be reports that the seconds have not been properly counted, particularly in the Central Time zone. And just today it was revealed on the nonpartisan internet news source, The Daily Kos, that the investigation has reached its tentacles all the way into the White House. Joining us now, Lawrence O'Donnell, who has been on top of this story from the start. Lawrence, when what was thought to be a small burglary mushroomed into the scandal we so fondly remember as Watergate, there was no idea that the President would be involved. Yet the parallels to our present crisis are striking, are they not? A President? A Republican? In the White House? And, this is remarkable, both with Republican Vice-Presidents.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL: You're absolutely right, Keith. There is no question that laws were broken here, and you will see the prosecutor issue multiple indictments--anywhere from three to five--before the year is over.
OLBERMANN: Thank you Lawrence. It appears we will have big news before that ball drops. And the dropping of the ball: it should be noted the irony, the great cosmic synergy that this event encapsulates. Our friend Craig Crawford is here. Craig, is it mere coincidence, or is there really a metaphysical significance, a meaning from the universe as it were, to the dropping of that ball tonight? Is there any way to avoid the inescapable conclusion that this descending orb, this falling sphere, really serves as a metaphor for George Bush, for his credibility, his approval ratings, and his overall intelligence?
CRAIG CRAWFORD: Well Keith [chuckle], you have put your finger on it [giggle]. That ball really is George Bush [chortle] and when it hits bottom it's not going back up again [snicker].
OLBERMANN: Craig Crawford, great thanks as always for your insights. Despite the death and destruction that the administration has brought to the world, there is still, inexplicably, an odd air of cheerfulness in this corner of the world. To make sense out of it all, our cultural correspondent, Michael Musto, who is in Key West. Michael, a good evening to you. Is that champagne you're drinking?
MICHAEL MUSTO: Yeth it is, Keith.
OLBERMANN: There is no alcohol allowed here for the celebration tonight, so we are still drinking Kool-Aid. Yet despite the very real questions about individual rights, personal freedoms, and privacy that these restrictions invariably raise, the people here seem to be able to forget their misery and subjugation long enough to snatch a brief moment of happiness from their dour, underpaid lives.
MUSTO: It has to be residual merriment left over from last week, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Thanks again, Michael. The mention of the yuletide season brings us to this year's Worst Person in the World. Our winner is--who else?--Bill O'Reilly, for his made-up nonsense about a war against December 25th. You're going to hell, Bill, and even the holiday infant can't save you. But now, as you can see, the big moment is fast approaching. That ball has started its way down to mark the beginning of 2006, so we will take you to a taped replay of the best oddball videos of the past decade. This is Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.