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Just when you thought Keith Olbermann couldn't possibly find some scrap of news to make The Great Leak Case the top story of the evening, he surpasses himself once again. The Big News on Tuesday's Countdown was Scooter Libby hiring an expert witness re memory loss. Since memory is a key defense to the charge, this is surprising...why?
Then it was off to polls. Has Olby ever reported on the Rasmussen poll that has had the President well above 40% for weeks? Har. But when a CBS poll comes out that "Mister" Bush's approval rating at 34%, it's a headline story. What KO doesn't tell you is that the pollsters apparently oversampled Democrats. Keith talked with Dana Milbank, and neither of them reported another finding in the poll: 66% said the media overdid the Cheney hunting story. Maybe that one hit a little close to home for Olby.
A regurgitated NBC tape from Chip Reid about the Dubai debate mentioned a Coast Guard report that alleged a number of holes in the security plan. It did not include the statement issued by the Coast Guard that the security issues were from an early assessment, and that these "holes" no longer exist. In fact, the Coast Guard is officially on board with the proposal, though you'd never get that impression from The Hour of Spin.
The #4 story found Olby making high-school double-entendres ("all rise", "oral arguments") about Anna Nicole Smith and her adventures at the Supreme Court. Things went from bad to worse: puppet theater. Savannah Guthrie of CourTV dropped by for in-depth analysis. "Oddball" was introduced with an irrelevant historical reference from 1692, followed by the #3 story. It was another OlbyAttempt to ingratiate himself with Howard Stern. Sooner or later Stern will have to go on Countdown just to stop KO from cable-stalking him. The CBS-Stern lawsuit was explicated by Tom O'Neil of InTouch magazine, and despite Olby's insistence on claiming that CBS was engaged in "legal entrapment" (!), O'Neil thought the blunder was Stern's.
The #2 segment opened with a brief shot of New Orleans, then it was back to recycled news from the mothership: missing Katrina pets. Celebrity fluff and baseball rounded out the show.
In the Media Matters Minute, Brit Hume was "worst" for saying this on Feb 27:
Senator Reid is right. Dubai Ports World is owned by the United Arab Emirates. However, they are not getting control of the ports. They are getting management of some parts of some ports.... Harry Reid made some news, even though some of what he said was factually challenged.
Olby, of course, embraces the Media Matters spin, quoting Brit Hume himself using the term "control" "as recently as last Wednesday":
The Bush administration was trying today to dig itself out of a political hole on the question of who should control some of the nation's ports.
That was the most recent example either the Soros site or KO could find of this egregious worst-worthy abomination. Might that be because, in the six days since then, a lot more information and detail about the proposal has come to light? Brit Hume wasn't complaining about the term being used last week. He was criticizing its use just yesterday, when anyone who has paid attention would know that "control the ports" is at the very least a hyperbolic exaggeration. Sort of like Olby's "newscasts".
And that's The Hour of Spin for this, the 13th day of the Keith Olbermann CoverUp.
From: Keith Olbermann
Date: February 27 2006
Subject: Re: Tonight's Show
To: David Brock
CC: Daily Kos, Huffington Post
BCC: George S.
I received your email and I understand your concerns. But you have to realize that when I say my producers force me to do something, sometimes it's really true. You know that eventually somebody would catch the fact that I keep referring to "Mister Bush", and not "President Bush". And sure enough, last week a particularly annoying blog called me out on it. And my producers were not happy. They don't understand the mutually beneficial arrangement we have going on. So tonight, I was literally forced to use the phrase "President Bush", not once but twice. I didn't like it, and I'm sure that dastardly blog will claim this is another victory on their part. But, despite what you may read elsewhere, I'm really not trying to get myself fired.
Remember, I got in a lot of good licks that went right over the heads of those producers. And that abominable blog too. Did you see how I led off the show? All that talk about "bad news coming in waves", and then I just rattled off every negative anti-Bush story I could find: FEMA, NSA, Cheney, ports, Iraq blunders, the National Guard. It was hilarious! It really did sound like there wasn't any news anywhere that was in any way favorable to the White House.
Now that brings up another one of your points. I did reference a story from Insight magazine, and we know how far-right reactionary they are. But--and this is where I am just pure genius!--I didn't really get it from them. Do you think I'd read such crud? I learned about it from Raw Story. The neocons love to bash them because their accuracy rate is so bad. So I left that part out. You have to admit: genius.
Speaking of neocons, I know you liked that piece we ran about the founder of the neocon movement who wrote a book disavowing it and the Bush administration. You will notice we didn't do a piece giving the pro-neocon position. You know me better than that. The same thing goes for that Democrat we put on to bash those idiot Republicans mindlessly opposed to gay adoption. After all, why bother giving the other side of an issue when you and I both know the other side isn't worth hearing?
I am pleased, however, that you found the latest attack on Bill O'Reilly to be worthwhile. (That diabolical blog will probably claim this is #64.) You realize, there really wasn't much news on the O'Reilly petition, and actually I had to contrive something to justify even mentioning it on the air. But that how we keep the story alive, and nothing is too much trouble for a friend like you, Dave. I hope you don't mind my giving free plugs to the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post. They are two of my primary sources of unbiased news, and I'm hoping that someday we can work out a mutual PR arrangement like I have with you and Media Matters.
Of course I lived up to my end of that bargain tonight when I made Bill "worst person" yet again, content straight from the pages of your website. Would this count as attack #64a, or #65? I'm sure that despicable blog will obsess on that question for days! Remember, I'm counting on you to have video of these segments up within the next 24 hours maximum. Our relationship is not just a one-way street, you know.
Before I sign off here, thanks for the kind words about my new sign-off on the air. Just between you and me, and completely off the record, it wasn't my idea. George suggested it to me. I don't know where he comes up with this stuff. The man is not just a financial genius--he's a political genius! An intellectual's intellectual! Of course he was very raw and untutored when I first met him. But that's another story.
Thanks again, Dave, for writing. Next time we get together we'll talk about some of your ideas for improving Countdown. Your suggestion that we give Lawrence O'Donnell a nightly commentary spot sounds promising.
As a week of Keith Olbermann mercifully came to a conclusion, Olby headlined another big scoop:
It isn't just six ports involved...it's 21. They just forgot to mention the other 15.
No, Keith just neglected to report until tonight that there are 15 small ports that are also part of the deal. That fact was not breaking news elsewhere--only on The Hour of Spin. But it was The Great Leak Case that was forcibly crammed into the lead spot on Friday night, based on the unsurprising (and non-headline-worthy) decision that secret testimony is going to remain secret. David Shuster, Old Unreliable, explained it all.
Olby went on to read from a Jay Rockefeller letter claiming that recent leaks are all the fault of the Bush administration. It's a remarkably evidence-free charge, but it came from the right, or rather left, side of the aisle so Keith gave it a lot of play. That was the cue for Richard Wolffe to join in; his take was that it may be politics but there's a "pattern of behavior" in this "secretive" administration.
In the #4 slot was "port politics", where Keith claimed he uncovered a huge contradiction:
On Wednesday the White House had said that the President learned about the port deal after the fact from news reports. Today, though, Scott McClellan told reports that, no, Chief of Staff Andrew Card notified the President about the deal more than a week ago, on Thursday, February 16th.
Now we're going to do something really sneaky. We're going to check the transcript of the White House briefing for Wednesday. And this is what McClellan said at that time:
he learned about it over the last several days. I couldn't pinpoint the exact time, but last several days, recently.
McClellan said he wasn't sure of the date, but KO says, aha! He knew about it way back on February 16. February 16 was exactly six days before that White House briefing. Was Olby saying six days vs "several days" is some sort of contradiction? Was he claiming that Andy Card telling Bush about the press uproar is a smoking gun? And was he not aware that February 16 was still "after the fact", despite the deceptive wording of his "report"? Was Keith just trying to pull another fast one on his gullible viewers? Or is pier pressure getting to him? David Gregory, The Voice of Reason, filed a taped report giving his prognosis on the deal.
An 1825 reference introduced "oddball", and then the most predictable segment of the evening: "Big Giant Head Takes On Countdown". Given that this makes Olbermann O'Reilly Attack #63, some might think Olby got that headline backwards. (Nothing new there.) On Thursday O'Reilly did a "most ridiculous item of the day", suggesting that viewers sign a mock petition to bring back Phil Donahue in the Countdown timeslot, because Phil had much better ratings. Is KO now cracking under peer pressure? This was his reaction [QuickTime video clip]:
Then he read the whole petition, injecting unfunny explanatory comments (unfunny to everyone except The Laughing Stagehand). Olby changed the subject from viewers to viewers within a particular demo, and based on that claimed that Bill had made a "factual error". It went on and on and on, including a montage of Great Moments in Olbermann O'Reilly Attacks and Keith himself (plus a few dozen MSNBCers) signing the petition.
In the #2 slot, a documentary about an amnesia documentary, followed by celebrity news (alas, poor Olby: no Tom Cruise) and foxy felons. In the Media Matters Minute, the "worst persons" were the staff of Fox's Your World, for doing an analysis/debate segment on whether civil war in Iraq could have an upside. As far as Keith is concerned, the subject matter itself is enough for ridicule, because Media Matters said so. But this is what the discussion itself was like:
DAVID ASMAN: How could this sectarian violence, dozens of people being killed including some Americans, how could this be a good thing?
LT COL BILL COWAN: As tragic as the events are of the last few days, the fact of the matter is, this forces Iraqi leadership--political, religious, tribal leaders, military security--to either get on board, stand up together and bring things into a unified Iraq, or it really does escalate to something bad. So these terrible events are causing people, leadership people, to make decisions and look at what's going on.
COL P.J. CROWLEY: This is only going to deepen the sectarian divide that already exists.... Our troops are caught in the middle, and as we know from Lebanon in the early '80s, that can't be good.
Now maybe KO considers this to be the worst possible discussion in the world. No wait, that's not possible because he has no idea what was discussed. He's basing his opinion on the headline, because that's all that Media Matters fed him. Next week Keith will be inaugurating a new series: reviews of movies he never saw.
And that's Countdown for this, the 9th day of the Keith Olbermann CoverUp.
Do you sometimes get the impression that Keith Olbermann still hasn't gotten over the last Presidential election? That on weekends he still travels down to Ohio to dig through rotted-out ballot boxes looking for a few more Kerry votes? Far be it from us to suggest so, but it's interesting to note how he referenced governmental leaders in his opening segment:
Dana Milbank, shorn of funny clothes and clown makeup, said it "looks like" the administration was circumventing the law in not having an automatic 45-day delay. He did not reveal where he obtained his law degree. Then it was on to The Great Leak Case, and that means the discredited David Shuster haunted the Countdown set once again.
The #4 slot was South Dakota voting to outlaw most abortions. Pete Williams gave a prognosis, Olby pronounced the law "draconian", and a good time was had by all. After another serving of "oddball", KO decided to rattle off prewar criticisms of the Iraq plan, citing what Colin Powell said to "Mister" Bush, and saying, see? He was right! After a regurgitated NBC report, Olby brought in another MSM reporter, Michael Weiskopf of Time, for a predictable go-round. Iraq needs a tyrant, according to Mike, to hold the country together. KO mentioned, for what seemed like the 89th time, that Bush had been warned this would happen.
The Great Britain bank robbery was #2, via another rerun from NBC News. Then it was celebrities and doggie doo as an energy source. In the Media Matters Minute, Rush Limbaugh was a runner-up, and Bill O'Reilly (attack #62) was "worst". Once again, he managed to finger both a conservative and a Fox News employee, keeping alive the Guiness-worthy streak of a liberal or a Democrat never doing anything that qualifies as "worst". And it was a double-header for the Soros site, which will soon pay Olby back by giving him the agreed-upon publicity.
That's The Hour of Spin for this, the 8th day of the Keith Olbermann CoverUp.
Once again the ports were the lead item on The Hour of Spin. It's a story that Keith Olbermann was totally disinterested in and didn't touch until this week. Coincidentally, that's when it really exploded on the blue blogs. Wednesday's Countdown began with Olby crowing about how the President wasn't in on the decision making until last week. After the obligatory montage from Scott McClellan's daily briefing, we got a rundown of all the evils of the UAE over history. One of the items he mentioned as if it were news: members of the UAE royal family once met with Bin Laden. (Reported by "worst person" John Gibson on Fox days ago.)
Howard Fineman bloviated about the politics of it all as Olby suggested "there's got to be a fall guy". Howard thinks there will be some sort of compromise worked out, saying that Bush issuing a veto threat in the first inning means he really won't do it. Keith had an oh-so-clever retort:
Of course it may not be the first inning. He may just have shown up late for the ball game, because nobody told him there was a ball game.
KO then delivered more of yesterday's news, about Treasury Secretary John Snow's past involvement with a railroad company that was sold to Dubai Ports--after Snow had already left. Suggesting that the administration's stance is all about money, he brought in David Sirota, who naturally echoed that view.
Mr Sirota was introduced as if he were an impartial expert, so we will tell you what Keith didn't want you to know. Sirota is a fellow at the far-left Center for American Progress, and writes for the Huffington Post and AlterNet. He is one of those sophisticated writers who makes Olbermaniacs swoon by calling Newt Gingrich "smarmy, dishonest, and corrupt". As Sirota railed against NAFTA, trade deals, the China PNTR negotiations, etc, KO was awed:
I feel like I'm Howard Beale listening to the speech about the college of corporations in the movie Network.
Keith wishes he had the credibility of Howard Beale.
New filings were the excuse to make The Great Leak Case the next story. And, like a bad penny, the discredited David Shuster was back. They chatted about the "I was too busy to remember" defense, with Shuster saying it "sounds like" Scooter Libby ain't telling the truth. Otherwise, it was a stale rehashing of old talking points.
Speaking of stale, we got "oddball" with another tiresome, overblown intro ("78 years ago today...). The #3 story (powerball winners) began with a reflection on something that happened 150 years ago (can't Keith come up with a new template for pompous preambles?). #2 was the death penalty flap in California (via a regurgitated NBC tape) followed by the usual celebrity "news". Poor Keith: there was no Tom Cruise tonight. Then the #1 story: Donald Trump vs Martha Stewart. The disturbing Michael Musto made another unwelcome appearance.
Olby again lifted from Think Progress in naming as "worser" Orrin Hatch. That takes care of the GOP/conservative slot. Now what about the Fox News slot? Media Matters to the rescue: Bill O'Reilly, "worst person" for his comments about FNC contributor Neal Gabler. That's attack #61, and the first in almost three weeks. Regardless of what his bosses at A-Mess-NBC tell him, KO just can't go cold turkey on this Olbsession.
That's The Hour of Spin for this, the 7th day of the Keith Olbermann CoverUp.
The pundit class has been chattering today about what in the wide world of sports the President was thinking when he said he was sticking by the proposed port sale to the UAE. We have our own theory. The White House is trying to drive Keith Olbermann stark raving bananas. Today they made real progress:
The President threatens his own party's leaders!
Translated from hyperbolic OlbySpeak, that means he said he would veto a bill.
[Republicans] say no to turning security at six key ports over to the United Arab Emirates!
The second day in a row for this Olbermann lie. Security remains in the hands of the Coast Guard, Homeland Security, and the rest of the same people who handle it now.
Is this the political crisis of the Bush administration?
Was that drooling around Olby's mouth, or foaming? Some day HDTV will be able to resolve those fine details. Keith said this was "the most politically controversial Presidency since Abraham Lincoln", giving heavy play to the various GOPers who have expressed reservations about the deal. Jim Vandehei of the Post was today's first designated crony, and Olby turned to him for a prognosis on how this would play out.
Stop the tivo! Vandehei? This is the same Jim Vandehei who, less than 24 hours before Dick Cheney spoke to Brit Hume, said on A-Mess-NBC:
He's never going to come out publicly and talk about this.
Oh. Kay. Matters didn't improve when Craig Crawford took his turn. Olbermann's Brain called this "another [Harriet] Myers moment", and snickered his way through another predictable round of playing human echo chamber. The GOP could lose control of Congress, he claimed, almost causing Keith to flip his wig.
After repeating the lie about security being in the hands of "a company owned by Arabs" (no racial stereotyping here! no profiling here!), KO went to Evan Kohlmann. He tried to explain to Olby that terrorists can infiltrate any company, not just one run by "Arabs", and all this fuss was a red herring and a canard. He did endear himself to KO by talking about the Bush administration and inspection of packages. Still, we have to be thankful any time a contrary point of view is permitted to make a cameo appearance, even if it is spiced with the anti-administration rhetoric that is a sine qua non at Countdown.
After a reference to that well-known Supreme Court Justice "Joseph" Alito came another session of "oddball", again introduced in Olby's overbearing fashion ("It's 25 years to the day..."). The #3 slot brought us the well-worn story of the lost dog from the dog show, and Keith actually spent time interviewing a pet psychic (or, as KO insisted on calling her, an "animal communicator"). Incredibly, he treated this character as if she really could talk via telepathy with dogs and get visions of where they are. Olby showed more skepticism in his fake newscast on the tv show "Surface"!
Next it was back to the Supreme Court, with Keith using the politically correct terminology "late term abortion" to describe the controversy that will be heard by the Court. A regurgitated NBC report took care of the details. The #1 story was all about the gym teacher who took payoffs to let kids out of his class.
The "worst person" was chosen not from Media Matters, but from the equally far-left ThinkProgress. It was, of course, a Republican, and a conservative to boot (a twofer!): Orrin Hatch. KO's recitation was lifted almost verbatim from their article. ThinkProgress, like its parent group, is another fine product of the George Soros machine.
At The Hour of Spin, there is usually a dog that did not bark. On Tuesday's edition it was the terror indictments that were "breaking news" this afternoon. Not one word. What's this, a possible success in the war on terror? Well, we just don't have time for that. Instead we get a dog's dinner of celebrity sleaze and a woman who reads the thought waves of animals.
That's The Hour of Spin for this, the 6th day of the Keith Olbermann CoverUp.
Keith Olbermann had a scoop on Monday's Hour of Spin. At least he tried to make it seem like it was a startling new development:
A bizarre secret wriggles out of a symbolic shipping container.
The ports coming under the control of a Muslim country, all of a sudden on Olby's radar. Fox has been reporting on this controversy for at least nine days running now, but apparently Keith just got the memo. Even so, that doesn't mean he got it right:
US ports, security for which is now in the hands of the United Arab Emirates.
Well, that would be true, except: 1. the transfer has to be approved, which it hasn't; and B. the UAE will not be in charge of security (those functions remain with customs, Homeland Security, police, etc). So Olby is over a week late, and inaccurate to boot. That's "the future of tv news" for you.
In his trademark unfair and unbalanced style, KO brings in only one side of the issue. And in true Olbermann fashion, it's a Democrat, Robert Menendez. Never mind that Congressman Peter King was on this issue first and took the lead on it. He can't come on Countdown. He has an (R) after his name. And he wouldn't fall for KO's leading questions:
Does it feed into a bigger issue that we have talked a tough game about improved security...
Matters turned to a poll about Cheney being too "secretive"; that and the NSA business was the excuse to drag in Time's Mike Allen. Allen mentioned the "tough, fair questioning of Brit Hume", and KO couldn't let that stand:
Tough, fair questions. Not necessarily any follow-ups.
Man, give it a rest already! After all, you got that big exclusive with Michael Schiavo.
The latest audio from UBL was the #4 story, headlined as "Remember Me?" It was relegated to a regurgitated Andrea Mitchell report. After "oddball" (pretentiously introduced with another one of those "It was 35 years ago..." history-trivia lead-ins) we got a reminiscence of the late Curt Gowdy. This led into the controversy over Bryant Gumbel's remarks on the Olympics (another dispute that finds KO a week late and and several Euros short). After describing the reaction from "far-right blogs" Olby brought in Tony Bruno to talk about Gumbel and Rush Limbaugh (once fired for some incendiary comments he made on ESPN). Olby tried to claim that there was no "moral equivalence" between the comments of Bryant and Rush (predictable), but all he could get out of Bruno was stuff like "I don't know", "it depends", and so forth.
The rest of the show was the unknown powerball winner, celebrities, and more celebrities. The creepy Michael Musto graced us with another appearance, complete with "jokes" about Cheney being drunk. When KO wrapped with his oh-so-clever "Mission Accomplished" sign-off, we were reminded of that UBL tape again. One of the things the terrormeister went out of his way to mention was...the "Mission Accomplished" speech! Is it surprising that Usama Bin Laden and Keith Olbermann both have the same talking points?
That's The Hour of Spin for this, the 5th day of the Keith Olbermann CoverUp.
There is no doubt Olbermann Watch is having an impact. That was demonstrated Thursday, when Keith had to do three stealth rollbacks of falsehoods after we exposed them here. Now someone is so worried they have arranged to have a new website set up. If they are to be believed, they aim to recruit people to counter our efforts to hold Olby responsible for his journalistic sins!
KO claims he is "nonpartisan", but we know better. That's why we're happy to see Olby apologist sites spring up. They show how his Hour of Spin is a magnet for moonbats. When you visit keitholbermann.org, the first thing you see is a navigation menu with ten items. Nine of them pertain to KO. The tenth? A link to the "Al Franken Fan Club".
But the window into these people's psyches is found in the "Keith Olbermann Forum". Here fanboys and fangirls can fantasize about imaginary Olbermann ratings surges, share "steamy and sometimes kinky Keith fantasies", bash Bush and Cheney, invoke Halliburton, and prepare to defeat Olbermann Watch with their superior numbers and upper-class intellects.
What follows are literal, word-for-word quotes from this latest attempt to prop up the sports guy. Warning! The bad spelling, embarrassing grammar, and potty language have been retained, intact, just as the intellectuals posted them.
It appears some of these people were voted off that island long ago, on this, the 3rd day of the Keith Olbermann CoverUp.
It was the best of times. You had black box voting, Ohio irregularities, misleading Florida statistics, investigations, secrecy, and those diabolical voting machines. Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end. If only you could go back to those heady times of moonbat theories and relive the thrill of the conspiracy hunt once again.
Well you can. On Countdown!
You will recall the script was finalized on Thursday: attack the sheriff. Tonight was Act II. It was a sloppy investigation. It could have been "criminal negligence". Keith was on a roll, and he wasn't about to let up:
Is there a point at which some higher authority has to step in in Texas to clean the investigation up?
Parnham, of course, rushed to agree. He wouldn't have been there otherwise. He said, what to Olby, were the magic words: "possible criminal conduct". Keith's adrenalin started to flow. His mouth was dry; his legs were weak. But he managed to restrain his excitement and keep a calm, if disturbed, head under his wig.
Michael Duffy of Time was next to subject himself to Olbermann's withering interrogation. "It was amateur hour", he opined, and they chatted about the PR failures involved. KO did not ask Duffy about any of his tinfoil theories. He did not ask Duffy about how bad the investigation was, and how we need someone higher up to do it all over again. Is that because Duffy would have given Keith's fevered fantasies the horse laugh? That would explain why Olby wouldn't even broach the subject with him.
KO did cite an article by Peggy Noonan. Hmm, when was the last time he did that? The 11th of Never, perhaps? But tonight Noonan rated attention in Spin Central because she wrote an article--all together now--critical of the administration.
The #4 slot brought us another update on The Great Leak Case. Libby wants secret documents. That's "breathtaking", said Olby in reading and displaying on-screen two lengthy quotes from Prosecutor Fitzgerald's filing. How many quotes from Libby's filings were similarly featured? Har. A reporter from the leftist Boston Globe served the usual function as an Olbermann replicant.
After a session of "oddball" that was especially grating, thanks to The Laughing Stagehand, we got crime "caught on tape". The #2 story was a deadly mudslide (via regurgitated NBC report) followed by the usual celebrity fluff. Closing the program was a report on a lottery winner, delivered by Monica Novotny. She appeared happy, now that she only has to sit next to Olby one night a week, if that.
And that's The Hour of Spin for this, the 2nd day of the Keith Olbermann CoverUp.
There was Big News on Countdown Thursday night. Keith Olbermann even put it in the opening tease:
The Vice-Presidential announcement that he has the right to declassify secret stuff!
It's another victory for Olbermann Watch! No sooner did we ridicule KO for glossing over this important piece of news, than Keith suddenly makes it a headine 24 hours later. But Olby had more important fish to fry in Thursday's #1 story, namely:
...the vast holes in Vice-President Dick Cheney's explanation of how he accidentally shot a man last Saturday.
This ought to be interesting, but instead of telling us what all those "vast holes" were, it was off to bash the Sheriff and his investigation. Why all of a sudden is the Sheriff in KO's sights? Remember that yesterday Olbermann Watch reprinted the sheriff's quote that he decided when he would interview the Veep. So Olby can no longer pretend like the time was set by Dick Cheney. Olbermann Watch scores another success. What's a sports guy to do? Shift the gunsights! The new target: Sheriff Salinas!
Thomas DeFrank came in to speculate about friction between the President and the Veep. Neither Mr DeFrank nor Keith documented any "vast holes" in Cheney's explanation, but they both seemed to agree that it raises questions about "who's running the store".
Then it was back to bashing the Sheriff again, as well as witness Armstrong. According to Keith, she didn't see everything. Cover-up! What's more, she said they had Dr Pepper at lunch, but Cheney said he had a beer. Liar! Creepy Liar! Olby cited a New York Times report that a deputy had been sent to the ranch that night but did not stay. Keith made no mention of the more detailed article in the Washington Post explaining that the deputy went there to escort the ambulance, but it had already left. Neither did he say just what those "vast holes" in Cheney's description of the shooting were.
For a legal opinion, Keith brought in attorney Stanley Brand, longtime Democrat partisan (a fact unmentioned by KO). Brand's purpose was to rip the sheriff's investigation and to make insinuations. Even Presidents should be investigated the same way as "normal people". It's so easy for witnesses to "compare notes" and fabricate a story. Then it was off to the races with "secretive to the max", Katrina, and the like. Neither Brand nor Olbermann detailed any of the "vast holes" in Cheney's explanation.
In the #4 slot, Olby again did a rehash of where Cheney gives his interviews, and then lied, claiming that in the Fox interview "follow-up questions seemed to be almost nonexistent". All of this was preparation to KO getting around--24 hours late--to Cheney's authority to declassify (illustrated with a clip from the interview that included one of the nonexistent follow-up questions). Richard Wolffe had to set Keith straight (for the umpteenth time): No, Cheney's declassification power does not affect the Libby case.
In another triumph for Olbermann Watch, Keith finally read a verbatim, undoctored version of what Fitzgerald wrote in that letter about Libby and leaks. For the first time his audience was informed that the authority Libby had from his superiors was about the leak of a single document: the National Intelligence Estimate. And it only took us a week of hectoring Olby to get him to report it truthfully. (As in all other examples in tonight's Hour of Spin, there was no admission or acknowledgement by KO of his earlier falsehoods.) By the way, Mr Wolffe did not delineate any of the "vast holes" in Mr Cheney's report of the shooting.
After "oddball", we're at #3: Jack Abramoff. This is one of the top five stories of the day? Only on Countdown. You see, Abramoff arranged a meeting with some Malaysians by contacting Karl Rove. And 31 Senate Democrats want Attorney General Gonzales off the investigation. David Shuster, who we know lied about that Fitzgerald letter, talked about all the people Abramoff "might know" in the White House. Neither Shuster nor Keith specified what those "vast holes" in Cheney's explanation of the shooting might be.
It's the #2 slot, and why is Olby talking about a 96-year-old murder case? Oh we get it, another of Keith's pretentiously obscure historical allegories. The segment was really a regurgitated network tape about the Entwhistle case. Then celebrity news, and a wisecrack implying that Cheney witness Armstrong is a liar. Finally, a dog missing from the dog show. The owners were Olby's guests. Much to our surprise, neither they nor Keith Olbermann explained just what were those "vast holes" in Cheney's account of the shooting.
And why did he say it?
It is strange that TVNewser, an impartial blog about television news, would run with a scoop like this and then minutes later take it down. Did MSNBC or Keith Olbermann (staunch advocate for press freedom and integrity) request that he do so? Would TVNewser accede to such a request? It wouldn't be the first time. When OlbermannWatch published some comments from a news producer that were not complimentary to Keith, TVNewser linked to them on his site. For a few minutes. Then the link vanished. (Robert Cox preserved the details of this incident in lengthy comments that can be found here. When you get there, ask your browser to find "pretty decent people" on the page. That will take you directly to the start of Mr Cox's report.)
So we are still left with questions. What exactly did Keith Olbermann say? Why did he say it? Why did it disappear? And, is TVNewser protecting him?
It was less than a week ago that Countdown told us that The Great Leak Case "roars back to life", because of a news report that Libby was authorized to leak "information". We now know that Keith Olbermann, and his partner-in-crime David Shuster, lied about what that report said. We bring this up because today there was another loud roar on that very topic.
But that roar didn't get any mention in the opening of tonight's Hour of Spin. Cheney's shooting and the "softball" interview took precedence:
Not in a news conference, nor in a written statement, nor to a panel of interviewers from a variety of news organizations, but rather before the more malleable cameras of Fox News.
Keith's take on this was so easy to predict that it was, to use a familiar phrase, like Pavlov's dog in a bell-testing factory. He then went on to point out a great contradiction in the interview: at one point Cheney called the man he shot his "friend", and at another his "acquaintance". Aha! Caught him again!!
Then Olbermann pulled another fake rabbit out of his hat:
It happened Saturday night at 5:50 local time. The Vice-President's people agreed to let the Sheriff's office talk to the Vice-President at 8:00 the next morning. That's an extraordinary drag time...
KO is obviously up on all the latest rumors from the blue blogs, but doesn't he read the daily newspapers? Isn't he aware that the Sheriff in the case told the Washington Post today that it was his decision to do the interview the next day?
Or how about the Dallas Morning News, which quotes Sheriff Salinas:
"They told me what happened," Salinas said. "I decided (to) let them sleep on it. I said we'll go in the morning."
So the Veep's people did not agree to "let the Sheriff talk to him" the next morning, as KO claims. It was the Sheriff who made that call. Another Olbyfication of the truth.
Undeterred, Keith went on to suggest that Cheney's one beer, five hours before the incident, was a factor that would "linger", but guest John Harwood wasn't impressed. Olby again brought up the difference between "friend" and "acquaintance":
Are these the kinds of little details that can undermine somebody's credibility? If you were in court and, or making a statement to the police, and you gave the same description of the same person in three different emotional terms, some people would say Mr Vice-President, you have to pick one or at most two of the above.
No, "some people" wouldn't say that. Only the "anchorman" of The Hour of Spin.
After a rundown of whom Cheney gives interviews to (attributed to TVNewser) and a historical note on Aaron Burr, KO then purported to analyze the mechanics and physics of the accident. Could this be some sort of Olbermann Damage Control for the unfortunate events of Tuesday night, when his medical expert decreed that the wounds were consistent with a 30-yard distance, despite Olby's desperate attempts to muddle the issue?
First he ran a recreation of the accident, with extensive caveats about how unscientific it was both before and after. Why all the cautions? Because the recreation matched the Vice-President's story! Then Olby called in Tony Cangemi, a "bird shooting expert". Cangemi was "somewhat surprised" that the pellets penetrated as far as they did "to cause the ensuing heart problem", overlooking the fact that the doctors say the birdshot did not penetrate to the heart but rather migrated there. KO didn't set him straight, of course, and added this:
A piece of birdshot got to the heart, and others, maybe as many as 200, broke through the skin, any protective clothing he was wearing...
Dr Olbermann must have examined the victim himself, since the doctors treating him said that fewer than 150-200 pellets penetrated. How could it be "as many as 200" if it was fewer than 150-200? And don't accuse us of nitpicking, after KO's obsession with the differences between "friend" and "acquaintance".
After "oddball", the #3 story was all about...Dick Cheney! Keith complained that the Veep never said, "It's my fault", and added:
Mr Cheney was questioned about the CIA leak investigation. Lest we forget it was just last Thursday reports that Mr Cheney's former Chief of Staff, Mr Libby, had already testified that he was authorized by superiors to disclose classified information to reporters...
Again, Olbermann misrepresents what Libby said. Libby said that he was authorized to release information about the National Intelligence Estimate, period. We went through all this before, but when it comes to faking the news Olby is incorrigible. Convicted felon John Dean came in, and was asked to ditto Keith's latest conspiracy theory:
Could there have been an attempt, or an aborted attempt, to cover this up completely so that people would not know this is what happened?
The felon suggested that Mrs Armstrong (the witness) may be lying, then yet again KO brought up the difference between "friend" and "acquaintance". Man, give it a rest! Even disbarred lawyer Dean didn't bite on that one. Keith again misrepresented the Libby "superiors" comment, and asks:
Is that a missing link in taking this investigation into the Vice-President's office...
Then Dean lets something out of the bag:
[Cheney] did say, in response to a question as to whether he had power to declassify, that there was an executive order out.
Yes indeed, that's what Cheney said:
HUME: Let me ask you another question. Is it your view that a vice president has the authority to declassify information?
CHENEY: There is an executive order to that effect.
Note how Olby reported this earlier: he says the VP "was questioned" about it, but Keith never says what the answer to that question was! The last time this business came up, KO told us the leak case "roars back to life". What Cheney's response does is toss Olbermann's great roar right back onto itself. For all of KO's talk about the investigation going into the Veep's office, that executive order means that Cheney authorizing the release of information--whether it's the NIE or whatever else--is absolutely, 100%, wholly legal.
This is at least as important as the "roar" that led Olbermann to lie about what Libby said. It turns all of Olby's fulminating completely on its head. But on tonight's Hour of Spin, there was no roar. KO went out of his way not to say one word about it. And when Dean let it slip, Keith quickly moved on.
In the #2 slot, we got "exclusive clips" from The DaVinci code via a recycled NBC report. Those two-bit organizations like Fox had to settle for Cheney, but Countdown has exclusive movie clips with Tom Cruise! That led into celebrity news, by coincidence also about Tom Cruise. In the #1 slot, the dog show and doggie videos.
Ann Coulter was "worst person in the world" because when she voted in a local election she did so in the wrong precinct. With tonight's Hour of Spin presenting such an extravagant smorgasbord of bias, deceit, and propaganda, this was the smallest of potatoes.
Tuesday night at Hour of Spin headquarters brought us an Olby howler for the ages. Countdown began with Keith Olbermann talking about how the earlier President Bush immediately told everyone when he accidentally shot a deer. It's a matter of trust. Take that, Cheney! Olby was almost salivating when he asked Paul Burka:
Under the worst case scenario, could negligent homicide actually come into play?
Burka, no fan of conservatives or Republicans, explained to KO that accidents are accidents, particularly when there's no indication of negligence. But Keith wasn't done, and turned to the latest conspiracy theories from the blue blogs:
[The sheriff's report] also said no alcohol had been involved in it. But how would they know that? The sheriff's office did not interview the Vice-President for 14 hours after all this happened.
How would they know that Cheney wasn't snorting coke? How would they know that Martians weren't responsible? There's no end of evidence-free speculation that Olby can indulge in.
Could this have been a badly fumbled attempt to actually conceal what happened Saturday night?
Finally a conspiracy theory that Burka would bite on. It "raised my eyebrows", he claimed, that they took him to Kingsville and not Corpus Christi. He also suggested that, based on the wounds, the 30-yard distance was too far. Then Olby decided to quote approvingly from that "worst person in the world", Robert Novak. Why? Because he expressed disapproval of how this was handled, and on Fox News no less! That's all you have to do to get favorable recognition from KO, criticize the administration. All prior sins are excused, until the next time you say something he disagrees with.
In another deja vu moment, we got Dana Milbank again. He complained that Scott McClellan did not reveal the heart problems at today's press conference, but neither he nor Olby gave the reason (it's the family's and the doctors' call when to make it public). Keith went on to say the defenses about the man walking into the line of fire surely seem "callous", and then found a nit to pick in two statements from the ranch owner.
Once again, while important news is ignored, Olby milked this story for a second segment, this one about the medical aspects. Here we found Olbermann tricked up by his own spin, as he asked the Doc about something Burka said earlier:
They're finding it hard to believe that this much damage could have been caused by birdshot at a distance of 90 yards. Does it add up to you and your experience?
Um, 90 yards? How did the distance suddenly triple? The MD replied:
There's almost no way this could have been at 90 yards.... The more likely scenario seems to be probably somewhere in the order of 15-30 yards.
KO, so convinced by his own "90 yards" statistic, let his eagerness to spin take over his common sense, and dove in head first:
That's an extraordinary difference. If you got a report from the people who were witnesses to this who said to you this happened from 90 yards and you saw damage that might be 15-30 yards, what do you do, what are your legal responsibilities as a doctor in that situation?
As the physician reiterated his belief that these wounds could not have happened at 90 yards, Keith ended the segment by mumbling, "extraordinary".
Hahahahahaha! Excuse us for laughing, but the witnesses didn't say 90 yards, they said 30 yards--just what the doctor said was likely. Not only does "90 yards" conflict with every published report, it conflicts with what Olby himself said just minutes earlier! It's bad enough when Keith doesn't know who is in the President's cabinet. It's even worse when he doesn't pay attention to his own words.
After oddball, a taped report on the Entwhistle case and one on the effects of CSI. Then #2 was kids in cars (regurgitated from NBC) and celebrity news. Ken Starr was named "worst" for apparently phony letters that were submitted to a court in a plea for clemency in a death penalty case. Olby shouted:
Ken Starr, today's--I've been waiting to say this for eight years--Worst Person in the World!
Eight years? Possibly the most truthful words KO uttered all night. Certainly the "explanation" Olby buried in the final segment with Michael Musto doesn't rise to that level. Keith noted that he got his yards numbers "transposed" (?), then added:
The doctor said 15-30 yards, and Mr Burka said he thought 30 yards was too far. So they were in agreement.
Say what? Burka said 30 yards was not possible, but the doctor said the opposite: that 15-30 yards was the "most likely" distance. The Liar describes the doctor as "in agreement" with Burka, when in fact the Doc completely shot down Burka's expert opinion on pellet wounds. OlbySpin to the 90th power.
Keith Olbermann was almost giddy on Monday's Hour of Spin, as he gleefully ran "six minutes" of video from the Scott McClellan press conference. Hell hath no fury like a pack of news hawks scooped by a local paper because they weren't given their handout. Keith also boasted that he would reveal "the legal penalty Mr Cheney will now face". Note: not the penalty he might face, or would face if adjudged guilty of something. Judge Olbermann has ruled.
After a typically pretentious historical reference (to a satirist from a century ago), Olby introduced Dana Milbank to discuss what we predicted in these pages he would obsess on: why did it take so long for this to be made public? Just how badly KO wants to inflate this story was made clear when he asked Milbank:
And this becomes his legacy?
Incredibly, this Big News bled over to the #4 slot, where Olby claimed that Cheney did not have some required stamp, even though the Veep's office had asked to be issued all necessary permits. Since there's a one-year grace period, that means there is no legal penalty at all. Is this what Judge Olbermann was hyping? Lame.
Next KO interviewed the reporter who broke the story, the same one who was interviewed on all the other news outlets yesterday. That was followed by a childish simulation of the accident in the style of a 1980 computer game. We should just be thankful it wasn't more puppet theater.
In the #3 slot Olby ran a regurgitated NBC piece about the British tape of UK soldiers beating protesters. Oddly, the newspaper was never identified, nor its ownership by Rupert Murdoch, an association that KO loves to trumpet when it suits him. Then the "potentially scandalous" photo showing President Bush in a photo with Jack Abramoff somewhere in the background. It's a Countdown Where's Waldo moment, but it was so important that the discredited David Shuster appeared to explain the "significance" of it all. KO suggested that the White House should release more photos "to get ahead of this", and the reliable, trustworthy Shuster gave Olby megadittoes for that thought, adding that unnamed "top Republicans" think the same thing.
In a masterful bit of OlbySpin, KO did some damage control over the appearance of Jane Harman and Tom Daschle on Meet the Press. They expressed support for terrorist surveillance and had not objected to the program when they had been briefed on it. Watch how elegantly Keith explained it all away:
Did they save face there because they didn't protest in 2001, or is there a tactical change here by the Democrats regarding the spying program?
Pay no attention to what they said. It was just face-saving. The Hour of Spin at its finest.
The blizzard (NBC taped report) and celebrity news were followed by the sons of Mickey Mantle. (KO filled that segment with stuff like: I am a consultant with Topps baseball cards... When I was a kid... I did a long interview...) In the Media Matters Minute, Olby selected William Donahue ("worser") from the Soros website. Another conservative was chosen from today's blue blogs (Ann Coulter) as "worse", and a Republican (from the Dept of Veterans Affairs) was "worst person in the world". The pattern holds: never a liberal.
When it was time for KO's heavy-handed signoff, there was an awkward pause, a loud "uh", but no "mission accomplished" reference.
Something needs to be dealt with that got short shrift on Thursday. Quoting Keith Olbermann:
"We also note that it is our understanding that Mr. Libby testified that he was authorized to disclose information about the NIE to the press by his superiors," Fitzgerald wrote.
Compare what Fitzgerald actually wrote with how KO reported it. According to Fitzgerald's letter, Libby stated he had been authorized to release information about the National Intelligence Estimate, a report prepared by the various intelligence agencies for the President. (The NIE was itself declassified and released openly to the press days later.) For all his tabloid sensationalism, Olby never once tells his viewers that this quote from Fitzgerald is about the NIE, not an all-encompassing permission slip to willy-nilly release "information". And certainly not any kind of authorization to leak the name of Valerie Plame.
But there was more to the report. David Shuster, an NBC correspondent, was brought in to give the details and analysis. Now Olbermann's obfuscations surely would be clarified.
Shuster came on to read from the actual Fitzgerald letter. To make the point that you were getting the straight story, he waved the document in front of the camera:
Shuster then purported to quote from the letter and here are his words, from the official MSNBC transcript which we have verified with the broadcast itself:
This is a document released by the court. It's a letter from Patrick Fitzgerald to Scooter Libby's legal team. And it says, "As we discussed during our telephone conversation, Mr. Libby testified that he was authorized to disclose information to the press by his superiors."
Now Shuster conflated two different parts of the letter to create his composite quotation, but that's not the key point here. The key point is that Shuster doctored Fitzgerald's quote, surgically removing three critical words: "about the NIE". Fizgerald's quote of Libby was specifically about the NIE leak that occurred in July of 2003, not the Valerie Plame leak or any other leak. During the entire conversation between Olbermann and Shuster--in fact, during that entire broadcast of The Hour of Spin--the NIE was never mentioned. Not once.
It's bad enough when Olby spins the news to suit his agenda. But here we have an NBC News correspondent who is supposed to be a responsible journalist. David Shuster took it upon himself to cut and paste Fitzgerald's words, while waving the document in front of the camera to lead viewers to believe they were getting the truth. And by the sheerest of coincidences, his rewrite just happened to conform to Keith Olbermann's spin of the day.
Friday's Countdown opened as each installment of The Hour of Spin opens: a parade of every anti-administration story Olby could scour up from the usual print, broadcast, and blue blog sources. We got FEMA, we got Homeland Security, we got Scooter Libby, we got Abramoff and his photo collection. Katrina was described by KO as "a tipping point in the history of the Bush administration". Wishful thinking.
And here we find a strange, but not unexpected, OlbySwerve. Michael Brown, the target of relentless harpooning by Keith, all of a sudden today was a hero. He did a "heckuva job" testifying. By sheer and utter coincidence, that's the same stance that some Democrats, eager to implicate higher-ups, took today. Imagine that. Richard Wolffe from Newsweek was the designated Olbermann facsimile and properly echoed the host's talking points. Keith fell in with the Democratic spin o' the day:
Sen Coleman's grilling of former Secretary Brown: it sounded great, it sounded at points bipartisan, but was he buying into Brown's finger-pointing, was he deflecting criticism away from the White House...?
Gee, what do you think, Keith? When you were pounding "Brownie", were you deflecting criticism from the White House? Or were you just settling for whatever target you could find, until the possibility of a higher-placed victim opened up for you? Just like the Dems? Wolffe fell right into line, defending Brown and claiming that his emails were being unfairly taken "out of context". Of course, when it was expedient to do so, Olby had repeatedly splashed those emails on the screen, ridiculing Brown and what he wrote. Wolffe, ever deferential, made no mention of that, and you can be sure that KO didn't either. Why bother? To Keith, the credulous lemmings who dote on The Hour of Spin won't even remember.
After a taped FEMA report (regurgitated from the mothership), the next item on Olbermann's Agenda was Jack Abramoff. KO opened the segment with a reference to Richard Nixon--always a handy way to associate Nixon with George W Bush. You think we are overreaching? In just the next sentence, that's exactly what Keith did:
George W Bush's memory may rival Nixon's.
It was about how many times Bush met Abramoff, emails, who remembers what, blah blah blah. The purpose of this segment became clear when David Shuster was brought in so he and Olby could engage in several minutes of speculation.
Is it possible Bush just doesn't remember meeting Abramoff? According to Dave:
No I don't think it's possible at all.Not possible? A square circle: not possible. Being in two places at once: not possible. The President forgetting he met someone: not exactly in that league. Shuster did admit that something else was possible:
It's possible I suppose that the President wants to forget him, but the betting here in Washington is that on this one Jack Abramoff is the one that's telling the truth.
Other programs give you the news. Reporters in the field. Fact-based analysis. Spirited debate. "Top newsmakers". Only on Countdown can you get genuine, certified rumor, gossip, and innuendo, verified by the latest gambling line in DC. After Judge Shuster rendered his verdict in the Abramoff matter, they went on to try to implicate Bush, Karl Rove, or Andy Card in The Great Leak Case. No odds were quoted for that wager.
Following "oddball", Keith ventured into that hockey scandal again, bringing in Roger Cossack (of ESPN, formerly of CNN) to explain it all. Is A-Mess-NBC so short on legal analysts that KO had to recruit outside talent? Next came non-lethal church poisonings in Maine, a story so minor that they had to recycle a taped report from a local station. Still, it played into the frame of Christians being bizarre and unstable. Celebrity news, and then political bloopers rounded out the hour.
Did we say bloopers? What a great opportunity to revisit again Bush confusing library tower with liberty tower. When Keith ran a clip from the Los Angeles mayor, the irony of it all was overwhelming. Yesterday KO insisted that the mayor "certainly did not know that the [President's] speech was coming", and we showed how wrong Olby was. Now, just to put a ribbon around that, today the mayor himself was asked if he knew the speech was coming. He replied:
Yes. I had seen it on tv, and had heard about it from my staff, that he would be making comments... We knew some of what he was going to divulge, just not all of it.
Talk about bloopers! Here's more untrue Olbermann "information", wrong when he said it the first time, and even wronger (if that's possible--we'll have to consult David Shuster) the next day. Do you think Keith ran this clip, or reported it at all? Do you think The Liar bothered to correct, retract, or apologize? If so, you are living in The Land of Oz. On OlbyPlanet it's always preferable to let false stories stand than admit you were wrong.
Less than 24 hours after his Thursday night appearance on Countdown, terrorism expert Gerald Posner was a guest on Fox News Channel's Dayside. Compare and contrast. On the Hour of Spin, Mr Posner stated:
I think the administration perceives [the threat] as a six to seven. Many of us who follows this view it right now, as a threat to America, as a two or three.... [A small weapon of mass destruction] is the real potential threat. But that's a long-term threat. That can take place anywhere from now to literally the next 10 or 15 years. Otherwise, the threat level I think is lower today than it has been in the last couple of years.
On Dayside, Mr Posner put it this way:
There are other areas, such as railway travel, walking through Grand Central, subway trains, where we haven't made those improvements at all, but on airplanes I think we've taken big strides.... Remember on 9/11 how we were all surprised, we were stunned?... The next attack that takes place in America is likely to be one where we all sit there that day and the morning after and say, who would've thunk it? Who would've thought that they would have used this form of an attack on us?
As for the release of this information and its timing, Posner agreed with KO that the US government was now like the totalitarian one in the novel 1984, and added:
The Bush administration is using terror as a political weapon, and making sure that it does turn on the fear spigot when it wants to, and turn it off at other times.... The Bush administration does it relentlessly, and they do it very effectively.
Meanwhile on Dayside, that same issue elicited this response:
This is one of the things that says: by the way, we have other important things. Remember, we are in a war against terrorism here. And I think it's a very good reminder.
It's an outrage. We asked in the comments here earlier today if Olbermann & Company would criticize the timing of the news of a foiled terror strike on Los Angeles. Did they live up to expectations? Like Pavlov's dogs in a bell-testing factory. More on that, but first, the evening's prime example of OlbySpin:
How come the mayor of L.A. says nobody told him the President was revealing this?
The mayor of L.A. saying he did not know all the information that was in the speech today. He certainly did not know the speech was coming.
All that sounds convincing to the gullible, but The Liar is not telling the whole story. Scott McClellan revealed that the White House did notify the appropriate officials involved. In fact, the California Department of Homeland Security issued a statement:
Matt Bettenhausen, our director, communicated directly via phone and e-mail with the mayor's staff yesterday afternoon about the president's speech.
The mayor's staff confirmed this contact. But according to KO the mayor "certainly did not know the speech was coming". And not one word about the notifications that were made. That, class, is why it is called The Hour of Spin.
Olby talked with Gerald Posner, who pooh-poohed the seriousness of this threat, while simultaneously saying how it damaged national security to make it public. And KO brought up another of his notions that he had expounded on at some length earlier in the show: the psychological significance of the fact that the President called Library Tower "Liberty Tower". Posner served as a Xerox machine for every Olbermann fantasy, and then Keith did exactly what we predicted he would do:
My stomach is queasy as I ask this: in the context of this today and what you have seen, are we far enough removed from that component of the novel 1984, the part where the government turns a kind of terror faucet on and off to scare the public into acquiescing to whatever it wants to do?
Posner, of course, said we are at that point. No surprise. He wants to be invited back.
And in the blink of an eye, the topic switched to The Great Leak Case. No, not the leak of the NSA program. No, not the leak of the CIA overseas prisons. Those weren't leaks; they were whistle-blowers. Of course, it's the Valerie Plame/Scooter Libby kerfuffle.
David Shuster, hyperactively bellowing like an attendee at a Tourette's convention, talked to KO about a report that Libby was going to raise the defense that he was authorized to release classified information by his "superiors". At some point in the discussion it occurred to somebody that this makes zero legal sense, as he's not charged with leaking, but with lying. Which makes the original report nonsense. Nonetheless, it was worth a good five minutes on The Hour of Spin.
Using a reference to a literary quote from 1697 (is this supposed to convince people that Olby is oh-so-smart?), he led into the #4 story about former FEMA foreman Michael Brown, reported by Norah O'Donnell. A little shot at CNN's use of the "breaking news" logo led into "Oddball", then the Muslim cartoon controversy and Karen Hughes (Huh? Why would she have anything to do with this?) via a regurgitated NBC report. Olby then spoke with a Muslim stand-up comedian, who opined:
I don't think that anybody intended it to get this out of hand.
Right. That's why they were shopping these photos all over the Middle East until they found someone who ready to stir up some foment about them. As the guy tried to make a few small jokes, KO used the gruff, forced laughter that he affects, oblivious to the fact that its phoniness is as obvious as a sledgehammer to the groin. The #2 story was the true crime saga of the Entwhistle case (rerun from NBC) and the usual batch of celebrity news; #1 a hockey scandal.
The Media Matters minute was a trifecta for the Soros site. All three Olby picks came from today's listings. The runners-up were Fox News (for illustrating the destruction of Library Tower with a clip from Independence Day), and Glenn Beck (for some peculiar comments on the King funeral). The winner was Fox again, for a clip of Rev Lowery's remarks at the funeral. According to Keith:
When Fox News Channel ran the tape of Lowery's remark it cut the applause to nine seconds.
Reality check, part one: Olby is talking about a montage of clips from the funeral that was run as part of the Special Report panel segment on Thursday, two days after the event. It was a bunch of brief clips of what people said that was run to kick off the discussion. Got that? It was not how Fox reported the event when it happened. On the day of the funeral, Fox did not cut the applause to nine seconds, or cut out the ovation as the Soros site claimed:
As this report ran, in fact, Carl Cameron was reporting on Fox, "That brought the crowd to their feet". So much for that. But back to Olby:
Morton Kondracke came on and said, "The crowd did not go as wild as you, as it sounded as though it did at the time."... He was surprised that there was not more applause after they edited out the applause.
But our Keith is once again leaving out something. Mort first said:
What was interesting to me was, when I saw it -- and on this tape, the crowd did not go as wild...
Note: Kondracke says he saw the address before these clips were aired. He knew he was just seeing clips. He said nothing about "not enough applause"; he spoke of how enthusiastic the audience response was, not how long it lasted. But misrepresentation is all in a day's work for Olby. Now his masters at Media Matters will thank him for doing their dirty work, and obediently put up a video of this segment, thereby raising the mutual back-scratching between Keith and George Soros to the next level.
Compared with the propaganda and distortion of this Thursday edition of The Hour of Spin, Olby's snarky sign-off is small potatoes. We'll deal with it another time.
It's our fault and we take full responsibility. We should have known that with Olby and The Hour of Spin you can't take anything for granted, even something as routine as a sign-off.
We pledge that we will redouble our efforts to fulfill our Olbermann watching duties: every word, every sneer, every crumpled paper toss, every raised eyebrow, even if it means putting up with Michael Musto.
Hump day at The Hour of Spin reminds us what a Republican lawmaker has to do to get interviewed there: break with the administration. After a short blurb about an evacuation in DC, Olby gave us a history lesson about all the many Wilsons in US history. The pretentious and wholly transparent buildup was for Rep Heather Wilson, a GOPer who wants a review of the NSA surveillance program. You'll never see anyone expressing support for the program, especially a Republican, get this kind of star treatment from Keith. In fact, you'll never see them on with Keith at all. Persons who dissent from The Great Olbermann need not apply.
After that fawning interview, and more updates on the evacuation, Olby switched into "I told you so" mode, trumpeting the fact that he predicted conservatives would disapprove of the politicking at the Rosetta Scott King funeral. The "conservative white men" critics were "like Pavlov's dog". You mean like how easy it is to predict the political bent of every guest who appears on Countdown? KO cited Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin (that well known conservative white man), and then, to get a balanced perspective on it, conducted fawning interview #2 with the most incendiary speaker at the event, Joseph Lowery. One of his questions:
To your knowledge, sir, was Dr King ever in the kind of position you were in yesterday, did he ever eulogize a, uh uh, friend, a loved one, a civil rights leader, and introduce the political topics of the day, um, at that time?
Lowery's answer was basically "I don't know", but of course the question itself is loaded in KO's typical style. How about asking about a eulogy, delivered with living Presidents and ex-Presidents present, at a funeral of national import, televised live throughout the US and all over the world?
To his credit, Keith did quote Andrew Young (another well known conservative white man), who did not approve of the comments. To his discredit, he didn't interview Young or any other critic. No point in going overboard.
Skipping "oddball" for another evacuation update, the Muslim cartoon controversy was covered by a regurgitated NBC report. MSNBC courageously blocked off the screen the cartoons themselves. Also, the piece from the mothership did not mention that the cleric who was shopping these around to whip up the riots included several unpublished depictions that were not part of the original twelve at all.
A scientific find (a so-called "lost world" of rare animals), lost luggage, and the final evacuation update (we think that made at least four) concluded the Hour of Spin. The worst persons were a bank and "your federal government" for temporarily freezing an account that had no social security number or photo ID on file (it turned out to be for a convent). For the third night in a row, no Media Matters attacks or prominent politicians/commentators in this segment. How long can this last?
Olby began Tuesday's Countdown by making the lead not just the Coretta Scott King funeral, but more particularly the anti-Bush comments made there. Just to make the point, he ran those clips twice. Keith, for no reason, brought up how Bush was booed at the Pope's funeral, and called in Dana Milbank to take his bait with comments like how the President is used to "prescreened audiences". This is probably the first time in recent memory that KO and Drudge ran similar headlines. Of course, Olby had a different spin, suggesting that "conservatives" would write columns about a possible backlash.
In the #4 slot KO began a report on Karl Rove's so-called "blacklist" with a historical analogy to the blacklist of the 1950s and Nixon's "enemies list". Hey, another Nixon comparison, two nights in a row! The story comes from Insight magazine, a conservative publication that, to our knowledge, Olbermann has never once used as a source for anything. But since they have a juicy tidbit about Rove, all of a sudden they are a valued resource. Then it was back to NSA "spying" and the FISA court, via a regurgitated, and superficial, NBC taped piece.
After oddball, the #3 story was an amalgam of church burning and cartoon protests overseas, the latter via another taped rerun from NBC. From there on out it was full speed ahead into fluff and sleaze, with celebrities, scantily-clad female valets, and Brittney Spears, with the creepy Michael Musto again. Hard news, courtesy of The Hour of Spin.
It's Monday night, and right off the bat, Keith Olbermann played to the extremist crowd that he's counting on to lift Countdown's ratings from the basement:
If the Republican chairman of the Senate committee investigating the wiretaps says the wiretaps were illegal, and the President says he personally authorized the wiretaps, doesn't that mean the President should be impeached?
Olby then used a 30-year-old quote from Frank Church to introduce a report on today's NSA hearing. Yes, the same Frank Church who championed the emasculation of the CIA and its human intelligence that led to 9/11. Keith noted that the Attorney General did not take the oath:
Mr Specter, though, telling Secretary Gonzales, excuse me, Attorney General Gonzales, that it was not necessary, ultimately skipping the step.
What's missing here? Specter's explanation: the penalties for a false official statement are equivalent to those of perjury, and practice over the years has not generally been to require that sitting attorneys general be sworn. Richard Wolffe showed up and discussed this issue, but of course just said that, well, it's discretionary with the committee chairman, not giving Specter's reasons. Wolffe was carbon paper for Olby.
Then, to explain the "legal merits" of Gonzales's arguments, Keith turned to...whom? John Dean! Hmm. What will he say? That's the least mysterious question since "What time does the 6 o'clock news begin?" Eager to again link George Bush to Nixon, Olby came up with this gem:
Was not most of Richard Nixon's presidency predicated on the idea that the nation was in imminent peril from threats foreign and especially domestic?
Then, it's another run-on KO exhortation to Democrats to become even more radical:
If Congress believes, turning to this current situation, that it did not authorize the President to do these kind of freelance wiretaps, and Senator Specter's remarks suggest it's not entirely a partisan issue, that there's doubt in many quarters on the administration's side of things, why not have, or why is Congress not moving toward passing some sort of action that says, by the way, we did not authorize the President to do this, please read and sign?
In another of the world's least mysterious questions, Keith asked the convicted felon if Bush had committed an impeachable offense. You can guess Dean's response. Then KO, based on a comment by Senator Kennedy, wondered about the legalities of court cases. Only our Olby would asked a disbarred lawyer for legal advice.
The #4 story (Muslim riots) was covered with a regurgitated NBC report. Then Oddball, followed by the Al-Qaeda prison break. "Analyst" Juliette Kayyem, who had questioned the Iraq elections and their resultant legitimacy, was the interviewee. Next another recycled report from the mothership on the Musawi trial, and finally a piece on, what else, the Super Bowl.
So tonight we learned how the Attorney General can testify for an entire day, and almost no actual news from his testimony makes it to The Hour of Spin. Oh, early on KO ran a brief clip of Gonzales talking about George Washington and FDR, and another about the cumbersome nature of the FISA process. But what about the Attorney General's carefully reasoned legal arguments, referencing Supreme Court cases like US v Hamdi? What of his explanation about how the program does not engage in "data mining" and has been extremely limited? The latter contradicts an earlier OlbyReport about the "millions of Americans" involved, so maybe that's why The Liar didn't bother to let it--or any of Gonzales's points--be heard. We know how Olby dislikes corrections.
The moral of the story? Countdown is no more a "news hour" than 60 minutes of Savage Nation.
Friday's Countdown began with Keith Olbermann complaining that the Scooter Libby trial will be so far in the future that it won't affect the mid-term elections. Incredibly this was Olby's top story of the night, even as, for two days in a row, he ignored CIA head Porter Goss, who called for a grand jury investigation of the NSA surveillance leak. Anyone gullible enough to make Olby their only source of news would have no idea Director Goss even testified, let alone what he said. After a rehash of the whole Rove-Libby-Cooper-Plame sequence of events (as if we hadn't had it pounded into our craniums ad nauseam by KO over the past months) Keith fixated on a missing email, suggesting that someone may have deliberately destroyed it. Evidence? None.
Next was rehash #2: the same report that he talked about yesterday, from the far-left Guardian. At least Olby named the paper yesterday; tonight he was even more discreet about the source, twice describing it as "British media". Of course any excuse to revisit Iraq was enough to be worthy of another "top newsmaker" interview, and in this case it was Pat Buchanan. Buchanan? Don't think that KO was committing fairness here. A rabid opponent of the Iraq War, Pat came up with all the catch phrases that make Keith salivate: "blank check", "nonsense", "the Bush foreign policy could collapse in failure", "Iraq is George Bush's war".
The ship lost at sea was #4, but only after Olby introduced it with another of his pretentiously obscure historical references. After a regurgitated NBC report on that subject, another followed on the church burnings in Alabama. KO managed to pull another little trick, twice mentioning that "some" of the churches had mostly white congregations. In fact, as the taped piece pointed out, only one of the five was a black church. A few days ago, 51% was rightly described by KO as "a majority" (when it was the President's disapproval rating), but tonight, 80% was "some".
Then more NBC reruns: a shooting, and sexual predators. The latter dealt with the dangers of the internet, but focused mostly on myspace.com. By coincidence, myspace.com was recently purchased by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Then a segment on the Super Bowl parties (another tape regurgitated from NBC--what kind of budget do they give our Keith anyhow?), celebrities, and a special best-of-the-month montage of those uproarious oddball videos.
Given that some... No, given that a majority of tonight's Hour of Spin was either tape regurgitated from the mothership or rehashed detritus of Countdowns gone by, this broadcast must have cost A-Mess-NBC about as much as their 89th rerun of Headliners and Legends: Drew Barrymore. Which, in case you missed it, will be on tomorrow afternoon.
Olby began the Thursday Hour of Spin by misrepresenting a controversy being stoked by the blue blogs:
The State of the Union Address: part of it retracted after the President spoke it.
He was referring to Bush's goal of replacing 75% of Middle East oil imports by 2025:
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman telling reporters on a conference call, "This was purely an example".
That was it, that was the totality of Keith's reportage on this matter. What isn't he telling us this time? The rest of what Bodman said:
He said the broad goal was to displace foreign oil imports, from anywhere, with domestic alternatives...it would be very difficult to reduce imports from any single region, especially the most oil-rich region on Earth.
So our man Keith leaves the impression that the whole proposal was nothing more than "an example", when Bodman was referring only to one aspect: the oil being from the Middle-East. But Olbermann's Spin Machine was just getting started.
KO did an interview with Roger Cressey about "Bush's claim" that the NSA surveillance could have helped prevent 9/11. Actually General Hayden, former NSA head, made that claim, and he should know. But Olby was only interested in focusing on how recklessly stupid Bush is for putting it in a speech. Cressey described it as "creative liberty": evidence without a conclusion. As icing on the cake, KO quoted the far-left Guardian, not the most reliable of sources, about an alleged secret memo claiming that Bush was going to invade Iraq even if they didn't have WMD. Of course, to Olby The Guardian is just a "British newspaper". No point in telling viewers about its biases, or the fact that it tried to prevent George Bush from being elected. Nah, they're just an ordinary, generic "British newspaper".
Next, an obligatory snippet from NSA hearings was aired. What a surprise, the only clip shown was of a Democrat criticizing Bush! And just when you think it can't get any deeper, the giggling Craig Crawford was brought in. As is usual, KO's line of questions was one negative after another, and Olbermann's Brain obediently cackled, "There is a credibility problem." Next Keith went back to a golden oldie, the clip of Bush talking about wiretaps and warrants. Olby intoned:
I know this is being spun so that it won't be, again, taken literally...Where are the Democrats on this?
KO likes nothing better than to bait Democrats into being as reckless as he is. And Brain joined in:
I think they're just loathe to come right out there and call the President a liar.
By the way, Keith, one of the people doing the "spinning" about that clip is the guy who was your guest just two days ago: Dana Milbank. Remember how he told you the clip and the NSA program were really not about the same thing? We know a blow to the head can affect retention capabilities, but really, it was just Tuesday. Or is it that you were desperate to counteract what Milbank let slip with some more spin of your own?
There was a brief report (i.e. commentary) about the election of John Boehner as the GOP leader in the house. The Liar talked about Boehner's "ethical questions" (which just happen to mirror what was in today's Democratic National Committee press release). While again Olby found only negatives to report about Boehner, at least this time he pronounced his name right.
The #4 story was a regurgitated NBC report about corruption in the rebuilding of Iraq, introduced with pseudo-literary references to a dead sportswriter and a Greek philosopher. #3 was the eagerly anticipated, long-awaited Michael Schiavo interview. Just for laughs, let's see what politicians they targeted: Tom DeLay, George Bush, the "clueless" Rick Santorum, Bill Frist, Jeb Bush. Hmm, what do those names all have in common? Left unsaid was exactly what the federal legislation that was so controversial actually did. It didn't overrule the local courts; it didn't take over jurisdiction. It merely gave a right of federal review, the same right that obtains in cases involving civil rights and the death penalty.
After that display, we got a delightful reminiscence of one of Olby's dating experiences, to introduce a regurgitated piece on recorded subway announcements. A segment on planets wrapped up the hour.
And then there's the Media Matters Minute. Bill O'Reilly was "worse" (attack #60), because he criticized Christiane Amanpour. It's quite a nice scam Olby has going with Media Matters. He parrots their spin on Countdown, then they reciprocate by giving him free publicity on their website, complete with video clips. What's next? Maybe Olby will report on the Media Matters video clips of Olbermann reporting the quotes reported by Media Matters. Such incestuous behavior is repellent in its own right, but when it involves Keith, it really ain't pretty.
Wednesday's Countdown began with Olby reading negative headlines about the State of the Union address. Because, obviously, there were no positive headlines. Anywhere. Then he reads one from Robert Novak, who was not that impressed with the speech. Novak? The man who was named "worst person in the world"? The same. When he doesn't like a Bush speech, he suddenly becomes a quote-worthy respected newsman.
KO described the address as a bunch of "regurgitated" arguments, then brought on Richard Wolffe, asking a series of questions, every one of them framed from a negative perspective. Because, obviously, there was nothing positive about the speech. Anywhere.
Then Keith got around to the arrests of Cindy Sheehan and Beverly Young. Even with a photo to use as a cheat sheet, Olby misquoted what was written on Young's T-shirt. (Olby? Misquote someone?) But then The Liar pulled one of those stunts that encapsulates why his show is truly The Hour of Spin:
Overnight reaction to the State of the Union address hard to measure accurately, if only because, at least according to a CBS News poll, more Republicans watched the speech than did Democrats.
Yes? And? ... The results of that poll? Oh, don't bother with that. Keith Olbermann, your gatekeeper, has decided you shouldn't know. A check of CBS News tells us a few things. The Rep/Dem breakdown in this poll was 36% (R) /28% (D). By comparison, a January poll of all Americans had a ratio of 29% (R) / 34% (D). So that's about a swing of 10 percentage points toward the Republicans. How badly did that distort the poll? The key result: views of the speech's proposals. Approve: 77%. Disapprove: 23%.
You could swing that 10% the other way--you could swing it 20%--and it would still show people approved of the speech. So Olby goes out of his way not to report the results. Another Classic of Spin from The Liar.
In the #4 slot was a preview of an interview to be shown at excruciating length on Thursday: Michael Schiavo. Keith introduced him as "the man who felt the most, but said the least". This, of course, is free PR for Schiavo's PAC, which will target Republicans and religious conservatives. So KO rushes to give it two night's worth of unpaid advertising. Because, obviously, no Republican or conservative PAC is worthy of getting that kind of time from The Liar. On the bright side, however, how many people will see it?
A recycled--excuse me, regurgitated--NBC report on a police shooting opened the #3 segment, with the notorious lefty Melanie Lomax there to give one side of the story. Because, obviously, there was nobody who could possibly have given the other side. Then a regurgitated true crime story, introduced with a lengthy, pompous recollection of the Lizzie Borden case.
In the final slot, Mo Rocca, another of Countdown's "top newsmakers", was to discuss the State of the Union. After watching a parade of one, two, three True Believers parroting Olbermann-approved views, we were in no mood for a fourth. The Mo & Olby Show was just too much for us to stomach. If KO made another O'Reilly attack during that bit, somebody let us know so we can keep our running count up to date.