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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.