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On Thursday night's Hour of Spin, Keith Olbermann was desperate to find some way to make the air assault in Iraq a negative. He settled on the question of whether the President specifically authorized it or not, took Scott McClellan's response (it was authorized by the commanders in the field), and then tried to conflate that into a "Bush didn't even know about it until after it happened" meme. McClellan said no such thing, but that didn't stop Olby from propounding his theory to Time's Michael Duffy:
Does it still politically make the President look less than informed when the Press Secretary has to sort of tap dance around this question, did the President know about this in advance?
To summarize Duffy's answer: No. Then Krazy Keith went on to the new national defense strategy, asking a few sarcastic questions about WMD and the like. Dan Goure, an MSNBC analyst, opined about Operation Swarmer. As is often the case when KO is forced to use an in-house expert rather than one of his ideological cronies, the analysis was fact-based and informative. But that didn't stop KO from trying, with another of his patented run-on leading questions:
Harkening back here to my previous conversation with Michael Duffy, do you find it at all unusual for the military commanders in the field, on an operation of this size, of this impact, perhaps of this symbolic importance, to be acting, in essence, if not independently of the White House, then kind of, to the White House, outside the White House's periphery of vision?
To summarize Goure's answer: No. On to the #4 story, DC scandals. In The Great Leak Case, reporters have been subpoenaed by the Libby defense team. This was deemed a Big Development, yet a minute later, Olby is telling the discredited David Shuster that the subpoenas are no big surprise. But it led the #4 story! Don't try to figure that out. It's that canny Olbermann news judgment again. Shuster went on to talk about how "funny" a Jack Abramoff email was (he was asking friends to serve as character witnesses), while both Shuster and Olby had a good laugh at Katherine Harris and her Senate race. Shuster ingratiated himself by saying that ballots in Florida "are counted a little differently".
Keith introduced "oddball" with a reference to the classic Peter Sellers character, Inspector Clouseau. Or as KO pronounced it, Inspector Clew-Joe. With the #3 story, Countdown became Entertainment Tonight, with a feature on tv shows that kill off characters, and a report on some FCC fines that gave Olby a chance to take a cheap shot at Brent Bozell. The theme continued with the #2 slot, enhanced with the added benefit of a free plug for the NBC show "Deal or No Deal", which conveniently will air tomorrow night. Lots of clips from the show, an explanation of the rules, and Countdown "experts" who say things like "people do not like to lose". This is the kind of intellectual reporting that keeps the erudite throngs who flock to Countdown every night coming back in droves.
After the usual dose of celebrity news, and a "worst persons" segment that dealt with squirrels and dogs, we were treated to Mo Rocca talking about evil twins and rugs (not the one Keith wears, however). What, Michael Musto wasn't available? Once again, Olby cited "the conservative magazine Insight" (the same report that he has been flogging night after night), and brought up fraud-indictee Claude Allen, taking care to note that he was a protege of Clarence Thomas. As is usually the case when Rocca appears, Krazy Keith used that same odd-sounding forced laughter (even The Laughing Stagehand can't bring himself to chuckle at Rocca's shtick). Is it actually possible that Mo makes one long for the insightful, witty repartee of Michael Musto?
And that's The Hour of Spin for this, the 29th day of the Keith Olbermann CoverUp.