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"COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN" (8:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M. ET)
Host: Keith Olbermann
Now this is the Krazy Keith we know and love. Kick off the opening spiel with a classic Olbyism:
24 Iraqi citizens, including unarmed women and children, shot deliberately by US Marines.
That's our Keith. None of those silly legalities like "alleged" or "accused". Just declare guilt and prepare to pass sentence. KO later slips in that it's a "preliminary conclusion", which legally doesn't even rise to the level of an indictment, but such fine points don't carry much weight on The Hour of Spin. This was the lead in to an interview with the author of a "remarkable new book" that is a "devastating critique" of--guess who?--George Bush! Krazy Keith read generously from the "extraordinary" book before introducing Ricks. And if you think we overstated KO's eagerness to declare Haditha guilt before a court is even convened, consider his first question to Ricks:
The unnamed Pentagon official's revelation of the Naval Criminal Investigation findings, does it not transform Haditha from an, an awful allegation to a, a virtually confirmed war atrocity?
Of course it does! An anonymous leak of a preliminary finding clearly means that it's a proven war crime. No need to even hold a trial. Get the ropes and let's have ourselves a hanging! (Why does Keith Olbermann hate our troops? Why does Keith Olbermann hate the US Constitution?) Ricks moved quickly to place the blame on leadership and the training, and opined that incidents such as this were not isolated. KO and Ricks wrapped the interview with some Rummy bashing and the author's claim that he hasn't received a single critical email from anyone in the military.
The chat wasn't that long, so Olby could squeeze in Middle East developments before the first commercial break. No reports, not even pre-taped, in KO's two minutes of war coverage, and at just 13 minutes into the hour, the first block ended with more teasing of the Mel Gibson story.
In the #4 segment, Olby had his own, bizarre spin on the charges filed against Mel, that they only filed "minor counts" against him. Clearly the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann is as ignorant of charging practices in Los Angeles as he is of voting patterns in Florida. Susan Filan tried to explain to Olby that charges like "disorderly conduct" are mere infractions that wouldn't affect the end result. Amazingly, the Gibson story was Too Big For Just One Segment, and KO teased Even More Mel as he went to a break.
Following Oddball, the #3 story was headlined "D.C. Follies", a handful of fluffy items about who rides in Senatorial elevators, "freedom fries", and the renovation of the briefing room. Dana Milbank, shorn of wacky wear, made lame jokes, and Olby served up phony, forced laughter. For some reason, the Bush at a locked door photo made another appearance. This segment ran barely seven minutes, and concluded with more teasers for Mel Gibson.
In the #2 slot, Monica Novotny presented a collection of video clips from Japanese game shows, followed by Michael Jackson, Angelina Jolie, and another teaser for More Mel. The disturbing Michael Musto resurfaced again in the #1 slot to extend even further Countdown's latest tabloid obsession. The Creepy One told The Schmuck that Gibson's worst nightmare is "a gay Jew with a lot of hair".
So the continued tabloidization of Countdown tonight brought us two (count 'em, two!) complete program blocks dedicated to Mel Gibson. Another block served up game shows and celebrities. Serious coverage (Haditha, the Middle East) got 12 minutes; if the ephemera with Milbank is counted as "serious" that makes a total 19 minutes of substance on the latest Hour of Spin. Dan Abrams rubs his hands in glee as A-Mess-NBC continues its voyage to the bottom of the barrel.