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"COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN" (8:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M. ET)
Host: Keith Olbermann
The operative spin word on tonight's Hour of Spin was "vacation". In just the opening spiel alone, Krazy Keith noted that Bush started his vacation (1) and twice said of the President: "He's on vacation." (2,3) Beginning the top story, Olby talked about Neville Chamberlain going on vacation (4). He tried to claim that because Chamberlain went on vacation (5), World War II started nine days later. He then mentioned that President Bush "started his vacation" (6) today. KO said of the UN resolution that the President was "making it clear that he isn't not actually involved" with some of the diplomatic legwork. (Let's see: he is not not involved...does that mean he is involved?) Since the Secretary of State is taking point on this, Olby said she is "picking up the pieces of the President's foreign policy".
The ever-accomodating Howard Fineman was there to serve as ideological silly putty. The first thing Keith asked was about the President's vacation (7). Howie said the White House claims this is a much shorter vacation (8) than prior getaways. He said Bush is often not at the top of his game when he's in Crawford, and KO asked if anybody there believed in history and why don't they realize that this shouldn't be "business as usual". This was another one of those Olby constructions about why this (or whatever the subject of the day happens to be) is a bad move for Bush. Howie said Bush's August Crawford vacation (9) is sacrosanct, and because he's stubborn nobody will tell him otherwise. The count: one "vacation" reference every 45 seconds. Not exactly subtle, but the essence of propaganda is repetition.
After some chit-chat about Joe Lieberman's tight Senate race, the subject turned to Iraq, with KO again rehashing the testimony from last week by the Generals. Lt Col Francona was asked about "mixed messages" and "discrepancies" and what constitutes a civil war. The reply was that it turned on the "breakdown of the standing Iraqi government". That wasn't good enough for Olby, who cited a UN report about deaths and homelessness and demanded to know:
If that doesn't define civil war, what, where are we in Iraq?
Franconi opined it was more like ethnic cleansing, and said that in an outbreak of actual civil war, virtually all US troops would be pulled back. After another tease for upcoming Cruise News came the first break. The discredited Keith Olbermann returned with the evening's Middle East news. "People continue to die", intoned Keith, as he introduced the usual pre-taped report from NBC. And yes, after this three minutes of coverage ended, Olby gave
"much thanks" "great thanks" to the videotape machine.
This is traditionally where Countdown abandons major news, and today was no exception. After another scintillating edition of oddball (carefully crafted to appeal to the intelligence level of MSNBC viewers), KO delivered a brief update on Floyd Landis (recycled network video), and a longer piece on footage of OJ Simpson (more recycled network video). Then another break, and, naturally, a tease of upcoming Cruise News! Plus, in the middle of the break, he teased it again.
The #2 story was about surgery to separate conjoined twins (more regurgitated network reporting), then on to sneering about Katherine Harris, "Fox Cartoon News Channel", Gene Simmons, and Mel Gibson: Day XII. After still another tease for Cruise News, we finally got there with the #1 story. The creepy Michael Musto covered Cruise, Spears, and the like, and KO contributed phony, forced laughter (the only kind Musto ever engenders).
In the Media Matters Minute, it was a twofer for The Schmuck. First he ragged on John Gibson, claiming Gibby was "playing with facts" for questioning Olby's assertion that he did "218 consecutive shows" on the Lewinsky scandal and "nobody accused me of being a liberal". Krazy Keith's convoluted explanation:
I didn't say I did 218 consecutive shows as in 218 consecutive shows without a day off.... Of course I took days off. They're called "days off".
It all depends on what the meaning of "consecutive" is. Interestingly, KO did not challenge Gibson's report that Keith would refuse to get out of his bathtub, or that he is, and always has been, a liberal. The "worst" position was saved for you-know-who (here's a hint: it's attack #105). Bill's crime: citing the case of a recent rape/murder victim, he said that scantily-clad teenagers shouldn't be out drunk, walking the streets alone, at two in the morning. Sermonized Olby:
You sick, sorry excuse for a human being.
Preach on, Rev Olby. Drunken teenagers should be on the streets alone at 2:00 am. It's so much easier to find them that way, instead of having to find conquests in some hotel room with a cheap bottle of wine and a disposable tie.
Dogs that did not bark: the photoshopped fraudulent Reuters photos (of course). And we got a sterling example of the Olbermann Negative Follow-Up. This is where he hypes a story that fits OlbySpin (example: the Lodi terror trial that was "irretrievably lost"), then ignores it when it doesn't turn out that way he wanted (example: the guilty verdict in said trial).
Tonight's Negative Follow-Up: we all remember the brouhaha Krazy Keith made about a newspaper that was asking its readers to vote on whether to keep Ann Coulter's column or not. He devoted an entire segment to Annie's column, this reader survey, and how she was losing newspapers (well, one anyhow). The newspaper's readership, it turns out, voted to retain Coulter's column. Not one word about that from the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann.
UPDATE: Inside Cable News has noted our write-up and comments that our quote of Keith on Gibson has some "interesting parsing". They give the quote without ellipses, and we will too:
I didn't say I did "218 consecutive shows" as in 218 consecutive shows without a day off. I said WE DID 218 consecutive shows about Clinton/Lewinski. Of course I took days off - they're called days off!
They have a point in that Keith's "out" ("I didn't say 'I', I said 'we'") should have been included. But is that what he said? We have a separate post that answers this question.