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"COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMANN" (8:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M. ET)
Host: Keith Olbermann
Throughout the day the clear-headed readers of Olbermann Watch have been speculating about which techniques the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann would use to spin the terror plot arrests to fit his agenda. Sure enough, like Pavlov's dog in a bell-testing factory, Olby delivered. We'll ring that bell each time Krazy Keith comes through.
The opening spiel set the tone:
The supposed plotters only began looking at flight schedules last week. [Ding!] ...The President interrupting his vacation not to reassure the nation nor go back to the Capitol, but merely to hit a fund-raiser in Wisconsin. [Ding!] ...Did his Vice-President know, his party national committee chair? Does that explain the unbridled rhetoric about the Democrats in the Connecticut Senate primary vote? [Ding!] ...an administration that has seemingly played politics with mass terror alerts, and how much of this we can all believe! [Ding!]
Four bells in just the opening spiel. Pretty impressive.
But Olby was just warming up:
At first glance it appears that British intelligence has thwarted the biggest terror attack since 9/11...how much of the plot was actually operational? [Ding!] How much of it was feasible? [Ding!] How much of the reaction political? [Ding!] In a moment we will run a smell test on the alleged plot... [Ding!]
KO brought up, twice in five minutes, previous Brit missteps in terror fighting. Suggesting that they are incompetent hours after they thwart a terror attack of this magnitude is something even we didn't predict the discredited sports guy would try, but it's impossible to underestimate the depravity of Krazy Keith. After a taped NBC report Keith gave "great thanks" to the inanimate machine that played it, and did the same with another prerecorded story from Pete Williams. Then a real person showed up, NBC analyst Roger Cressey, who told KO that yes, this was technically feasible. Olby wanted to know why soda bottles (or wine bottles, but he didn't use that example) haven't been banned from planes all along; Cressey said it's a gap in our security. Then KO noted:
Suspects don't have an established link to Al Qaeda that we know of. [Ding!] ...[Investigators] made a conscious decision: roll this up right now. [Ding!]
Unfortunately Cressey went on to inform Keith just how close these guys were to actually executing their plan. That leads us to wonder why KO snarked in his opening spiel that hey, these supposed plotters didn't even check flight schedules until two weeks ago. Well no, it doesn't really lead us to wonder, does it? But Krazy wasn't through:
It was the US that picked up chatter and contact, essentially suggested to, uh, Great Britain that it was time to move. [Ding!]
Aha. That timing issue again. Cressey was magnificent, pointing out that this would have been a go signal from Pakistan, thus making the Al-Qaeda link even more believable. (KO must hate it when MSNBC makes him use their in-house analysts.) Not surprisingly, Keith's next word to Cressey was "lastly", as he hit more spin points:
We have seen time and time again, we have talked about this, instances of earth-shaking terrorists plots being announced, genuine fear being built in this country and other countries, and it turns out later that the plotters were nowhere near as ready nor as sophisticated as originally advertised--I'm thinking of the morons in Florida who couldn't tell the difference between Al Qaeda agent and an FBI plant--the, the, their informants, they seem to let look less like spies and more like enablers, even entrappers... [Ding!]
Our man Roger blew that out of the water conclusively and the first segment concluded, but Olby went to the break as if he hadn't heard a word Cressey said:
We do not know how serious this purported threat was or is... [Ding!]
As the #4 story begins, we're already getting tired of hitting that bell:
...just how imminent and realistic the threat was or is. [Ding!]
NBC's Tom Costello gave a report on the new rules for flyers. Then another "could it really be just coincidence" teaser. [Ding!] An old Lisa Myers report about smuggling explosives onto planes was replayed. Then, going into the break, Olby bemoans "heavy politicizing". [Ding!] And the #3 story was headlined: Politics and Terror:
A year ago the President made it very clear that we're safe here at home, thanks to his war in Iraq. [Ding!] ...There is a political component to all this. [Ding!] ...When Republican Committee chair Ken Mehlman and Vice-President Dick cheney eviscerated Connecticut Democrats for choosing Ned Lamont over Joe Lieberman, and they brought Al-Qaeda into the equation, they at minimum knew a terror story would be breaking shortly. [Ding!]
Stop the tivo! OK, we can buy that the Veep would have known about the investigation. But where in the Wide World of Sports does Keith Olbermann get the idea that the RNC chair also knew about it? The answer is simple: he made it up. Yup, another Olbermann lie.
To the discredited sports guy, because the President was aware of the investigation as far back as Sunday, that's not cooperation between free nations. It's a black helicopter spin point! Perhaps now Krazy Keith will recant his complaints from yesterday that Bush delegated Middle East negotiations to Condi Rice. Yeah, right. Earth to Olbermann: the President was working on something more important!
Countdown Crony Jonathan Alter was next. Yes, this is the "top newsmaker" of the evening. Olby always scores the most coveted "gets" in television news, while nobodies like O'Reilly are stuck interviewing the Homeland Security Secretary. Alter accused Bush of "innuendo" ("that's their game"), then Olby brought up how terror events follow bad political news for Bush. [Ding!] At this point it occured to us that we should have been counting how many times KO said "alleged", "purported", "supposed", etc., in relation to the threat. But that would require that we start watching all over again. Life is just too short.
Alter didn't buy Keith's tin-foil spin point, but The Schmuck wasn't about to give up:
This administration has set the bar so low when it comes to trumpeting its terror arrests... [Ding!] ... Is there a point at which most people start doubting the idea that no government would ever dream of scaring its own people unnecessarily? [Ding!]
Alter said they do use fear [Ding!] but even paranoids have real enemies and there is a real terrorism threat. "There are people out there who want to kill us." And there are things that Krazy Keith will never accept:
The media, ourselves, buying into the whole thing whole hog. [Ding!] What about the role of the media in authenticated that for which we have only the word of two governments, and no other evidence of our own? [Ding!]
Alter said it would be excessively cynical to assume from the get-go that two governments were lying about security matters. How is he getting away with this? Oh yeah, he's an NBC analyst. Damn those network producers, making Olby put these people on. Daily Kos would have been so much better. But there's a reason why Alter was invited, and he came through with talk about "skepticism".
#2 story: Conjoined twins surgery. #1: A kid baseball player was intentionally walked and the next batter was a player suffering with cancer. Olbermann denounced "victory at all costs". No Media Matters Minute tonight, but the incessant Sorosian spin throughout the hour more than made up for it.