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"COUNTDOWN WITH KEITH OLBERMAN" (8:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M. ET)
Host: Keith Olberman
Tonight was a night for fear and scare tactics. Only it was Krazy Keith's turn to play the fear card, and wallow in his own self-indulgent scare tactics. The snake-oil salesman of cable news barked the headlines in his best carnival pitchman style: "Mister" Bush & Maliki, the "right-wing goes ape" over Danny DeVito, the "fascism" of News Gingrich [plug 1 for the latest Speshul Komment], Russian spy radiation poisoning, and Shamu.
Kicking off The Hour of Spin proper from LA, the infamous, deplorable Keith Olberman wove a tale about the leaked Maliki memo. "Entire passages of that document" sound like criticism of "Mister" Bush, declaimed Edward R Olberman. Krazy Keith intro'd Cillizza by talking about the delay in the Bush/Maliki meeting as "symbolism". ("Metaphor" had the night off.) KO was irritated that "Mister" Bush was "waving off" ideas leaked by the Baker Commission, but Cillizza said "pragmatism" will ultimately take over. He also eagerly adopted KO's notion about the Maliki memo really describing Bush, and ergo got great thanksed.
A recycled NBC report on the Baker Commission led "Fat Ass" Olberman to great thanks the unspooling tape, plus teases for another O'Reilly attack, the "right-wing attack machine", and the S.K.. The deranged one returned to go after "right-wing commentators" who were "grasping at straws". Attack #135 was on Bill O'Reilly for daring to criticize Danny DeVito. As an impartial analyst for all this right-wing eeevil, Mr Merkle brought in a political strategist. And, by golly, what a surprise, it just turned out to be a Democrat political strategist. What a coincidence (see: The List)!
It wasn't enough for Olby to attack Mr Bill, he also went after those who made criticisms of Nancy Pelosi (with defenses lifted almost verbatim from ThinkProgress, sans acknowledgement), Barack Obama, and others. Joe Trippi was happy to join in the nonpartisan analysis of the pathetic, contemptible, and always eeevil right-wingers, who will "pay the price". No surprise that he was great thanksed.
After another Pulitzer-nominated dose of oddball (which incorporated O'Reilly attack #136) and more plugs for the S.K., came the Russian poisoning cases. The story was relegated to more rerun video from NBC, and followed by more teases for the S.K. Next: more regurgitated reporting from the network mothership (the eeevil right-wing terrorist whale, Shamu), an alligator who was inspired to attack a naked man by the hate speech of Ann Coulter, The Wiggles, Anna Nicole Smith's uterus, a plug for (what else?) the Speshul Comment.
In the Media Matters Minute, Monkeyman went after all those who dared disagree with Bob Wright, the plastics tycoon, about the Iraq civil war. Rodger Hedgecock (conservative), O'Reilly (Fox, and attack #137--three in one show, an Hour of Spin record!), and "bozo" Brent Bozell (conservative). This last was especially brainless, criticizing the BB-gun for saying generals in the field don't agree with the "civil war" term by quoting some who have said Iraq could be headed to a civil war. Hey Dopeyman, that's exactly Bozell's point. Heading for something is not the same thing as being there. Olby may be headed toward certifiable lunacy; that doesn't mean he's already safely ensconced in Bellevue.
Finally, held for the last possible Nielsen minute, the Speshul Komment [see APPENDIX below]. It had everything--carefully scripted dramatic head bobs, bouncing eyebrows, stentorian tones, and a fistful of supercilious arrogance. Everything except the usual target. No, Rev Olberman didn't go after "Mister" Bush this time. You'll recall how he recently said that with the Dems in power, he might go after them? Silly rabbit. That just doesn't happen on OlbyPlanet. Instead, he turned his wrath on Newt Gingrich, a man who holds no office and weilds no power. A man whom the coward won't even talk to first-hand, preferring instead to smear from afar. Keith "Man on Fan" Olberman painted a paranoid picture of incipient fascism and totalitarianism, Olby's very own playing of the fear card, based on a few words of someone he's too cowardly to face. He had the nerve to pontificate:
I will awaken every day of my life thankful that you are entitled to tell me about it.
You ain't kidding nobody, Monkeyman. The last thing in the world you would ever want is to have Mr Gingrich sitting across from you on the Countdown set. You might actually learn something about what he is proposing, and possibly, maybe, even understand it better. But that will never happen, will it, Mister Olbermann, Sir?!?
Silent Schnauzers: The Pope in Turkey? Not news. The Secretary of State in the Middle East? Not news. Consumer spending up? Not news. The discredited sports guy has pounded everyone from Michelle Malkin to an ex-girlfriend who dumped him for words that "encourage" or "inspire" violence. It should surprise no one that he has been completely silent about James Webb talking about punching George Bush in the face. It's one thing to give tons of free publicity to the agenda of Congressional Democrats, but it's quite another to tell when the Dems reject one of the key 9/11 commission proposals that they claimed they would implement. Nothing from Herr Olberman about the American Taliban guilty plea. You'll recall he made a big story of "flying while Muslim", but continues to spike the new information that continues to emerge. And still KO refuses to tell his viewers how Jack Abramoff has pointed the finger of corruption at none other than Sen Harry Reid.
Olbermann's book The book that bears Olberman's name plunged to #511 at amazon, while Mr Bill's "Culture Warrior" has risen to #13. At Barnes & Noble the OlbyTome languishes at #1,647, while O'Reilly's book is back up to #17. And nine weeks since it hit the stores, Mr Bill's literary triumph is still #3 on the New York Times Best Sellers list. The Tuesday night ratings were a humiliating embarrassment for Citizen Keith. According to Mr Nielsen, KO circled the drain in a miserable fifth place. Krazy Keith lost to The Factor, Paula Zahn, Nancy Grace, and even a rerun of Deal or No Deal, both in total viewers and in the critical, beloved, all-important, coveted "key demo". Tonight's MisterMeter reading: 5 [ELEVATED]
APPENDIX: The Speshul Komment
Here, as promised, a special comment about free speech, failed speakers and the delusion of grandeur.
"This is a serious long-term war," the man at the podium cried, "and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country."
Some in the audience must have thought they were hearing an arsonist give the keynote address at a convention of firefighters.
This was the annual Loeb First Amendment Dinner in Manchester, N.H. -- a public cherishing of freedom of speech -- in the state with the two-fisted motto "Live Free Or Die."
And the arsonist at the microphone, the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, was insisting that we must attach an "on-off button" to free speech.
He offered the time-tested excuse trotted out by our demagogues since even before the Republic was founded: widespread death, of Americans, in America, possibly at the hands of Americans.
But updated, now, to include terrorists using the Internet for recruitment. End result -- "losing a city."
The colonial English defended their repression with words like these.
And so did the slave states.
And so did the policemen who shot strikers.
And so did Lindbergh's America First crowd.
And so did those who interned Japanese-Americans.
And so did those behind the Red Scare.
And so did Nixon's plumbers.
The genuine proportion of the threat is always irrelevant.
The fear the threat is exploited to create becomes the only reality.
"We will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find," Mr. Gingrich continued about terrorists, formerly communists, formerly hippies, formerly Fifth Columnists, formerly anarchists, formerly Redcoats, "to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech."
Mr. Gingrich, the British "broke up our capacity to use free speech" in the 1770s.
The pro-slavery leaders "broke up our capacity to use free speech" in the 1850s.
The FBI and CIA "broke up our capacity to use free speech" in the 1960s.
It is in those groups where you would have found your kindred spirits, Mr. Gingrich.
Those who had no faith in freedom, no faith in this country, and, ultimately, no faith even in the strength of their own ideas, to stand up on their own legs without having the playing field tilted entirely to their benefit.
"It will lead us to learn," Gingrich continued, "how to close down every Web site that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear and biological weapons."
That we have always had "a very severe approach" to these people is insufficient for Mr. Gingrich's ends.
He wants to somehow ban the idea.
Even though everyone who has ever protested a movie or a piece of music or a book has learned the same lesson:
Try to suppress it, and you only validate it.
Make it illegal, and you make it the subject of curiosity.
Say it cannot be said, and it will instead be screamed.
And on top of the thundering danger in his eagerness to sell out freedom of speech, there is a sadder sound, still -- the tinny crash of a garbage can lid on a sidewalk.
Whatever dreams of Internet censorship float like a miasma in Mr. Gingrich's personal swamp, whatever hopes he has of an Iron Firewall, the simple fact is, technically they won't work.
As of tomorrow they will have been defeated by a free computer download.
Mere hours after Gingrich's speech in New Hampshire, the University of Toronto announced it had come up with a program called Psiphon to liberate those in countries in which the Internet is regulated.
Places like China and Iran, where political ideas are so barren, and political leaders so desperate that they put up computer firewalls to keep thought and freedom out.
The Psiphon device is a relay of sorts that can surreptitiously link a computer user in an imprisoned country to another in a free one.
The Chinese think the wall works, yet the ideas -- good ideas, bad ideas, indifferent ideas -- pass through anyway.
The same way the Soviet bloc was defeated by the images of Western material bounty.
If your hopes of thought control can be defeated, Mr. Gingrich, merely by one computer whiz staying up an extra half hour and devising a new "firewall hop," what is all this apocalyptic hyperbole for?
[insert dramatic look downward to nonexistent notes here]
"I further think," you said in Manchester, "we should propose a Geneva convention for fighting terrorism, which makes very clear that those who would fight outside the rules of law, those who would use weapons of mass destruction, and those who would target civilians are in fact subject to a totally different set of rules, that allow us to protect civilization by defeating barbarism..."
Well, Mr. Gingrich, what is more "massively destructive" than trying to get us to give you our freedom?
And what is someone seeking to hamstring the First Amendment doing, if not "fighting outside the rules of law"?
And what is the suppression of knowledge and freedom, if not "barbarism"?
The explanation, of course, is in one last quote from Mr. Gingrich from New Hampshire and another from last week.
"I want to suggest to you," he said about these Internet restrictions, "that we right now should be impaneling people to look seriously at a level of supervision that we would never dream of if it weren't for the scale of the threat."
And who should those "impaneled" people be?
Funny I should ask, isn't it, Mr. Gingrich?
[insert dramatic look downward to nonexistent notes here]
"I am not 'running' for president," you told a reporter from Fortune Magazine. "I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."
Newt Gingrich sees in terrorism, not something to be exterminated, but something to be exploited.
It's his golden opportunity, isn't it?
"Rallying a nation," you might say, "to hysteria, to sweep us up into the White House with powers that will make martial law seem like anarchy."
That's from the original version of the movie "The Manchurian Candidate" -- the chilling words of Angela Lansbury's character, as she first promises to sell her country to the Chinese and Russians, then reveals she'll double-cross them and keep all the power herself, waving the flag every time she subjugates another freedom.
[look up from nonexistent notes here]
Within the frame of our experience as a free and freely argumentative people, it is almost impossible to conceive that there are those among us who might approach the kind of animal wildness of fiction like that -- those who would willingly transform our beloved country into something false and terrible.
Who among us can look to our own histories, or those of our ancestors who struggled to get here, or who struggled to get freedom after they were forced here, and not tear up when we read Frederick Douglass's words from a century and a half ago?: "Freedom must take the day."
And who among us can look to our collective history and not see its turning points -- like the Civil War, like Watergate, like the Revolution itself -- in which the right idea defeated the wrong idea on the battlefield that is the marketplace of ideas?
But apparently there are some of us who cannot see that the only future for America is one that cherishes the freedoms won in the past, one in which we vanquish bad ideas with better ones, and in which we fight for liberty by having more liberty, not less.
"I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."
What a dark place your world must be, Mr. Gingrich, where the way to save America is to destroy America.
I will awaken every day of my life thankful I am not with you in that dark place.
And I will awaken every day of my life thankful that you are entitled to tell me about it.
And that you are entitled to show me what an evil idea it represents and what a cynical mind.
And that you are entitled to do all that, thanks to the very freedoms you seek to suffocate.