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There are lots of ways to lie and Keith Olbermann is an expert in just about all of them - the prevarication, the fib, the whopper, the white lie, misleading through omission, manufacturing quotations, deceit, dishonesty, the "bait and switch", evasion, euphemism, exaggeration, changing the subject, leading astray, silence, false empathy, pretense, pomposity, pretense.
If it's a form of lying Keith has done it and his expertise in the finer points is on full display each night on Countdown.
It's a bit like shooting fish in a barrel to take the time to point out ALL of Keith's lies. The simplest way to understand Olbermann is to realize that he does not tell lies on Countdown. ALL he does on Countdown is tell lies. Every sentence is a carefully woven piece of propaganda that is infested with lies. The entire presentation of information by Keith is one big lie tied to together by lots of little ones with the fig leaf that he is just presenting a "snarky" take on the events of the day.
By the time one would be able to pick apart the totality of the lies broadcast on MSNBC by Olbermann another show would be airing. There is no good way to keep up. But that does not mean one should never take the time to explore Olbermann's words and dissect the lies embedded in his show. The most instructive lessons can be gleaned from exploring Keith's "layered lies", a special form of Olbfuscation that operates in multiple dimensions and on multiple levels all while relying on the willful ignorance of his viewers who do not know or care to know where the truth ends and the lies begin.
You could build a RICO case around just one sentence in an Olbermann script.
Last night on Countdown, Olbermann led off his show claiming the President has resorted to citing anonymous Iraqi bloggers in a speech at a hotel near Capitol Hill. He went on to claim that the President had "descended" into a defense of the entire war by quoting two dentists.
Fortunately, for those seeking the truth, the White House publishes all of Bush's speeches on the White House web site and the one cited by Olbermann is no different.
If Keith had bothered to read the speech he would have known that the speech was well over 5,000 words, lasting three-quarters of an hour and contained precisely two sentences from the bloggers delivered in just 70 words.
I want to share with you how two Iraqi bloggers -- they have bloggers in Baghdad, just like we've got here -- (laughter) -- "Displaced families are returning home, marketplaces are seeing more activity, stores that were long shuttered are now reopening. We feel safer about moving in the city now. Our people want to see this effort succeed. We hope the governments in Baghdad and America do not lose their resolve.
99% of the speech had nothing to do with bloggers except on Countdown where bloggers made up 100% of what Keith aired.
What about that "anonymous" part?
The two bloggers, Mohammed Fadhil and Omar Fadhil, are hardly anonymous. They are easily the two most famous Iraqi bloggers in the world. They have been feted here in the states by American bloggers, foremost among them the well-known American blogger Jeff Jarvis. They have given numerous media interviews and even visited with President Bush at the White House. There names and email addresses are on the home page of their blogs. Their blog, Iraq the Model, was one of the earliest and most well known blogs from Iraq.
About the only thing Olbermann got right was that the speech was given at the Holiday Inn near Capitol Hill.
But Keith is not done - not by a long shot.
The Internet mavens at Google recently reported that the average blog is read by an average of exactly one person. Tonight, somewhere in Baghdad, two bloggers are boasting, We found our reader.
Amusing. And entirely irrelevant. While it may true that of the 100,000,000 blogs cited by Google the AVERAGE is one reader a day per blog, Iraq the Model is one of the most widely read blogs in the world. Got that? Not out of Iraqi blogs but of out of ALL blogs in the entire world.
According to Sitemeter, Iraq the Model gets about 5,500 readers a day. There are over eleven hundred blogs that link to Iraq the Model. In the TTLB Ecosystem rankings they are currently ranked #51 worldwide. Technorati lists them among the Top 1000 most influential blogs in the world.
So much for applying the Google survey data to the Iraq the Model blog.
Is Olbermann done? Nope.
Keith goes on to argue that the President quoting these two bloggers is an indication that he is getting out of touch with reality or in denial or maybe it's something clinical, something that might be like Nixon talking to the paintings. For Olbermann, the President quoting these two "anonymous" bloggers with "one reader" is a form of insanity.
After mocking the President through several segments, Olbermann gets around to discussing the President's speech with Rajiv Chandrasekaran from the Washington Post and, for the first time all night, reveals something kinda important. He has known all along who the two blogger are but withheld that information for almost half the show while playing up the "President is so desperate he's taken to quoting random, anonymous bloggers to make his case" angle. But to fully appreciate the artful blend of ignorance, arrogance and deception that defines Keith Olbermann look at the way he tees up his question about the bloggers to Chandrasekaran:
I must ask you about the blog that the president cited today. It's now been identified. It's IraqTheModel.com. There's a pair of dentists who've generally been sympathetic to the American mission. They met with the president in the Oval Office three years ago...
It would be to fail to appreciation the subtlety of Olbermann's mastery of deception, to note simply that Keith is here admitting that he has known the identity of the bloggers all along. Nor that he even knew that the President met with the pair in the White House. It's better (or worse) than that. Notice how Keith says "it's now been identified".
Like all of Keith Olbermann's best lies this one works at multiple levels. First, he conveys the sense that either the President was intentionally withholding this information or that perhaps the President did not know who he was quoting, that maybe he just picked a couple of random bloggers off the web who happened to say something that supported his case for the war. Either way he gets across his point (Bush=idiot) to his blissfully gullible readers. More to the point, by claiming that the blog has "now been identified" Keith R. Olbermann can suggest that he (or his pals in the MSM) ferreted out this information after diligently working the phones or otherwise acting like real reporters.
Of course this is Keith Olbermann whose idea of journalism, famously, is making up catch phrases for when a basketball player makes a shot from beyond the three point line. He can't even get the name right. While the URL "iraqthemodel.com" does redirect to the site, the blog is called simply "Iraq the Model" not "Iraq the Model dot com", the URL is iraqthemodel.blogspot.com.
When he says "now been identified" does he mean that he is reporting breaking news? Recall that at the top of the show he claimed to know nothing at all about the two "anonymous" bloggers. Now he knows that three years ago they visited with the President in the Oval Office. Did something just comes across the wire? Hardly. Keith knew full well who these bloggers were before he ever went on the air. But the President briefly quoting the two most well-known Iraqi bloggers (the truth) did not have the entertainment value of asserting that the President of the United States was so desperate for good news from Iraq that he had taken to poking around in the blogosphere (the lie).
In the world of comedy this is known as a "callback" and God knows Keith is far more concerned with finding a good callback that he can work into the show than actually reporting the news so when the news does not work comedically Keith makes it work through the most reliable of journalistic techniques - making shit up.
For the uninitiated, callbacks are a staple of stand-up comedy. Anyone who stays up past 11 PM has seen Jay Leno or David Letterman use a punch line from a previous joke and apply it to a later joke in the set. Often a comic will use a callback with a joke that bombed and keep circling back to it, creating a sense of intimacy with the audience, as if they are the comedian's friend. Done right it is a very powerful comedic tool.
By the time Keith gets around to letting the audience in on the gag (that's he's been bullshitting them for the entire show) they no longer care - they got their fill of "Bush as idiot" for the day - and after all what's a few hundred lies between friends.
But I digress.
Keith continues his questioning of Chandrasekaran:
We're down to the president quoting a couple of dentists to prove that the surge is working?
Dang! Keith still can't seem to get it quite right now can he? While the President was quoting Mohammed Fadhil and Omar Fadhil and they are bloggers from Iraq the Model, President Bush was not quoting from their blog. It is ironic that Keith cited a study by those "Internet mavens" at Google (is that what they are? mavens?). Keith cited Google just the other day in his Special Comment on Tom Delay. Maybe Keith should spend less time Googling for porn and more time using it to prepare for his show. Had he bothered to type in the quote he ran from President Bush at the top of the hour he might have found this:
Notes From Baghdad
Open liquor stores and other signs of the surge's success.
BY MOHAMMED FADHIL AND OMAR FADHIL
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Whoops! Turns out the President was not quoting from some random, anonymous blog. He was actually quoting from a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed written by the two most famous Iraqi journalists in the world. Two men who have been reporting from the trenches, literally, since the days when Saddam was still on the loose in Iraq.
Like most Olbermann efforts, he labors to arrive at the big moment and when the time comes he disappoints.
After thirty minutes of hype the best he can do is unload on Chandrasekaran with...
on the same blog, they said...the administration, quote, "needs to revise the way it's been handling and planning for this critical war."
Imagine that? Bush is actually quoting someone who does not agree with him on every point - and even invited them to the White House. No surprise that Olbermann is flabbergasted to hear of something like that. Scary!
Anxious to please and determined to be "great thanksed" by Olby, Chandrasekaran laps up Keith's nonsense with an eager smile.
Well, you know, there are dozens of Iraqi bloggers. And I dare say IraqTheModel is one of very, very few to be as rosy as it is, just notwithstanding some of their own skepticism about things and some of their own critical comments. I mean, those guys aren't idiots. But, you know, if we do a more representative sample of what Iraqis are writing in their blogs, and I read a lot of them, you won't find as optimistic of a portrait as IraqTheModel portrays.
And there you have it. Olbermann has spent half his show implying the President is insane because he spent a few seconds in a 40 minute speech quoting from an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal. And Bush's "crime" in this case? Among the "dozens" of relatively unknown Iraqi bloggers his guest says he reads, the two bloggers Bush quoted are not sufficiently pessimistic to suit the tastes of a reporter from the Washington Post.
Another scoop for the Edward R. Murrow of our time.
UPDATE: Watch the lie now spread... here...