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Last Sunday Keith Olbermann was given the chance to air his left-leaning opinion fest disguised as a news show, Countdown on NBC. What did Olbermann do with his big shot in primetime? He decided to defend Michael Vick! Olbermann's oh-so-not-very-special comment drew quite a few comments from viewers and commentators. Among them, this insightful piece by Gary Krasner in the American Daily.
Krasner begins his brilliant, insightful commentary on Keith Olbermann with an apt comparison to an old episode of the Twilight Zone series.
Given that Countdown garners the lowest ratings of any primetime cable news show, many people probably don't know who he is. The best analog to Mr. Olbermann is the character Oliver Crangle, played by the great actor Theordore Bikel, from the old Twilight Episode, "Four O'Clock". Scifilm.org provides a synopsis of this episode, which first aired on April 6, 1962:".
Mr. Oliver Crangle is on a great crusade: nothing less than the complete eradication of evil from the world! Crangle is utterly dedicated to this great goal. Every day he scans newspapers, listens to radio broadcasts, and otherwise keeps detailed records on vast numbers of people. Those whom he considers weak, evil and unfit are to be destroyed, usually through innuendo, rumor and hearsay. With only his parrot Pete as his friend, he tirelessly pursues his project.Yet now Crangle is on the verge of his ultimate breakthrough. He believes has achieved the power to turn all the evil people of the world into two-foot tall midgets, thus eliminating their threat! At precisely the hour of four o'clock, Crangle will unleash this awesome power on the world. Is Crangle a deranged madman...or does he really have this power? The answers lie in, The Twilight Zone.
That just about sums up Countdown. It's a show which primarily serves the ego of Olbermann---who imagines himself as the current day version of Edward R. Murrow---and whose mission it is to identify political villains for the angry left, to get angry at. I suppose if someone made a remake of this episode, then NBC News Correspondent David Schuster would be best cast as Crangle's parrot, Pete. He and Olbermann would identify Republicans as the evil people, in the nightly Countdown segment, "Worst Person in the World." But as politically correct liberals, they would have to turn them into something other than "midgets."
Krasner then responds, point-by-point, to the updated commentary Olbermann gave on 9/27 re Michael Vick.
OLBERMANN: The crimes for which football star Michael Vick agreed to a plea bargain obviously constitute the overarching horror of the story. But on Friday, Vick somehow managed to make it a little worse while accepting a prison sentence of up to 18 months and acknowledging he bankrolled the entirety of an illegal dogfighting operation. The document he signed stated specifically that he personally did not gamble on dogfights, personally did not receive proceeds from dogfights, and personally, quote, "did not kill any dogs." Suddenly, on top of the crime, here was an admission of guilt that seemed to admit very little guilt. Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, over the weekend, the sports world seemed to collectively demand something more contrite from Michael Vick. The noteworthy aspect of this scandal is that there has been silence from within the sport. Not even the NFL Players Association has commented on the affair, let alone "collectively demand something more contrite from Michael Vick." And this morning, to the surprise of many, he evidently delivered.
KRASNER: First Mr. Olbermann says it was an "admission of guilt that seemed to admit very little guilt." Now he's saying that Vick had "delivered."
OLBERMANN The somber-looking Atlanta Falcons quarterback walking into federal court today in Richmond, Virginia, for the formal part of the conspiracy charges against him, Vick quietly responding to the judge's questions only with, "No, sir," and "Yes, sir," before pleading guilty, the judge reminding him that could mean five years in prison. The prosecutors want a year to 18 months. Vick again answering, "Yes, sir." After a judge scheduled sentencing for December 10, Vick, without a prepared statement, stood alone before reporters and said he wanted to speak from his heart.
KRASNER: What Mr. Olbermann means is that Vick didn't read from a piece of paper. That's all. But this article showed in the first section that it was a carefully-worded, contrived statement---hardly "from his heart."
OLBERMANN: A brief thought on what Michael Vick has done and what Michael Vick has now said, an update of sorts, if you saw my commentary at half-time of NBC's coverage of the Sunday night football game. Those who hate Vick have made no secret they expect the judge at sentencing on December 10th and the commissioner of the National Football League, as soon as possible thereafter, to punish him with the lengthiest prison term, the heaviest fine, the most definite of indefinite suspensions. And here's why they are wrong.
KRASNER:Stop right there. Please take note that Mr. Olbermann failed to red-flag the contrived, self-serving phrases by Vick, which I had described earlier. "Immature acts" include toilet-papering someone's lawn. Torturing and killing dogs and small animals are "inhumane acts." Do you see the difference, sir? And if slamming dogs to the ground until they can no long breath is what Mr. Olbermann agrees is "a terrible thing", then what other acts would he describe as "abhorrent", or "repugnant", or "repulsive", or "inhumane"? And does Mr. Olbermann really believe that Vick's sociopathic behavior can be undone after Vick will "think about in the next year or so"?! And when was the last time Mr. Olbermann ever accepted a mea culpa from a Republican who announced he will seek God's forgiveness and "turned his life over to God"?
OLBERMANN: If you hate him, the equation should be pretty simple: His $130-million-dollar contract is gone.
KRASNER: Mr. Olbermann is disingenuous, to put it mildly. He covers sports for ESPN. He knows that press reports indicate that the Falcon owners claim between $20 and $28 million in roster bonuses may be subject to forfeiture. But no one knows how they came up with that high figure. If converted roster bonus money is not included, and if the 2006 CBA is applied retroactively, the most the Falcons can get is the remaining three years' proration of his $7.5 million signing bonus, which equates to $3.75 million. If the prior CBA does apply, the Falcons can recover $5.75 million. The bottom line is that Vick remains fabulously wealthy.
OLBERMANN: His freedom is gone. His reputation is gone.
KRASNER: But unlike the dogs and small animals he killed and maimed, Vick is still breathing and not missing any meals.
OLBERMANN: We already know what he is. We are now just arguing about the price. And that real price comes due after jail and after the suspension, when Michael Vick tries to return to football in 2010, maybe 2009, but the sooner the better.
KRASNER: Some of you must be scratching your head at this: If Mr. Olbermann really does "know what he is", then why would he say that the sooner Vick returns to football, the better? Because Mr. Olbermann is a guilty white liberal who denigrates blacks through his condescension towards them. They need affirmative action for getting into school, and for being punished for misdeeds. To Mr. Olbermann, Vick and any other black quarterback is another Jackie Robinson---a representative of all the blacks who used to be excluded from the sport. And the lowering of standards for blacks today is the reparations Mr. Olbermann feels---as the ultimate arbiter of what is just---society must pay. Put simply, had Vick been white, this Special Comment would not have been written.
OLBERMANN: No NFL miscreant has been so vilified while an active player, not gunplay and trouble at strip clubs veteran Pacman Jones, not serial batterer and general troublemaker Lawrence Phillips, not turned state's evidence against his friends in a murder trial Ray Lewis, not a drunk driver who killed a mother, Leonard Little, in 1998 and was then arrested anew for driving drunk, Leonard Little in 2004.
KRASNER: This statement is confirmation that Mr. Olbermann does not appreciate the gravity of inhumane behavior that shocks the conscience. Men who are prone to alcoholism or rowdy behavior are driven by neuroses, or sometimes, metabolic or dietary malfunctions. Manslaughter, which was one of the things Mr. Olbermann enumerated, is death that occurs absent of intent. Indeed, it is the result of negligence most often. These things are beyond the victim's control, and most of us understand them, even though we may deem the resultant behavior unpalatable. Even the lowly pedophile is driven by sexual urges, which eclipses the normal empathy he would have for the child's welfare. We understand the power of, and adverse consequences attendant to succumbing to sexual urges. But the ability to intentionally, and violently, and with great pain, snuff out the life of an innocent dog is a psychopathology---not a mere neurosis---and one which we have no direct understanding of. It's foreign. It scares us. It is devoid of all compassion, and driven by none of the aforementioned human failings which we can understand, and sometimes experience ourselves.
OLBERMANN: Because even in a football world where just a week ago a scout could still compliment Corey Ivy of the Baltimore Ravens by calling him a, quote, "pit bull with a gold cap," no other crime has been so viscerally felt and reviled and none gone so unforgiven, and a year in the big house or two under suspension will not change that, except to postpone the next enraged protest, for whenever he comes out, whenever he tries to come back, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the public's memory of what he did for dogs for the sake of fun and games will come back, as well.
KRASNER: You're all style and flash, Mr. Olbermann. The polls indicate that you are in the minority. The rest of us feel that sports teaches and promotes character and integrity. If we indulge Vick's---and your---desire to restore Vick to the privileged position he once held, we would debase that which sports should represent. Denying a man privilege is a small penalty to save the sport he disgraced. Also, you need a lesson in the meaning of zero tolerance, sir. We reserve that criteria for that which society considers intolerable. We don't tolerate crimes perpetrated against classes of people, known as hate crimes. We impose high penalties to demonstrate that, and deny to the perpetrators any minuscule trace of justification for their actions. Thus, we don't listen to the rationales of anti-Semitic killers, or the excuses from terrorists. The horror of the crime, and the intent, are the distinguishing features. What is important to Vick now is not getting another chance to rejoin the elites. Instead, he needs to acheive personal redemption. Do you now see the difference, sir?
OLBERMANN: Initially, in his convoluted, lawyered-up, and agent-approved guilty plea last week, his "I didn't actually kill any dogs myself; I only told others to" statement, Vick seemed to not understand that his only hope was to absorb and retain as much guilt as possible, that any chance of redemption for him depended entirely on his willingness to take responsibility and blame and punishment. Thus, his statement today, "I want to apologize for all the things that I've done and that I have allowed to happen" was exactly the right start. He did not repeat the nuance and the loophole-filled admission. He did not Pete Rose it.
KRASNER: With due respect, sir, you are wrong on both counts. First, his latter statement was non-specific, and didn't take sufficient responsibility for killing dogs. Second, he surpassed Rose! He carefully chose tame words like my immature acts; I made a mistake; we all make mistakes; bad judgment; bad decisions; a terrible thing to describe his actions. He avoided uttering the obvious and appropriate terms "inhumane", "unconscionable", etc. Words that the press and public were attributing to him for weeks. So he at least knew what he was, even though he couldn't come clean with the appropriate words to describe what he did---your delusional interpretation notwithstanding.
OLBERMANN: And now comes the tough part. Don't get me wrong. He is Michael Vick, not Michael Victim. But if you think him evil, you should still be rooting for him to be returned to football as soon as possible, returned from the Hell of incarceration and the Hell of suspension to the Hell of life as Michael Vick, would-be quarterback, pleading for a pro job while the hounds of public approbation are nipping at his heels.
KRASNER:: A callous choice of words. Hounds nipping at his heels, Mr. Olbermann? Are you sure you wish to use that analogy? And as a callous, angry person that you are, it is natural for you to feel that this is about punishing Vick, as opposed to protecting the integrity of the sport. Because it is your inclination, sir, week after week, drenched in your own sanctimony, to vilify and punish all who you deem evil, as had Theodore Bikel's Mr. Oliver Crangle. Vick is not evil. He is to be pitied. He has a human failing---something that is missing. It's a something that makes the rest of us human. Some people are color-blind. Vick is blind to compassion.