On Friday's "Countdown," viewers were treated to a retrospective of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann's series of "Special Comment" attacks on conservatives, featuring four of his favorites from the year 2007. An announcer teased the show glorifying Olbermann while intermixing complimentary quotes from various media with clips of Olbermann reading his "Special Comments." The announcer read a quote from "Playboy" calling the MSNBC host the "truth teller in chief," and a quote from the "Akron Beacon Journal" claiming that he is "the one journalist actually working to save the democracy." Among the quotes from Olbermann featured in the teaser was the MSNBC host's charge that "the presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush." (Transcript follows)
As the show's announcer tagged 2007 "a pivotal year in the war and the future of our country," Olbermann seemed oblivious to the reported successes in the U.S. troop surge in Iraq, progress even acknowledged by NBC News military analyst/retired General Barry McCaffrey on Sunday's "NBC Nightly News," as the "Countdown" host marched forward bragging of his anti-Bush, anti-Iraq War rants.
The announcer teased the December 21 show: "2007: A pivotal year in the war and the future of our country. As the political stakes got higher, so did the intensity and purpose of Keith Olbermann's Special Comments."
Olbermann opened the show invoking George Orwell, which the MSNBC host habitually does on his show, as he charged that the Bush administration punishes those who "tell the truth." Olbermann: "Good evening. Eric Blair as George Orwell wrote: 'In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.' But to object to this White House? Those in government found it was career suicide. That generals critical of the war and its mismanagement out of a job. Valerie Plame Wilson, an American hero working at the CIA, outed by the White House because her husband criticized war intel. And United States attorneys, not willing to turn their offices into political extensions of the White House, fired, and the American public lied to about why. Extraordinary times we are enduring, which only highlight the importance of standing up and shouting from the rooftops all that we hold dear and true. Dissent we will because dissent we must. Here on 'Countdown,' that dissent finds its voice in the form of my Special Comments."
Olbermann introduced the first featured "Special Comment," taken from the January 2 show, in which Olbermann had attacked President Bush for ignoring the Iraq Study Group and announcing plans to send more troops to Iraq. On the January 2 show, Olbermann had charged that Bush was extending the "senseless, endless" war in Iraq as part of an ulterior motive to transfer money to "war profiteers" because "you can't sell [the Army] any more [Humvees] until the first thousand have been destroyed."
The complete text of the January 2 "Special Comment" can be found here.
After replaying the entire "Special Comment" from January 2, and after a commercial break, Olbermann introduced his "Special Comment" from the May 23 show, in which the "Countdown" host had attacked Democrats for caving in to President Bush by continuing to fund the war. Olbermann introduced the segment on the December 23 show: "At a time when the stakes had never been higher, stopping Mr. Bush would mean holding the purse strings tight... Instead, by the middle of May, right up there with the fall of Baghdad itself, Americans were faced with the fall of the Democratic Congress, which had agreed to fund the conflict without any time lines for withdrawal, without holding the President accountable, a failure that precipitated a 'Special Comment' holding lawmakers accountable for delivering on the anti-war mandate."
The complete text of the May 23 "Special Comment" can be found here.
Then the May 23 "Special Comment" was replayed, in which the MSNBC host had accused Congressional Democrats of "betrayal" of the voters for making a deal with President Bush on funding this "war of lies," and compared their deal with Bush to Neville Chamberlain's deal with Adolf Hitler before World War II.
Before the next commercial break, the announcer plugged Olbermann's soon-to-be-released book compiling his "Special Comment" rants, titled: "Truth and Consequences: Special Comments on the Bush Administration's War on American Values."
Olbermann introduced his third featured "Special Comment," from September 20, as he condemned those who attacked MoveOn.org for the "General Betray Us" ad in the New York Times, and, on the December 23 show, charged that "the same Republicans who let Walter Reed Hospital become a nightmare for injured enlisted personnel jumped to defend General Petraeus, creating a media circus in the Senate..."
Then Olbermann's "Special Comment" from the September 20 show was replayed, in which the "Countdown" host had called President Bush's criticism of the MoveOn.org ad a "pissy juvenile blast," and had accused him of "pimping" General David Petraeus and of making the general into a "political hack" at the risk of moving America's government toward a "military junta."
The complete text of the September 20 "Special Comment" can be found here.
Olbermann then moved to the fourth of his featured "Special Comments," this time from the April 25 show, as he quoted remarks by Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani in which the former New York City mayor had charged that a Democratic President would put America "on defense" in the War on Terrorism, and had contended that a Republican President would be more aggressive. Olbermann derided the "divisive nature" of Giuliani's words, and, referring to Giuliani's words as an "abomination," charged that Giuliani was "choosing the same path pioneered by Karl Rove ... literally terrifying the electorate with terror, telling the Live Free or Die state, in effect, 'Vote Democrat or Die.'"
Then came a replay of the April 25 "Special Comment," in which the MSNBC host had labeled Giuliani's words as "terrorism," and accused the former mayor of "threatening the American people with 'casualties' if they ... elect a Democrat president," and of "doing Osama bin Laden's work for him."
The complete text of the April 25 "Special Comment" can be found here.
After the replay, Olbermann referred to the "ugliness of Giuliani's terror remarks" as he encouraged viewers to tune in to his "Countdown" show for the latest news on the '08 presidential campaign. Olbermann: "Will these final days of campaigning before the first results are in from Decision '08 compare to the ugliness of Giuliani's terror remarks?"
Below is a transcript of the opening teaser and the introductions to the "Special Comment" replays from the Friday December 21 "Countdown" show on MSNBC:
UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: 2007: A pivotal year in the war and the future of our country. As the political stakes got higher, so did the intensity and purpose of Keith Olbermann's Special Comments.
ANNOUNCER, quoting the "Akron Beacon Journal": He's the one journalist actually working to save the democracy.
KEITH OLBERMANN clip #1: We cannot and will not turn this country into a police state.
OLBERMANN clip #2: Mr. Bush, you do not own this country.
ANNOUNCER: More Americans turn to "Countdown" for Keith's honest take on the headlines.
ANNOUNCER, quoting "New York Newsday": His essays are smart, well-written-
ANNOUNCER, quoting the "San Diego Union-Tribune": TV's best news commentator.
ANNOUNCER, quoting "Playboy": The truth teller in chief.
OLBERMANN: It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity, and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed. The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, Keith's most passionate, most important Special Comments of 2007.
OLBERMANN, titled, "On Sacrifice," dated January 2, 2007: Our policy in Iraq has been criticized for being indescribable, for being inscrutable, for being ineffable. But it is all too easily understood now. First, we sent Americans to their deaths for your lie, Mr. Bush. Now we are sending them to their deaths for your ego.
OLBERMANN, titled "The Entire Government Has Failed Us on Iraq," dated May 23, 2007: The Democratic leadership has, in sum, claimed a compromise with the administration in which the only things truly compromised are the trust of the voters, the ethics of the Democrats, and the lives of our brave and doomed friends and family in Iraq.
OLBERMANN, titled "A Petulant President," dated September 20, 2007: Your presidency has been about the tilted playing field, about no rules for your party, in terms of character assassination, and changing the fabric of our nation, and no right for your opponents or critics to as much as respond. That, sir, is not only un-American, it is dictatorial.
OLBERMANN, titled "Republicans Equal Life, Democrats Equal Death?", dated April 25, 2007: Which party held the presidency on September 11, 2001, Mr. Giuliani? Which party held the mayoralty of New York on that day, Mr. Giuliani? Which party assured New Yorkers that the air was safe, and the remains of the dead were covered and not being used to fill potholes, Mr. Giuliani?
ANNOUNCER: Countdown 2007: The Year in Special Comments.
OLBERMANN: A time when the nation's future may depend on the airing of dissent.
ANNOUNCER: Now, here's Keith Olbermann.
OLBERMANN: Good evening. Eric Blair as George Orwell wrote: "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." But to object to this White House? Those in government found it was career suicide. That generals critical of the war and its mismanagement out of a job. Valerie Plame Wilson, an American hero working at the CIA, outed by the White House because her husband criticized war intel. And United States attorneys, not willing to turn their offices into political extensions of the White House, fired, and the American public lied to about why. Extraordinary times we are enduring, which only highlight the importance of standing up and shouting from the rooftops all that we hold dear and true. Dissent we will because dissent we must. Here on "Countdown," that dissent finds its voice in the form of my Special Comments. Tonight, we take a look back at four of those comments of 2007, beginning with January 2, as the mind-numbing news began to surface, after all the work of the Iraq Study Group, the weeks of meetings, and weeks of delays, the President was set to announce he was not bringing troops home from Iraq, but instead was sending more in.
[replay of "Special Comment" from January 2, 2007]
ANNOUNCER, at 8:14 p.m.: The President didn't stop it. The surge went ahead. Months later, the new Democratically-controlled Congress got a chance to change course in Iraq, but instead caved in to the demands of an unpopular President. The betrayal of the Democrats, when this special presentation of Countdown returns.
OLBERMANN, at 8:19 p.m.: One year ago, there was the hope that the war in Iraq might soon be over, that hope pinned squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats in Congress who, on November 7th, regained control of that Congress in the 2006 midterm elections. The Democratic leadership, fully aware of the forces that have returned them to power.
NANCY PELOSI, dated January 4, 2007: The election of 2006 was a call to change -- not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country. Nowhere were the American people more clear about the need for a new direction than in the war in Iraq.
OLBERMANN: President Bush with his own idea about a new direction for the war in Iraq. His grand plan: escalating the U.S. presence there.
GEORGE W. BUSH, dated January 10, 2007: I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq.
OLBERMANN: So, at a time when the stakes had never been higher, stopping Mr. Bush would mean holding the purse strings tight, something opponents to the war in Vietnam had tried and failed to do in 1970 -- 37 years later, and the war at home over the American men and women would be no easier. But surely, the voters expected the Democratic leadership to at least try. Instead, by the middle of May, right up there with the fall of Baghdad itself, Americans were faced with the fall of the Democratic Congress, which had agreed to fund the conflict without any time lines for withdrawal, without holding the President accountable, a failure that precipitated a "Special Comment" holding lawmakers accountable for delivering on the anti-war mandate.
[replay of "Special Comment" from May 23, 2007]
ANNOUNCER, at 8:28 p.m.: The politics of betrayal reared its ugly head again, a full-page newspaper ad from MoveOn.org. General Petraeus or General "Betray Us"? Criticism the military was sugar-coating the surge. Up next, Keith's "Special Comment" on the hypocritical reaction to the ad from President Bush. Now, you can own a piece of Special Comment's history. "Truth and Consequences: Special Comments on the Bush Administration's War on American Values," available in book stores in time for the new year.
OLBERMANN, at 8:34 p.m.: When came the sixth anniversary of the al-Qaeda attacks on America, Congress and the White House were not busy working on some way finally to avenge the 3,000 dead or to bring their killer to justice. The President had sent his hand-picked military spokesman, General David Petraeus, to Capitol Hill, to sell instead Mr. Bush's war in Iraq again. On September 10, a full-page advertisement appeared in the "New York Times," placed by the liberal anti-war group MoveOn.org. The ad's headline read: "General Petraeus or General 'Betray Us'?" The text referred to published reports questioning Petraeus' assessment of the administration's latest claim of progress in Iraq. It did not disparage anyone else in the military by name or otherwise. And many top Democrats criticized the ad. All facts of which the President seemed or acted unaware.
BUSH, dated September 20, 2007: I thought the ad was disgusting, and I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus, but on the U.S. military. And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad.
OLBERMANN: The same Republicans who let Walter Reed Hospital become a nightmare for injured enlisted personnel jumped to defend General Petraeus, creating a media circus in the Senate, where after much and much-publicized debate, on September 20th, the Senate voted to condemn the ad by a vote of 72 to 25. That night, I addressed the fake controversy in a "Special Comment."
[replay of "Special Comment" from September 20, 2007]
ANNOUNCER, at 8:41 p.m.: Up next, crossing the line on the campaign trail: Rudy Giuliani going where only his party had hinted at. Point blank, saying America will be safer with a Republican President. Keith's "Special Comment" on Giuliani's record and the politics of fear, when this special edition of "Countdown" returns.
OLBERMANN, at 8:46 p.m.: On a day named for Abraham Lincoln, a President who literally reunited this country, Rudolph W. Giuliani indicated the divisive nature of his own presidential candidacy, telling an audience at the Lincoln Day Dinner in Rockingham, New Hampshire, that, quote, "If any Republican is elected President, and I think obviously I would be the best at this, we will remain on offense, and will anticipate what [the terrorists] will do, and try to stop them before they do it." He added, "I listen a little to the Democrats, and if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense." "We will wave the white flag on Iraq." "We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation..." "...and we will be back to our pre-September 11th attitude of defense." This was long before any of us knew of Mr. Giuliani's reported financial gain from electronic surveillance. At this point, the only positive, that while terrorism will eventually be defeated, quote, "The question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have?" "If we are on defense, we will have more losses and it will go on longer." He pledged that "Never, ever again will this country ever be on defense waiting for [terrorists] to attack us if I have anything to say about it." "And make no mistake, the Democrats want to put us back on defense."
OLBERMANN: Mr. Giuliani thus choosing the same path pioneered by Karl Rove, which won the current occupant of the White House his second term in 2004, literally terrifying the electorate with terror, telling the Live Free or Die state, in effect, "Vote Democrat or Die." An abomination which prompted this.
[replay of "Special Comment" from April 25, 2007]
OLBERMANN: Will these final days of campaigning before the first results are in from Decision '08 compare to the ugliness of Giuliani's terror remarks? Please watch "Countdown" in the new year live every week night at 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 Pacific, as we cover the buildup to the Iowa Caucuses and beyond. We thank you for watching our "Special Comment" retrospective. Our time constraints allowed us to show only four of the comments, but you can read more of my comments in the new book, "Truth and Consequences: Special Comments on the Bush Administration's War on American Values," available in book stores as of December 26. There's new material, additional observations that you'll find only in the book. You can also log onto our Web site countdown.msnbc.com to watch all the Special Comments. Once again, we thank you for your attention and for making 2007 the best year yet for us here at "Countdown." I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.