Olbermann Demanded B*****d O'Reilly Apologize to Troops, Refuses Himself
Two years ago, after FNC's Bill O'Reilly erroneously stated that American troops had massacred Nazi German troops at Malmedy, Belgium during World War II, even after the FNC host corrected the error, which apparently should have referred to American troops who retaliated against German troops after Malmedy because of that massacre, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, on his Countdown show, demanded that O'Reilly apologize to American troops, relaying anger expressed by some Iraq war veterans who heard about O'Reilly's mistake, and in one of his most egregious smears against the FNC host, painted O'Reilly as a defender of Nazis. The Countdown show even played an audio clip of voice actor Seth MacFarlane derogatorily calling the FNC host "that b*****d Bill O'Reilly," and telling the FNC host to "allow me to soil myself on you." (Transcripts follow)
But when Olbermann recently made comments attacking some who are in President Bush's "employ" as being "cold-blooded killers" who have "laid waste to Iraq," words which were interpreted by some as referring to American troops, Olbermann saw no need to apologize for any outrage his sloppily worded "Special Comment" might have caused American troops, even as he later admitted that he was not as "precise and clear" as he thought he was, and that "it is possible reasonable viewers might have been confused by exactly to whom I referred." On Monday, Olbermann clarified to viewers that he was instead referring to the Pentagon and Bush Cabinet members as "cold-blooded killers," as well as security guards of the private contractor Blackwater, and not U.S. troops in general, but then went on to slam conservatives who believed he was referring to American troops as people who "hate" the troops, and address conservatives Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin: "Why do you hate our troops?"
But in June of 2006, Olbermann sanctimoniously expected an apology of O'Reilly and painted the FNC host as a defender of Nazis simply because O'Reilly, during a debate with General Wesley Clark about charges that U.S. Marines had massacred civilians at Haditha, mis-stated on two occasions that American troops had massacred Nazi SS troops at Malmedy. During the previous year in June 2005, one of O'Reilly's columns, which ran in Jewish World View, put into perspective that even during World War II, there were cases of war crimes that were committed by some U.S. troops, as he contended that after Nazi troops massacred Americans at Malmedy, other American troops later retaliated against German troops: "After German SS troops massacred 86 American soldiers at Malmedy in Belgium on Dec. 17, 1944, some units like the U.S. 11th Armored Division took revenge on captured German soldiers."
Therefore, when O'Reilly incorrectly stated on The O'Reilly Factor in October 2005 and May 2006 that the massacre of German troops had happened at Malmedy, instead of after Malmedy, there seems to be little incentive for him to lie since the point he made in his column would have sufficed if worded properly on the air. Notably, in a recent interview with O'Reilly aired on Monday's show, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, former Commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq, while discussing the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse case, similarly argued generally that "one of the key things is that we have always made mistakes during wartime. And, in this war, it was no different. ... Whenever an abuse is identified, we very aggressively investigate it, and we actually court-martial soldiers and convict them and send them to prison."
Even after O'Reilly corrected his mis-statement on his show on May 31, 2006, in response to a viewer email, Olbermann not only sanctimoniously insisted that O'Reilly also needed to apologize for his mis-statement, but made a bizarre, twisted argument that O'Reilly was really coming to the defense of German Nazis, and pursued the story on two separate nights on his Countdown show.
On the June 1, 2006 show, Olbermann plugged that night's segment: "Why is O'Reilly insisting he's right? Why has Fox altered the transcripts? Why are they defending Nazi war criminals who killed American servicemen?"
The same night, Olbermann plugged the segment again: "And speaking of nothing to be proud of, in trying to defend our troops, this man has now instead defended Nazi war criminals from World War II."
Olbermann tackled O'Reilly during what used to be a regular segment called "Factor Fiction," which would begin with voice actor Seth MacFarlane calling O'Reilly a "bastard" while speaking in the voice of the character Stewie Griffin from the Family Guy television show. MacFarlane: "Countdown presents 'Factor Fiction,' wherein we catch that bastard Bill O'Reilly lying again. Oh wait, Bill, hold still. Allow me to soil myself on you. Victory is mine!"
During the segment, Olbermann played two clips of O'Reilly's mis-statement from The O'Reilly Factor, and then later the FNC host's correction from the May 31 show: "'Don Caldwell, Fort Worth, TX. Bill, you mentioned Malmedy as the site of an American massacre during World War II. It was the other way around, the S.S. shot down U.S. prisoners.' In the heat of the debate with General Clark, my statement wasn't clear enough, Mr. Caldwell. After Malmedy, some German captors were executed by American troops."
Olbermann lectured: "Wrong answer. When you are that wrong, when you are defending Nazi war criminals and pinning their crimes on Americans and you get caught doing so twice, you're supposed to say I'm sorry, I was wrong, and then you're supposed to shut up for a long time."
On the June 5 show, Olbermann plugged another segment on O'Reilly, suggesting that the FNC host should apologize to Iraq war veterans angered by his erroneous account of the Malmedy massacre: "Fox has now corrected the doctored O'Reilly transcript about Malmedy, but where is the apology from O'Reilly? We know where the anger is from Iraq veterans over the reference. We'll hear from one of the most prominent of them."
During a second plug, Olbermann again relayed that "there's still no apology from" O'Reilly, and in a third plug he hit O'Reilly for not apologizing after "taking the side of the Nazis."
During the segment, Olbermann claimed that O'Reilly "twice turned the dead victims of Nazi war atrocities into American war criminals, and perhaps worse, offered no apology nor clarification other than a tepid 24-word dismissal."
Suggesting that O'Reilly had followed the lead of others down a "road of anti-American doubt," the MSNBC host recounted the story of the 1940s Senate investigation into whether some of the Nazi troops had been tortured in American custody into confessing to war crimes, an inquiry involving one of Olbermann's favorite targets, former Senator Joe McCarthy. Olbermann summed up: "Senator Joe McCarthy and evidently Bill O'Reilly believe that the real victims in the story of 84 American servicemen at Malmedy, the real victims were the Nazis."
Olbermann then brought aboard Paul Rieckhoff of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to further attack O'Reilly. The MSNBC host at one point suggested that Americans who are quickest to display patriotism are the most anti-military, as he asked: "To the detail of Malmedy and how first, 60 years ago Joe McCarthy tried to turn this S.S. bloodbath into an American war crime and now how casually Bill O'Reilly has done nearly the same thing, is that just a bizarre coincidence or does it underscore a lot of what you have seen among those who are waving the flag the fastest, and singing the anthem the loudest, relative to how they really feel when it comes right down to it about the troops?"
In his final question to Rieckoff, Olbermann referred to relatives of American troops who were victims at Malmedy as he suggested that O'Reilly hates American troops, in much the same way he accused Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin of hating America's troops: "Since he brought Malmedy up for the second time last week and I've heard from relatives of the Americans who were murdered there, actual descendants of victims, and they are hurting from this in a way that I and maybe even you can't, would it be really over the line to throw that infamous question back at Bill O'Reilly: Tell me, sir, why do you hate our troops?"
In July 2006 Olbermann repeated his charges against O'Reilly during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno as he defended his use of the Nazi salute while holding up an O'Reilly mask to mock the FNC host. Olbermann: "On the air in the last year, Bill O'Reilly has defended the Nazis from World War II on three separate occasions." He brazenly added: "Yes, I wish I were making this up." Notably, Olbermann's shenanigans drew a letter of complaint from the Anti-Defamation League, and, ironically, Olbermann himself, a year earlier in June 2005, once scolded public figures who use Nazi references, writing on his Bloggermann site, "There's no place for the reference in this culture," and that Nazi analogies are "wrong, offensive and deeply hurtful."
Below are complete transcripts of Olbermann's attacks on O'Reilly from the June 1 and June 5, 2006 Countdown show, as well as Olbermann's recent "Special Comment" clarification which aired on the Monday, May 19, 2008 show:
#From the June 1, 2006, Countdown:
KEITH OLBERMANN, DURING OPENING TEASER: Worst O'Reilly mistake ever.
BILL O'REILLY, FROM THE O'REILLY FACTOR: In Malmedy, as you know, U.S. forces captured S.S. forces who had their hands in the air, and they were unarmed, and they shot them down.
OLBERMANN: No, in World War II it was the other way around. Why is O'Reilly insisting he's right? Why has Fox altered the transcripts? Why are they defending Nazi war criminals who killed American servicemen? The real story of Malmedy.
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:11 P.M.: And speaking of nothing to be proud of, in trying to defend our troops, this man has now instead defended Nazi war criminals from World War II. And an embarrassed Fox News yet again tries to rewrite its own history.
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK: Speaking of creatures discovered in caves, Bill O'Reilly rewrites World War II not once, but twice. Only this time he shifted blame for an infamous massacre from the Nazis who carried it out to the young American servicemen who were its victims.
OLBERMANN: Abraham Lincoln did not shoot John Wilkes Booth. Titanic did not sink a north Atlantic iceberg. And Fox News is neither fair nor balanced. These are simply historical facts intelligible to all adults, most children, and some of your more discerning domesticated animals. But not, as the third story on the Countdown proves yet again, not to Bill O.
VOICE OF SETH MACFARLANE, IMITATING CHARACTER STEWIE GRIFFIN FROM THE FAMILY GUY: Countdown presents "Factor Fiction," wherein we catch that bastard Bill O'Reilly lying again. Oh wait, Bill, hold still. Allow me to soil myself on you. Victory is mine!
OLBERMANN: The guilty pleasure offered by the existence of Bill O'Reilly is simple and understandable -- 99 times out of 100, when we belly up to the Bill O. bar of bluster, nearly every time we partake of the movable falafel feast he serves us nothing but comedy, farce, slapstick, unconscious self-mutilation, the Sideshow Bob of commentators forever stepping on the same rake, forever muttering the same grunted, inarticulate surrender, forever resuming the circle that will take him back to the same rake. The Sisyphus of morons, if you will. But this is the 100th time out of 100. It is not funny at all. Bill O'Reilly has, for the second time in just under eight months, slandered at least 84 dead American servicemen. He has turned them again from victims of the kind of atrocity our country has always fought against into perpetrators of that kind of atrocity. He has made these Americans into war criminals. They are dead and have been dead for 61 years. They cannot defend themselves against O'Reilly. We will have to do it for them.
OLBERMANN: Last October Bill O'Reilly railed against a ruling that more photos from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq might be released. His guest on his program was Wesley Clark. Clark is a retired four-star general, was for four years supreme allied commander of NATO in Europe, first in his class at West Point, wounded in Vietnam, earned the Bronze star, the Silver Star and has streets named for him in Alabama and in Kosovo. Therefore, naturally O'Reilly knows much more about the military than General Clark does. Clark defended the release of the additional Abu Ghraib photos saying we needed to know what happened and to correct it. O'Reilly lectured him and concluded that there had always been atrocities, even by Americans, in war.
BILL O'REILLY, FROM THE O'REILLY FACTOR, DATED OCTOBER 3, 2005: General, you need to look at the Malmedy Massacre in World War II in the 82nd airborne.
OLBERMANN: It was a remarkable mistake. The Belgian town of Malmedy did lend its name to one of the most appalling battlefield war crimes of the 20th century. But O'Reilly's implication that the Americans committed it was entirely backwards. Americans, most of them, members of Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, surrendered to German Panzer troops and were then shot by their captures from the S.S. Yet O'Reilly had implied that the Americans had massacred these Germans in this one stark moment of the Battle of the Bulge. And he used this 'Alice through the looking glass' view of history to somehow rationalize Abu Ghraib while trying to dress down a four-star American general.
OLBERMANN: Still, it could have been a mistake. We make them. Even historians do. O'Reilly had not explicitly called the Americans the war criminals of Malmedy. Our troops, too, were accused of crimes against prisoners in the Second World War. It was assumed last year that he had simply made a foolish error, and, though he got beaten up appropriately in some places, it was all largely dismissed as merely that, a mistake. Then came this Tuesday night, again O'Reilly's guest was General Wes Clark. This time the topic was the apparent murder of Iraqi civilians at Haditha. That O'Reilly was dismissive of that event should be no surprise, that he should have described as the real crime of Iraq the events of Abu Ghraib, should be no surprise of those who know of his willingness to jettison his most important beliefs of yesterday for the expediencies and the ratings of today, but that he should have brought up Malmedy again, that was a surprise.
O'REILLY, FROM THE O'REILLY FACTOR, DATED MAY 30, 2006: In Malmedy, as you know, U.S. forces captured S.S. forces who had their hands in the air and they were unarmed and they shot them down. You know that. That's on the record. Been documented.
OLBERMANN: Thus was the full depth of Bill O'Reilly's insult to the American debt of World War II made clear. The mistake of last October was not some innocent slip nor misremembered history. This was the way O'Reilly understood it, and thus, this way it had to be. No errors corrected, no apologies offered, no stopping the relentless tide of bull even briefly enough to check one fact.
OLBERMANN: The facts of Malmedy are terrifying as described by Michael Reynolds in his painstakingly detailed article from a 2003 issue of World War II magazine. One week before Christmas, 1944, 139 U.S. soldiers, most of them from the 285th Field Artillery, encountered the German Kampf group, Piper, the leading formation of the German first S.S. Panzer Division, one of only two German units in the entire war which actually carried Adolf Hitler's name. The Americans were overrun. The 11 of the 139 soldiers were killed in the very short battle of Malmedy, two more were killed as they tried to flee, seven escaped, six became prisoners of war. The other 113 Americans, nearly all of whom had surrendered outright, were ordered to assemble in an open field next to a restaurant, the Café Bodarue. What happened next has been attributed to many things -- a cold-blooded decision by that unit Panzer commander, Colonel Joachim Piper, that he could not handle the prisoners, or an unjustifiable overreaction to some kind of escape attempt or simply horrible mass murder.
OLBERMANN: Within 15 minutes, the S.S. Colonel or someone directly under him had ordered his men to shoot the unarmed American POWs. The bodies at Malmedy were not found until a month later. There were 84 of them, all American soldiers. More than half showed gunshot wounds to their heads. Six had received fatal blows to the head, nine were found with their arms still raised above their heads. The fact that O'Reilly got these horrible facts completely backwards twice offended even his usually compliant viewers. From his program Wednesday night:
O'REILLY, FROM THE O'REILLY FACTOR, DATED MAY 31: Don Caldwell, Fort Worth, TX. "Bill, you mentioned Malmedy as the site of an American massacre during World War II. It was the other way around, the S.S. shot down U.S. prisoners." In the heat of the debate with General Clark, my statement wasn't clear enough, Mr. Caldwell. After Malmedy, some German captives were executed by American troops.
OLBERMANN: Wrong answer. When you are that wrong, when you are defending Nazi war criminals and pinning their crimes on Americans and you get caught doing so twice, you're supposed to say I'm sorry, I was wrong, and then you're supposed to shut up for a long time. Instead, Fox washed its transcript of O'Reilly's remarks Tuesday. Its Web site claims O'Reilly said in Normandy, when, as you heard, in fact, he said in Malmedy.
OLBERMANN: The rewriting of past reporting worthy of George Orwell has now carried over into such online transcription services as Burrelle's and Factiva. Whatever did or did not happen later in supposed or actual retribution, the victims at Malmedy were Americans, gunned down while surrendering by Nazis in 1944 and again Tuesday night and Wednesday night by a false patriot who would rather be loud than right.
OLBERMANN: "In Malmedy, as you know," Bill O'Reilly said on the air Tuesday night in some indecipherable attempt to defend the events of Haditha, "U.S. forces captured S.S. forces who had their hands in the air and were unarmed and they shot them dead. You know that. That's on the record and documented." The victims at Malmedy in December 1944 were Americans, Americans with their hands in the air, Americans who were unarmed. That's on the record and documented, and their memory deserves better than Bill O'Reilly. We all do.
#From the June 5, 2006 Countdown:
KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: Malmedy and O'Reilly and Joe McCarthy: The continuing anger over a commentator who rewrote history, twisted a Germany massacre of American troops into an American war crime. And how he is echoing similar slanders from six decades ago from the infamous junior Senator from Wisconsin.
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:12 P.M.: From abuse of power to abuse of the truth, Fox has now corrected the doctored O'Reilly transcript about Malmedy, but where is the apology from O'Reilly? We know where the anger is from Iraq veterans over the reference. We'll hear from one of the most prominent of them.
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:22 P.M.: From September 11th to the war in Iraq, Bill O'Reilly caught in a huge error trying to justify the reported atrocities at Haditha. Now Fox is backtracking, but there's still no apology from the man who made the mistake.
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:28 P.M.: Also here, a week, and still no apology for taking the side of the Nazis instead of the Americans regarding one of the worst war crimes of the 20th century. Now, veterans of Iraq are incensed over O'Reilly and Malmedy.
OLBERMANN: Malmedy, given the controversy stirred up by that one word in 2006, one can only shudder at what it must have engendered in 1945. That was when America learned that just before Christmas of the preceding year, German S.S. troops had slaughtered 84 American soldiers who had just surrendered to them in that place, the Belgian town of Malmedy. Our third story in the Countdown, as promised now, a follow-up on the inversion of the story of Malmedy by Bill O'Reilly of Fox News channel, who has twice claimed that it was Americans who killed German prisoners there. The follow-up unexpectedly includes the controversial post-war senator, Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin and the re-rewriting of history. Firstly that re-rewriting. This is what Mr. O'Reilly said during an argument with General Wesley Clark over the purported atrocities at Haditha in Iraq last Tuesday.
BILL O'REILLY, FROM THE O'REILLY FACTOR, DATED MAY 30, 2006: In Malmedy, as you know, U.S. forces captured S.S. forces who had their hands in the air and they were unarmed and they shot them down. You know that. That's on the record, been documated.
OLBERMANN: Fox News had scrubbed clean O'Reilly's remarkable misstatement, his second on this subject in just under eight moths. Its transcript of O'Reilly's remarks had him saying, quote, "In Normandy, as you know, U.S. forces captured S.S. forces," etc. That rewriting yesterday's newspaper is the electronic version of what George Orwell prophesied in his novel 1984. Well, good and real news here. After we called out O'Reilly on Fox on both his slander of dead American soldiers and their attempt to hide it on this newscast last Thursday, they changed it back last Friday. It now reads as it should have all along. As O'Reilly said it, "In Malmedy, as you know." So we can get back to the focus, which is why Bill O'Reilly has twice turned the dead victims of Nazi war atrocities into American war criminals, and perhaps worse, offered no apology nor clarification other than a tepid 24-word dismissal.
O'REILLY, FROM THE O'REILLY FACTOR, DATED MAY 31, 2006: In the heat of the debate with General Clark, my statement wasn't clear enough, Mr. Caldwell. After Malmedy, some German captives were executed by American troops.
OLBERMANN: O'Reilly's blase response to his own malicious remarks suggests he still has some doubts about the truthfulness of the story of Malmedy, a battlefield crime so horrific that it led to the prosecution of 73 German soldiers and officers. Turns out others have preceded him down this road of anti-American doubt. A series of speeches, articles and lawsuits in this country in 1949 suggested that evidence and confessions of those German soldiers who had admitted what they had done at Malmedy had been obtained under torture, torture by American Jewish prosecutors and servicemen. Malmedy, the murder by the S.S. of 84 American soldiers who had just surrendered, had been transformed into some sort of Jewish propaganda plot, and an ad hock investigation was launched by the Senate Armed Services Committee. One of its members was an obscure junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy. But within five months of its formation, that Senate sub-committee on which McCarthy served had found nothing to support the charges that Malmedy was a fiction. Its senior members, Republican Raymond Baldwin of Connecticut and Democrat Estes Kefauver of Tennessee determined that the medical evidence was to the contrary and that the only thing supporting the charges were prejudice and a desire by some in the German-American community to blunt the impact of the then-ongoing Nazi war crimes tribunal. That's when Senator Joseph McCarthy quit the committee and accused Senator Baldwin and Kefauver of, quote, 'whitewashing the investigation.' Senator Joe McCarthy and evidently Bill O'Reilly believe that the real victims in the story of 84 American servicemen at Malmedy, the real victims were the Nazis.
OLBERMANN: Judging by reaction to just the first part of our coverage last week, I`m not the only person enraged by O'Reilly's twisting of the tragedy of Malmedy and in the bigger picture twisting it into some kind of indecipherable defense of what happened, whatever happened at Haditha. So, too, for one, the executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Paul Rieckhoff, himself an Iraq veteran. Thank you for your time, sir.
PAUL RIECKHOFF, IAVA: My pleasure, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I guess that big picture question: However he screwed up the details, how is Bill O'Reilly, self-described patriot, defending American troops in Iraq by invoking a World War II massacre of any kind?
RIECKHOFF: He's not. Not at all, and I think what he's doing is really shameful, I think he needs to step up and accept responsibility for his mistake and stand up in front of the country and say I apologize, I screwed up and what I said was not in the best interest of our troops of any generation. This was a direct attack on the legacy and the history, the proud history, of all the World War II veterans in this country, and I think it's really shameful to try to twist it into some convoluted argument to dismiss Haditha is really twisted. I think he just needs to be upfront about it, say he screwed up and apologize. That would be the right thing to do. I think we've seen this type of behavior from the President. We've all seen where that's gotten us, so I think it's about time somebody stepped up and claimed responsibility for their actions and just ask for an apology.
OLBERMANN: To the detail of Malmedy and how first, 60 years ago Joe McCarthy tried to turn this S.S. bloodbath into an American war crime and now how casually Bill O'Reilly has done nearly the same thing, is that just a bizarre coincidence or does it underscore a lot of what you have seen among those who are waving the flag the fastest, and singing the anthem the loudest, relative to how they really feel when it comes right down to it about the troops?
RIECKHOFF: What it underscores is a detachment. He dismissed General Clark, he dismisses history, and I think we all understand how high the stakes are with regard to the allegations at Haditha. We need people to get down to facts, we need people to trust, people like General Clark who got extensive experience as a four-star general, people who`ve been on the ground in Iraq who can help us understand this complex issue. Haditha is going to have global implications around the world no matter how it turns out, we understand that. We need to let the investigation run its course. And Mr. O'Reilly's role in this is really not helping the case. This is not the Natalie Holloway case. We need to get down to brass tacks here, find out what went on and let a thorough investigation run its course and keep the American people informed with people from a position of credibility like military veterans, like General Clark, not like Bill O'Reilly.
OLBERMANN: Well, as you'll hear O'Reilly say, he's been in combat, meaning he covered a shootout once. Military history is this very useful tool in analyzing war of the present day. You can go almost to Caracticus if you want and try to figure things out, but it has to be used really carefully, doesn't it? I mean, if you say, Malmedy, where Americans slaughtered German prisoners or maybe it was after Malmedy, what's the difference? When you reach for a military parallel to Iraq, you have to be a lot more accurate. You have to be precise, don't you?
RIECKHOFF: I think you do, and I think you have to be careful, and you have to be responsible. And I think that's what we all have to do as this Haditha case unfolds. We have to be responsible, we have to be accurate, we have to give people the benefit of the doubt. But there's no disputing what happened at Malmedy, and trying to twist it and have some kind of revisionist history is really irresponsible. You know, I think he needs to issue an apology, we all ask that, all the veterans of our country ask that, and I think it's the responsible thing to do. And if he wants some combat experience, I think he should take his butt over to Iraq. I know he hasn't been there yet. Even Al Franken's been there three times at this point. And if he's really concerned about supporting the troops and understanding the complexity of what's going on over there, he should cover it. That'll be plenty fair and balanced for all of us.
OLBERMANN: Can't get him past west of Sixth Avenue, I don't think you're going to get him to Iraq. Tell me, though, this last point here is piling on, but since he brought Malmedy up for the second time last week and I've heard from relatives of the Americans who were murdered there, actual descendants of victims and they are hurting from this in a way that I and maybe even you can't, would it be really over the line to throw that infamous question back at Bill O'Reilly: Tell me, sir, why do you hate our troops?
RIECKHOFF: Well, I don't know what the right question is, but I know the right demand is an apology. And I think that he owes that to all our troops, and he especially owes that to the World War II generation. My grandfather served in World War II and I know how proud of his service he was, and we all know how difficult that time was. And I think he owes them an apology. It's the responsible thing to do. And if he really supports the troops he should support the veterans and listen to what they have to say and understand history and be responsible and be accurate. That's the best way to support our troops is to be accurate and understanding in the way you represent the coverage of this war and our understanding of it.
OLBERMANN: Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Great thanks for your time and thanks for your service to this country.
RIECKHOFF: My pleasure, sir. Thank you.
#From the Monday, May 19, 2008 Countdown:
KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: A "Special Comment" postscript. When I mentioned "cold-blooded killers" and "mercenaries" in Iraq, why does the far right automatically assume I mean U.S. troops?
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:15 P.M.: A "Special Comment" postscript: If I refer to "cold-blooded killers" working for George Bush, why do those on the lunatic fringe immediately think of American soldiers instead of, say, Blackwater mercenaries or villains in the Cabinet?
OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:30 P.M.: And a postscript to a "Special Comment." What is wrong with the lunatic fringe? They hear the terms "mercenaries" and "cold-blooded killers" and immediately think of our heroic troops fighting in Iraq.
OLBERMANN, DURING COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:45 P.M.: A "Special Comment" postscript: If I refer to "cold-blooded killers" working for President Bush, why does the far right assume that those would have to be U.S. soldiers and not, say, Blackwater mercenaries?
OLBERMANN, AT 8:50 P.M.: A "Special Comment" postscript: If I talk about cold-blooded killers in Iraq, why does the lunatic fringe immediately think of our troops there?
OLBERMANN, AT 8:55 P.M.: And finally, as promised, a post-script tonight regarding last week's "Special Comment." You may remember Mr. Bush had used a cumbersome phrase to describe insurgents in Iraq -- "cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives." Last Wednesday, I quoted that phrase from the Politico.com interview to say that Mr. Bush had now also given America "cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives." I identified them as Mr. Bush's personnel, quote, "those in or formerly in your employ who may yet be charged some day with war crimes."
I also described the chaos of post invasion Iraq with an "American viceroy, enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country by hiding behind Mr. Bush's skirts."
No writer, nor broadcaster is ever as precise and clear as he thinks he is. Television goes by quickly, and the viewer is not provided a copy of the script. So it is possible that reasonable viewers might have been confused by exactly to whom I referred, especially considering that I edited the original line, which was: "Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created includes cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives? They are called your Cabinet and your Pentagon."
During the editing process, it seemed that was a little broad, that there appear to be men in both of those places -- General Ricardo Sanchez, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, perhaps even the new Secretary of Defense, Mr. Gates -- who did not merit inclusion in that list. Obviously, my use of Mr. Bush's phrase, "cold-blooded killers," did not refer to U.S. troops. I have never had anything but the highest respect for them and their sacrifice. This newscast constantly advocates their causes, their needs, our collective debt to them. And we constantly call out the administration on its failures to honor them, to protect them, to stop the Pentagon from sticking a band-aid on those whose hearts and minds are broken, and send them back for another tour.
The U.S. troops in Iraq, even those few who have done bad things there, are still victims in this equation, and most are the proverbial innocent bystanders. My use of Mr. Bush's phrase, "cold-blooded killers," referred not to the them, but rather to those former and current members of Mr. Bush's administration and Pentagon who so irresponsibly unleashed the hounds of war and may indeed some day face war crimes trials.
And that phrase "merciless mercenaries" seemed to be self-explanatory. Neither are these U.S. troops, not when there are literally mercenaries in Mr. Bush's employ, principally from Blackwater USA, who literally shot unarmed Iraqis, most infamously in a massacre in Baghdad last September.
But strangely, when the terms "cold-blood killers" and "mercenaries" were used in a public forum, my critics in the lunatic fringe, rather than even considering that the criticism even might be directed at the Pentagon or the administration or Blackwater USA, immediately decided that these were descriptions of our American heroes fighting in Iraq.
It is perhaps instructive, I think, that to the right-wing commentators and the right-wing blogs, those terms should first evoke not the war-mongers of the Pentagon, nor the gunmen from Blackwater, but U.S. troops.
I cannot imagine that kind of evil knee-jerk reflex. I feel very sorry for those who have shown it. It seems to me that these right-wingers have inadvertently shown their true colors, their instinctive hatred for and contempt for those self-sacrificing Americans who have been needlessly placed in harm's way by these very commentators and the politicians they support. They hear criticism of our nation's collective conduct in Iraq and they immediately assume it's the fault of the soldiers.
In the wake of an insult that exists only in their minds and never in my words nor in my heart, there remains, I think, only one question to ask: Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, why do you hate our troops? Good night and good luck.