Olbermann Derides 'Hume's Holy War,' Compares to 'Islamic Extremists'

On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann slammed FNC's Brit Hume for advising Tiger Woods to convert to Christianity while appearing on yesterday's Fox News Sunday panel, where Hume has regularly appeared for years and contributed his opinions to the discussion in a way that differs from his manner of moderating discussions in a more neutral way when he used to host Special Report with Brit Hume. Although Olbermann later backed away from likening Hume to radical Muslims, during the show's opening teaser, Olbermann did make such a comparison: "An organization proselytizing, trying to force others to convert to its faith alone, you know, just like Islamic extremists."

At one point as the Countdown host plugged a segment in which he discussed Hume with author Dan Savage, the words "Hume's Holy War" were shown at the bottom of the screen as Olbermann spoke: "So Brit Hume tells Tiger Woods he can be forgiven, but only if he converts to Christianity. Fox has given up all pretense, hasn’t it?"

As Olbermann and Savage went on to make fun of Christianity, the MSNBC host at one point quipped: "'WWJDIHS,' which is: What would Jesus do if he strayed?" Savage brought up fringe religious figure Fred Phelps, who has become infamous for holding protests at the funerals of American soldiers, and lumped him in with Hume, Pat Robertson and Gary Bauer. Savage:

American Christianity has been hijacked by the lunatics, by the Pat Robertsons, and by the Phelps family, by the Gary Bauers, and by people like Brit Hume, and it’s an insult to Christianity, it’s an insult to Christians. I'm not a Christian. I was a seminarian once upon a time, but I'd like to hear from moderate Christians, not just radical sex advice columnist faggots, about this.

Below is a complete transcript of the segment with author Dan Savage from the Monday, January 4, Countdown show on MSNBC:

KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: And Fox News drops the pretense: Tiger Woods can be forgiven, but only if he renounces his religion.

BRIT HUME: My message to Tiger would be, Tiger, turn your faith, turn to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.

OLBERMANN: An organization proselytizing, trying to force others to convert to its faith alone, you know, just like Islamic extremists.

...

WITH THE WORDS "HUME’S HOLY WAR" ON SCREEN:

OLBERMANN: So Brit Hume tells Tiger Woods he can be forgiven, but only if he converts to Christianity. Fox has given up all pretense, hasn’t it?

...

OLBERMANN: "Brit Hume of Fox tells his audience Tiger Woods can be forgiven, but only if he renounces his Buddhist faith to instead join Christianity. Well, I think Brit Hume can be forgiven if he renounces whatever it is he’s doing now to instead join journalism."

...

OLBERMANN: It was the rote answer from Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes whenever anybody pointed to Fox News and called it, well, what it is. Why belabor the point? Yeah, but we got Brit Hume at 6:00, he’s not partisan, he's not selling anything, he's not proselytizing. Oops.

BRIT HUME: Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person, I think, is a very open question and it's a tragic situation with him. I think he's lost his family. It's not clear to me whether he'll be able to have a relationship with his children. But the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal, the extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He’s said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, Tiger, turn your faith, to the Christian faith, and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.

OLBERMANN: Wow! Hume's attempt to inject religion into a discussion of the Woods mess and then setting one religion as superior and more forgiving to another even got a mention from Don Imus on the Fox Out of Business Channel, quoting, "Well, we checked this morning, and unfortunately or perhaps fortunately if you're a Buddhist there is a path to recovery and redemption. Right? Well, yes there is. The idea of redemption – nirvana under Buddhism – is achieving the state of being freed from greed, hate, and delusion." Let's bring in activist Dan Savage, author of "The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family." Dan, good evening.

DAN SAVAGE, AUTHOR: Good evening, Keith.

OLBERMANN: Wow. When the brakes of political correctness are applied on you by Don Imus, you're in trouble. But let me start with the premise. Being Christian is the best religion for adulterers because you can be forgiven, and we have lots of many fine examples of that, I suppose.

SAVAGE: We do – Mark Sanford, John Ensign, David Vitter. What's hilarious about it is there’s Brit Hume on Fox News suggesting that people should be Christians or adulterous straight men should be Christians not because Jesus is the way and the light, not because Jesus is the Son of God, not because it is the one true religion, but because it offers the best deal. [OLBERMANN LAUGHS] It gives you the get-out-of-adultery-free card that other religions just can't. That seems like an insult to Christianity, as my mother would point out if she were still alive.

OLBERMANN: Isn't this the classic thing that your mother probably also pointed out to you about never discussing religion in public? I mean, you can discuss religion in public. It's like this that you're not supposed to do it. This crosses that principle: Keep religious advocacy out of public life since, you know, the worst examples of that are jihadists, not to mention, you know, guys who don't know their own religions or somebody else's religion like Brit Hume.

SAVAGE: What's really telling, though, is just as, you know, I'm not comparing the American religious right to jihadists. They throw rhetorical bombs. The other guys throw real bombs. There’s a big difference.

OLBERMANN: Mm-hmm.

SAVAGE: But whenever we have a discussion in our country about jihadism and radical Muslims, you always hear, "Where are the moderate voices? Where are the moderate Muslims? Why don't they speak up?" Where are the moderate, liberal, progressive Christians when something like this happens? Why don't they speak up in defense of their own faith? American Christianity has been hijacked by the lunatics, by the Pat Robertsons, and by the Phelps family, by the Gary Bauers, and by people like Brit Hume, and it’s an insult to Christianity, it’s an insult to Christians. I'm not a Christian. I was a seminarian once upon a time, but I'd like to hear from moderate Christians, not just radical sex advice columnist faggots, about this. I'd like to hear them speak up.

OLBERMANN: "WWJDIHS," which is: What would Jesus do if he strayed? Beyond the mere advocacy of religion in public life, this notion that we can counter religious fundamentalists who – as you note, aptly – are different from religious fundamentalists here, they want to blow us up, but somehow we can defend ourselves with our own vigorous religion. Is this sort of Peter Pan quality here? If we all just think hard enough, our god can beat up their god?

SAVAGE: That has been going on and that needs to be checked. General Boykin who was one of the generals in charge of the invasion of Iraq gave a speech where he said our God is bigger than their god. And we've got to stop, we’ve got to de-escalate this rhetoric and the rhetorical war pitting one religion against another religion, particularly as inoffensive a religion as Buddhism.

OLBERMANN, LAUGHING: We haven't heard any threats from radical Buddhists lately in this country.

SAVAGE: There are no Buddhists with bombs in their underpants on airplanes, I don't think.

OLBERMANN: I'm going to avoid a bomb in the underwear joke about Tiger Woods for God's sakes, but is it not in the interests of people of faith to avoid this kind of public proselytizing? I mean, the smart ones get that it just makes them look bad no matter what the thought might be?

SAVAGE: The smart people of faith set an example through their lives. They don't go on Fox News and bloviate and lecture other people and hector people. You know, Brit Hume is on his second marriage. Tiger Woods is on his first. Brit Hume really isn't in a position to be lecturing Tiger Woods about marriage or about the one true path or about the deal that Christianity offers adulterous men.

OLBERMANN: Well, you know, I'm going to assume this is true. I haven't done any research on it, but I don't think Brit Hume used to be a Buddhist who then converted to some Christian faith and found this path already. But if he did, and he is actually speaking from experience, I guess we owe him an apology, but I tend to doubt it.

SAVAGE: I doubt it, too, very highly.

OLBERMANN: Dan Savage, author of "The Commitment," great thanks for your time tonight, Dan.

SAVAGE: Thank you for having me, Keith.

OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this, the 2,440th day since the previous President declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq.