On Friday night, MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Joe Scarborough featured opposite takes on a Friday Washington Posteditorial proclaiming that the recent revelation that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the original leaker of Valerie Plame's identity discredits Joe Wilson's accusations about a White House conspiracy to punish him by ruining his wife's career. On his Countdown show, Olbermann slammed the Washington Post for its "startling conclusions" and attacked the logic of the Post's reasoning. On Scarborough Country, Scarborough hit the New York Times and other media, including "left-leaning TV hosts," for not following the Post's lead and correcting its "character assassination" of the Bush team. Scarborough also delved into the inaccuracy of some of Wilson's claims about his trip to Niger and whether it really contradicted Bush's State of the Union claims about Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium. And while Scarborough presented some balance on his show by allowing one of his two guests to defend Wilson (Rachel Sklar after Wilson critic Christopher Hitchens), Olbermann followed his normal routine of choosing guests who will bolster his anti-Bush views, this time in the form of Wilson/Plame attorney Melanie Sloan. (Transcripts follow)
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann continued his attacks on the Bush administration over its current series of speeches defending the Iraq War. Hosting interviews with three Bush critics from the left (Senator Barbara Boxer, the Mayor of Salt Lake City who led a protest against Bush's "lies" and John Dean, who labeled Donald Rumsfeld an "authoritarian"), the Countdown host provided a forum to attack the administration without any Bush supporters for balance. Olbermann also patted himself on the back for his Wednesday night diatribe against Rumsfeld (NewsBusters item with video) by citing the "thousands of [Countdown viewers] who responded so kindly," and continued his attacks as he claimed that the Defense Secretary, while employing "vicious" rhetoric and "embracing" the "methods" of "fascists" in his recent speech "against your right to dissent," claiming that Rumsfeld was "throwing dissent under the bus." The Countdown host also labeled some of Bush's logic in arguing Iraq's importance in the war on terrorism as "nonsense." Olbermann rounded up his big anti-conservative night by naming conservatives Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Senator Conrad Burns as his three nominees for his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment. (Partial transcripts follow)
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann bolstered the ruling by Federal Judge Ann Diggs Taylor against the Bush administration's controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Referring to the ruling as a "judicial smackdown" and a "stunning ruling" against the program, Olbermann repeatedly referred to the NSA program as monitoring "our" phone calls or "our" emails. The MSNBC host further contended that since the program was revealed, "anybody who had actually read the Constitution" believed it would eventually be ruled as "patently illegal." Olbermann's guest discussing the topic was liberal law professor Jonathan Turley, who labeled Judge Taylor's ruling as a "very thoughtful opinion" and called efforts by conservatives to discredit her as a liberal Carter appointee as "distasteful." By contrast, CNN and FNC featured guests who questioned Judge Taylor's judicial wisdom. (Transcript follows)
On Thursday, all three network evening newscasts covered the ruling by a federal judge against the Bush administration's controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Stemming from a case filed by the ACLU and other plaintiffs, Judge Ann Diggs Taylor, a Carter appointee, found the program to be unconstitutional. Unlike CNN and FNC, which conveyed that the ruling would likely be overturned, none of the network evening newscasts mentioned the liberal credentials of Judge Taylor or the debate over judicial activism and legal weaknesses in the ruling, such as the issue of whether the plaintiffs had standing to file the lawsuit, since the plaintiffs themselves were not found to be the subjects of surveillance. (Transcripts follow)
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who never accuses Democrats of "playing politics" with Iraq and the war on terrorism, opting instead to join them in attacking President Bush, continued to slam Bush for "playing politics" with terrorism, which Olbermann labelled as "something that should matter to all of us." The Countdown host, who regularly signs off his show by recounting the number of American troops killed "since the declaration of 'Mission Accomplished' in Iraq" to embarrass Bush, on Wednesday's show highlighted recent comments by former President Clinton accusing Bush of "playing politics" with the London plane bombing plot. Guest Dana Milbank of the Washington Post lamely joked that "it's a matter of time until the whole JonBenet lead turns into an al-Qaeda business." (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday's Countdown show, while reporting on a recent Zogby poll which found that more Americans can name two of Snow White's dwarves than can name two of America's Supreme Court justices, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took the opportunity to joke that Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia are "Dopey and Grumpy." The Countdown host also took a shot at President Bush by bringing up Bush's failure to name world leaders in a pop quiz during an interview with Boston TV journalist Andy Hiller in November 1999, and suggested to comedian Mo Rocca that Bush's lack of knowledge is to blame for "current world affairs." Olbermann: "Can you think of any consequences at all that could have stemmed from that candidate's level of knowledge? Is that being reflected at all in the current world affairs?" (Transcript follows)
No matter which way the facts are pointing, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann can find a way to entertain an anti-Bush conspiracy theory on his Countdown show when the administration announces a terror alert.
Last week, when it appeared the British had decided when to arrest suspects planning to bomb airplanes, Olbermann pushed the theory that administration members used their foreknowledge to tailor attacks on anti-war Democrats to take political advantage of the impending arrests. But, in light of news that the administration, instead of waiting for the terrorists to board planes and make test runs, pressured the British to make the arrests a week earlier than the British had wanted to, Olbermann has started pushing the theory he probably wanted to push in the first place: that President Bush timed the arrests so he could use the news to discredit anti-war Democrats right after they denied renomination to pro-Iraq War Senator Joe Lieberman. (Transcript follows)
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has a history of pushing conspiracy theories questioning whether the Bush administration has politically timed terror alerts or the release of terrorism-related stories for political advantage. Since the timeline of the current terror plot story was controlled by the British, one might expect Olbermann to take a break from his fascination with such ideas. But, true to form, the Countdown host still found a way to insert an anti-Bush conspiracy theory into the story, as he questioned whether some of the Bush administration's recent criticism of Democrats for ousting pro-Iraq War Senator Joe Lieberman had been timed to exploit the terror story that would soon break. (Transcript follows)
On the August 7 CBS Evening News, while filing a story about stem cell research on mice aimed at some day treating deafness in humans, correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin curiously implied that mouse embryos are not living, perhaps betraying a bias in how she views embryos in general. As she described research by Stanford University scientist Dr. Stefan Heller in which he injects stem cells into the ears of "mouse embryos," Kaledin informed viewers he plans to later try injecting stem cells into fully developed mice, which she referred to as "live mice," as if embryos were not technically alive. Kaledin: "He and his colleagues have figured out how to inject stem cells into the ears of mouse embryos and watch them grow. Their next step is to try it in live mice."
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann opened his August 7 Countdown show fretting about President Bush's unwillingness to delay his vacation, in contrast with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, during the current fighting in the Middle East, mocking Bush during the teaser by twice uttering the words: "He's on vacation." He even drew a negative parallel from history as he recounted that the Nazi invasion of Europe received a boost while infamous British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain vacationed, as the Countdown host then similarly uttered the words, "Chamberlain was on vacation," to link him to Bush. Olbermann, who has never compared the appeasement-minded Chamberlain to anti-war liberals, then further contrasted Bush with current Prime Minister Blair's decision to cancel his own vacation: "His close ally, Tony Blair, avoided the direct Chamberlain comparison and cancelled his own time off because of the events in the Middle East." Referring to Condoleezza Rice's handling of Middle East negotiations, Olbermann contended that she was "picking up the pieces of the President's foreign policy." (Transcript follows)
Appearing on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor Wednesday, former CBS News anchor Dan Rather conceded there's a "problem" with America's media in its treatment of Hezbollah and Israel with "moral equivalence," even including himself as part of the problem. As host Bill O'Reilly brought up the topic, stating his criticism that "Some networks give moral equivalency to Hezbollah in the reporting of this war," Rather voiced agreement and went on to acknowledge the media's reluctance to label Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization." Rather: "It's a problem that those of us in journalism have been reluctant to address -- I do not exclude myself from this criticism -- reluctant to address that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. It's committed to the destruction of Israel. It isn't committed to trying to just gain territory. It's committed to its destruction." (Transcript follows)
Appearing on Keith Olbermann's Countdown show on MSNBC, Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, who regularly appears on the show to poke fun at celebrities in the news, used actor/filmmaker Mel Gibson's recent anti-Semitic outburst as an opportunity to smear Gibson's general audience as also being racist. Responding to a question from Olbermann about whether Gibson's career would suffer, Musto labeled Gibson's audience, presumably referring to Passion of the Christ fans, as "deeply anti-Semitic," and as "deeply proud" of Gibson's expression of anti-Semitism. Musto: "He doesn't work with anybody else, and his audience is already deeply anti-Semitic, so they're deeply proud of him after this." (Transcript follows)
During an appearance on Friday's Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann acknowledged accusations of liberal bias, but denied they were true, preferring to describe himself politically as "correct" and "neutral," without a "rooting interest" in who wins elections. Ignoring criticism from the MRC that, among other instances of bias during the 1998 Monica Lewinsky scandal, he once compared former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr to Nazi war criminal Heinrich Himmler, Olbermann claimed that he was never accused of liberal bias while covering the scandal. Olbermann: "I've been accused of being a liberal, which is interesting because the last time I was on doing the news in the late 90s, I did 218 consecutive shows about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. And no one accused me of being a liberal then. It's very interesting the way you can be sort of pigeonholed. I like to think of myself politically as 'correct.'" (Transcript follows)
Defending his recent mockery of FNC's Bill O'Reilly that included a Nazi salute, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann used his appearance on Tuesday's Tonight Show with Jay Leno to defend his actions, implying that he was inspired to do so at the suggestion of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to "do something creative," and also by viciously smearing O'Reilly as a defender of Nazis: "On the air in the last year, Bill O'Reilly has defended the Nazis from World War II on three separate occasions. ... Yes, I wish I were making this up." An ironic statement coming from Olbermann, who last year scolded public figures who use Nazi references, saying, "There's no place for the reference in this culture," and that the analogies are "wrong, offensive and deeply hurtful." (Transcript follows)
Video clip #1 (1:00) NBC runs Countdown promo of Olbermann slamming Ann Coulter, then he quips about Al Gore: Real (1.6 MB) or Windows Media (1.9 MB), plus MP3 audio (280 KB)
Video clip #2 (1:52) Olbermann explains why he did a Nazi salute while holding up a Bill O'Reilly mask: Real (3.1 MB) or Windows Media (3.6 MB), plus MP3 audio (550 KB)
On Friday's World News, ABC's Charles Gibson highlighted a Lebanese blog poster who implied that most Israelis are not "reasonable" enough to care about the safety of innocent Lebanese civilians. Responding to an Israeli poster, also quoted by Gibson, who had expressed wishes that the Lebanese people be safe during the airstrikes, the unnamed Lebanese poster implied that most Israelis are unreasonable while complimenting the Israeli poster: "I can rest a little easier in this difficult time because I have found reasonable voices in Israel."
Gibson opened the segment declaring that although "the Israeli and Lebanese governments are not talking to one another," citizens on both sides were communicating through the Internet by posting on blogs. He first quoted an unnamed Israeli soldier: "I'm sending you my best wishes and hope that you and your family will be strong and be alright until this horrible situation will be over." (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann characterized President Bush's veto of a bill to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research as a "hard stance" and a "setback for stem cell research" as the President was "honking off" and "turning his back on" federal funding proponents "despite pleas from his own party." He also portrayed Bush's decision as "forget science, forget patients." Before the words "Appeasing the Base" were displayed on the monitor behind him, Olbermann employed a standard liberal attack accusing the "radical right" of inconsistency for being both anti-abortion and pro-death penalty, charging that "there are no straight lines in the radical right's attitude towards life." The Countdown host also sympathetically declared that Democrats were "confounded by" Bush's "scientific double speak," while he mocked Bush as "confounded by exactly which rights are endowed by the Creator in the Declaration of Independence." (Transcript follows)
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann implied that the Senate Judiciary Committee deliberately timed its hearing on the controversial NSA spying program to "bury" the story as the national media attention is focused on war in the Middle East. The Countdown host similarly remarked that it was the "perfect day" for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to reveal President Bush's role in blocking the Justice Department from reviewing the program. Referring to NBC's The West Wing, Olbermann ended up labeling the day "take out the trash day."
After referring to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, Olbermann teased the segment at the beginning of the show: "A perfect day then to bury the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on warrant-free domestic spying by the Bush administration. A perfect day then for the Attorney General to reveal that the Justice Department was blocked from reviewing the legalities on the personal instructions of the President." (Transcript follows)
In March 2004, when the Bush campaign ran ads showing a brief image of a flag-draped body being removed from the World Trade Center wreckage, the media played up charges by Bush critics that the President was exploiting 9/11 for political purposes. When Republicans recently criticized Democrats for an ad that included images of flag-draped coffins of U.S. troops killed in Iraq, most of the media ignored the controversy, but not MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. The Countdown host instead weighed in taking the side of Democrats. Olbermann portrayed Republican criticism of the ad as "rock throwing" by those living in "glass houses" while putting no burden on Democrats to be consistent with their criticism of the Bush ad two years ago, as he relayed the Democratic argument justifying the ad: "Democrats say the Republicans erased the line years ago." (Transcript follows)
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann hosted former Nixon White House counsel and frequent Bush administration critic John Dean to talk about his latest book attacking conservatives, titled Conservatives Without Conscience, which the Countdown host labeled "an extraordinary document." Olbermann, who has a long history of bashing President Bush's tactics in the war on terrorism, provided Dean with a sympathetic, nonchallenging forum to argue that modern conservatives are moving the Republican party toward "authoritarianism" as Dean tagged some conservatives as having an "authoritarian personality," and labeled 23 percent of the population as "right-wing authoritarian followers" who are willing to "march over the cliff." Olbermann not only made his latest reference to George Orwell's 1984, but he also found relevance in bringing up Nazi Germany as he wondered if there had been similarity in the "psychological principles" in "Germany and Italy in the 30s," and, quoting a passage from Dean's book, brought up the possibility that conservatives might intentionally "provoke potential terrorists" in an effort to "maintain influence and control of the presidency."
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann set a new standard for spin that would even make the famous Black Knight character from Monty Python's Holy Grail blush. Reacting to the MRC's recently released study (see the latest Media Reality Check and NewsBusters posting) documenting Olbermann's overwhelming 8 to 1 bias toward attacking many conservatives but very few liberals during his show's regular "Worst Person in the World" segment, Olbermann ludicrously argued that the study actually proves the segment is "apolitical" since most of his targets are not political. Tagging the Media Research Center as a "rabid right-wing spin group," Olbermann proceeded to employ his own spin as he essentially mocked the study, and concluded: "I'd like to thank the MRC for confirming my point that the segment is apolitical." And to add even more shamelessness, Olbermann brazenly chose conservatives, including MRC President Brent Bozell, as all three of his "Worst Person" nominees later in the same show. (Transcript follows)
Rush Limbaugh the target of gunfire from gun enthusiasts? Evidently this is a thought MSNBC host Keith Olbermann finds entertaining, as evidenced by the opening teaser of his latest edition of Countdown. On Tuesday's show, when Olbermann got to a plug for a story about a gathering of gun enthusiasts in Oklahoma, and while showing clips of people firing at targets using automatic weapons, an image of Rush Limbaugh's face was briefly shown overlaying a clip of background explosions right after one of the participants shouted, "Rush! Big rush!" Olbermann then joked: "Huh? Oh, you mean a different 'big rush.'"
Earlier in the teaser, Olbermann, who has become a frequent Limbaugh critic and mocks him as "comedian Rush Limbaugh," previewed a story on the conservative host's recent brush with U.S. Customs over a supply of Viagra Limbaugh had in possession. Olbermann, imitating Limbaugh's voice: "With talent on loan from Pfizer." After playing a clip of Limbaugh laughing off the incident on his show, Olbermann asked: "Will he get the last laugh or was that premature jocularity?" (Transcript follows)
On MSNBC's Countdown show on Friday, substitute host Brian Unger featured a softball interview with Democratic Congressman John Murtha during which Unger queued up Murtha to attack the Bush administration's Iraq policy and Republican critics. The Countdown host bolstered Murtha's credibility by referring to his war record and labelling him a "traditional hawk" while he discredited White House advisor Karl Rove by negatively labelling him as a "partisan attacker trying to squash discussion about Iraq," and proclaimed "the Swift-Boating of the 2006 election has begun." Unger also saw no irony in fretting about "personal attacks" on Murtha even as Murtha referred to Rove "sitting on his fat backside in an air-conditioned office." (Transcript follows)
On MSNBC's Countdown show on Thursday, substitute host Brian Unger suggested President Bush views American troops as "expendable" as he picked up on an erroneous report by the Washington Post that the new Iraqi government would offer amnesty to insurgents who had killed American troops. Unger contended that the President is "apparently okay with that," and wondered if the White House risked being "perceived as believing that American lives in Iraq are expendable." By contrast, FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume corrected the Washington Post's inaccurate story, which was based on an interview with an outgoing Iraqi government official. And just days after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a high-level member of al-Qaeda's leadership, was killed in Iraq, Unger dismissed Iraq's relevance to the war on terrorism, calling it "a link that has been proven not to exist." (Transcript follows)
On Friday's Countdown show on MSNBC, substitute host Brian Unger lived up to Keith Olbermann's habitually liberal standards as he portrayed recent efforts by Senate Republicans to declare English America's official language and to ban gay marriage as a "hard turn to the right." He hearkened back to the "exclusionary rhetoric" of the 1992 Republican convention that spelled a "political disaster" for Republicans, and wondered if it could be "1992 all over again." Regarding the proposed gay marriage ban, Unger referred to it as part of the "far right's greatest hit list," and characterized the Senate Judiciary Committee vote for a constitutional amendment as "tossing social conservatives a straight-as-an-arrow bone."
In spite of a recent Zogby poll showing 84 percent of Americans, including 77 percent of Hispanics, support making English the nation's official language, Unger teased the show wondering if Republicans would "alienate the American middle": "Could these two right turns alienate the American middle? What playing to the Republican base could mean for the President and voters come midterm election." He introduced the show by recounting the 1992 Republican convention which renominated former President George H.W. Bush: "The 1992 Republican convention was widely regarded as a political disaster in which the party's social conservatives managed to alienate swing voters with their exclusionary rhetoric. A new cultural war was launched, and not coincidentally, it was the Democratic ticket that managed to win the '92 election. Our fifth story on the Countdown, could it be '92 all over again?" (Transcript follows)
On The Situation Room on Thursday, CNN's Jack Cafferty used his Cafferty Report segment to rant against a proposal by Republican Senators for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage as "shameless" and "an effort to appeal to right-wing nuts" in the Republican Party. He further accused Republicans of "groveling at the feet of the lunatic fringe," and sarcastically concluded, "That's leadership."
Cafferty began his segment by labeling it a "lesson in hypocrisy" as he went on to recount a private meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee that was held by Republican Chairman Arlen Specter, and Democratic Senator Russ Feingold's decision to storm out after an argument with Specter. Cafferty commented, "These guys are shameless," and then continued: "Senator Specter, in a real show of courage, says that he's, quote, 'totally opposed to the amendment,' but he voted for it anyway, saying it deserves a debate in the Senate." (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann cited a Chicago Tribune piece by George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley as he explored whether, as with the Sopranos, you have to "break the law" to "break into the inner circle" of President Bush. Focusing on Bush's nomination of General Michael Hayden to run the CIA, and citing Hayden's role in creating the controversial NSA spying program, Olbermann argued that Bush counts "willingness to thumb his nose at constitutional law" as resume enhancement. The Countdown host then brought aboard Turley to make an unchallenged case that the administration consists of a "rogues' gallery." (Transcript follows)
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann attacked the Bush administration over the leak of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA agent, implying that the President has "done more to help terrorists and rogue states than hurt them," as he linked Plame's work on WMD to the current standoff with Iran. But Olbermann had previously not expressed worries about threats to national security from other leakers, instead referring to them as "whistleblowers," including those who leaked the CIA's use of secret prisons in Europe, and the existence of the controversial NSA spying program.
Olbermann opened the Tuesday May 2 Countdown show: "The irony was already inescapable and infuriating. In the middle of a war that started over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, the administration of President George W. Bush was willing to destroy the cover of a secret American agent on the trail of actual weapons of mass destruction in order to deflect criticism over how badly it had fouled up or puffed up its wobbly evidence about phony weapons of mass destruction." (Complete transcript follows)
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann raised the term "new McCarthyism," as he accused the Bush administration of engaging in a "witch hunt" against leakers "it does not find politically expedient." Olbermann referred to the "Red Scare witch hunt of the 1950s" during which Senator Joseph McCarthy went after communist sympathizers, as the Countdown host formed a pun on the famous Senator's name and the name of recently fired CIA analyst Mary McCarthy, whom on Friday he had sympathetically referred to as a "whistleblower," on grounds she leaked classified information about secret prisons in Europe being used in the War on Terrorism. Olbermann then brought aboard a former employee of Mary McCarthy, former CIA officer Larry Johnson, to defend Ms. McCarthy and attack the Bush administration. (Transcript follows)
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann plugged the Rolling Stone cover story by historian Sean Wilentz which argued that George W. Bush may be the worst President ever, citing the opinions of over 400 historians. As he introduced his interview with Wilentz, Olbermann sympathetically referred to the recently fired CIA employee who leaked classified information on the agency's use of secret prisons in Europe in the War on Terrorism, calling her a "whistleblower," and asked the question: "President Bush, whose administration is now firing, perhaps prosecuting whistleblowers, is he simply the worst?"
While introducing the segment, Olbermann listed several of Wilentz's attacks against Bush without challenging their validity, including accusations of "fabricated evidence" of WMD, a "retro fiscal policy" of "massive tax cuts" for the wealthy that "racked up monstrous deficits," and a criticism citing an unnamed Republican strategist who claimed that the Republican Party is "the first religious party in U.S. history." Olbermann, who perennially makes comparisons between George Orwell's novel 1984 and the Bush administration, managed to work in yet another reference to Orwell as he ended the interview mocking the administration's use of the term "pre-9/11 thinking," charging that Bush would accuse Wilentz and the other historians of being "guilty of pre-9/11 thinking, as George Orwell might have said." (Transcript follows)
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann highlighted a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll which shows President Bush's approval rating "plummeting even further" and, as the Countdown host observed, "for the first time in the Bush presidency," the President's approval rating among Republicans has fallen below 70 percent. This straight citing of Fox News contrasts with Olbermann's regular attacks on FNC with nearly every mention of the network on his show. As reported by NewsBusters, Olbermann had just one day earlier mocked the journalistic integrity of FNC's Tony Snow and the network's overall truthfulness after word that Snow was being considered to replace White House spokesman Scott McClellan.