Olbermann Compares Bush White House to Clinton's “White House in Crisis”

<img vspace="0" hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="/media/2005-10-20-MSNBCCWO.jpg" />MSNBC's Keith Olbermann led <i>Countdown</i> again Thursday with what he's whittled down to the simple heading as “The Leak,” and soon forwarded the notion that the Bush White House is in a “crisis” similar to that which enveloped the Clinton White House after the Monica Lewinsky revelation. Interviewing former Clinton Chief-of-Staff Leon Panetta, Olbermann pointed out how “the rundown for tonight's show was given a title by our producer that shook me. The title simply was, 'White House in Crisis.' I already hosted a news show on this network that had that title some years ago. Is it applicable now? Is in fact in your opinion this White House in crisis?&quot; Panetta agreed. <br /><br />Maybe Olbermann's old 1998-99 show carried that title for a while or was a sub-title, but I believe his 8pm EDT show back then was titled <i>The Big Show</i>. And on that program in the summer of 1998, Olbermann infamously ruminated about how “it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses.” Olbermann also wondered, “would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?&quot; (Fuller quotations follow, as well as a link to video of Olbermann's 1998 smear.)<br /><br />
<!--break--> In 1999, Olbermann earned a runner-up spot for the “I’m a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award (for media hatred of conservatives)” at the MRC's “DisHonors Awards for the Decade's Most Outrageous Liberal Bias.” On the August 18, 1998 <i>Big Show</i> on MSNBC, shortly after (probably a day or so after) President Clinton's speech following his grand jury appearance, Olbermann asked then-<i>Chicago Tribune</i> Washington Bureau Chief James Warren:<br /><p><img vspace="0" hspace="0" border="0" align="right" src="/media/1998-08-18-MSNBCBSOlbermann.jpg" />&quot;Can Ken Starr ignore the apparent breadth of the sympathetic response to the President’s speech? Facially, it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses. If he now pursues the President of the United States, who, however flawed his apology was, came out and invoked God, family, his daughter, a political conspiracy and everything but the kitchen sink, would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?&quot;</p><p>Check<a href="http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/dishonor1999/welcomeaward6... this MRC page</a> for a RealPlayer clip of that question. (Given it was done with 1998 technology and at a bit rate for dial-up playback, it's very small and blurry.)</p><p>Fast forward to Thursday night, October 20, Olbermann asked Leon Panetta, who appeared from the offices of the Panetta Institute (presumably in California, but Olbermann didn't say): </p><blockquote><p>“This question may sound a little bit inside baseball-ish, but I think it returns to the mainstream as it goes along. Every item in a news broadcast has its own page in the computer rundown. And we think, unintentionally, this page in the rundown for tonight's show was given a title by our producer that shook me. The title simply was, 'White House in Crisis.' I already hosted a news show on this network that had that title some years ago. Is it applicable now? Is in fact in your opinion this White House in crisis?”</p>Panetta: “Well I don't think there's any question that you know, just look at the issues that they're confronting with a war that's bogged down in Iraq, with the problems that they face with Katrina, the collapse there, with the problems of energy prices going through the roof, with the nomination for the Supreme Court in trouble and then if you add on top of that a scandal involving the highest aides to the President in the White House, you've got a White House in crisis.”<br /><br />Olbermann: “Well, if and when we get nostalgic for the simplicity of 1998, I'm going out for a drink. Leon Panetta, former Chief-of-Staff for President Clinton, now at the Panetta Institute. Great, thanks for your perspective and your time sir.”</blockquote>

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center