Entertainment Weekly TV critic Ken Tucker put both Keith Olbermann and Rosie O'Donnell on his Best of TV List for 2006.
6 Countdown With Keith Olbermann MSNBC The best anchor in the biz right now books off-the-beaten-pundit guests, refuses to maintain the ridiculous pose of ''objectivity,'' and is funny as hell. Which is where some of his competitors wish he'd go.
7 The View ABC Detonate the small nuclear bomb called Rosie O'Donnell and watch a mere chitchat show explode with barbed wit and fierce sociopolitical debate. She's forced Elisabeth Hasselbeck to try to learn how to form coherent thoughts, made a revitalized Joy Behar her ally in common sense, and frequently left her boss Barbara Walters speechless.
At the absolutely Bush-loathing website Buzzflash.com, there are Olbermann for President buttons. He is, they say, "the first-tier reality-based, progressive cable commentator" who has walked on "the path to becoming the contemporary heir to the courageous, succinct truth-telling of Edward R. Murrow." The love letter continued:
Olbermann's commentaries on the Bush Administration and America's promise are so succinct, articulate, and withering that they leave you breathless. You keep thinking, "How did the corporate media poobahs let someone so straightforward, eloquent and truthful on the air?"
In an age of media stenographers, Olbermann doesn't pull any punches. And he's not just hard hitting; he connects the dots too. In short, he puts the insane failure and duplicity of the Bush administration in context, a rare thing indeed on television and in the media in general.
On Monday's Countdown, viewers were treated to a special retrospective of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann's series of "Special Comment" attacks on the Bush administration, featuring four of Olbermann's favorites. 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 quotes calling Olbermann "hot," "charismatic," "witty," and "a cross between Edward R. Murrow and Jon Stewart." The announcer further labeled the featured rants as "Keith's most passionate, most honest, most compelling 'Special Comments.'" (Transcript follows)
Is Keith Olbermann just a modern-day reincarnation of the crazed anchorman depicted in the 1976 Academy Award-winning film “Network?” In a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article published Tuesday, KO said no (emphasis mine throughout): “‘I am not Peter Finch walking around the streets of New York in my pajamas as Howard Beale muttering to myself and saying, 'I must bear my witness.' It's not like that.’"
One NewsBusters’ contributing editor didn’t agree with Olby’s position:
“My concern is that people are mistaking his show for real news," said Noel Sheppard, a blogger with NewsBusters.Org, a Web site founded by conservative media watchdog Brent Bozell. "But there's no question he is indeed Howard Beale. The whole Paddy Chayevsky [sic] concept in 'Network' was that news had to be entertaining. You had the anchorman flip out one day, and the ratings exploded. The same is going on with Keith Olbermann, who really does get into a snit like Beale did."
As a little background, the film “Network” was based on a fictitious media outlet whose ratings were doing very poorly, in particular, its news division.
On Monday's Countdown during the show's regular "Oddball" segment, while reporting on the controversial decision of the Seattle-Tacoma Airport to remove its Christmas trees from public view rather than display a Menorah, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann mocked FNC host Bill O'Reilly by jokingly suggesting that O'Reilly supports a "war against Hanukkah." Olbermann, who since last year has mocked O'Reilly and other FNC hosts, once calling them "fat heads," for their concerns about a "War on Christmas" by secularists, jokingly commented, referring to Bill O'Reilly disparagingly as "Billow": "Generalissimo O'Reilly remains upbeat. Look not on this as a defeat in the war on Christmas. This was a dramatic victory in Billow's new war against Hanukkah." Ironically, less than 20 minutes earlier on The O'Reilly Factor, host O'Reilly had spoken approvingly of displaying a Menorah at the airport as he interviewed the rabbi who had requested it. The FNC host was quite sympathetic to the rabbi's viewpoint as he lambasted the airport's decision not to allow a Menorah display. O'Reilly: "There is no reason not to put up a Menorah in the Sea-Tac Airport because Hanukkah is a celebrated holiday, and, you know, Americans of Jewish faith would like to see it, and it's in context, so put it up." (Transcripts follow)
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann again discussed whether President Bush is the "worst ever" President, inspired by comments from Republican Senator Gordon Smith that leaving American troops in Iraq could be "criminal." Coining the phrase "Mr. Smith goes to his conscience," Olbermann introduced an interview with Newsweek's Richard Wolffe comparing Smith's comments to the "watershed" moment when Republican Senators Hugh Scott and Barry Goldwater convinced President Nixon to resign.
After bringing aboard former Nixon counsel John Dean, Olbermann referred to their past discussion of the Bush White House being a "textbook case of authoritarianism" and wondered if President Bush might soon be "declared once and for all" the worst President ever: "If in face of the overwhelming evidence that the plan in Iraq is not working, the public disapproval at this extraordinary high, if even now President Bush is not willing to change course on a real basis and Mr. Rumsfeld's not expressing any remorse, might that be the deciding historical factor in declaring once and for all this President the worst one ever?" Ever the conspiracy theorist, the MSNBC host even wondered if Bush, "having politicized his way into Iraq," would try to delay an exit from Iraq "until it can be used to his party's benefit in the 2008 campaign," before wondering, "Is that too cynical even for this administration?" (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann reported the recent deaths of 10 American troops in Iraq by commenting that they had "paid the ultimate price for President Bush's execution of the war." His comments came as he was introducing an interview with Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post on what the Iraq Study Group report could mean for American troops. Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the December 6 Countdown show:
Keith Olbermann: "On this, the same day the Iraq Study Group released its report, 10 more Americans paid the ultimate price for President Bush's execution of the war. The collective price America's military is paying and how the Iraq Study Group may change it is our number three story in the Countdown tonight."
I don't track Keith Olbermann's descents into mean-spirited bad taste systematically enough to definitively proclaim that he has charted a new low. Let's just say that he has once again indulged his proclivity to traffic for political purposes in the worst of ill-will.
You know you're liberal if even a liberal media watchdog group calls you liberal -- that is, unless you're MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. While Olbermann denies displaying a liberal bias on his show, once describing himself politically as "correct" and "neutral," media analyst Paul Waldman of the far left Media Matters for America, a frequent source of material for Olbermann, sees it differently. On Tuesday's Scarborough Country on MSNBC, during a discussion of whether there is a "vast left-wing conspiracy" against Bill O'Reilly and Fox News, Waldman proclaimed that Olbermann's show is the "only liberal show" on cable news. Below is a complete transcript of Waldman's comment from the December 5 Scarborough Country:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who regularly uses his Countdown show to ridicule President Bush, on Tuesday finally included the President in his list of nominees for "Worst Person in the World." For the past 17 months that Olbermann has featured the "Worst Person" segment on his show, the Countdown host has ironically avoided including Bush in spite of the regular, sometimes vitriolic, criticism Olbermann has spewed at the President, including calling him a "21st century Marie Antoinette" over his handling of Hurricane Katrina and delivering several "Special Comment" attacks on the President. But on the December 5 show, Olbermann awarded Bush the third place "bronze" distinction because of word that President Bush had been warned about the sensitivity of asking Democratic Senator-elect Jim Webb about his son's service in Iraq before doing so anyway. Below is a complete transcript of Olbermann's comments about Bush from the December 5 Countdown show:
For a man that is averaging a paltry 600,000 viewers an evening, he sure is full of…himself. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann sat down with the folks from Radar Online for an interview published Monday (hat tip TVNewser), and it must have been hard to get his head through the entranceway.
First, he did what most employees learn at an early age is a no-no – he took on his boss. His interviewers asked: “Dan Abrams said recently that your program ‘could become a model for the newscast of the future.’ Are you a role model?” Olby obnoxiously responded (emphasis mine throughout):
I don't know what Dan has to do with it frankly. We've never had a conversation about the direction of the show. He's actually the—The general manager [of MSNBC], right, but we rarely interact. As far as I know he works on dayside programming. Phil Griffin runs the network. He is the vice president of NBC [News] and my original producer in television.
Then, he went after CNN’s Lou Dobbs (emphasis mine throughout):
On Friday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann attacked FNC's Bill O'Reilly, calling him a "holy you-know-what liar" because O'Reilly recently bragged that he had voiced the need for tough martial law early on to keep order in Iraq. During recent comments on The Radio Factor, O'Reilly misstated the date of his prediction as "the night that Saddam's statue fell" when, in fact, it was a mere two nights later (April 11, 2003, instead of April 9), still in the recent aftermath. Olbermann, likely inspired by an article from one of his regular sources in the form of the far-left Media Matters for America, seized on the date mixup to accuse O'Reilly, whom he referred to gratuitously as "Billow" and "Bill Orally," of being a "liar," and tagged the FNC host "Worst Person in the World." (Transcripts follow)
CENTCOM is one of the five geographically-defined unified commands within the Department of Defense. With responsibility for 27 countries including Iraq, CENTCOM is commanded by Gen. John Abizaid.
Perusing CENTCOM's weekly online newsletter today, I noticed a tab labelled "What Extremists Say." I clicked on it, hoping to catch up on the latest pronouncements by Keith Olbermann, George Soros, perhaps Michael Moore.
But no, it turns out that CENTCOM had another kind of extremist in mind, folks like the al-Fajr Information Center, who have put out their first issue of a new magazine “Technical Mujahid,” electronically distributed to password-protected jihadist forums. No word if MoveOn.org has taken out any advertising space.
Ever wonder what makes Keith Olbermann such a fine journalist? Well, according to the former sportscaster, it’s the fact that he doesn’t "make the facts up" like Rush Limbaugh does.
PBS host Jim Lehrer trumpeted his objectivity in a more creative way. Using a food analogy, the anchor deemed himself the "flavor of neutrality." (Just a thought, but where do the liberal flavors originate? Ben and Jerry's?)
Perhaps longing for the "good old days," NBC News chose no less an authoritative source than Matt Lauer to announce that the situation in Iraq is a civil war. Maybe NBC is attempting to recreate the famous "Cronkite moment"?
Interestingly, this same network that is so eager to declare a civil war, has, at times, been hesitant to label Hezbollah a terrorist group.
The Laurie David/Al Gore/Keith Olbermann/Washington Post v. National Science Teachers Association controversy continues, with Science magazine weighing in with facts that don't look so good for Laurie David. (Watch for the drive by media to lose interest in this story any minute now.)
Here's the latest (earlier posts about aspects of this are here, here and here):
According to Science magazine, Laurie David now admits the National Science Teachers Association offered the Gore Gang the opportunity to mail the DVD to NSTA members. What David is mad about is 1) the NSTA didn't offer to provide a letter endorsing the movie (NTSA, according to Science, says it has had a policy since 2001 "prohibiting endorsements of any product or message by an outside organization"), and 2) the NSTA didn't offer to pay the costs for mailing 50,000 DVDs (somewhat understandably, in my view, since it wasn't their idea to mail it in the first place) of David's and Gore's movie.
On Thursday's Countdown, two days after comparing Newt Gingrich's ideas on free speech and anti-terrorism measures to Naziism, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann aimed his latest "Special Comment" rant at the former House Speaker over a speech he gave at the Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment award dinner, discussed in a Manchester Union Leader article, during which Gingrich had talked about restricting some free speech rights for those who incite terrorism. Olbermann used a number of charged words and phrases in hitting Gingrich, including "fascism," "barbarism" and "delusions of grandeur." He also referred to Gingrich as a "dangerous creature" and compared Gingrich to an "arsonist giving the keynote address at a convention of firefighters." Accusing Gingrich of "exploiting" terrorism to pursue the presidency, the Countdown host quoted a line from The Manchurian Candidate referring to Angela Lansbury's character who planned to seize power while "waving the flag every time she subjugates another freedom." (Transcript follows)
On Thursday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Countdown made Brent Bozell, President of the Media Research Center which runs NewsBusters, the “winner” of his nightly “Worst Person in the World.” Bozell's offense? Asserting that “probably a hundred Generals in the field in Iraq would disagree” with describing the situation in Iraq as a “civil war.” Olbermann demanded: “Okay, name them. We're waiting.” But seconds before Olbermann had inadvertently made Bozell's case as he recalled how “in August and September alone, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Pace and General Abizaid and General Casey all admitted that at minimum, Iraq could be headed to civil war.” Yes, “could” be “headed” for civil war, but not in one.
And, for someone who propounds to be such a stickler for accuracy (on Tuesday he ridiculed FNC for dropping one letter from his name), Olbermann flubbed a basic fact. Just as he did the last time he denounced Bozell as the “worst” (November 3 NewsBusters item), Olbermann called the Media Research Center the Media Research “Council.”
The National Science Teachers Association has now officially responded to Laurie David's Washington Post op-ed (see Noel Sheppard's Newsbusters post on the op-ed here) essentially accusing the group of being captive to corporate interests when it declined a gift of 50,000 "An Inconvenient Truth" DVDs for distribution to classrooms.
It doesn't say so, but presumably the NSTA is also responding to MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann's Monday evening accusation that the NSTA president, Linda Froschauer, is "available at the right price," a statement made by Olbermann in a commentary that appears to have been based on the Laurie David Washington Post op-ed.
It seems safe to say that Keith Olbermann has found his audience, and hit his stride. At this point, all he has to do is find a well-known conservative to bash and belittle each night, and his viewers comprised of Netroots denizens and Michael Moore devotees across the country will gush over and applaud each vitriolic statement.
With that in mind, the Tuesday installment of “Countdown” certainly didn’t disappoint such folks, as the conservative in the crosshairs du jour was former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (video available here). At issue was a speech Gingrich gave Monday night at the Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment Award dinner in New Hampshire wherein he suggested that due to the ongoing war on terror, new rules might need to be applied to our Constitution to protect the citizens. Olbermann didn’t like this idea very much, and badly misquoted a famous German theologian to evoke images of Hitler and Nazis:
On Tuesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann included Fox News Watch as one of the nominees in his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment. Awarding the FNC show third place with the "bronze" distinction, the Countdown host relayed conservative columnist Cal Thomas' choice of Olbermann as "Turkey of the Year" during last Saturday's show. While Thomas had taken Olbermann to task generally for "inaccuracies" and "hot air," Olbermann only mentioned Thomas' joking comment about Olbermann accusing him of dying his hair as he made fun of the FNC show's misspelling of his name (Olberman) in its on-screen graphic. Olbermann also labeled Fox News Watch as "the only program on Fox News Channel that tries to live up to the network's otherwise ironic slogan 'Fair and Balanced.'" Notably, as documented here by NewsBusters, Olbermann last year posted on his Bloggermann Web site that Fox News Watch was one of "ten television shows worth watching," quipping that it was created by Roger Ailes "to fulfill some legal requirement that his network actually be at least .0005% 'fair and balanced.'" (Transcript follows)
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann suggested that the recent decision by NBC News to label violence in Iraq as a "civil war" was comparable to the 1968 decision by Walter Cronkite to declare the Vietnam War a "stalemate," as the former CBS News anchor lost confidence in America's ability to win the war. Olbermann led the show quoting from Cronkite's 1968 statement, including the proclamation that "the only rational way out would be to negotiate," as the Countdown host contended that Cronkite had "truly matched his signoff 'And that's the way it is.'" Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the November 27 Countdown show:
On FNC's Fox News Watch on Saturday, conservative columnist and FNC contributor Cal Thomas took to task MSNBC host Keith Olbermann for Olbermann's "inaccuracies" and "hot air" as the show's panelists got to voice their picks for the second annual "Turkey of the Year" award, which allows each panelist to dishonor media figures for disreputable behavior. Olbermann, who often uses his Countdown show's regular "Worst Person in the World" segment to attack conservative public figures, was called out by Thomas as someone who "is the greatest contributor to global warming because he spews more hot air than any other cable television show host." (Transcript follows)
Los Angeles Times media reporter Matea Gold is the latest journalist to push Keith Olbermann as a hot commodity now that he's boldly captured about one-fifth as many viewers as Bill O'Reilly. True, his left-wing howling at the moon may match the incoming Democrat committee leaders like John Conyers, but he's still denying he has an identifiable political agenda. The other unintentionally hilarious moment is his dismissal of Rush Limbaugh as a fabricator. When Robert Cox of Olbermann Watch suggested to the Times that Olbermann is as demagogic as his nemesis O'Reilly, Keith responded:
"I'm not trying to whip up a political frenzy," he said. "If I was out there every night beating people over the head with this, I would become a Rush Limbaugh. That's not my goal. I don't make the facts up to fit the political viewpoint that happens to parallel what it is I'm trying to express."
On Monday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his latest "Special Comment" segment to attack President Bush's recent contention, in response to a question about what lessons could be learned from the Vietnam War, that "the task in Iraq is going to take a while," and that "we'll succeed unless we quit." The Countdown host started off by charging that President Bush, "who permitted the 'Swift-Boating' of not one but two American heroes of that war," exhibits an "avoidance of reality" that "is going to wind up killing more Americans." He also dismissed the Cold War-era domino theory, as well as Bush's linkage of Iraq to the war on terrorism, as "nonsense," and claimed that Vietnam is now prosperous because America pulled out. Olbermann: "The war machine of 1968 had this 'domino theory.' Your war machine of 2006 has this nonsense about Iraq as 'the central front in the war on terror.'" More Olbermann: "That stable, burgeoning, vivid country you just saw there is there because we finally had the good sense to declare victory and get out! The domino theory was nonsense, sir. Our departure from Vietnam emboldened no one. Communism did not spread like a contagion around the world." Olbermann further contended that one lesson Bush should have learned from Vietnam is that "if you lie us into a war, your war and your presidency will be consigned to the scrap heap of history." (Transcript follows)
Howard Kurtz gave the lion's share of his Monday "Media Notes" column to MSNBC, which "has seen the future, and it is politics. Delivered with plenty of opinion." Except that opinion is usually liberal, sometimes fiendishly so. Near the end of his piece, Kurtz captures all of the recent MSNBC spin lines, proving these are no fluke, especially MSNBC chief Dan Abrams reciting his horror-movie line about Keith Olbermann's Countdown:
"His program could become a model for the newscast of the future," Abrams says. "It's a mix of straight news reporting with lighter fare and occasionally with some opinion."
What's more embarrassing than making a basic math error live on national TV? Making that error while smugly trying to highlight an error made by a regular target who was actually right in the first place. Such was the case on Friday night's Countdown show as MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tagged as "jawdropping" the contention on the Defense Department's Web site that, under Donald Rumsfeld's leadership, the U.S. military has "liberated more than 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq." As Olbermann read from the tribute to Rumsfeld, he pointed out that the site's listing of 31 million Afghans and 27 million Iraqis as benefitting from this liberation add up to 58 million instead of 50 million, as if this were some embarrassing mistake, even though the site had actually estimated the number as "more than" 50 million. Before previewing his latest "Special Comment" attack on President Bush scheduled for Monday, Olbermann concluded: "And neither calculation includes anybody who's not really liberated yet, like from sectarian violence. The Pentagon clearly much better at hyperbole than it is at math." (Transcript follows)
Once gain, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann seems entertained by the thought of conservatives being shot. Less than five months after depicting the image of Rush Limbaugh as the target of gunfire during his Countdown show, on Wednesday's show Olbermann included a joke about shooting Dick Cheney during the regular "Top Three Sound Bites" segment of the show. One of the featured clips was from the Tuesday November 14 Daily Show with Jon Stewart in which Stewart asked his guest, former Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, whom he would have "accidentally shot in the face" if he had been elected Vice President, to which Edwards responded "Dick Cheney." Notably, just one night earlier, Olbermann had spent an entire segment discussing whether conservative commentators had inspired a man to mail fake Anthrax letters to public figures, and to make other threats, a la King Henry's declaration "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest," referring to Archbishop Thomas Becket. (Transcript follows)
On Tuesday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann devoted an entire segment (video available on Countdown Web site) to discussing links between a man arrested for domestic terrorism and "far right-wing blogs," describing the man as a "gushing online admirer" of conservative commentators Michelle Malkin, Laura Ingraham, and Ann Coulter, as the Countdown host suggested conservatives had inspired the man to commit terrorism. Olbermann also compared past actions by Malkin (see Malkin's blog for details) to "the King Henry thing about Thomas Becket." Olbermann: "There were the students at the University of California in Santa Cruz who protested military recruiters on their campus, Malkin posted their addresses and other personal information on her blog, and then when people harassed the students at their homes, Malkin did the King Henry thing about Thomas Becket, 'Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?' 'I never told anybody to do anything to them.' This is the problem, right? I mean, you can come out, you can directly encourage people to act violently, Ann Coulter has done that, or you can do it in this sort of thinly disguised way the way Malkin has." (Transcript follows)
With all the gushing going on by the liberal media over Keith Olbermann, it’s only fitting that one of his foremost critics on the Internet, our friend at Olbermann Watch, would be reaching across the aisle after last Tuesday’s “historic” elections. What would be more appropriate given this supposedly new era of bipartisanship than a demonstration of solidarity between such foes?
With that in mind, Olby Watch has created a stirring video of some of KO’s more memorable moments as an olive branch for the man some call the Edward R. Murrow of our time (hat tip to Hot Air). As you watch the following video (available here), just imagine how wonderful and informed a world we would live in if all newscasters were more like Keith.
One writer in the San Francisco Chronicle really likes MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. Not only is he "hot," with ranting "Special Comments" at the center of the new liberal zeitgeist, he's apparently a model for the newscast of the future. Or so says C.W. Nevius:
And just like that, Olbermann found his voice -- the angry everyman. He became a liberal counterpoint to conservative media ranters like O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh, and an Internet star, too.
The result has been a cultural earthquake.
"Here's what happened,'' Olbermann said in a phone interview this week. "Five years ago (on Sept. 11), 50 percent of the country went quiet. There was this self-imposed censorship. Suddenly it became unimaginable to criticize the administration. And no one else was brave or stupid enough to say, 'I don't remember signing that document.' ''