Olbermann Defends His Anti-Bush Rant on the Today Show
Appearing with NBC's Matt Lauer on the Today show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann discussed his recent vitriolic attack on President Bush from the September 11 broadcast of his Countdown show, during which Olbermann had accused Bush of a "crime against" 9/11 victims for not accomplishing the construction of a memorial at Ground Zero, and had accused Bush of the "impeachable offense" of "lying by implication" regarding the Iraq War. While Olbermann's inflammatory comments were not quoted by Lauer or Olbermann, the MSNBC host rationalized his rant by comparing it to President Bush's speech to the nation "politicizing 9/11 in his own way." Olbermann: "I might add that I was on the air two minutes before the President was politicizing 9/11 in his own way. I don't see that there's much difference." Olbermann also contended that views similiar to his shared by a segment of the American population were "not being articulated in the mainstream media." Olbermann: "I thought that there was a part of the persona of the nation not really being articulated in the mainstream media." (Transcript follows)
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the interview with Olbermann from the September 15 Today show."
Matt Lauer: "On Monday, we all observed the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and you, at the end of your show, railed against the President and the administration for using 9/11 as a wedge in this country, a political dividing factor. The response was overwhelming."
Keith Olbermann: "Indeed."
Lauer: "Both ways. Some people said way to go, Keith, other people said, 'How dare you make this statement on 9/11 from Ground Zero? You could have done it another time.'"
Lauer: "Were you surprised by the response?"
Olbermann: "To the first part, a little bit, the positive response. I mean, I think-"
Lauer: "You didn't expect it?"
Olbermann: "I didn't expect it in the degree that it's happened. I mean, I thought that there was a part of the persona of the nation not really being articulated in the mainstream media, which we did kind of hit, but I did not anticipate the volume of it. As to the other part, I noticed that the major criticism was not the content of what I was saying, but the date-"
Lauer: "And the location."
Olbermann: "Right, and the location, but, you know, it's a personal thing for me as it is for many people, and also, I might add that I was on the air two minutes before the President was politicizing 9/11 in his own way. I don't see that there's much difference."
Lauer, laughing: "Maybe he took your lead?"
Olbermann: "Probably not."