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)
During his regular "Worst Person in the World" segment, Olbermann normally chooses three nominees to be awarded the dishonor of that name. His three nominees are labeled as "Worse," "Worser," and "Worst." Olbermann covered the MRC study during his regular "Top Three Newsmakers" segment, during which the screen displayed an image of the MRC logo with the words "Media Research Center: Inventing Liberal Bias Since 1987."
As Olbermann vaguely described the MRC's "Worst Person" study, he omitted the central finding that Olbermann's attacks on conservatives outnumbered attacks on liberals by a staggering 174 to 23 margin, or more than 8 to 1. Instead, he argued that "only" 174 out of 600 targets were conservative, refusing to reveal that a mere 23 were liberal, and, employing his own brand of loopy logic, argued that because 71 percent of the nominees were not conservative, that the study proves the segment is "apolitical." Olbermann: "I'd like to thank the MRC for confirming my point that the segment is apolitical."
But just 20 minutes after his insistence that Worst Person is "apolitical," Olbermann delivered an all-conservative lineup when he recited the day's Worst Person nominees, including conservative radio host Glenn Beck, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, and, as "Worst Person in the World," the MRC's Brent Bozell.
The attack on Bozell was motivated by a recent press release from the MRC in which Olbermann was criticized for dismissing the newsworthiness of WMD discoveries in Iraq by branding them "weapons of minor discomfort" because of their degraded nature. Some conservatives have argued that because the media have often reported simplistically that "no" weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, many on the far left who believe Saddam Hussein never had any weapons of mass destruction have had those beliefs fueled, and so therefore an accurate reporting that some WMD were found, even if they are degraded, is still worthwhile. Video: Windows Media or Real Player; Plus MP3
After tagging the Media Research Center, for a second time, as a "rabid right spin machine" (though he twice misidentified the MRC as the "Media Research Council"), Olbermann relayed that he had received "impotent emails that make everybody here laugh," and again insisted that, regarding WMD in Iraq, "there weren't any." He also attacked Senator Rick Santorum's integrity and branded those who believe him as "sheep." Olbermann: "There weren't any, Rick Santorum tried to pretend there were, and if you believed him, you may actually be a sheep. Thanks for writing!"
Below is a transcript of relevant portions from the Wednesday June 28 Countdown show:
Keith Olbermann, at 8:28 PM: "Here are Countdown's 'Top Three Newsmakers' of this day. Number three, the rabid right-wing spin group, the Media Research Center, which studied our 'Worst Persons in the World' segment for the last year and discovered that of approximately 600 nominees, only 174 of them were conservative. That means roughly 71 percent of the Worsts are not conservative. I'd like to thank the MRC for confirming my point that the segment is apolitical."
Olbermann, during the Worst Person segment: "But the winner, Brent Bozell. Red Beard. Again. From the rabid right spin machine, the Media Research Council. He has targeted this show now for his latest 'MRC Action Alert.' You know, sending us impotent emails that make everybody here laugh. Our inbox now has literally dozens of them demanding that we, quote, 'tell the truth about the WMD that were found in Iraq.' Okay, we'll do it again. There weren't any, Rick Santorum tried to pretend there were, and if you believed him, you may actually be a sheep. Thanks for writing! Brent Bozell of the Media Research Council, today's 'Worst Person in the World'!"