Olbermann Features His Favorite 'Special Comment' Attacks on Bush
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)
As Olbermann introduced the show, he described his "Special Comments" as "what needed to be said on behalf of men who felt their voice ignored or stilled," and contended that "nobody else with a platform like mine was going to say any of this." Then came a replay of the MSNBC host's "Special Comment" delivered on September 11, 2006, during which Olbermann had accused President Bush of committing the "impeachable" offense of "lying," and accused Bush of committing a "crime against every [September 11th] victim" for not building a September 11th memorial sooner.
After a commercial break, Olbermann then introduced his original "Special Comment" which had attacked Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for making comparisons between the current situation in the War on Terrorism and the 1930s debate over how to handle Fascists and Nazis. Introducing the replay, Olbermann contended that Rumsfeld was comparing administration critics in general to "Nazi appeasers," called it the "opening salvo" of a "vicious pre-election propaganda campaign to insult, even bully, American voters," and tagged Rumsfeld's comments as "possibly the most outrageous, most inflammatory, and most inaccurate political statements any member of the Bush administration has ever made." Then came a replay of Olbermann's August 30 "Special Comment."
Olbermann went on to introduce two more of his "Special Comments." In the October 5 installment, Olbermann had come to the defense of Democrats by accusing President Bush of being a "compulsive liar." He had also accused Bush of "savaging the very freedoms he claims to be protecting from attack." Then came the fourth "Special Comment," originally aired on November 6, the day before Election Day, during which the MSNBC host had urged voters to vote against the Bush administration.
Below is a complete transcript of the introduction of the Monday December 18 Countdown show, followed by Olbermann's introductions to the first to "Special Comments" that were replayed:
Unidentified announcer: "2006: The year one journalist took a stand."
Announcer, quoting Los Angeles Times: "'Keith Olbermann's gloves come off."
Keith Olbermann: "How dare you ever spin 9/11?"
Announcer: "The year one news man made his voice heard."
Announcer, quoting San Francisco Chronicle: "'He has found a point of view and isn't afraid to use it.'"
Olbermann: "The leading terrorist group in this country right now is the Republican Party."
Announcer: "The year America took notice."
Announcer, quoting San Francisco Chronicle: "'Olbermann is hot."
Announcer, quoting Hollywood Reporter.com: "'charismatic.'"
Announcer, quoting Philadelphia Inquirer: "'always witty.'"
Announcer, quoting The Nation: "'a cross between Edward R. Murrow and Jon Stewart.'"
Announcer, quoting Los Angeles Times: "'Keith talks, people listen.'"
Olbermann: "This is 2006. Standards are lower everywhere."
Announcer: "2006, the year of the 'Special Comment.'"
Olbermann: "The President has been given the greatest pass for incompetence and malfeasance in American history."
Announcer: "Tonight, Keith's most passionate, most honest, most compelling 'Special Comments.'"
Olbermann, dated August 30, 2006: "The man who sees absolutes where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning is either a prophet or a quack. Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet."
Olbermann, dated September 11, 2006: "The only positive on 9/11 was the unanimous humanity. Terrorists did not come and steal our newly regained sense of being American first and political fiftieth. The President and those around him did that."
Olbermann, dated October 5, 2006: "The President of the United States -- unbowed, undeterred, and unconnected to reality -- has continued his extraordinary trek through our country rooting out the enemies of freedom: the Democrats."
Olbermann, dated November 6, 2006: "Having frightened us, having bullied us, having lied to us, having ignored and rewritten the Constitution under our noses, having stayed the course, having denied you have stayed the course, having belittled us about timelines but instead extolled benchmarks, you've now resorted, sir, to this: We must stay in Iraq to save the $2 gallon of gas? Mr. President, there is no other conclusion we can draw as we go to the polls tomorrow. Sir, you have been making this up as you went along."
Announcer: "Countdown with Keith Olbermann: The Year of the 'Special Comment.' Now, from the MSNBC Studios, Keith Olbermann."
Olbermann: "Good evening. Anyone who has quoted it thinks he knows its meanings. 'But be not afraid of greatness,' Shakespeare wrote. 'Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.' Awe-inspiring words unless you know that they come not from one of the bard's tragedies nor his histories, but rather, his comedy Twelfth Night, and that they are read from a letter by the headstrong Malvolio in a scene that features that aptly named Sir Toby Belch. Awe-inspiring words unless you lived through something that makes others apply those words to you, and you realize that they're actually the 17th century version of 'I'm not a doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.' Whatever praise has been given to the 'Special Comments' we've presented in this news hour over the last four months, whatever kindnesses have been extended to me personally in their wake, make no mistake about it: We are all truly grateful. But this was an unintended path you and I traveled in 2006, the simple result of the confluence of events, the realization of what needed to be said on behalf of men who felt their voices ignored or stilled. And most importantly, a very matter-of-fact surprising realization that nobody else with a platform like mine was going to say any of this. And so tonight we bring you again four of the 12 'Special Comments,' beginning with the one the night of September 11th from Ground Zero, with the caveat that this was no campaign nor series, just what one American felt that many other Americans needed to hear."
[replay of Special Comment from September 11, 2006]
Announcer: "Up next, the story that started it all this fall. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's shocking words to war veterans, the character-smearing of anyone who offers up dissent over the war, the first 'Special Comment' of the election season, when this special presentation of Countdown returns."
Olbermann: "Until the exact moment we learned he would no longer be Secretary of Defense, it had seemed Donald Rumsfeld would be with us for the duration of the Bush administration. In the weeks before the election, the President insisted both Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney would remain at their posts until January 2009. In accepting Rumsfeld's resignation the day after the Republicans lost the House and Senate, the President matter-of-factly explained he had not told the truth about Rumsfeld's job security. And all that makes the remarks he gave this past August to several thousand veterans at the American Legion National Convention all the more galling. Mr. Rumsfeld branding any critics of the administration as morally and intellectually confused."
Donald Rumsfeld, clip #1: "It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among Western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis -- the rise of fascism and naziism -- they were ridiculed or ignored."
Rumsfeld clp #2: "I recount that history because once again we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism."
Olbermann: "In Mr. Rumsfeld's analogy, terrorists are Nazis, Mr. Bush is Churchill or maybe FDR, and any critics of the war in Iraq or of the administration in general are Nazi appeasers. The opening salvo in what proved to be a vicious preelection propaganda campaign to insult, even bully, American voters. Rumsfeld's remarks were quite possibly the most outrageous, most inflammatory, and most inaccurate political statements any member of the Bush administration has ever made. And they precipitated the first of the 'Special Comments,' written by hand on the back of a travel itinerary on a flight delayed at Los Angeles."
[replay of 'Special Comment' from August 30, 2006]
Announcer, at 8:25 p.m.: "From dissent and disloyalty to an outright disconnect with reality. As the midterm election neared, desperate times called for desperate accusations. Presidential charges against Democrats that carried no truth at all: A 'Special Comment' on the Bush administration's problem with the facts when we return."
[Special Comments from October 5 and November 6 were played last]