Olbermann Incompetently Bashes Neil Cavuto With Poorly-Researched Cherry Pick

December 16th, 2010 10:25 AM

UPDATE AT END OF POST: Olbermann responds via Twitter.

As NewsBusters previously reported, Fox News's Neil Cavuto on Monday went after MSNBC's Chris Matthews for making fun of New Jersey governor Chris Christie's weight.

Choosing to defend their colleague, Keith Olbermann and his crack research team on Wednesday incompetently responded with a poorly-researched cherry pick from a July 2009 installment of "Your World" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

KEITH OLBERMANN: Our runner up, Neil Cavuto of Fox Noise, offended at recent jokes about the girth of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, offended enough to say, quote, "judging our leaders not by the qualities that matter, but the nonsense like this that does not -- where greatness is defined not by who you are but how you look. You know what that is? That`s racism with a scale."

So if that's racism with a scale, Neil, what's this?


NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Brilliant, dedicated and experienced, and, oh yes, fat. The president's pick for surgeon general is fat. Not a lot fat, but enough fat for my next guest to say, fat chance, Dr. Regina Benjamin should even be considered.


OLBERMANN: When there are fat jokes about a Republican, that's racism; when there are fat jokes about a Democratic president's nominee for surgeon general, that's a segment. When there is hypocrisy, that's Neil Cavuto.

Just to add to it, last Friday, during the filibuster by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cavuto made a Depends joke.

If Olbermann and the geniuses that work for him would have looked at the entire transcript and/or the video of that July 21, 2009, segment, they would have seen that this was the position of Cavuto's guest the "Your World" host actually debated. 

In fact, Cavuto's position was that Benjamin was not as overweight as his guest claimed, and that her physical condition wouldn't impede her ability to perform as surgeon general:

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, brilliant, dedicated, experienced, and, oh, yes, fat. The president’s pick for surgeon general is fat, not a lot fat, but enough for my next guest to say, fat chance Dr. Regina Benjamin should even be considered surgeon general. 

Michael Karolchyk says she’s a bad example. Michael is CEO of The Anti-Gym.

And, Michael, why so anti Dr. Benjamin?

MICHAEL KAROLCHYK, OWNER, THE ANTI-GYM: Well, thanks again, Neil, for having me.

And, you know, I’m -- I have already got my bulletproof vest underneath my shirt today, so I’m safe leaving, because this is going to anger a lot of your female audience. But the bottom line is, Dr. Benjamin is 50 pounds overweight. She is obese. She’s a size 20.

CAVUTO: She’s 50 pounds overweight? There’s no way that -- she...

KAROLCHYK: She’s 50 pounds minimum.

CAVUTO: She does not look 50 pounds overweight to me.

KAROLCHYK: Oh, she is, Neil. I have a lot of experience in this, 50 to 60 pounds overweight. She is obese.

And now the surgeon general, as you know, is a symbolic position.

CAVUTO: If she is 50 to 60 pounds overweight, then I am a -- then I am a -- then I am a separate planet.

But go ahead. Go ahead.

KAROLCHYK: Well, you know, and by the way, Neil, we have noticed you have already started working out. You have lost some weight. And I’m proud of that. You’re looking pretty slim.

CAVUTO: Don’t you -- don’t you side-dance here.


CAVUTO: I’m telling you -- well, OK, let’s say she is what you say she is. She would still make a darn good surgeon general. We will maybe have someone with more empathy for the obesity epidemic in this country.

KAROLCHYK: OK, let’s then turn the tables, Neil.

Would you then want your head of the Fed Reserve to be a guy that lives in a cardboard box underneath the highway, because he understands the plight of the poor people an, he understands how to make money work?

Would you...

CAVUTO: Well, I think he’s given the press he’s gotten, he does live in a cardboard box underneath a highway.


CAVUTO: But that’s another issue. But go ahead.

KAROLCHYK: Would you want Michael Jackson’s doctor to be in charge of drug control at the DEA?

The bottom line is, it is a symbolic position. And obesity is the number-one issue facing our country in terms of the health and wellness. And she has shown, not that she was born this way, not that she woke up one day and was obese. She has shown, through being lazy and making poor food choices, that she is obese.

CAVUTO: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Now, how you do know anything about her lifestyle? There are a lot of people who might be a little fat, but they’re very fit. And you might have people who seem very thin, and, apparently, they’re not so fit.

So, that is a blanket indictment. If were to say the same thing about races, you would be called, quite correctly, a racist.

KAROLCHYK: Well, you know what? You could then call me a chubby-ist, because I’m telling you right now you don’t get 60 pounds overweight, Neil, by all of a sudden having a low metabolism. The problem is, she doesn’t work out enough.

CAVUTO: I have run with that for much -- no, no, no. I have run with that through much of my life. So, I don’t agree with you there.

But, now, there might be some people who are just metabolically abnormal, right? That is not unusual.


CAVUTO: And there are a lot of very fit -- fit people -- well, people who work out at your gym, I mean, you probably have some, like, thin, unfit wimps there, and then you have these other people there who are a little bit chubby, but they are getting it done, right?

Would you argue you have a few like that?

KAROLCHYK: Well, Neil, as soon as -- you know what? As soon as they start getting in better shape, guess what? That means they’re burning calories and they are eating better, and they lose the weight.

You don’t stay 60 pounds overweight because you’re fit. And that’s why...


CAVUTO: You just said she was 50. You just said she was 50. Now it is up to 60 pounds overweight.


KAROLCHYK: I said pushing 60.

CAVUTO: By the time you have it -- she’s going to be a walking blimp.


CAVUTO: What are you talking about?

KAROLCHYK: Neil, you know you can’t be -- and we had this discussion before. I am waiting for the first heavy person to come down and challenge me on this. You say you are in shape if you’re 50 pounds overweight, or 100 pounds for a guy? Well, let me see it.

Experts like myself know that is a load of malarkey.

CAVUTO: Well, you know what? I hope the day comes when you -- you gain a few pounds at your gym, and -- and they say, we don’t think you should head this gym, because you are a little chubby.

KAROLCHYK: Well, you know what, Neil? I believe you should practice what you preach.

And, again, if you’re going to be -- if you’re going to be the man who is going to step up and be the surgeon general, or the female, you should look the part. Just because you eat a lot of dinner rolls doesn’t make you a role model.

CAVUTO: OK, I got that.

All right, Michael, always a pleasure. Thank you very, very much.

KAROLCHYK: Thank you, Neil. No chubbies.

CAVUTO: All right. I hear you.

But that's just the beginning of the incompetence displayed by Olbermann and his crew for if they had done any research on this matter, they would have found President Obama's choice of an overweight surgeon general candidate was a great source of discussion at the time.

Here's what ABCNews.com reported on the same day Cavuto had Karolchyk on his program:

Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, Obama's pick for the next surgeon general, was hailed as a MacArthur Grant genius who had championed the poor at a medical clinic she set up in Katrina-ravaged Alabama.

But the full-figured African-American nominee is also under fire for being overweight in a nation where 34 percent of all Americans aged 20 and over are obese.

The piece cited numerous sources skeptical about this nomination:

"I think it is an issue, but then the president is said to still smoke cigarettes," said Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine who is now a senior lecturer at Harvard University Medical School. "It tends to undermine her credibility." [...]

"When a teenager listens to this person I want them to listen and respond in a positive way," said Lillie Shockney, administrative director of the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center. "Not say ho-hum and then drive to a fast food place." [...]

"It is important to 'walk the walk and not just talk the talk,'" said James Anderson, a professor of medicine and clinical nutrition at University of Kentucky Medical Center. "Oprah struggles as a role model and has given up, as I understand it. Rumor has it that President Obama still smokes. We need role models who are attempting to be leaders for change in health and lifestyle to be role models." 

The following day, CNN's Jack Cafferty weighed in on the "Situation Room":

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, in a nation where more than one- third of the adult population is obese, the president's coming under fire for his selection of an overweight surgeon general. ABC News reports that although Dr. Regina Benjamin has been praised for her top credentials like creating a medical clinic for the poor after Hurricane Katrina, many believe Benjamin's appearance sends the wrong message as the nation's top doctor.

It's estimated that Benjamin's as much as 40 pounds overweight. The Department of Health and Human Services insists Benjamin is highly qualified -- quoting here -- "She's a role model for all of us and will be an outstanding surgeon general."

Supporters suggest her job is to make health care decision, not to look good. And they say her size might, in fact, help her better understand the problem of obesity. Some health experts highlight studies that show it's possible to be fatand healthy at the same time, while others say the president himself, who still smokes cigarettes, isn't exactly the best role model of good health either.

But there is no doubt that obesity is a growing crisis in this country, costing the U.S. billions of dollars a year. Fat people are at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, among other things. And critics also point out that Benjamin could set a better example for the black community, where obesity is even more prevalent.

So here's the question: What message does it send if the surgeon general of the United States is overweight?

CNN followed this two day's later with a "Campbell Brown" segment demonstrating just how much attention Benjamin's weight and perspective position was getting:

RICK SANCHEZ, FILL-IN HOST: This is a bit of jaw-dropper. President Obama's nominee for surgeon general is cranking up the heat over the problem of fat Americans, and not just because obesity has been called the nation's number one health crisis. Oh, no, this is all about her, or at least other people's take on her. Take a listen to some of the chatter.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Anyway, Dr. Regina M. Benjamin has been picked as our new surgeon general, but critics are saying the fact that she's slightly overweight sends the wrong message.


GOLDBERG: Now, you do remember C. Everett Koop? He was also our surgeon general. This is not a skinny man.


GOLDBERG: But no one mentioned that he had a little waistline.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": What about that beard could get caught in there --



DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Did you see the announcement? Here, we have it right here. Take a look. NARRATOR: President Obama is being criticized by those who say his pick for surgeon general is overweight. The president is ignoring the controversy, however, and instead focusing his energies on getting congressional approval for his new drug czar.


SANCHEZ: And joining me now to talk about this is Melissa Johnson, who is director -- was the director, I should say, of the President's Council on Physical Fitness in the Bush administration. She believes weight should not be a factor in the selection of a surgeon general. And Meme Roth is here with us. She's the president of the group National Action Against Obesity. She said the Obama administration made a mistake by hiring Regina Benjamin.

Is that a fair argument to make, Meme, I mean, given the fact that we really don't know whether she's fit or not? All we're looking at is somebody who is perhaps genetically predisposed to be a little bigger than the rest of us.

MEME ROTH, PRES., NATIONAL ACTION AGAINST OBESITY: Well, genetics does not explain obesity. Actually, it's mostly nine times out of 10 it's the result of lifestyle choices. I'm sure that you're aware of that. And it's been a big blunder on behalf of the Obama administration. If it simply checked with the surgeon general's office, they would know there actually is a weight requirement before you can even apply to work in the surgeon general's office. So, it's really unfortunate.

So, as one can plainly see, this matter was being greatly discussed at the time and not just by Neil Cavuto.

In fact, MSNBC.com even weighed in on July 16 of that year:

Since President Obama announced his pick for the nation’s Top Doc, Internet message boards have been atwitter with the observation that Dr. Regina Benjamin is fat.

Critics seem to believe it’s ironic that the nation’s top doctor would be overweight, and it’s led the most nattering of nags to conclude that she should not be picked for prom queen, er, I mean, surgeon general.

You would think the entire population of the blogosphere had suddenly reverted to the seventh grade.

Obviously not just the blogosphere if ABC News, CNN, the ladies of "The View," and the head of the National Action Against Obesity group were offering opinions on this matter.

And therein lies the rub for Olbermann and his crew, for anyone with a computer along with access to LexisNexis could identify just how hot an issue this was in July 2009.

More importantly, they could have easily identified that Cavuto was actually one of Benjamin's defenders.

Alas, as we've seen over the years, facts are unimportant to Olbermann when they interfere with his point.

Nice job, Keith. Your employers must be so proud.

*****Update: Olbermann lamely responded to this piece via Twitter...

NewsBusters defends Cavuto. for "Depends" insult to @SenatorSanders: RT @10storyfallguy @NoelSheppardhttp://ow.ly/3qeU3

Really? I defended Cavuto's Depends comment? Exactly how did I do that?

As is plainly seen, the above piece doesn't reference Cavuto's Depends remark outside the transcript and video of what Olbermann said on Wednesday's "Countdown."

This was included so as to give readers the complete segment in question thereby delineating me from what Olbermann and his crack staff frequently and dishonestly do - cherry pick.

As such, there was no comment by me concerning Cavuto's Depends remark, and therefore no defense of it.

Once again Olbermann has shown himself to be completely disinterested in facts when they interfere with his point.

Color me very unsurprised.