Olbermann Suspends Twitter Account to Avoid Criticism for Assange Rape Charge Remarks

December 16th, 2010 7:26 PM

Keith Olbermann suspended his Twitter account Thursday as a result of a torrent of criticism over comments he made about the rape charges filed against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The trouble started Tuesday when schockumentary filmmaker and Assange supporter Michael Moore was Olbermann's guest on "Countdown":

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Al right. One complicating issue here -- address the charges against Assange in Sweden. Are they -- are they a ruse? Are they -- are they a front for something else? And even if they are, indeed, something nefarious against him, you are still in essence participating in bailing out a man who has been charged with criminal sexual charges or will be charged under these circumstances.
Address that.

MICHAEL MOORE: That`s the thing. He hasn`t been charged. They brought no criminal charges against him. They want to talk to him about -- this whole thing stinks to the high heavens. I got to tell you. I mean, I wasn`t born yesterday, but I`ve seen this enough times where governments and corporations go after individuals, geez, I think I was just on your show a couple weeks ago talking about this with my film and the health care industry. They go after people with this kind of lie and smear.

Daniel Ellsberg told you about it last week on how they went after him. This is -- we`ve seen this before. Now, his guilt or innocence of this -- I mean, what they said he did. And the lawyer said this today in court in London that what they say he did and the charges, his condom broke during consensual sex. That is not a crime in Britain, and so they`re making the point how can we -- how can we extradite him over this?

This is all a bunch of hooey as far as I`m concerned. The man at least has a right to be out of prison while awaiting the hearing, and I believe that -- and this is why I participate in it. This is why I put up a chunk of the bail money. And, you know, I`m proud to do it because I think this man and what he`s doing, and what his group is doing is going to save lives. 

This didn't sit well with gossip website Jezebel (h/t Mediaite):

The latest dude to misrepresent the Julian Assange rape allegations in front of a national audience is Michael Moore, who last night told a sympathetic Keith Olbermann it's a bunch of "hooey" over a broken condom. [...]

Actually, (as we've already said) the British extradition hearings make it clear that Assange is accused of such crimes as holding a woman down during sex, and having nonconsensual, unprotected sex with a woman while she was sleeping. At least as of Nov. 30, the Swedish government had requested that Assange appear for questioning about the allegations, and may not have formally charged him (though the Guardian, somewhat confusingly, uses the word "charge"). But still, it's not at all hard to figure out that, whether Assange is guilty or innocent, what's at issue here is not just a broken condom. Nor is it true that "the term 'rape' in Sweden includes consensual sex without a condom," as Olbermann tweeted on December 5. It's not hard to figure this shit out, that is, if you actually care about accuracy — which a journalist like Olbermann or a documentarian like Moore should.

Next into the fray was Tiger Beatdown which started a Twitter campaign Wednesday morning to go after Moore and Olbermann.

This led to a deluge of Tweets to the "Countdown" host - some of them written by Mediaite's Tommy Christopher - resulting in the most conceited man on television turning tail and running from his detractors Thursday afternoon:

I've now discovered that I am accused of being a rape apologist in part because I didn't remove the quotes from the word rape in a retweet

I will thus unblock all blocks, wish you all a Merry Christmas and I'll suspend this account until this frenzy is stopped.

Readers are reminded this man was born on January 27, 1959, thereby making him almost 52 years old.

Tough to believe, isn't it?