MSNBC’s Olbermann: Terrorists and Governments Have Motives to ‘Keep People Afraid’

August 23rd, 2006 3:01 PM

"Countdown" host Keith Olbermann has questioned the timing of terror arrests and alert levels before, but on the August 22 edition of the MSNBC show, he indicated that democratic governments are using the fear of terrorism, the same terrorists they are "supposedly" hunting:

"It is a fair question to be skeptical of the skeptics to ask why would the British police, why would anyone exaggerate the threat of violence fueling unwarranted fears? But theoretically, at least, it is clear that both terrorists and governments, supposedly hunting terrorists, have motives, both of them have motives, to keep people afraid."

Olbermann utilized the arraignment of British suspects in the plot to blow up U.K. airplanes as an opportunity to replay a ten minute long segment, entitled "The Nexus of Politics and Terror" from last October. In the piece, negative events for the Bush administration are linked to their proximity of terror warnings. The "Countdown" host prefaced the story, which aired at 8:35PM EDT, by questioning if the arrests in England have been hyped:

"Terrorists, after all, do not just want us or anybody dead. Fear is often an even better end result, and few administrations, in American political history, Democratic or Republican, conservative or liberal, can truly say they did not use fear, even exaggerate fear, to justify their actions. And that may or may not explain why the timing of the British arrests was determined not by the lead investigators there, but at the request of our government."

Olbermann also mentioned that "so many" members of his audience asked for the segment to be re-aired. (Perhaps those who clamored for a repeat viewing were the Daily Kos contingent of his viewers.) In closing the piece, the MSNBC anchor seemed to acknowledge that the connection between bad news for President Bush and terror alerts might be a little weak:

"We`ve noted this before, too. You could probably construct a similar time line equating terror events to supermarket openings around the country."

He then disregarded this caveat by stating that it was the seriousness of the charges that mattered, not necessarily their content:

"But if just a reasonable argument could be made that any one of those 11 events or including this latest curious business from London and Washington is more than mere coincidence, then it underscores the need for more questions to be asked in this country, questions about what is prudence and what is fear mongering."

One thing’s certain, the way the media reports bad news for the President, Olbermann will have many more chances to "link" those stories to the continuing terror threat.