We've had a War on Poverty, and a War on Terror. But the war of special
interest to us is the War against Fox. The soldiers fighting in the axis against
FNC include ideological purists and rabid partisans. But there is another
musketeer in their army.
Given his philosophical bent, it is not
surprising that Mr. Keith Olbermann would join in the assaults. Still, it is
unusual for an on-air personality to regularly attack the personnel of a
competitor. Whether this violates some sort of unwritten rule or protocol in the
journalistic community we cannot say. But when the vilifications are of dubious
accuracy, and the tone becomes personal, they are not principled criticisms, but
rather egotistical indulgences.
At my personal blog, I have detailed Mr. Olbermann's
November 2004 insults about Bill O'Reilly, how O'Reilly didn't
say what Mr. Olbermann claimed, and how Mr. Olbermann--even when proven
to make any kind of correction. In February, he ginned up an issue about Mr.
O'Reilly college punting record. This was fodder for three broadcasts and a blog entry, but
through it all he never bothered to note the official
statement from Marist College. They concluded Mr. Olbermann's remarks
were erroneous, as did
Similar snipes were increasingly common as the
months went by: references to "the Jeff
Gannons of Fox News", and "the President's
fan-club tv network at Fox News"; he wrote that Fox was equivalent to
newscasts from 1984 (a novel and film about a totalitarian society).
But anyone who thought Mr. Olbermann had learned a lesson about recklessly
inaccurate charges was in for a disappointment.
Item: On May
23, 2005, Mr. Olbermann commented
that you will hear how President Karzai criticized Newsweek on "the 1984
You are less likely to hear the President agree with the US Commanders in Afghanistan that the rioting and deaths were not the result of what Newsweek reported.
Olbermann's snide comment simply wasn't true. Hours earlier, Carl Cameron had
Karzai confirmed US military assertions that the real instigators were extremists who'll do anything to disrupt democracy.
continued with a clip of Karzai--the same clip Mr. Olbermann showed. It was
hardly "less likely" that Fox would run it, since they had already done
By August, Mr. Olbermann was doing a regular "worst person in
the world" segment. Sometimes his choices were ordinary people who said or did
something stupid, but more often the feature was used as a way to skewer someone
on his enemies list. Among political types, that means Republicans or
conservatives (we are aware of no Democrat or liberal ever being named "worst").
And among media personnel, that means anyone connected with Fox
Item: In August, Bill O'Reilly was the "worst person in
the world" because he disagreed with John McCain about coerced interrogation.
(The quote was lifted from the hard-left website Media Matters, the source for
most of these attacks.) Mr.
If this were 1972, Bill O'Reilly would be Jane Fonda.
Item: Repeating a secondhand story from an
anonymous source, on September 6 Mr. Olbermann named Geraldo Rivera "worst
person", claiming Mr. Rivera staged a rescue. Mr.
Olbermann presented the rumor as fact. But long before he went to air, Fox had
a statement detailing what actually happened. These facts were easily
confirmable with a few phone calls. But Mr. Olbermann did not report the
existence of Fox's statement, let alone its contents. The slur, like so many
others, remains uncorrected to this day.
Item: O'Reilly had
made a tongue-in-cheek comment on the radio about how Katrina should have just
hit the UN building. Mr. Olbermann ranted about how O'Reilly gets "dumber" all the time,
because such a flood would also engulf Fox News, just a few blocks from the UN.
The name-calling and personal attacks were escalating, but not the accuracy
quotient. O'Reilly's actual
Bush to address the UN, says we must be steadfast in battling terrorism. I'm sure all the UN people fell asleep. They don't really care about anything over there at all. I just wish Katrina had only hit the United Nations building, nothing else, just had flooded them out.
"dumber" Mr. O'Reilly may have been getting, he understood the meaning of the
phrases "only" and "nothing else". If Mr. Olbermann did grasp their meaning, he
considered it less important than insulting a perceived
Item: A few days later, Geraldo Rivera was "worst"
again. He was an "absolute asinine
jackass" when he insisted that the New York Times correct a
false story. We can see where corrections might be a sore point with Mr.
Item: On October 24, it was Bill O'Reilly once
more, in an especially
instructive example of Mr. Olbermann's tendency toward
misrepresentation. Mr. O'Reilly was quoted as
Now in the Great Depression, every American got spanked. And those Americans went to war during World War II and won the very intense conflict and showed bravery across the board, the Greatest Generation. The Greatest Generation, almost down to the man, was spanked, 'cause that's the way we did it in America. OK?
The Big Giant head again, explaining to his radio audience that we won the Second World War because of spanking.... He's about four minutes away from being committed.
Mr. Olbermann's characterization of what O'Reilly said was backwards. O'Reilly
did not claim that we won World War II because of spanking. The
discussion was about capital punishment. Mr. O'Reilly said that spanking did not
prevent us from winning the war, that it did not psychologically damage
children. This becomes clear when one reads the next sentences of O'Reilly's
comment, the sentences Mr. Olbermann left
So I'm not believing all these sociologists, these fruitcakes, who run around going, you know, you look at a kid cross-eyed, he's going to grow up to be a heroin addict. I'm not buying that.
this practice of selective quotation in mind; we will return to
Item: November 1, Mr. Olbermann again proclaims Geraldo
Rivera worst, because Mr. Rivera said he's tired of people making fun of
Item: A few days later, the Fox News Channel was deemed "worst", because it
paid the sizeable expenses for a guest's travel to appear on Fox News
Sunday. (Fact check: Fox News Sunday is produced for the Fox
broadcast network, not FNC.) On another night, Jeanine Garafalo and Mr. Olbermann
devoted several minutes to bad-mouthing Fox
News. By this time Mr. Olbermann was ready to ratchet up the
Item: On November 11, Mr. Olbermann spent an entire
segment attacking Bill
O'Reilly for some tongue-in-cheek hyperbole revolving around the
notion that if San Francisco doesn't want want to allow military recruiting in
schools, then maybe we shouldn't protect them from an Al-Qaeda attack. In a
sudden fit of literalism (not evident when the topic was a flood at the UN), Mr.
Olbermann took every word like a fundamentalist interpreting the Bible. The
comments were "demagogic". They were "treasonous". A few days later, he attacked Mr. O'Reilly
again, on the same topic, because O'Reilly had defended himself by
pointing out the satiric nature of his comments. But Mr. Olbermann was having
none of it. "And you thought Sen Joe McCarthy was dead," he intoned, charging
falsely that O'Reilly was "changing his story again". He described the comments
as "hate speech", and wished "good luck" to those attempting to silence
Item: O'Reilly is worst person for November 16,
because of a joke about San
Item: On November 30 Keith Olbermann
contrived to give Bill O'Reilly all three "worst person" slots: winner and both
This whole attack on Christmas nonsense that he made up, some sort of fantasy in which the liberals are coming to your town to force you and your family to not call it Christmas anymore.
Mr. O'Reilly ever claim liberals were going to force people not to use the
word "Christmas"? No. Apparently Mr. Olbermann is being--dare we say
it?--satirical. But why is it that he is permitted to use hyperbole to
make a satirical point, but when Mr. O'Reilly does so, his words get parsed like
the fine print of a notarized contract? Then, remarking that one can buy
"holiday" ornaments at the Fox News online store, Mr. Olbermann moves in for the
Who is trying to change Merry Christmas into Happy Holidays? Bill O'Reilly, that's who!
eager was Mr. Olbermann to find a way to give O'Reilly all three "worst" slots
that he misled his viewers once again. Bill O'Reilly doesn't run the Fox news
online store; he doesn't sell the items; he doesn't write the descriptions. He
has his own online store,
proudly labeled a "Christmas store":
Olbermann considers the whole Christmas controversy to be "nonsense" and
something O'Reilly made up. Yet on the MSNBC website, one can find Joe
Scarborough railing against "PC police" who "create new words for Christmas
trees", and promoting stories about "yet another chapter in the war on Christmas". If
Mr. Olbermann can deem O'Reilly responsible for content he had nothing to do
with, why can't one apply the same standard to Mr.
Who is promoting the nonsensical War on Christmas? Keith Olbermann, that's who!
The next night,
after the webmasters at Fox changed the wording to "Christmas" ornaments, Mr.
Olbermann made Fox News Channel (not O'Reilly this time, though he never did
acknowledge that error) worst because now it was not selling "holiday"
All of this brings us to the most recent instance of Mr.
Olbermann's jihad against Fox News; it is also one of the most distasteful. On
December 2, he quoted
Fox's John Gibson as
I would think if somebody is going to be -- have to answer for following the wrong religion, they're not going to have to answer to me. We know who they're going to have to answer to.
on this, Mr. Olbermann suggested that Gibson believes his religion is the only
true one--something Mr. Gibson never said--and accused him of
The notion that one religion is as good as another is
a favorite construct among relativists and skeptics. Believers wonder how all
religions can be equally valid, since they all differ in matters of doctrine. It
would seem logical that they cannot all be correct. Could a religion that, for
example, justifies mass murder possibly be the "wrong" religion, wrong either in
theological terms, or just for purely sociological reasons? Mr. Olbermann does
not concern himself with such distinctions. As he stated, one's faith does not
matter: "What's the difference?"
Instead, he charged Mr. Gibson with
"intolerance". We mentioned earlier Mr. Olbermann's technique of selective
quotation. Here he has employed it in a particularly despicable manner. For in
reporting Mr. Gibson's statement, Mr. Olbermann excluded the rest of what Gibson
as long as they're civil and behave, we tolerate the presence of other religions around us without causing trouble, and I think most Americans are fine with that tradition.
exactly is the "intolerance" in a statement that says we should tolerate
religions we do not agree with? The omission of the rest of this quote--with its
specific use of the word "tolerate", the root of "tolerance"--was deliberate.
The purpose was to distort John Gibson's meaning, giving Mr. Olbermann the
opportunity to launch another salvo at his enemy supreme, Fox
It was bad enough that he was again altering the purport of
someone else's words to suit his personal agenda. But Mr. Olbermann, as he
twisted the knife, made it a point to note that he considered Mr. Gibson a
personal "friend". As malignant as some of Mr. Olbermann's attacks on FNC
personnel have been, that smarmy aside renders this latest one uniquely
Mr. Olbermann purports to be a journalist at a prestigious
news organization, but for well over a year he has used his platform at MSNBC to
malign people at Fox News. That the attacks have devolved into personal insults
and name calling is noteworthy. That they have proven time and again to be
misleading or downright inaccurate is striking. That they are permitted to
continue is inexplicable.
Cross-posted at Johnny Dollar's Place.