What's more embarrassing than making a basic math error live on national TV? Making that error while smugly trying to highlight an error made by a regular target who was actually right in the first place. Such was the case on Friday night's Countdown show as MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tagged as "jawdropping" the contention on the Defense Department's Web site that, under Donald Rumsfeld's leadership, the U.S. military has "liberated more than 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq." As Olbermann read from the tribute to Rumsfeld, he pointed out that the site's listing of 31 million Afghans and 27 million Iraqis as benefitting from this liberation add up to 58 million instead of 50 million, as if this were some embarrassing mistake, even though the site had actually estimated the number as "more than" 50 million. Before previewing his latest "Special Comment" attack on President Bush scheduled for Monday, Olbermann concluded: "And neither calculation includes anybody who's not really liberated yet, like from sectarian violence. The Pentagon clearly much better at hyperbole than it is at math." (Transcript follows)
Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Friday November 17 Countdown show. After having spent time criticizing President Bush's comments about what lessons might be learned from the Vietnam War about how to deal with Iraq, Olbermann continued:
Keith Olbermann: "Any jawdropping induced by the President's take on Vietnam history today possibly equaled if you take a gander at a new feature on the Pentagon Web site. With Defense Secretary Rumsfeld now a short-timer at the Department, he or at least his press office, hoping to tout all he has accomplished in six years at the Pentagon with a new Internet page titled appropriately enough, 'Six Years of Accomplishments with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.' Near the top of the list, a war on terror that has, quote, 'liberated more than 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq.' Breaking it down specifically, 31 million in Afghanistan and 27 million in Iraq, which should equal 58 million instead of the aforementioned 50. Heck, round it off, and it should at least read 60. And neither calculation includes anybody who's not really liberated yet, like from sectarian violence. The Pentagon clearly much better at hyperbole than it is at math.
Olbermann: "And this program advisory, Mr. Bush's trip to Vietnam continues throughout the weekend. Thus, there is plenty of time for him to amend or worsen his misunderstanding of the lessons for us there, a 'Special Comment' among a thousand other things urgently needed about Iraq is a special Vietnam history tutor for this President. That will be on Monday's edition of Countdown, 'Special Comment' 8pm and Midnight Eastern, 5 and 9 Pacific."