Olbermann Bashed Bush Administration for Criticizing NBC in 2008

Keith Olbermann's recent cheerleading for the Obama adminstration's attacks on Fox News is in stark contrast to how the "Countdown" host felt about the Bush White House criticizing NBC last year for questionable editing done in a "Today" show report.

As NewsBusters' Geoffrey Dickens reported on May 19, 2008, NBC aired a piece that morning which "seemed to blame all of the Middle East's problems on the President's policies."

Later that day, White House counsel Ed Gillespie sent a letter to NBC President Steve Capus accusing the network of deceptively editing answers Bush had given during his interview with Richard Engel "to give viewers the impression that he agreed with Engel's characterization of his remarks when he explicitly challenged it." 

Two days later, Olbermann made Gillespie one of his "Worst Persons in the World" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript):

The silver, Mr. Bush`s counselor Ed Gillespie who somehow got talked into writing the embarrassing letter on behalf of the White House to NBC News, whining like a high school sophomore about bias that isn`t there in an edit that wasn`t there to turn a news organization into a scapegoat that won't be there. The letter was juvenile and Fox Newsy enough that it sound like the White House works for them rather than the other way around.

Just remember, Ed, the last White House that tried to bury the media sent Spiro Agnew and he wound up having to cut a deal with the attorney general.

Yet, this wasn't the only time Olbermann criticized someone for attacking NBC in 2008. He did again on August 18:

Now, as promised, a special comment on the remarks of the senior senator from Arizona about Senator Obama at the VFW convention and about NBC News and MSNBC.

Four times in just two days, Senator McCain`s campaign managers have, simply, hung him out to dry. First, trying to scapegoat the media, in the exact way that has spelled doom for other presidential candidates already watching from the sidelines. [...]

Going back to the beginning of this sad 48 hours of paranoia from the McCain Campaign. We have manager Rick Davis`s unfortunate letter to NBC News about Andrea Mitchell`s reporting on the possibility that Senator McCain violated the so-called "Cone of Silence" for the Rick Warren Presidential Forum over the weekend. [...]

Rick Davis`s argument is, in short, illegitimate. It is an attempt to pick a fight with the media over the journalistic equivalent of chewing gum in class. "This is irresponsible journalism and. sadly, indicative of the level of objec-tivity we have witnessed at NBC News this election cycle," he writes.

"We are concerned that your news division is following MSNBC`s lead in aban-doning non-partisan coverage of the Presidential race. We would like to request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss our deep concerns about the news standards and level of objectivity at NBC."
What Mr. Davis is really saying here, of course, is that he wants no level of objectivity, that the only campaign he wants questioned is Obama`s, and that "partisan coverage" would consist of questioning whether McCain or his campaign support the stage whispers branding Obama as somehow `foreign,` or whether McCain is to be inoculated from any and all criticisms simply by dint of his military service. [...]

 Do you remember the apoplexy of a washed up Republican operative named Ed Gillespie, writing a furious letter to NBC on behalf of President Bush? [...]

Besides which, senator, who in your camp thought it was a good idea to take a shot at NBC and MSNBC during the Olympics on NBC and MSNBC? During the Olympics, Senator McCain, on which you have already run millions of dollars` worth of McCain Campaign commercials on NBC and MSNBC? [...]

Despite how you have whined, Senator McCain, you have no entitlement to only sycophantic, deceptive, air-brushed coverage in the media....In other words, and I am embarrassed to have to say this to a man who turns 72 at the end of this month, Senator, grow up!

(For background, readers should review NewsBuster D. S. Hube's piece "NBC's Andrea Mitchell Floats Idea McCain Cheated.")


What a difference an "O" makes, for now that Obama is in the White House, bashing of media is just fine as far as Olbermann is concerned.

Here are some snippets of his statements in just the past few days:

  • "Doocy, whining about the White House correctly saying Fox Noise is not a news organization..." --- October 21
  • "The real danger of Fixed News, as the White House continues the push back. How it propagates phony stories, then calls the reaction or the controversy news. Then complains to real news organizations that they`re not covering the original phony story." --- October 20
  • "Our third story in the COUNTDOWN, a second front in the White House attempt to rescue journalism from the hostage situation at Fox and the ghost of William Randolph Hearst...Meantime, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, off camera, this morning, quote, "we render opinion based on some of their coverage and the fairness of their coverage." When asked what he thought the difference was between Fox and news networks, his answer, 'You and I should watch some time around 9:00 or 5:00 this afternoon.' As for how Fox opinion bleeds into its so-called news, you don`t have to take the White House`s word for it." --- October 20
  • "Good news and bad news. Bad news, one president declares I`m a sick puppy. The good news? The current presidential administration declares that Fox is not a news organization" --- October 19

So, when the Bush adminstration pushed back on NBC, the person responsible was listed as one of the worst people in the world.

And when Sen. McCain pushed back on NBC, Olbermann called him a whiner and told him to grow up.

Yet, when the Obama administration goes after Fox, Olbermann sees it as good news.

Any questions?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.