Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters
Brad Wilmouth is a former Media Research Center news analyst and an alumnus of the University of Virginia.
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On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann attacked Sean Hannity for his recent declaration on FNC's Hannity's America that Obama "can’t point to a single instance in which President Bush or McCain or Karl Rove or Sean Hannity or talk radio or any other major Republican has made an issue of Obama’s race." Missing Hannity’s point that conservatives are not attacking Obama for being black or suggesting voters should be afraid to vote for him because he is black, Olbermann cited quotes from Hannity and Rush Limbaugh which, in the MSNBC host’s mind, proved Hannity wrong, and that "short-term memory is often the first thing to go right after ethics." Olbermann mocked Hannity and Limbaugh by concluding that, "What Hannity means when he says nobody has made an issue of Obama’s race is: He and Limbaugh haven’t called him the ‘N’ word." After a brief pause, Olbermann added: "Yet." Olbermann, who has a history of distorting the words of conservatives, read quotes from Hannity from the past about Obama and the race issue without conveying the context that Hannity was referring to Obama’s links to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan, who are known for espousing racist views. (Transcripts follow)
Saturday's Fox News Watch devoted a few minutes to the controversy, which was documented previously by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, over NBC's Matt Lauer claiming during an interview for the Today show that "some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life, something around 80 percent," but that in America, "only about 25 percen
When Washington Post columnist and, until recently, regular Countdown guest Dana Milbank used an edited quote from Barack Obama that was arguably a distortion of the Illinois Senator's words, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann suspended Milbank from appearing on his show insisting Milbank correct his transgression against the Democratic presidential candidate. But if Olbermann's MSNBC bosses held him to the same standard, the Countdown host himself would have been suspended numerous times during the past four years if he were required to correct either distortions of people's words or his reporting of stories that turned out to be inaccurate. But while in Milbank's case the Washington Post columnist's infraction was against a liberal target in Obama, Olbermann has primarily targeted conservatives, as detailed below. Notably, while it is no secret that Olbermann is very pro-Obama as he conducts his show, on the June 26 show, Olbermann came closest to admitting he hopes Obama becomes President as he defended the Illinois Senator's decision to vote for a FISA bill opposed by the left. Olbermann: "If you get as hot about the issue as I have, you would rather see a President Obama prosecuting the telecoms criminally, rather than a Senator Obama throwing away a vote to keep open the civil suits when most of the other Democrats already caved in."
On Thursday’s Countdown show, one night after accusing President Bush of not doing enough to protect America from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization before the September 11th attacks, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed sympathetic to the plight of bin Laden’s former driver, Salim Hamdan, during the show’s regular "Bushed" segment which purports to update viewers on what the Countdown host sees as Bush administration scandals. Following Hamdan’s sentencing in a military court during which the judge expressed an apology to the bin Laden aide as he handed down a sentence that would make Hamdan eligible for release in six months, the American military indicated Hamdan may still be kept prisoner at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely in spite of the ruling, prompting Olbermann to accuse the Bush administration of "urinating" on the Constitution, and making Hamdan one of the "victims" of its "medieval" justice system. Olbermann: "So, besides urinating on the Constitution and the rights and freedoms every American soldier has ever fought to win and protect, the Bush administration has now decided that when its victims have actually served their sentences, doled out under its own medieval, quote, "justice," unquote, system, it still might not choose to set them free, thereby giving that Constitution and our country a second pass on the way out." (Transcripts follow)
On Monday's The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly and FNC analyst Bernie Goldberg discussed the media's reluctance to report the National Enquirer's claims about John Edwards fathering a child with a mistress.
Could Barack Obama's paparazzi end up being the undoing of his presidential chances? According to a recently released poll by the Pew Research Center, when asked the question, "How much have you been hearing about Barack Obama?" 48 percent selected the response "too much." Even 34 percent of Democrats agreed they were hearing "too much." These numbers compare to just 26 percent of the general public who say they have heard too much about John McCain, while 38 percent say they have not heard enough about the Arizona Senator. Even 26 percent of Democrats say they have heard "too little" about McCain.
Pew's "Summary of Findings," which can be found here, observes: "By a margin of 76% to 11% respondents in Pew's weekly News Interest Index survey named Obama over McCain as the candidate they have heard the most about in recent days. But the same poll also shows that the Democratic candidate's media dominance may not be working in his favor."
Influenced by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert's recent claims on MSNBC's Morning Joe that the McCain campaign deliberately included "phallic symbols" along with images of attractive young white women in an ad attacking Barack Obama to exploit racial resentment, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann latched onto this theory on Monday's Countdown show and observed that the ad featured "two underdressed blondes mixed with the black guy," and contended that the ad included "three phallic symbols, two blondes and Barack Obama," opining that the ad is an example of "miscegenation," and that it suggests Obama is "going to wind up dating those women."
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, also an MSNBC political analyst, charged: "That's the oldest and deepest racist, you know, canard in American history, really, is that, you know, the slave is going to come after the wife of the plantation owner." And, ignoring the GOP's history of portraying white Senator John Kerry as elitist during the 2004 campaign, Alter further charged that Republicans are "trying to portray [Obama] as being uppity," and hinted at the racially charged connotation of the word "uppity." (Transcript follows)
When Bob Herbert, a columnist for the New York Times since 1993, recently charged in his column that the Republican Party deliberately targets black Democrats using ads featuring attractive white women to exploit racial resentment, and claimed as proof that the GOP does not run such ads against opponents who are white, the liberal columnist could have disproved this thesis by consulting a 1994 article in the paper he writes for regarding that year's Virginia Senate race involving former Senator Charles Robb, a white Democrat. The New York Times article, titled "THE 1994 CAMPAIGN: THE AD CAMPAIGN; The Senate Race in Virginia: Robb and North Trade Barbs," from October 15, 1994, describes an ad run by Republican Oliver North's campaign depicting the Playboy cover image of Tai Collins, a young blonde with whom Democrat Robb was romantically linked. (Transcript follows)
During the show's teaser, Olbermann's bizarre choice of words made it sound as if he were theorizing about the possibility of a conspiracy to carry out the Anthrax attacks to build support for invading Iraq, as the MSNBC host used the loaded phrase "it was an inside job" because the suspect was a government employee, and then seemed to link John McCain's speculation from 2001 that the Anthrax "may have come from Iraq," to the "motive." Before playing a clip of McCain, Olbermann teased: "For motive, for explanation, there are few options, and all of them are terrifying, including why people like U.S. Senators were saying this in 2001."
On Sunday's The Chris Matthews Show on NBC, during a discussion of how well a President McCain might work with a Democratic Congress, host Matthews seemed to generalize about the political opinions of women as he contended that "one of the biggest fears women especially have" is that McCain would appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices, whom Matthews branded as "hawkish" on abortion: "One of the biggest fears women especially have is that we
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and Newsweek Washington correspondent/MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman went after John McCain for his recent ads attacking Barack Obama, and the Arizona Republican's charge that Obama was "playing the race card" because the Illinois Democrat has repeatedly joked that his opponents will try to discourage people from voting for him because "he's black." Olbermann started off the show suggesting that McCain's ad against Obama featuring Britney Spears and Paris Hilton exhibited "almost subliminal racism, a black man with two women," and that the ad "intermixed footage of that black candidate with images of two young white women."
Fineman charged that McCain is using negative attacks to distract from the "substantive issues" Obama is "trying to raise in the campaign," and suggested that McCain is in danger of seeming as "obsessed" as Jack Nicholson's character in "A Few Good Men" as the Arizona Senator is planning to "demonize Obama to draw out the Republican base." Fineman further characterized McCain as being "in survival mode. It's not quite like the prison years, but he's a tough character in a tough spot, and he's going to use anything he can to survive."
Fineman also seemed to voice agreement with Obama's joke that Republicans will try to use race against him. After noting that Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs was not telling the truth in denying that Obama was referring to race in his controversial joke, Fineman suggested that Obama was being "honest" in warning that "the country needs to be on guard," and the Newsweek correspondent recommended that Obama "should have all of his advisors and spokespeople be honest, too." (Transcript follows)
Appearing as a guest on Thursday's Countdown on MSNBC, liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, also a Princeton University professor of economics, informed viewers of what he believes is "the reason to hate Exxon," which is because "it has not done anything to address the energy problem, and it's actually spent heavily on, you know, financing climate skeptics, on basically blocking intelligent policy, on muddying the waters of our debate.&quo
In light of Keith Olbermann's recent mockery of elderly television viewers as being in the "65 to dead" demographic, two years ago on MSNBC's Countdown show, Olbermann seemed to rejoice at the prospect of O'Reilly's audience members "dying off," as Olbermann bragged about his viewing figures which had increased during the previous year, especially among viewers in the age range of 25-54 years, while O'Reilly's overall ratings had dropped. Olbermann, on the June 28, 2006, Countdown: "Bill, seriously, it's slipping away from you. You don't know what to do. You can't even lie well anymore. Seriously, I understand, it's called panic. ... It's terrifying. You begin to see the audience dying off and the creases deepening in your forehead and the loofahs drying up. You make mistakes, you trust the wrong people, you blame Al Franken, you yell at somebody, you yell at everybody. It feels like the ladder is teetering, you're tired, you're depressed, you're anxious, you're balding. Let me give you three words of advice, Bill-O: Keep it up!" Video of Olbermann's rant can be seen here. (Transcript follows)
On Friday's Countdown, during the show's "Worst Person in the World" segment, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tried to characterize the ratings of his show as more admirable than than those of FNC's highly watched O'Reilly Factor by narrowly citing viewing figures among younger demographics. Olbermann, who has a history of quoting the viewing figures for those 25-54 years old -- citing their value to advertisers -- to make himself appear more competitive with O'Reilly, on this occasion dismissively referred to older viewers as "65 to dead." Olbermann: "But don't worry, Bill, you're still dominating that important demographic, 65 to dead." Notably, in June 2006, Olbermann gloated that O'Reilly's viewers are "dying off."
And, although Olbermann vaguely claimed that Bill O'Reilly "crows about the ratings and then gets them wrong again," the MSNBC host in no way contradicted O'Reilly's numbers as Olbermann merely cited the statistics for the specific younger demographics, which did not disprove anything the FNC host stated.
TVNewser reported on the July figures: ""The top rated program was again The O'Reilly Factor at 8pmET(2,252,000 viewer average). For MSNBC, the top program was Countdown with Keith Olbermann at 8pmET in 9th place (959,000) and for CNN it was Larry King Live tied for 10th (940,000)." The TVNewser report can be seen here. (Transcript follows)
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann claimed that pro-gun groups like the NRA "are trying to increase deaths by gun," as he used his "Worst Person" segment to attack a gun rights activist who infiltrated gun control groups to spy on them: "Mary Lou Sapone infiltrated the executive boards and learned the plans of organizations trying to decrease deaths by gun in this country, and apparently reported it back to organizations like the NRA, which are trying to increase deaths by gun in this country." A month earlier, on the June 26 show, after the Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban, Olbermann named Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he called a "clown," as "Worst Person" as the Countdown host ridiculously claimed that the Second Amendment only applies to the types of weapons that existed in 1791, like muskets, to be used in a militia. Olbermann: "You've got around 30,000 gun deaths in this country per year, another 75,000 non-fatal gun wounds, half the suicides are by gun; and this clown and his four colleagues decided that the 32-year-old ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., and the demand that firearms kept in the home be locked or disassembled was unconstitutional based on the Second Amendment." (Transcripts follow)
On Thursday's Special Report with Brit Hume, during the show's "From the Political Grapevine" segment, FNC host Hume gave viewers another glimpse at the admiration offered terrorists in the Middle East as he reported that the Al-Jazeera network threw a birthday party for Samir Kuntar, a notorious terrorist recently released by Israel, who had previously been greeted by thousands of adoring fans when he returned to Beirut.
When the Israeli government and the terrorist group Hezbollah carried out a prisoner release agreement in which Israel released five Lebanese prisoners while Hezbollah released the bodies of two Israeli soldiers who had been killed, there was a substantial contrast in the way the broadcast network evening newscasts reported the story. While ABC’s Charles Gibson and Simon McGregor-Wood reported on World News that one of the prisoners, Samir Kuntar, had been convicted of the "vicious murder" of an Israeli man and his four-year-old daughter, and that upon release he was "greeted in Beirut as a returning hero," NBC and CBS both skipped over any details of Kuntar’s crime, and CBS’s Katie Couric even listed the prisoner exchange as one of several "glimmers of hope" in the conflict between Israelis and Arabs. Couric: "For the first time in years, there are some glimmers of hope in the Arab-Israeli stalemate -- a virtual cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, and the beginning of low-level talks between Israel and Syria."
CNN and FNC further detailed the brutality of Kuntar’s crime, and FNC noted his popularity among many in Lebanon. FNC’s Morton Kondracke: "What’s most disgusting is that the Lebanese performance, tens of thousands of people turning out to welcome home a terrorist who had killed a policeman, a civilian, and then bashed in the head of the civilian's four-year-old daughter. And he's being welcomed home as though he’s a national hero, with the president there, the prime minister there, the speaker of the parliament. This is supposed to be an ally of the United States, Lebanon. What it indicates is that Lebanon, that Lebanese politics is now owned by Hezbollah ... they have veto power over whatever the Lebanese government does, you know. Lebanon is close to being lost." (Transcripts follow)
Appearing on the Monday, July 21, Tonight Show, MSNBC host Chris Matthews defended his declaration from last February that a Barack Obama speech caused him to feel a "thrill going up my leg," and suggested he really is not biased in the presidential race as he contended that "I’m a freaking American" and "who I’m rooting for" is "us." Referring to Obama having "seen on both sides of that San Andreas Fault of race in this country," Matthews effused that Obama was "inspiring." Matthews: "I was inspired by it, and I said so at the time, and I took some heat for it, but I’d rather be honest and say what I feel ...You know, I mean, I'm a freaking American. I do have a reaction to things, and I do react emotionally to my country. I care about this country. I want to look out for it. It's my job. I'm not just some umpire. You know, I take a side: Us. That's who I'm rooting for." Video of Matthews' "thrill" comment from February 12 can be found here.
But after seeming to claim that he was not cheering for either candidate, as he discussed the expected closeness of the election, Matthews focused on his fear that many 70- and 80-year-olds will be "suspicious of change," which sounds like a reference to Obama, as he advised the elderly to "think like your kids for once." Matthews: "I hope one thing. When people go to vote, they look at the guy's background, they look at the age of the two candidates, they look at their abilities and really open up their hearts and say what's really good for my kids, who don't have any color awareness. Kids don't think about that, race. Think like your kids for once. Think the way they think. It would be great if the older people in the country, the 70-year-olds, the 80-year-olds who are suspicious of change, to say, ‘You know, why don't I think the way my kids are thinking and think about the future?’ Whatever they decide, just open up your heart to this prospect of something different. That's what I hope we do." (Transcript follows)
It seems Barack Obama had a "senior moment" on Wednesday during his trip to Israel regarding which Senate committees he is a member of. On the same day's Special Report with Brit Hume, during the "Fox All Stars" segment, the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes called out Obama for his claim, which the Illinois Senator made while trying to impress Israeli reporters, that he is a member of the Senate Banking Committee, as he took credit for the passage of legislation regarding Iran. Barnes: "[Obama] was trying to brag about how tough he was on the Iranians, and he said his committee, the Senate Banking Committee, had passed a resolution ... that would have caused American firms to divest of Iranian interests. And the trouble is, he's not on that committee. ... And he didn't vote for it. That would be a senior moment if McCain did it."
Indeed, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs membership roster does not list Obama's name. But during a news conference, which aired live Wednesday morning during CNN Newsroom, Obama seemed to embellish his resume: "Now, in terms of knowing my commitments, you don't have to just look at my words, you can look at my deeds. Just this past week, we passed out of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, which is my committee, a bill to call for divestment from Iran, as a way of ratcheting up the pressure to ensure that they don't obtain a nuclear weapon." (Transcripts follow)
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann used a sloppily worded statement by an 83-year-old decorated veteran, retired Colonel Bud Day, who volunteered for both World War II and the Vietnam War, and who ended up spending 30 months as a POW, a man whom Olbermann called "dangerously deluded" and derided as a "slob" and a "clown," to paint John McCain as agreeing with what the MSNBC host referred to as Day's "racism and religious hatred." After quoting part of a recent statement by Day in which he referred generically to "the Muslims," instead of "Muslim extremists," as wanting either to "kill us" or to force Americans to "kneel," Olbermann suggested that McCain "agrees" that Muslims in general are the enemy. As he tagged Day as "Worst Person in the World," Olbermann slammed McCain: "And you heard him [Day]: John agrees with him. As of tonight, John's campaign has refused to repudiate Day's racism and religious hatred. Maybe John needs to get rid of this clown but fast. Bud ‘The Muslims are Going to Kill Us' Day, today's ‘Worst Person in the World.'" (Transcript follows)