Mark Koldys

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Keith Olbermann is notorious for filching stories from the blue blogs, particularly ones that attack the eeevil Bill O'Reilly. But now his sloppy, unprofessional practices have come back to bite him. He aired an out-and-out falsehood tonight as fact, ripping and reading from the most unreliable source in existence.

On "Countdown" tonight Olbermann assailed O'Reilly over his segment on Rep. Robert Wexler. After some crack about altering the color of Wexler's lips (a confirming clue as will be seen), he then turned the indignation up to '11' and ridiculed Bill for not knowing that Florida doesn't have a state income tax:

OLBERMANN: The Frank Burns of News then speculated that Wexler was somehow trying to cheat Florida out of income tax. Fund had to inform him that Florida doesn't have an income tax. "No income tax? This is where my argument falls to the ground!"

Don't believe me? Watch the video past the jump:

The hiring of Howard Wolfson as a political contributor to Fox News has resulted in the ritual outrage from blue blogs and Fox haters. When they aren't smearing Wolfson ("sell-out", "right-wing Zionist", etc) the alternate tactic is used: diminish Fox by lying about its influence and reach.

The preferred method for doing so is to marginalize the Fox audience. It's something you've read repeatedly: Fox viewers are "a devout congregation of true believers, incapable of critical thought". They are overwhelmingly Republican and "will not vote for Democrats".

What do all these hyperbolic squeals have in common? They all reference the same single "source", as does this one whipped up by the Daily Kos today, fulminating over Wolfson "whoring" himself:

On Thursday's "Countdown," we learned from Keith Olbermann that:

  • The CIA leak investigation roars back to life. Scooter Libby claimed he had been authorized to reveal classified information, authorized by his boss, the vice president.
  • Newly disclosed documents indicating that the vice president's former chief of staff already has testified that he was authorized by his superiors to disclose classified information to reporters in order to make the a case for war in Iraq...
  • If he's defending himself by saying, Well, he did, and saying the vice president told him to, because that's not really germane to this case, did he just throw the vice president of the United States under the proverbial bus?

Note how the wording of these statements leaves the impression that the authorization claimed by Libby included the Plame leak. Did it? What is it that Olbermann isn't telling us this time?

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
the propaganda
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.