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MSNBC's Keith Olbermann led Countdown again Thursday with what he's whittled down to the simple heading as “The Leak,” and soon forwarded the notion that the Bush White House is in a “crisis” similar to that which enveloped the Clinton White House after the Monica Lewinsky revelation. Interviewing former Clinton Chief-of-Staff Leon Panetta, Olbermann pointed out how “the rundown for tonight's show was given a title by our producer that shook me. The title simply was, 'White House in Crisis.' I already hosted a news show on this network that had that title some years ago. Is it applicable now? Is in fact in your opinion this White House in crisis?" Panetta agreed.

Maybe Olbermann's old 1998-99 show carried that title for a while or was a sub-title, but I believe his 8pm EDT show back then was titled The Big Show. And on that program in the summer of 1998, Olbermann infamously ruminated about how “it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses.” Olbermann also wondered, “would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?" (Fuller quotations follow, as well as a link to video of Olbermann's 1998 smear.)



It's nothing to do with political bias, but I think PC Magazine columnist John Dvorak's latest column makes an interesting allegation: that the technology media favor Apple products over Windows-based ones. Here's an excerpt:

With 90 percent of the mainstream writers being Mac users, what would you expect? The top columnists in the news and business magazines fit this model too. The technology writers fit this model. The tech writers and tech columnists for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and Fortune are all Mac users. I could list them by name, but I'd hate to leave one out. Maybe I'll blog them by name. I could list 50. Readers should thus not be surprised by the overcoverage of Apple Computer. Every time Steve Jobs sneezes there is a collective chorus of "Gesundheit" from tech writers pounding away on their Macs. [...]

What's bad for Microsoft is that the bias against it is subtle—kind of like any sort of media bias, whether religious or political. As one critic once said regarding the supposed left-wing slant of the daily news media, "It's not what they write, it's what they write ABOUT that matters." Story selection. Microsoft can roll out a dozen cool products, and the media goes ga-ga over the video iPod—a rather late-to-market Apple product.

Is Dvorak right or wrong? Please keep the flames to a minimum.



While the House of Representatives was getting serious about legal reform, CNN was calling it “silly” and other TV news outlets ignored it.

The House passed the “cheeseburger bill” October 19 – a bill that makes people, not the food industry, responsible for consequences of their eating habits. The bill passed 307 to 119 and will go to the Senate.



The New York Observer updates last week's Michelle Kosinski Today show nightmare, caught reporting in a canoe in ankle-deep waters.



House overwhelmingly passes cheeseburger bill to prevent obesity-related lawsuits, but anchor says everyone involved acted foolishly.


This week:



The front of Wednesday's Sports section features a profile of Washington Wizards center Etan Thomas by Ira Berkow, "A Center Fakes Right, Goes Left, Speaks Out."


"South Park," the popular Comedy Central show about the misadventures of a group of four Colorado boys, criticized the news media Wednesday night for its overhyped coverage of Hurricane Katrina. In the episode, two of the boys, Stan Marsh and Eric Cartman, accidentally crash a boat into a beaver dam, flooding an entire town. In the aftermath, local and national media blame it on global warming, ridiculously exaggerate the extent of the damage, make up stories of rape, murder, "cannibalism," and tell tales of "hundreds of millions" of deaths in a town of 8,000 people.

Video excerpt available in Real or Windows Media.

Here’s a transcript of part of the show, a “South Park Evening News” broadcast where the journalists ridiculously hype the situation:



Maybe somebody at NBC wasn’t too happy that this morning’s Today hosted FNC star Bill O’Reilly. Right at the start of O’Reilly’s interview with Katie Couric, the on-screen graphic included the words: “No Spine Zone,” maybe a mere misspelling of O’Reilly’s trademark “No Spin Zone,” or perhaps a derogatory shot at their cable news competitor. We'll report, you decide.


In the field of media criticism, conservatives have taken up the idea of objectivity, of making a press presenting itself as objective live up to the pledge and give conservatives a chance. Liberals mock the idea of objectivity, creating a stick-figure caricature that objectivity means putting truth and falsehood side by side and not distinguishing between the two.



Is it shtick or sincerity? Bill O'Reilly loves to portray himself as a down-the-middle straightshooter, and there he was this morning on the Today show in full pox-on-both-their-houses mode.

Katie Couric began the interview by asking his take on the Plame affair:



On his Countdown show Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann began his show by hyping an article by the New York Daily News claiming that President Bush "rebuked Karl Rove" two years ago for having a role in the leaking of Valerie Plame's name. The Countdown host also showcased the President's refusal to respond to a reporter's question on the article, and proposed that this revelation implies that the President had lied about his knowledge of Rove’s involvement. The opening teaser showed a picture of the article with the headline "Bush Whacked Rove on CIA Leak" next to a photograph of Bush and Rove while the words "What did the President Know?" appeared at the bottom of the screen.

Olbermann opened the show speculating about what the implications would be if such a story were true, which he referred to as a "bombshell," and listed out his proposed implications while showing them on-screen lined up next to a photograph of Rove: "Mr. Rove would be involved. Mr. Bush would have known Mr. Rove was involved. When Mr. Bush's spokesman said nobody at the White House was involved, somebody would have been lying. And when Mr. Bush talked about what would happen if somebody on his staff was involved, he would have damn well known somebody was and he wouldn't have said anything about it."



A Newsweek article written by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball currently posted at MSNBC.com once again offered the view that the Bush administration lied to journalists about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the March 2003 invasion:

“Oct. 19, 2005 - The lengthy account by New York Times reporter Judy Miller about her grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case inadvertently provides a revealing window into how the Bush administration manipulated journalists about intelligence on Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.”

To bolster their view, Isikoff and Hosenball cited the opinion of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

“The assertion that still-secret material would bolster the administration’s claims about Iraqi WMD was  ‘certainly not accurate, it was not true,’ says Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who coauthored a study last year, titled ‘A Tale of Two Intelligence Estimates,’ about different versions of the NIE that were released.  If Miller’s account is correct, Libby was ‘misrepresenting the intelligence’ that was contained in the document, she said.”

Yet, like many journalists that have used CEIP as a reference, Isikoff and Hosenball neglected to inform their readers that CEIP wasn’t always so convinced about the absence of WMD in Iraq. In fact, Eric Pfeiffer of National Journal’s “Hotline” wrote about this very issue in a January 2004 op-ed for National Review:



If we are to believe this article in today's New York Daily News (Wednesday, October 19, 2005), former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger will be signing on to be an advisor on ABC's Tuesday night drama, Commander in Chief. The Daily News also reports that Ron Klain, a longtime aide to Al Gore, will join the show.

Berger and Klain join two others with Clinton connections who currently work on the show. Capricia Marshall, a series consultant, was social secretary at the Clinton White House. Steve Cohen, a writer on the show, was once a communications aide for Hillary.

I'm wondering ... How many former Bush or Reagan staffers are on the show?



     One of the few pieces of major legislation that has recently passed with overwhelming support from both parties was the bankruptcy reform bill, signed into law by President George Bush in April. While a bipartisan majority in both houses of Congress endorsed the bill, the media have lamented the new law’s reforms.