Thom Hartmann Actually Believes Keith Olbermann Was Early 'Big Cheerleader' for Iraq War

June 17th, 2014 5:58 PM

Remember that scene in "Spinal Tap" when lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel showed documentary filmmaker Rob Reiner how he could turn up the volume on his amplifier all the way to 11, for that "extra push over the cliff" which he couldn't get with ordinary amps that would only go to 10?

Left wing radio host Thom Hartmann just cranked Iraq war revisionism all the way to 11. (Audio after the jump)

Hartmann was talking with "Ring of Fire" radio show co-host Mike Papantonio -- that guy who touts himself as "America's Lawyer" -- about the media not aggressively challenging the Bush administration's rationale for war in Iraq when he made a gotta-be-heard-to-be-believed claim about Olbermann (audio) --

HARTMANN: Yeah, it was William Randolph Hearst, famously sent the telegram to Frederic Remington down in Cuba saying, Get me the pictures, I'll give you the war, for the Spanish-America War.


HARTMANN: And Remington supplied the pictures and, or at least the drawings of the, what was it, the USS Maine?


HARTMANN: And "Remember the Maine" became that battle cry. It was the equivalent of the Gulf of Tonkin. It's amazing, it's amazing.

PAPANTONIO: But Thom, what about the journalist who knows what they're doing? What about the journalist who clearly says, yeah, I'm going to bite my tongue and I'm going to, I'm going to read this teleprompter? I'm going to bite my tongue and I'm going to say what the folks up on the 50th floor, the MBAs, tell me to say so I can sell more advertising. 


PAPANTONIO: What about that person's responsibility? And I think you drill right down and how does that person sleep at night saying, yeah, I remember walking around these big flags on the floor, these big maps on the floor, talking about how this is going to be a hundred day war and then we're going to go home. I mean, how do you, how do you live with yourself?

HARTMANN: You know, Keith Olbermann was a big cheerleader for the war, which is why he was kept on MSNBC.

PAPANTONIO (goes along for the ride): I know.

HARTMANN: But he had, I think, a crisis of conscience. I think it wasn't just, you know, which way is the wind blowing? I think he realized that he was wrong. I'm not sure that I can say that of anybody else.

As timing would have it, "Countdown With Keith Olbermann" first aired on MSNBC within weeks after the start of the Iraq War in March 2003, replacing an earlier version of "Countdown" with Lester Holt, which had replaced a show with Phil Donahue that was canceled in February 2003 for obvious liberal bias.

According to the Wikipedia entry for Olbermann's "Countdown," the show did not include political analysis in its first years and instead recounted the top news of the day. Within two years, Olbermann was taking pot shots at conservatives in media, especially at Fox News.

It was in 2006 that Olbermann began his so-called "Special Comments" segments -- or "Precious Moments" as I called them -- featuring editorial commentary which grew increasingly vitriolic toward Bush, Cheney, et al., for their handling of the war in Iraq.

In other words, Olbermann initially played it straight on Iraq, to the extent that was possible -- and for this Hartmann labels him a "cheerleader." Correction -- "a big cheerleader." Had Olbermann condemned the war right out of the gate, Hartmann would gush about his objectivity and balance.

Then Olbermann allegedly suffered what Hartmann claims was a "crisis of conscience" -- in which Olbermann waited until public opinion turned against the war, then he turned against it too. Truly a Kennedyesque profile in courage.

Easy enough for Hartmann to prove me wrong -- produce the video of Olbermann defending Bush, the rationale for the war, the manner in which it was fought, etc. I seriously doubt any such video exists. If it did, those of us who keep an eye on such things would know it verbatim and its YouTube hit count would be in the millions.