Anatomy of a Smear


How Media Matters helped Keith Olbermann smear Bill O'Reilly. With J$P Video!

There are two ways to smear someone. You can be covert: publish facts, but not the whole truth; let careful wording lead readers to the desired conclusion. Or you can be overt: a full-on personal attack, drenched in hyperbole, preferably culminating in high-decibel name-calling. Media Matters and Keith Olbermann take different approaches, but they exemplify symbiosis. They feed off each other.

On his radio program Thursday, Bill O'Reilly was talking to Col Ralph Peters about VietNam. During the conversation, Mr O'Reilly recalled how, when Saddam's statue was brought down, he had criticized the Bush administration for not having a plan to deal with the rampant law breaking and looting in Iraq. Media Matters dutifully dug out the transcript for the day in question (April 9, 2003), and sure enough, O'Reilly had said nothing like any of this. Their phrasing ("O'Reilly falsely claimed... in fact O'Reilly made no mention of looting") left precisely the desired impression: O'Reilly was making it all up.

Enter Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC's Countdown. He does not research the nightly hit pieces he directs at his perceived enemies. Rather, he uncritically lifts them from Media Matters, Think Progress, and other blue blogs. Then he gussies them up with extravagant ridicule and personal attacks, taking them to the next level. Invariably, Media Matters will post video of Mr Olbermann's over-the-top rants, allowing them to benefit from his philippics while claiming clean hands: Media Matters, after all, hasn't indulged in name-calling. Symbiosis.

In the case at hand, Mr Olbermann took their O'Reilly article and ran with it in his usual style: "This is a lulu... He didn't say anything like that", culminating in a coda of audacious name-calling [QuickTime video]:



When Olbermann delivered his broadside, we immediately went to Media Matters where, as expected, we found the source for his tirade. It struck us that O'Reilly was recalling off the top of his head a statement he made years ago, yet at the bottom of their piece Media Matters only cited the transcript for one day. Is it possible that O'Reilly did say what he claimed, only not on that particular show? We found what we were looking for on the very next O'Reilly Factor airing, a special Sunday edition. It began with his nightly "talking points" memo:

BILL O'REILLY: But in order to fully win the peace, discipline and order must quickly be imposed by the coalition. There should be martial law, and lawbreakers must be arrested by coalition forces. Chaos always leads to more chaos. If the USA really wants to help the Iraqi people, it must immediately establish a firm rule of law.

And continued thereafter:

BILL O'REILLY: As we told you in the "Talking Points" memo, law breakers in Iraq have embarrassed the coalition forces... does the U. S. Military have the capability to police a country as complicated as Iraq?... they quoted some Marine commanders and even some Army guys, and they said they didn't have enough people. Because there were actually Iraqi citizens saying, would you please stop it? They are breaking into my store, and they are taking my stuff. And the guy said, look, I don't have enough people....

COL DAVID HUNT: ...these are Iraqis, oh, by the way, looting their own country... We don't want soldiers in the middle of a fight to all of a sudden turn to a looter.... You don't want American Marines and Army guys in the middle of a firefight stopping someone taking a porcelain sink.

O'REILLY: Here's why I think you're wrong. This is like a contagious disease. If the 5 million residents of Baghdad see that the coalition forces are going to allow illegality, all right, they are going to allow chaos, then more of it will happen.... The U. S. comes in, they don't have control, they'll lose the peace.... the Ministry of Information, or some such, on fire. All right? Somebody set this fire. OK? And there are no firefighters to put it out.... I think the coalition has to quickly reorganize and protect all structures...

[Lexis/Nexis Transcript: The O'Reilly Factor, April 11 2003]

Media Matters was happy to print that Mr O'Reilly "falsely claimed" to have said these things, while not mentioning that he actually did so on the very next airing of The Factor. And Keith Olbermann, more interested in attacking his bete-noir than in fairness or accuracy, made it personal, bellowing: "Holy you-know what, Billo! You're a holy you-know-what liar!" Because, during an unscripted discussion about something he said on his program over three years ago, Mr O'Reilly was off by one as to which broadcast it was.

posted: Sat - December 2, 2006 at 11:34 AM       j$p  send 

CancervativeAreNowIrrelevant
Bill O'Reilly: "...I hate to blow my own horn..."
 
What? O'Reilly LOVES to blow his own horn almost as much as he is alleged to love making unwanted phone sex calls to female underlings while pleasuring himself with vibrators in his anus. http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/1013043mackris1.html
 
That's the lulu of a lie KO was talking about, not the other stuff. 
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December 2, 2006, 12:34:41 PM EST – Like – Reply


Missy
Nothing like changing the subject when you can't refute the point being discussed.
December 2, 2006, 1:31:14 PM EST – Like – Reply


MGM
So why does the media continue to ignore Olbermann's gross distortions? In fact, if anything, they seem to be rewarding him for it. Article after article is devoted to him in the mainstream media, praising him to high heaven, and for what? Lying? Is this what our media has become? Why does everyone ignore this?
December 2, 2006, 4:57:01 PM EST – Like – Reply


MGM
And poster #1? I have one thing to say to you. "Man on fan" Olbermann. Who, p.s. has "performance issues" in the bedroom and a lying problem on the air. Nice combo there.
December 2, 2006, 4:58:08 PM EST – Like – Reply


SilentPatriot
I'm a big Olbermann fan but I must admit that he screwed up here. Although O'Reilly did claim he said it the very next day, it's not like he didn't say it at all. One day doesn't make a difference.
 
To be honest, Olbermanns sniping at BillO is getting a little tired. Sometimes he deserves it and should be exposed as the serial liar/distorter he is, but I hate the petty stuff.
December 2, 2006, 5:02:02 PM EST – Like – Reply


J UPDIKE
You didn't spell ridicule correctly. If your going to attack someone you could at least use spell check.
December 2, 2006, 6:30:05 PM EST – Like – Reply


johnny dollar
You're right. You caught a typo. That proves...what exactly?
 
Oh, and on one thing you're wrong. I don't consider the piece an "attack" on anyone. It lays out the facts--a concept unfamiliar to Keith and his legions of Olbypologists.
December 2, 2006, 6:33:53 PM EST – Like – Reply


stonemeister
Silentpatriot, you claim O'Reilly is a "serial liar/distorter". Do you have even one example? No, of course not. Your response is "Puh-leaze, everyone KNOWS he is". To pinheads like you, anyone you disagree with is at best a distorter, worse is a liar, and ultimately is a racist/nazi/homophobe/fill-in-the-blank.
December 2, 2006, 8:03:55 PM EST – Like – Reply


Jason Monroe
Olberman is so worthless. Honestly, his politics have nothing to do with it. He spends his whole time trying to bring down O'Reilly. Honestly... GET A LIFE!! Do something interesting and maybe people will watch your show. He is like a crying little baby. Totally uninteresting.
December 2, 2006, 9:23:12 PM EST – Like – Reply


Fox Fan
ANYONE who uses MM as a factual source is questionable. Anyone who chooses to add additional spin to that lie typhoon is a straight up fabulist.
December 2, 2006, 9:51:45 PM EST – Like – Reply


T.J.
J UPDIKE-
 
"If your going to attack someone you could at least use spell check."
 
Nice incorrect usage of the word "you're." If YOU'RE going to correct someone's spelling, you could at least avoid blatant grammatical errors in YOUR own comment.
 
(Notice how I used "you're" and "your" correctly? Go back to school, retard.)
December 2, 2006, 10:19:47 PM EST – Like – Reply


Dervin
Um, let's call it an issue of perspective, O'Reilly does not specifically criticize the Bush Administration anywhere in the provided quotes. He complains about the looting, disagrees with the procedure to handle looters. And says that safety is very important in controling a country.
 
To say the April 11th transcript backs up O'Reilly is taking a very, very generous reading of the source text.
December 3, 2006, 2:22:22 AM EST – Like – Reply


Gook noodles.
Bill O'Reilly is an asshat. That is all.
 
End communication.
 
/gook noodles
December 3, 2006, 12:05:09 PM EST – Like – Reply


Fox Fan
Nearly four million people disagree every night he's on.
 
Perhaps it has to do with his ability to tell the truth, unlike his timeslot competitor Olby.
December 3, 2006, 12:50:18 PM EST – Like – Reply


CancervativeAreNowIrrelevant
OK, this message has been nuked. The explicit language is not welcome here, and the argument being made is logically irrelevant. But while the argument may be fallacious, it is not off-topic, and if the poster wishes to rephrase it to make it at most PG-rated, he is welcome to do so.

Edited By Siteowner
December 3, 2006, 2:28:46 PM EST – Like – Reply


CancervativeAreNowIrrelevant
"The explicit language is not welcome here"
 
What a laugh out loud riot you are, J$. 
Who originated the "explicit language"??? Not me. Who was it, JD? What was I quoting?
 
... but you keep putting your brainless pointy cancervative cretin bobblehead in the sand whenever that "reality" thing rears its ugly head and bursts your falafel fantasies. 
 
My comment was nothing but relevant for someone who loooooooves to take the moral high-ground - eh? That's O'Imbecile's whole schtick. However, after the Mackaris scandal, whenever O'Falafel does this (nightly) it is laugh out loud funny to we members of The Normal Majority(c) (the majority of Americans who are not brainless cancervative bobbleheads). Really, I haven't laughed so hard at some TeeVee imbecile since The PTL Club. 
 
O'Reilly is an embarrassment, apart from being a psychopath and perposterous megalomaniac. Again, he's a big part of the "gift that keeps giving..." that is the cancervative media.
 
When you take your bobblehead out of the sand, J$, don't forget to clean out your ears. It ain't sanitary. 
 
...just trying to "look out for you" there, J$ ; ) Cancervative idiots seem be in need of that, along with someone to do their thinking for them and provide a "moral compass"... 
 
Just, when you are in search of someone to provide your moral compass, just make sure it ain't some pathetic sleaze bag who has unwanted phone sex with underlings while pleasuring himself with a vibrator, 'kay? The two don't exactly jibe.
 
Again, just "looking out for you" there Jawny. And I ain't even trying to sell you a stinkin' book. 
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December 3, 2006, 2:53:53 PM EST – Like – Reply


duffyb
You go Keith. O'Reilly is an idiot.
December 3, 2006, 6:06:00 PM EST – Like – Reply


Fox Fan
If you think PHONE SEX is bad, how about a married president, cigar fornication, fellatio, and stained blouses?
 
Rhetorical question- Who's worse, Bill or Bill?
 
You're a black kettle BIOR.
 
--black pot
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December 3, 2006, 6:48:57 PM EST – Like – Reply


johnny dollar
This is the logic: because O'Reilly is allegedly an idiot, it's OK to smear him. Why do I always think that it's possible to discuss things rationally? Sigh.
December 3, 2006, 7:07:53 PM EST – Like – Reply


Fox Fan
One of the Bills is an idiot. The other one avoided embarrasing court proceedings and didn't commnit perjury to the grand jury.
December 3, 2006, 7:14:11 PM EST – Like – Reply


Liberalscausecancer
Why is Fox Fan avoiding the point by bringing up an old arguement about a former president that has nothing to do with this conversation? I do not think you would want to put Olberman in the same league as a president, would you? Unless you think O'Rielly is too weak to stand up to criticism. I would see no need to bring in a different arguement. So why bring up Clinton? That arguement was over for how many years now?
December 4, 2006, 12:53:56 AM EST – Like – Reply


Fox Fan
Avoiding the point??? BIOR (masquerading as CANI) brings up a lengthy rant about a years old sex scandal involving O'Reilly and I trump it with one involving his perjuring hero.
 
I also never would put Olby in the same league as a President (unless it's the president of NAMBLA, equally sick). I don't know where this is coming from.
December 4, 2006, 10:21:17 AM EST – Like – Reply