Olby-Wan: Seduced by the Dark Side

If Keith Olbermann has to give Fox News free publicity in his blog, shouldn't he at least tell the truth? Updated! MSNBC host takes a shot at Olby!

It's time to raise the spin level to Orange--Keith Olbermann is blogging about Fox News again. This all part of a brilliant intellectual exercise in which the self-described "nonpartisan" reporter decides who should resign over the Newsweek Koran flap. Surprise, it's nobody at Newsweek (coincidentally MSNBC's content partner). No, Olby singles out the big villain of the story: the "treasonous" Scott McClellan!

You see, using OlbermannLogic, McClellan said the story touched off rioting. But several days earlier, Gen Meyers had said that Gen Eikenberry didn't think it did. Based on this, Olby pontificates McClellan was:
...making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs look like a liar or naïf, just to draw a little blood out of Newsweek’s hide. Either way - and also for that tasteless, soulless conclusion that deaths in Afghanistan should be lain at the magazine’s doorstep - Scott McClellan should resign.

It's completely beyond Olby's comprehension that Meyers might have been, simply, wrong. Or that, since his statement was made several days earlier, he did not have now-available data. No, according to Olbermann and the fallacy of the false alternative, one of them is a liar, and based on extensive evidence (i.e. none at all), he fingers McClellan.

Never mind the fact that Muslims gathered after sermons in mosques denouncing the desecration. Just ignore the protester who shouted "The Holy Koran was defiled by the dirtiest of hands, by American hands," as others burnt American and Israeli flags.

Even more hilariously, ignore what sits in plain view on msnbc.com, including the statement of Newsweek itself:

"This is what the U.S. is doing," exclaimed [Imran] Khan, "desecrating the Qur'an." His remarks, as well as the outraged comments of Muslim clerics and Pakistani government officials, were picked up on local radio and played throughout neighboring Afghanistan. Radical Islamic foes of the U.S.-friendly regime of Hamid Karzai quickly exploited local discontent with a poor economy and the continued presence of U.S. forces, and riots began breaking out last week.

Yes, KO thinks McClellan should resign for believing what appears on msnbc.com. But let's focus on the Obligatory Fox News Slam:
While places like the Fox News Channel (which, only today, I finally recognized - it’s the newscast perpetually running on the giant video screens in the movie “1984”) ask how many heads should roll at Newsweek, it forgets in its fervor that both the story and the phony controversy around it are not so cut-and-dried this time.

Bad Literary Analogy Alert: the tv programs in 1984 were state-run. Wouldn't that make them the equivalent of...PBS? And how exactly can the "Fox News Channel" ask "how many heads should roll"? A newspaper can speak, through its editorials. But news channels don't have editorials. Saying that anytime an employee says something means "Fox News Channel" is saying it--that's just sloppy and dumb. If William Safire writes something in a column, does that mean "The New York Times" said it?

But we'll play along with Olby's twisted game. An extensive review of Monday's FNC programming did turn up several discussions on this story. It will surprise no one that we were unable to find even one example of anyone asking "how many heads should roll?". Here is the rampantly unbalanced opinion offered on May 16 by FNC hosts and interviewers:

STEVE DOOCY: You know what? Newsweek did it exactly right. As soon as they realized they made a mistake, they went out and they said, whoops, we messed that up.

LINDA VESTER: Michael Isikoff is one of the reporters involved, and I've known Michael for years. He actually is a very responsible reporter.

ERIC BURNS [responding to a question "should heads roll?"--not "how many"]: Michael Isikoff has a hell of a reputation in this business, and I mean a very good reputation in this business for his reporting. I suspect heads higher than his would have to roll.

MARA LIASSON: This was a mistake. Michael Isikoff has done a lot of investigative reports over his career. I can't think of another one that has blown up like this.

FRED BARNES: If it's somebody that they have dealt with in the past, somebody who they felt was totally reliable, then I don't think he [Isikoff] did violate a journalistic standard....He's a very honorable reporter.

BILL O'REILLY: Newsweek is usually responsible...Newsweek made a major mistake. I hope the message is not ignored.

ALAN COLMES: Newsweek did the right thing....Newsweek becomes the fall guy here.

SEAN HANNITY: I don't think it's Isikoff, I think it's the people above him....Not Isikoff, he doesn't decide what gets into that magazine.

Eight statements of opinion from FNC reporters and contributors; seven of them say nothing whatsoever advocating any kind of action against, let alone the firing of, Newsweek employees. Most of them are supportive of the magazine or reporter Isikoff.

Remember, Olby decried Fox because it had a "fervor" for this story. Let's go to the tivo. The latest developments broke Monday afternoon; here's how much coverage it was given from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, the most highly-rated daytime hours on FNC:

Studio-B [3:00 pm]: six minutes.
Your World [4:00 pm]: zero minutes.
The Big Story [5:00 pm]: ten minutes.

That a total of 16 minutes out of 180, or less than 9% of the time.

Let's compare: on Monday evening, Olbermann himself gave the story 15 minutes of coverage (25% of his show). His arch-rival, Bill O'Reilly? Two minutes.

Who exactly had the "fervor", Mr. O?

Update: Even people at MSNBC are astonished at Olby's continued descent into dementia. Now Joe Scarborough has spoken out, and despite his tactful language it's crystal clear who he was talking about:

SCARBOROUGH: I think that response from the press at the White House was absolutely remarkable--acting as if it's the White House's fault that 17 people are dead because of Newsweek's report....Is it really the White House's duty? I read something from a member of the mainstream media who actually accused Scott McClellan and the White House of treason for not properly vetting these Newsweek documents.

posted: Tue - May 17, 2005 at 03:54 PM       j$p  send