Olberman: A Textbook Definition of Cowardice

Keith Olberman gave a convincing impression of Edward R. Murrow the other day while calling out Bush. As hosted by Norm at OneGoodMove: No free passes.

Thus was it left for the previous president to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be a textbook definition, Mr. Bush, of cowardice.

17 Responses to “Olberman: A Textbook Definition of Cowardice”

  1. Craig Says:

    Yikes! I hope you’re not endorsing Olberman as a serious-minded political commentor. If so, I’m afraid you’ll have no ground to stand on, the next time someone wants to reference Rush Limbaugh as a voice of reason. (By the way, that won’t be me, as I think Rush is an alarmist, self-serving blowhard for the most part.)

    Keith is a hack, a proven liar/distorter and just another attention-hungry talking head who is more interested in painting issues to fit his doctrine, rather than report news responsibily. He is much like Rush in that he panders to his audience, which mainly consists of the stridently anti-Bush/conservative group (as Rush delivers to the fervent Conservative crowd). Keith will also never expose his ideas to any debate with people other than those who support his thinking. Say what you want about O’Reilly, but despite his own faults, he will regularly bring in people who will challenge his views.

    There are a number of more serious-minded commentators out there of a liberal bent that I would at least listen to for the other side of a story.

  2. jbc Says:

    I haven’t paid much attention to Olberman in the past. I agree with most of what he said in this piece, and it feels good to hear someone say it, but if he has a track-record of lying I’d have to weigh that strongly against giving him my attention in the future.

    What proof of his being a “liar/distorter” are you referring to?

  3. Craig Says:

    There are several blogs devoted to documenting his lies and distortions, such as “Olbermannwatch.com”. Admittedly, the guys who run that site have an obsession with Keith and will call him out on some things that are somewhat innocuous, or make questionable counter-arguments themselves, but in general their daily analysis of his hypocrisy and blatant partisanship in spinning events of the day is spot-on.

  4. jbc Says:

    Hm. I spent a few minutes at olbermannwatch.com, and while I can see that they disagree with his views, and keep themselves busy pointing out things they disagree with, I haven’t come across anything I’d count as a smoking gun in terms of proven lies. I’m not saying that exonerates him from the charge; it’s more that I’m having a tough time wading through the volume of material to find the strong stuff.

    Can you recall any specific issue, Craig, where you think they, or someone else, scored a particularly telling point against him? I’m looking for evidence that he knowingly lied in order to advance his cause, not just that he presented the facts in a slanted manner. And yeah, I realize that that’s a somewhat fuzzy distinction. But so far, after an (admittedly minimal) review, I haven’t found anything that fails my personal smell test for dishonesty.


  5. ymatt Says:

    I wouldn’t count Olbermann as especially “serious” as he seems to have fun engaging in baiting O’Reilly and such, which is kinda silly, but I have to agree with many of his more fervent on-air essays. I’d also be curious if anybody has pointed out him willfully misrepresenting facts in pandering to his audience.

  6. treehugger Says:

    I don’t think comparing Olberman to Limbaugh is fair at all. As opposed to Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Coulter etc., Olberman seems to try to stick to the facts, unlike the former which seem to obscure almost everything on purpose to suit their agenda, which is highly documented at “mediamatters.org”.

    I too, am curious as to where one would come up with the terms “hack, lier, distorter” to describe Olbernman.

    I think the use of those terms would better describe Bush, rather than Olbernman.

  7. Craig Says:

    You’ll have to peruse that blog a little more thoroughly, but there are numerous incidents of Keith taking quotes out of context ,or snippets of comments or news stories that, when quoted in isolation, give the kind of slant that he wants to promote. He has taken a misstatement from his rival Bill O’Reilly regarding massacres that have happened during WWII and stated that O’Reilly is supporting Nazi actions. Keith has stated that making any kind of Nazi references to people is competely uncalled for, yet he puts an O’Reilly mask on at a public event and gives a Nazi salute.

    He has isolated a sentence of a conversation by FOX commentator John Gibson and stated that John was condoning the Haditha massacre, when in John’s very same conversation he directly condemns it.

    It’s really just a daily drip-drip-drip of misinformation that Keith will engage in to put maximum spin on a story that sheds a negative light on Bush’s Administration or the Republican party in general.

    But my main point is, he is not alone in the category of media voices who try to represent news of the day to fit a ideological doctrine and a agenda to best discredit the opposing party. Coulter, Matthews, Limbaugh, O’Reilly, Hannity, Cafferty, etc. are all complicit in this type of activity. We, as the media-consuming public need to be smart enough to know that we are being given some degree of stilted information, and then seek out different ideological voices to determine just where the closest version of the truth actually falls.

    Those who just listen to Air America (or did) and Olbermann and say, “Hell, yeah!”, are no more fully informed than those who just listen to Limbaugh and Hannity and go, “Hell, yeah!”.

    Our best course, as the body republic, is to put limitations on our attention to ratings-driven talking heads and focus on more serious-minded commentators and seek out opinions from sources of both a liberal and consevative bent to glean the widest perspective of the events of our world.

  8. treehugger Says:

    I don’t think anyone was saying that Olberman is a news caster, he has a talk show where he airs his viewpoints, much like the people mentioned above. These are opinions. The difference is that Keith’s seem to be more fact-based opinions than the others, as evidened by anyone who does a little research. Obviously, this was a passionate opinion that struck a nerve in some people and inspired others. I don’t see anyone actually refuting the content of his opinion.

    Oh, and when O’Reilly brings on people to his show with opposing views, they’re usually weak and when they “get him”, he simply cuts their microphone. Again, this is highly documented. Also, O’Reilly has been invited to Olberman’s show many times, never to accept.

    Basically, Olberman is the left’s answer to all the right-wing pundits out there, and he is doing a fantastic job.

  9. enkidu Says:

    Forgive me for disagreeing, but I know for a fact that O’Reilly lied, not once but twice, about WWII war crimes. During some media uproar about Haditha, Bill O claimed something otthe effect of “war crimes happen! Heck US troops murdered SS troops during the Battle of the Bulge. Malmedy.” In fact (oh those pernicious facts!) it was quite the opposite: SS troops under the command of Piper murdered 100 US POWs from the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malmedy_massacre

    Scroll down and you also might try this link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chenogne_massacre bitter food for thought

    Trying to draw some equivalance that “heck, its OK! happens all the time! we do it, they do! pshaw!” is a grave insult to those 100 murdered men. Bill could have made a mistake once, but after he received the uproar that he would distort the facts so blatantly, he did it again. I haven’t searched youtube or google for the footage, perhaps media matters has it.

    Plus in the last 24 hours O’Liely has been caught three times referring to Foley as a (D) Democrat. Wishful thinking? The screen caps and video are available.

    Please point out specific instances of Olberman of KO caught in a lie. Everyone clips quotes or uses just part of what someone says to make a point. I would wager you will do so in rebuttle, should you care to read this and respond.

  10. Craig Says:

    If this discussion gets into a simple back and forth about throwing out anecdotes and incidents about who said what, which was a lie or distortion, this will be a complete exercise in futility.

    O’Reilly did indeed misspeak about the specific event when US troops killed German prisoners. He did, however, admit on a later show that he misspoke and meant to refer to the later WWII incident. I’m not sure what you mean about O’Reilly repeatedly calling Foley a Democrat. I did see that FOX News used a caption under some news footage several times that mistakenly referred to Foley as a Democrat. If you are trying to suggest that FOX News is engaging in some kind of misinformation strategy to convince the American public that Foley is actually a Democrat, I think you’d better step away from the keyboard and take a breather!

    I have pointed out just a couple of KO spins/distortions etc. and there are many more if one cares to look at the blog that I mentioned, to name one.

    Does my rebutting these specifics mean that I think Conservative media types are somehow less guilty of these actions? If you’ve actually comprehended my above statements in this thread, then it should be obvious that I do not!

    My point is simple, really. These talking heads that I’ve referred to on both sides of the political spectrum, are professional media distillers of political news with a partisan point of view. The reason one might feel that one is more “fact-based” in their opinion that any others of an opposition view is simply because they are comfortable with the opinions being promoted by that person, as fitting nicely in their personal echo chamber.

    It’s okay to acknowledge that we are in a political and media age where we are constantly buffeted with concerted efforts to craft a group ideological viewpoint through which to decipher and interpret the events of our world. Our responsibilty as citizens is to try to not take the intellectually lazy way out and just accept these messages at pure face value, but instead to understand that the world is more complex than the gatekeepers of information would like us to believe.

    These people are opinion-makers. They hold no special DNA for looking at events with any fewer ideological filters and preconceived notions than anyone else. They are also obligated to their media masters. They understand where their bread is buttered and what path will best inspire their viewer base and secure their ratings/readership.

    All these media heads are guilty of this activity. Arguing that so-and-so only distorts the facts 23% of the time instead of 38% of the time is an utterly pointless endevour.

    If people still want to stand by their preferred media head as the rare beacon of truth, or at worst, the one who spins events the least, then there is nothing more to be said here that wouldn’t simply be pointless redundancy.

  11. Craig Says:

    Treehugger, I failed to address some of your points on O’Reilly. First, he no doubt brings on some less-than-credibile types from time to time to debate an issue. But quite often, he will have respected and highly politically-suave people on to discuss issues. Unless you feel James Carville and Paul Begala and Bob Woodward are “weaklings”. The whole “mic cut-off” thing is an old event that is hardly indicative of his typical actions. (Not to say that he doesn’t talk over people during an argument or interrupt, which is “talking heads 101”).

    As far as spurned invitations go, this is “media battles 101”. Why in the world would anyone who greatly leads in the cable ratings battle ever do the smaller-audience competitor a huge favor by coming on that person’s show, giving them huge ratings, and be put on the defensive??? This point would be the same no matter who was the top dog or the also-ran.

    Again, for those who may forget my earlier point, I don’t view any conservative/libertarian mediatype to be any less of a news spinner than anyone else.

  12. treehugger Says:

    I agree, but when it was implied that O’Reilly is somehow above the rest, because at least he will bring on people with opposing points, I had to call it out. Your original post was not about treating all these people equal, it was about calling Olberman a “liar, hack/distorter” while propping up O’Reilly. So I felt I would defend him, especially after this just happened on the same day….

    O’Reilly was talking about the Foley scandal with a picture of the disgraced politician on the screen. Funny thing though, on the screen it read:

    Rep. Mark Foley (D) Florida

    Accident? Ha!

    There is the main difference between Olberman and O’Reilly.

    Other than that, I’m with ya in thinking they’re all just news spinners. Just not O’Reilly. He is a flat-out liar with a capital L.

  13. Craig Says:

    Propping up O’Reilly?

    I simply said that, despite his own faults, he does bring on some respectable people of opposing views to argue issues with him (such as the people I specifically noted above). You won’t see Limbaugh, Coulter or Olbermann do that.

    That doesn’t mean I think he is any less of a talking head who analyzes and communicates political issues from a certain ideological bias. It just means that he will allow credible opposing opinions on his show. Period.

    The whole thing that I’ve read by so many from the liberal side about “O’Reilly is a liar because the graphics on his show indicated Foley is a Democrat” just makes me laugh!

    Seriously, if that was deliberate, what was the purpose? To see if one show, on one cable TV network, could cause enough misinformation out into the general public that people will start to think Foley really was a Democrat???? Hmmm, great plan, except for the minor detail that every other media source in the world that is covering this is listing him as a Republican, including the rest of FOX’s broadcasts!!!

    So, if not that, what else is the reason for it? Some frat boys in the graphics department playing a game of “double-dare” with each other? I can just see it: “Dude!!! I can’t believe you actually put that Democrat graphic into the video!! That rocked!! I totally owe you a six-pack of brew for that!!!

    So, I guess we are left with, ‘FOX News did it because they are such lying liars that they just did it to…, well,….to lie.’

    And I guess CNN put up that picture of Cheney with the big red X over it because they were trying to suggest that Cheney should be X’ed out or killed??

    It’s an imperfect world, which includes the video production staffs of cable news networks. The simple answer is sometimes the right one.

  14. treehugger Says:

    It was just the latest example, Craig.

    Anyways, you don’t like Olberman, I don’t like O’Reilly. Let’s just leave it at that.

  15. treehugger Says:

    Oh, when you have a moment Craig you should watch this video. It’s a pretty good example of the point I was making.


    It’s for your own good.

  16. enkidu Says:

    Olbermann’s audience is up 69%

    If you can watch the clip treehugger found on youtube (when do we start calling it GooTube? since google just ate youtube for US$1.6B) and still conclude that it is Olbermann that is in the wrong (several times), then you need to get some fresh air.

    This is gonna hurt, but… BillO has said some funny and reasonable things. I agree with some of his positions, but those rare instances are far outweighed by the utter garbage that seems his stock and trade.

  17. mimage Says:

    “Keith is a hack, a proven liar/distorter”

    And O’Reilly more so. I find people who like to go off about Olbermann being a liar are usually O’Reilly fans. If you want to research Olbermann being a liar on the net, and also research O’Reilly being a liar, you’ll find a lot more convincing evidence of O’Reilly being one of the biggest liars in news, A whole lot more so than Keith. haha

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