I know a lot of readers will be very happy to get this news -- assuming you're one of the 60 million people who have access to Current TV through your cable system. (I'm pretty sure you can get it on one of Roku's channels, though.):
Keith Olbermann, the former top-rated host of “Countdown” on the news channel MSNBC, will announce his next television home on Tuesday, and people familiar with his plans pointed Monday to a possible deal with the public affairs channel Current TV.
Neither Mr. Olbermann, his representatives, or executives from Current TV would comment on the move, but they did not deny that the channel, which counts former Vice President Al Gore as one of its founders, will become at least one partner in Mr. Olbermann’s future media plans.
One of the people with knowledge of the plans said Mr. Olbermann would have an equity stake in Current TV. The people insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized by their employers to comment in advance of the official announcement.
On Monday a public relations agency hired by Mr. Olbermann scheduled a Tuesday morning conference call for an announcement about his next job. “He and his new partners will make an exciting announcement regarding the next chapter in his remarkable career,” the agency wrote in an e-mail.
Current TV has set up a presentation with advertisers for Wednesday afternoon in Manhattan to announce its future plans. The channel may be betting on Mr. Olbermann to put it on the cable map. The low-rated five-year-old channel needs the help. Targeting young people, it originally subsisted on YouTube-style submissions and video journalists. More recently it started producing and acquiring traditional television series, like repeats of “This American Life.”
Oh, I just love Tea Parties, don't you? On Countdown last night, Keith Olbermann featured Michele Bachmann's newest bid for attention and concerned stares.
OLBERMANN: It's not just that there isn't much racism in the Tea Party. The contention is there's none, zero. Thats next in worsts. First, no, that's not your water coming to a boil. It's our nightly checkup on the something for nothing crowd. It's Tea Time.
Fifty percent of life really is an imitation of a Monty Python sketch. From Washington and the Committee on House Administration there comes this letter.
"I would like to register the House Tea Party Caucus as a congressional member organization. The 111th Congress has Tea Party Caucus, will serve as an informal group of members dedicated to promote America's call for fiscal responsibility, adherence to the Constitution" -- . Michele Bachmann, Chairwoman
Michele Bachmann, Chairwoman Michele Bachmann of the House Tea Party Caucus. Chairwoman Michele Bachmann of the House Tea Party Caucus, consisting of the following members: Michele Bachmann.
Meantime in Kentucky, Rand Paul has vowed to start a Senate Tea Party Caucus. He bets on Paul not blowing what remains of his once big lead or about his only potential other member, Sharron Angle, when she out- Tea Partied the chicken lady, Sue Lowden, to get the Republican nomination in Nevada.
She led Reid by three points in the Mason-Dixon poll. The new Mason-Dixon poll is now out, Reid by seven, a ten-point swing in six weeks.
It is one thing to believe America agrees with you and your regressive, narrow-minded, prejudiced politics. Go ahead. Have a good time. But to think you are winning when you are getting your asses kicked, that takes us back to the Monty Python sketch. Or more correctly, the Eric Idol spoof of the Beatles called " The Ruttles."
The band was suddenly influenced by the spiritual teachings of an Indian Yogi, who turns them on to a new hallucinogenic drug. A new hallucinogenic drug is obviously a metaphor for LSD. The new hallucinogenic drug is TEA, tea. I think we just found out what the stuff is that Michele Bachmann drinks."
"The American people are speaking out loud and clear. They have had enough of the spending, the bureaucracy, and the government knows best mentality running rampant today throughout the halls of Congress. This caucus will espouse the timeless principles of our founding, principles that all Members of Congress have sworn to uphold," Bachmann stated. "The American people are doing their part and making their voices heard and this caucus will prove that there are some here in Washington willing to listen."
I guess that means the only Americans worth listening to are those folks with the signs out to 'take their country back'? Would that be most of the mainstream Republican party, perhaps?
I was going to poke fun at the staffer assigned to coordinate the new caucus, but it's not nice to make fun of folks saddled with the last name "Looser" who also work for Michele Bachmann, so I won't.
Teabaggers are a legend in their own minds, and Michele Bachmann is trying to keep a 'movement that was never a movement' afloat long enough to flog it through November. What will she do when she, Rand Paul and Sharron Angle all lose? Maybe we'll get lucky and she'll toss her hat in the GOP primary ring.
Rachel Maddow gives a "If I were President" reworking of Obama's address to the nation on the BP oil spill.
The general consensus, which I suspect surprised the White House, was that the speech was underwhelming. There was plenty of Monday morning quarterbacking of what wasn't said and what opportunities were missed. Robert Reich had his own take:
Everything seemed to be in the passive tense. He had authorized deepwater drilling because he "was assured" it was safe. But who assured him? How does he feel about being so brazenly misled? He said he wanted to "understand" why that was mistaken. Understand? He's the President of the United States and it was a major decision. Isn't he determined to find out how his advisors could have been so terribly wrong?
Tomorrow he's "informing" the president of BP of BP's financial obligations. "Informing" is what you do when you phone the newspaper to tell them it wasn't delivered today. Why not "directing" or "ordering?"
The President distinguished what has happened in the Gulf of Mexico from a tornado or hurricane because they are over quickly while the leak is an ongoing crisis, lasting many weeks and perhaps months more. He likened it to an "epidemic." But the real difference has nothing to do with time. Tornadoes and hurricanes are natural disasters. Epidemics occur because germs mutate and spread. The spill occurred because of the recklessness and ruthlessness of a giant oil company in pursuit of profit.
And what has the nation learned from all this? The same lesson we've known for decades, according to the President. We must end our dependence on oil. But if we've known this for decades, why haven't we done anything about it? The President endorsed the cap-and-trade bill that emerged from the House (without calling it cap-and-trade) but didn't call for the only thing that may actually work: a tax on carbon.
I'm a fan of Barack Obama. I campaigned for him and I believe in him. I think he has a first-class temperament. I have been deeply moved and startled by his ability to speak about the nation's most intractable problems. But he failed tonight to rise to the occasion.
I think it's less an issue of temperament than it is an issue of leadership. I would love the president to speak as plainly and as directly as Rachel's re-write. There's no comfort or confidence to be derived from hearing the same words we've heard from presidents for the last forty years.
Normally, I'd cut this video down from its full 19 minutes, but truly, to appreciate the wonderfulness of Maddow's approach and the sidestepping Rand Paul attempts to avoid the corner Maddow in which deftly places him, you really must watch the whole thing.
And boy, does Rand Paul squirm under the surgical questioning of Rachel Maddow. He never answers her questions, and how can he? His stance makes no sense. Taylor Marsh:
It's the nakedness and naïveté of Mr. Paul's views on civil rights laws, that legislation should not impact businesses, that is not only evidence that he's unfit for Congress, but that he's actually dangerous. To think that the United States would no longer require laws to protect minorities is just ignorant and lacking in experience in the real world.
As for his anti-women's rights views, especially on individual freedoms, it's absolutely discriminatory against women. It's appalling in this day and age that a doctor would believe that women should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against her will. The editorial board found his views "repellent" and they are correct. To say that the unborn has "equal" rights to the woman is simply wrong.
I think Taylor hit it on the head: his naïveté is dangerous. Like many--if not most--"isms", libertarianism may make sense on an academic level, but only when conceived in vacuum of intellectual exercises. In the gritty friction of the real world, the exercise falls apart. To say that only publicly owned entities should be legislated from discriminating ignores centuries of oppression and injustice. Glibly dismissing any real examples such as the Woolworth's lunch counter by claiming his "abhorrence of racism" and saying that people would vote with their dollar to not patronize those business is laughably naive.
Obviously, the tea party adulation, in all its authoritarian and uncritical glory, did not prepare Rand Paul for prime time. He's clearly uncomfortable with follow up questions and being confronted with his own stances. Even though he brought it on himself by telling the Louisville Courier-Journal and NPR that he thought the Civil Rights Act should be done away with, Paul whines about "red herrings" and that the act is forty years old, so why is anyone asking him about it? Joan Walsh:
You've got to watch the whole interview. At the end, Paul seemed to understand that he's going to be explaining his benighted civil rights views for a long, long time – but he seemed to blame Maddow. "You bring up something that is really not an issue…a red herring, it's a political ploy…and that's the way it will be used," he complained at the end of the interview. Whether the Civil Rights Act should have applied to private businesses – "not really an issue," says Tea Party hero Rand Paul.
Methinks Paul better get used to having to answer for his tacit endorsement of racism and oppression of minorities, especially if Tweety's outrage is any indication of the larger media response. That may play well with the teabaggers, but they're not going to win Paul the elections. If I was Jack Conway, I'd be smiling right now.
UPDATE: John Amato:
My own quick and not quite perfect transcript of 'Baby Paul' trying refusing to answer Rachel Maddow.'s simple questions..
Maddow: Do you think a private business has the right to put up a 'Blacks Not Serverd Sign?'
Baby Paul: Well the interesting thing is if you look back to the 1950's, 1960's, that the problems we faced, there were incredible problems. The problems had to do with voting...blah, blah, blah.
Madow: I don't want to badger you, but I do want an answer on this sir, do you think a private business has the right not to serve black people?
Baby Paul: I'm against all discrimination of any kind, I wouldn't join a club .(my golf club is cool, though) but I think what's important about this debate is not to get into any gotcha on this but asking the question. What about freedom of speech. Should we limit speech. Should we limit racists from speaking?
Maddow: I'm asking straight you forward questions. Do you realize that businesses wouldn't let black people use the bathroom?
Baby Paul: I abhor racism. Am I a bad person because I hate racism?
Maddow: I'm asking you a yes or no question, Baby Paul. What about lunch counters? It's not a hypothetical.
Baby Paul: I'll give you a hypothetical. What about the owner of the restaurant? Should the government tell him that AK-47's aren't permitted in his place of business? That's when we're in a slippery slope, Rachel.
Maddow: This isn't a debate about the second amendment. People were beaten to death trying to stand up against racism at Woolworth's.
Let me tell you a story about a story that isn't a story but became a story because it was broadcast from major news sources with an air of breathless indignation, laced with a tiny bit of naughtiness intended to disguise the true story because the Republicans aren't thrilled with the SEC right now.
Senior staffers at the Securities and Exchange Commission spent hours surfing pornographic websites on government-issued computers while they were being paid to police the financial system, an agency watchdog says.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is shocked -- SHOCKED -- that such a thing would happen while the market is in meltdown mode.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said it was “nothing short of disturbing that high-ranking officials within the SEC were spending more time looking at pornography than taking action to help stave off the events that brought our nation's economy to the brink of collapse."
"This stunning report should make everyone question the wisdom of moving forward with plans to give regulators like the SEC even more widespread authority," Issa said in a subtle jab at ongoing financial reform efforts.
In the clip at the top of this post, Rep. Barney Frank patiently explains the "culture of the SEC" in response to Andrea Mitchell's question about whether the Madoff scandal might have been caught sooner if SEC officials weren't surfing porn instead of doing their jobs. He walks Mrs. Greenspan through the fallacies of her husband's philosophy of "let markets be king" and resulting underregulation that led to rampant fraud in the system.
Everything old is new again
The only problem with all this fuss? This story is all about a story already reported in November, 2008. ProPublica gave us the full scoop on it in November, 2008. November, 2008. That would be when the SEC was run by a Republican administration with George Dubya Bush as its leader, wouldn't it?
You can read the entire Inspector General's 94-page report for yourself, right here. The pornography allegations are only a very small part of a much more disturbing picture, actually. It's interesting to me to see the fuss around pornography when other, more serious and chilling allegations are contained within it. Here are a few of the interesting ones:
Investigation of Conflict of Interest, Improper Solicitation and
Receipt of Gifts from a Prohibited Source, and Misuse of Official Position
Follow-up Investigation of Disruptive and Intimidating Behavior by a Senior Manager
Investigation of Failure to Maintain Active Bar Status
The report also has details about the investigation into reasons for Bear Stearns' collapse. The conclusions there are far more interesting than anything to do with SEC employees accessing pornography.
On a weekend where negotiations are moving ahead to get to a vote on financial regulation Monday, Issa's latest effort to manufacture scandal is just a cynical ploy to manipulate public opinion. It's a little like the "death panel" controversy, or the "Goldman Sachs gave more money to Obama than anyone else" controversy. The goal is to turn public opinion away from efforts to rein in what is completely out of control, water it down more than it is already, and pay off the Republican paymasters of Wall Street.
Larry Wilkinson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, and Larry O'Donnell really let Karl Rove have it on Countdown last night for cheerleading torture from the safe distance of his office:
Wilkerson, former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell tonight (12 March 2010) on the matter of Karl Rove's book and its attempts to justify the use of torture techniques during the Bush administration.
WILKERSON: "Let me say this, I saw - I had the highest clearance, Top Secret SCI - I saw almost everything Secretary Powell saw. I saw no proof of any of the things that Karl Rove indicated, and, as a matter of fact, no proof that any of the interrogation techniques, other than those used by the FBI, early on, had a real impact on actionable intelligence.
And I've got something else to say about Mr. Rove: No political counselor should have - he doesn't have the need-to-know. He shouldn't have access to that kind of classified information. He has NO BUSINESS having access, so if the White House allowed him to, THAT is a no-no. And I will guess that he's getting his information from Dick Cheney, because he did not have access to that kind of information."
"He's trying to sell his book."
On Rove's contention that waterboarding was not torture because doctors were present, Wilkerson said: "Slick it up with some doctors, and slick it up with some other medical personnel present. That sounds like the Nazis... Nuremburg cites the responsibilities of physicians in that regard and it isn't positive what they say about them..."
O'Donnell started the segment pointing out that Cheney and Rove and Mark Thiessen, the big fans/cheerleaders of torture, never served in the military.
O'DONNELL: "As a military man, what does that feel like to watch the cheerleaders safely positioned on the sidelines, their whole lives, try to tell you what is the most effective process and technique in war?"
WILKERSON: "Well, it says to me, and I'll make no bones about it, that they're all cowards. I mean, it's plain and simple, they're all cowards."
In a Friday surprise, MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford announced on his CQ Politics blog Trail Mix today that he is leaving the network.
"Three months short of my current contract," he wrote, "I sent the following to the boss, [MSNBC President] Phil Griffin: 'Phil, Just wanted to give you the heads up that my situation with MSNBC has become so unrewarding for me that I've decided to move on. — Craig'"
In an email, Crawford tells TVNewser, "This was a long time coming. I haven't felt like a good fit for MSNBC since the presidential campaign, and their hard turn toward point-of-view programming.
"So many of my booking calls lately have been for segments bashing Sarah Palin, for instance. I was boring myself, and surely the viewers.
"But no particular event brought this on, just my desire to try other outlets and have more fun. I have a fine and rewarding home with the great folks at CQ-Roll Call. I enjoy blogging for them and doing our web videos.
"Perhaps I'm not cut out to be a cable cowboy anymore, dunno. Prefer remaining independent and do my own thing for any channel, including MSNBC, that books me. After a dozen years with one channel, I'd rather play the field for a while."
In the interest of disclosure, I have spoken with Craig in the past--as we set up his book chat last year--and I've communicated with him via Facebook on this as well. I like Craig as a person, and I can certainly understand a level of frustration if the only subject for which he's invited is Palin. However, I don't know if that's the whole truth. In the comment section of his blog, he revealed some more:
i simply could not any longer endure being a cartoon player for lefty games, just gotta move on to higher ground even if there's no oxygen
Lefty games? Oh dear. I asked Craig to explain what that meant, but he refused. In fairness to Craig, since his appearances were basically with Countdown, I don't think that anyone will argue there isn't a lefty slant, but games? It's a troubling characterization. Craig commented again:
i have never and never will forgive Chris [Matthews] for calling me a racist after the West Virginia primary (the last time I will ever go on air with him). Probably should have resigned then and there, but better late than never.
I haven’t felt like a good fit for MSNBC since the presidential campaign, and the hard turn toward point-of-view programming. No particular event brought this on, just my desire to try other outlets and have more fun. As far as Chris is concerned, on Morning Joe after the West Virginia primary he accused me of always defending Clinton and what he claimed to be her racially motivated campaigning. That’s the problem. Trying to be fair became seen as bias in the new thinking over there. But I do wish my many pals at MSNBC nothing but good things.
The truth is, there were times that the anti-Hillary coverage got to me, and I wasn't a Hillary-supporter. But that was over a year ago, and claims of loyalty aside, leaving with bad blood three months shy of your contract ending seems to be a strong statement to make for transgressions more than a year old. Now, I'd like to think that Craig was taking a principled stand against "point of view" programming, but as Mediaite points out, Crawford announced he was going from the frying pan into the fire:
Crawford says on his blog he will be on Fox & Friends as a guest on Monday, although FNC says he won’t be. He also writes in the comments that he is a “free agent.”
Update: Crawford took down the F&F booking info shortly after publication.
Oy. F&F isn't point of view programming, Craig? C'mon now. Clearly the free agent thing had Crawford thinking, because later on Facebook and Twitter he asked what people thought of CNN's Rick Sanchez as a possible new "anchor buddy". I admit, I wasn't too complimentary.
I do think that collectively we're reaching a form of critical mass on being tired of opinion media masquerading as journalism. There will always be a certain percentage of the population that needs their pre-conceived notions reinforced, but by and large, Americans don't trust "journalists" any more, with reason. And this stand of Crawford's--as contradictory as it appears on its face--may be another crack in the dam.
She pointed out that he paid only $600 a month for a luxury room with meals in The Family's mansion for many years, calls it what it is (a "donation in kind") and want to know if he paid taxes on it or declared it. She called on him to disclose whether he reported it and asked just who subsidized him.
You know I was trying to think about who he was tonight and it's interesting... he is post-racial by all appearances. You know I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know he's gone a long way to become a leader in this country and passed so much history in just a year or two. I mean it's something we don't even think about. But I was watching him and said "Wait a minute, he's an African American guy in front of a bunch of white people and there he is President of the United States and we've completely forgotten that tonight". Completely forgotten it.
I think it was in the scope of his discussion; it was so broad ranging, so in tune with so many problems and aspects, and aspects of American life that you don't think in terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard and very subtle fact -- it's so hard to even talk about it -- maybe I shouldn't talk about it, but I am. I thought it was profound in that way and I think in terms of the seduction tonight -- I don't think he did anything tonight out of love for Republicans or deep understanding of people who disagree with him. He's probably incredibly frustrated by the failure of a single Republican Senator to step up and say "We've got to do something about health care. I'm challenging my caucus on this one. I'm with you buddy. I'm a profile in courage." Not a single Republican. That has got to frustrate a guy who has tried to reach out.
If only Tweety's brain was post-racial. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that MSNBC is going to do some apologizing tomorrow.