For all the talk from the various corporate media sources expressing puzzlement at exactly what the mission of the Occupy Wall Street and its sister protests around the world, you'd think that we haven't had massive income inequality, exponentially rising costs of living with stagnant wages, high unemployment, huge multi-national corporations outsourcing and paying no taxes and all the associated symptoms of economic injustice. But just in case the rest of the media needs a refresher course, Keith Olbermann reads the first collective statement from the Occupy Wall Street participants:
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
I confess that for the most part I found the Murdoch testimony before Parliament today to be predictable, frustrating, and boring. So boring, in fact, that I dozed off just before the Great Murdoch Pie Face moment. However, there actually were some revelations. One of the more interesting one is the one John Dean discusses with Keith Olbermann in the video above.
In the course of testimony, it came out that Glenn Mulcaire's legal bills are being paid for by News Corp. Mulcaire is the "private investigator" who hacked into murder victim Milly Dowler.
Mr Murdoch said: "I asked the question myself and I was very surprised to find the company had made certain contributions to legal settlements.
"I don't have all of the details around each of those - not legal settlements sorry, legal fees - I was surprised, I was very surprised to find out that had occurred.
"They were done, as I understand it, in accordance with legal counsel and their strong advice."
Asked who signed the cheques, Rupert Murdoch said "it could have been" Les Hinton, head of News International at the time, or, alternatively, the chief legal officer.
It was put to the Murdochs that their company had been paying legal fees for Mulcaire, a "convicted felon" - a charge James Murdoch admitted.
He said: "I do know certain legal fees were paid for Mr Mulcaire by the company and I was as surprised and shocked to learn that as you are."
But he denied the fees were paid to buy Mulcaire's "cooperation and silence", saying: "When the allegations came out I said: 'Are we doing this? Is this what the company's doing?'
"The strong (legal) advice was that from time to time it's important and customary even to pay co-defendants' legal fees."
Other things I learned: James Murdoch is the one to watch out for. Rupert Murdoch is his old, crotchety, middle-finger-in-your-face-as-always guy, but James is one smooth operator. Always ready with a concerned look, contrite words, and a very long-winded answer, he restated what everyone else said, which was basically to say nothing.
This exchange is a perfect example. Yes, we paid his legal fees because someone else told us to, but also yes, we're all about being hands-on with the company and oh, by the way, did I forget to say I'm sorry?
Rebekah Brooks handled her testimony in a similar fashion, but was treated far more harshly by the panel questioning her. Not that she doesn't deserve harsh treatment. She does. But compared to the kid-glove treatment of the Murdoch duo, she was raked a bit harder.
Bottom line? Much like Congressional hearings here in the US, these were largely for show and not substance. The real hearings to watch will be the ones where criminal charges are brought, which I believe will happen at some point.
So just couple of days ago Amato blogged about MSNBC analyst Pat Buchanan’s recent xenophobic tirade over Team USA’s disheartening soccer loss against Mexico. Well Buchanan’s appalling views are in the news again. Heather then eviscerated Buchanan for defending tax cuts for private jets and pretending poor people do not pay any taxes. Now the MSNBC analyst (I will keep harping on this phrase, which I will expand a little while later in the post) has now fired off an absurd shot against the supporters of same-sex marriage by writing a column in support of … prejudice.
What is the moral basis of the argument that homosexuality is normal, natural and healthy? In recent years, it has been associated with high levels of AIDS and enteric diseases, and from obits in gay newspapers, early death. Where is the successful society where homosexual marriage was normal?
Well I guess we can give this guy a little credit for honesty I suppose. He doesn’t hide his bigotry and his latest hateful rambling serves the purpose of reminding everyone the deep strain of conservative prejudice.
The question though is why does someone who is so overtly championing bigotry, continue to get a platform at network like MSNBC. What does he bring to the table? I guess MSNBC employs someone like him because he fits the progressive caricature of conservatives. May be his comments generate some buzz, ratings, and heck blogposts like this one. I am sure MSNBC loves segments like the so called “epic battle” between Buchanan and Maddow. Yet, does that justify a network looking the other way, while boosting the profile of someone who is so transparently hateful.
King; We obtained that information through waterboarding. So for those who say that waterboarding doesn’t work, who say it should be stopped and never used again, we got vital information, which directly led us to Bin Laden.”
FOX News featured Rep. Peter King all day yesterday in their coverage along with every ex-Bushie from Andrew Card to Dick Cheney as I waded through hours of their programming and excluded the entire Democratic Party from their coverage except for some video excerpts of Obama and Hillary and a brief appearance by Blue Dog Democrat Dan Boren, who votes 84% of the time with the Republican party on Fox and Friends.
John Brennan disputed King's account, but some of what he said in his presser wasn't very accurate, but Keith Olbermann uncovers a source that right wingers will have a tough time denouncing. Donald Rumsfeld, the man behind Abu Ghraib.
The GOP spin machine, caught with its Abu Ghraib pants down, has come up with only two rickety memes with which to pull itself out of the deep end of the political pool. The first was the simplest: “Obama merely finished what Bush began.”
But the second was a little more robust: The Peter King (R-Stupidity) claim mirrored by a tweeter who asked me: “how does it feel knowing Bin Laden courier was discovered under Bush admin & info was obtained in Gitmo?”
Wait, it gets worse. Guess who’s out tonight denying that waterboarding, or even “harsh treatment” led to the info that led to Bin Laden?
“It is true that some information that came from normal interrogation approaches at Guantanamo did lead to information that was beneficial in this instance. But it was not harsh treatment and it was not waterboarding.”
That was said by Don Rumsfeld.
I’ll stop writing now so you can spend a few minutes laughing through your mouth, nose, ears, feet, and eyeballs.
In an extraordinary disclosure of classified material, the Bush administration released 258 pages of internal documents Tuesday that portray harsh interrogation techniques — including stripping terror suspects and threatening them with dogs — as a necessary response to threats from al-Qaeda terrorists
The alert set in motion a review that culminated with a Nov. 27, 2002, "action memo" in which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques that included "removal of clothing" and "inducing stress by use of detainee's fears (e.g. dogs)." Rumsfeld also approved placing detainees in "stress positions," such as standing for up to 4 hours, though he apparently found this approach unimpressive. Rumsfeld, who works at a stand-up desk, scrawled on the memo, "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours? D.R." (Related link: View memo) Eventually, after military officers raised moral and legal concerns about the techniques and the Pentagon conducted an internal review, Rumsfeld issued revised rules for Guantanamo in April 2003 that omitted the stripping and use of dogs.
Oh, those classy, classy producers over at CNN. When iconoclastic MSNBC host Keith Olbermann announced that Friday's Countdown episode would be the last, it took only minutes for Red State Editor and media gadfly Erick Erickson to gleefully tweet
Wait what? You mean I have a radio show and am on TV and Olbermann is not on either? Hahahahahaha.
So who would be the most natural person for CNN to ask on Anderson Cooper 360 to comment on Olbermann's abrupt departure? Of course, the conservative blogger responsible for such illuminating analysis and debate as calling Justice Souter a "goat-f@*&ing molestor" who was only moments earlier taunting and blocking liberals on Twitter. What, CNN Producers, were you unable to book Bill O'Reilly or Dick Morris for that cogent conservative analysis you apparently crave?
Even Erickson, by his own admission, thought it was rather pointless for him to comment on the situation.
COOPER: Let’s get our political panel in here. Erick Erickson, what do you make of this?
ERICKSON: You know, I don’t know if I should say anything. I’m kind of laughing at this and getting torn up on Twitter about it.
Whether or not Olbermann voluntarily wanted to leave or was pushed out in the wake of the Comcast merger, there is a more worrying concern that a strong (and rare) voice for the left has been silenced. Think about it, Olbermann is contractually prohibited from being on another TV show through 2012, but come Monday, I promise you'll see Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough on MSNBC. Liberal media, my Aunt Fanny.
But for perpetually also-ran CNN, it's perfectly apt to put on this disgusting conservative hack who has no business having as many media outlets at his disposal as he has to "analyze" the departure of one of the few voices of sanity during the dark Bush years.
Former MSNBC talent David Shuster knows what it's like to be on the bad side of the suits upstairs at 30 Rock. Placed on an indefinite suspension when it came out that he had auditioned for his own show on rival network CNN, Shuster has only recently been officially fired from the network. He had already tested the patience of his bosses by engaging in a Twitter war with James O'Keefe (of the ACORN "pimp" faked video) and suggesting that Hillary Clinton was "pimping" out daughter Chelsea during the primaries.
So for the continual fascination with navel-gazing on their own industry, CNN's Anderson Cooper asked for David's input on the Olbermann departure from MSNBC. Thanks to Heather at VideoCafe, who made this mash up of David's comments.
Anderson immediately goes to the rumors of diva-like behavior of Olbermann. Shuster tries to remain diplomatic towards MSNBC but it's clear that he's a big fan of Olbermann and is confident that Keith will end up on his feet somewhere. (Howard Kurtz is reporting that part of the terms agreed upon prohibits Olbermann from appearing on other television programs through the end of his contract, or 2012.)
COOPER: David, I don’t want to put you on the spot too much, but I guess it’s part of…sort of my job in this case. Was he…well-liked within MSNBC? I’ve heard plenty of…what is your impression?
SHUSTER: Well, yeah, it’s a fair question. I think the people he worked with had a lot of respect for him, the people on his show, the director, the technical people. That’s the sort of people who often get forgotten by, you know, major talent. Keith was very kind to them. The make up artists, that sort of thing. I think as far as the management, I mean, Keith had his conflicts with management, going back to when Dan Abrams was running MSNBC and he had his conflicts with Phil Griffin. I think one thing to keep in mind is that not only are things changing with Jeff Zucker no longer running MSNBC, but the reporting structure. You now have Phil Griffin, from what I understand, is going to be reporting to Steve Capus, instead of directly reporting to the head of MSNBC. So Steve Capus, the head of NBC News, will certainly have much more influence over MSNBC. And this may be part of it. It is no secret that Steve was particularly upset –justifiably so—how Keith handled the suspension earlier this year and the donations and Phil Griffin took a little bit of a different tack than Steve probably would have liked. But yeah, I think what you’re seeing now either Keith recognizing, or certainly Steve Capus influencing MSNBC a lot more than he would have had say, a week ago.
Trying again, Cooper insinuates that Olbermann's ego will suffer from losing his platform, and again, Shuster deflects it by cautioning against counting Olbermann out:
COOPER: I just feel bad. I’ve met him a handful of times, I don’t really know him personally, really. But for someone clearly has a strong opinion, it would be a difficult thing, I would think, to be off the air, you know, at such a critical time in this country’s history, David.
SHUSTER: Well, yes and no. He’s gone down this road before. I mean, he’s worked for…he left MSNBC following the Monica Lewinsky scandal back in ’98, ’99. He was off the air for a period of time. He worked at CNN. He worked at Fox. So he’s certainly gotten used to his breaks in between his successes. And I guarantee Keith is not done in the broadcast world. He’s a very smart guy. A lot of organizations would be very wise to talk to him and to at least see what he could possibly do next, whether it’s a radio show, whether it’s a tv show. I mean, he’s such a super talent and he is good to work with. That’s a combination that I think will mean he’s got a bright future regardless…and it will be on his terms.
I do think that as upset as we currently are over Keith's departure, there is a larger concern over the silencing of voices in the media. Difficult or diva-ish as Keith may be, there is no question that he created the infrastructure of strong, progressive voices in the MSNBC line up. Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell were able to parlay guest hosting duties for Keith into their own shows. Who knows if Chris Hayes or Sam Seder might have seen the same in due time? Few news hosts could do that without a healthy serving of ego, so I'm not willing to begrudge him a little arrogance. But Keith brought ratings, almost single-handedly bringing MSNBC from third place to occasionally besting FOX in his time slot. He didn't lose advertisers and yet, he is now out of a job and yet Glenn Beck--who wouldn't know integrity if it stood in front of him and waved hello--has lost now more than 300 advertisers, seen his ratings plummet and yet still remains on the air, infecting it with lies and craziness.
As we go into what Anderson Cooper notes is a critical time in history, we really cannot afford to lose this voice.
There are a number of reasons I always have to chortle whenever Fox Republicans -- or for that matter, Jon Stewart -- try to portray MSNBC as a balancing counterpart to Fox News' overt display of propaganda. The first is that, regardless of the rise of liberal talk-show hosts on its broadcasts, MSNBC remains a real news organization that actually strives to be careful with facts and truthfulness, not to mention its ethical responsibilities -- something Fox long ago abandoned.
That was underlined a couple of weeks ago when the network actually suspended Keith Olbermann for having donated to political campaigns -- drawing a sharp contrast with Fox, where its anchors not only openly donate to campaigns, they actually help promote Republican candidates on-air and provide viewers fund-raising info, while News Corp. publicly donates large sums to partisan political campaigns. It's an old-fashioned standard at MSNBC, though a fairly typical one for a traditional news organization, as distinct from a propaganda operation.
The problem was with the network's dumbassery in enforcing the policy, particularly in suspending Olbermann as "punishment" for such a minor infraction. Not only was it an overreaction, it was also absurdly inconsistent, considering that other MSNBC had made similar donations -- notably Joe Scarborough, the Republican host of Morning Joe.
When Olbermann, host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," was suspended Nov. 5 for making donations to three Democratic congressional candidates, Scarborough acknowledged that two political contributions had been made in his name, but he said they had been made by his wife.
Griffin said in a statement that Scarborough informed him Friday that he had in fact made eight contributions from 2004 to 2008 to local candidates in Florida that he did not recall.
"He will be immediately suspended for two days without pay and will return to the air on Wednesday, November 24th," Griffin said. "As Joe recognizes, it is critical that we enforce our standards and policies."
In his own statement Friday, Scarborough he had "recently" been made aware of the contributions and told Griffin about them himself.
This just makes the network look amateurish. This is really all about MSNBC's corporate culture and its longtime aversion to being labeled the "liberal media" -- something it's had since its inception in the 1990s. It has always tried to blunt these accusations by hiring a number of overt right-wing ideologues, and for most of its existence its demographic strategy was geared at being "Fox Lite". Then, when it discovered that its tiny handful of liberal hosts were actually the greatest ratings successes, it shifted gears somewhat to more eagerly promote them.
This is the other reason I chortle at the MSNBC-is-the-opposite-of-Fox analogies: MSNBC has always been and always will be primarily a corporate entity and fundamentally conservative in its basic approach to broadcasting. I know this from having worked at the network for four years at its conception. It has found that liberal hosts bring it some bottom-line success, but that doesn't mean it will ever be a fundamentally -- or unapologetically -- liberal network.
So when Olbermann leaves an opening, these corporate masters will punish him to prove once again that they are NOT the "liberal biased media," as they did a couple of weeks ago. Then when its liberal audience is appropriately angered over the double standard, it tries to cover its tracks by over-punishing the conservatives who did the same.
MSNBC needs to revise its policy to allow its opinion anchors some partisan leeway, but it should maintain its usual standards for its straight-news reporters and editors. And then it needs to make the sanctions for violations reflective of the actual grievance.
But mostly, it needs to decide for itself what kind of news organization it is, set its own standards and live by them, and not get bullied by right-wing blowhards trying to work the refs. Or don't they ever notice how Fox deals with the accusations that it has a right-wing bias? It blows them off. MSNBC could use a little of that spine.
Keith Olbermann seems to be the guy everyone at NBC News loves to hate. Stories about his suspension from MSNBC are beginning to emerge that paint an ugly picture of power plays and alignments in anticipation of the pending Comcast merger.
Howard Kurtz, our resident media rehab guy, has a long piece at the Daily Beast detailing the hand-wringing and power struggle going on behind the scenes. During the negotiations over his reinstatement, Olbermann's manager threatened to take the battle public, beginning with an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America.
“If you go on GMA, I will fire Keith,” Griffin shot back. Such a move was clearly grounds for dismissal.
The manager returned to the restaurant. He and Olbermann, who had been pushing hard to end the suspension the next day, discussed whether they would be burning bridges by carrying out the threat. Minutes later, their phones buzzed with emails from reporters, asking about a statement that NBC had just released. Olbermann, it said, would be allowed to return to his prime-time show on Tuesday—a day later than he had wanted.
Price called Griffin again. “What compelled you to do that in that way?” he asked.
After the stupid Journolist nonsense that Tucker Carlson used to launch his gossip site, you'd think maybe he would have learned something. But when one is a perennial middle-schooler in a bow tie, it would appear otherwise. Today we discover Tuckie's effort to pile insult onto injury, ostensibly to get Keith Olbermann fired after his suspension last week.
Although emails were indeed sent back and forth, it wasn't Olbermann on the other end.
I honestly have no words for how stupid this is. But here's what it proves beyond all doubt: Tucker Carlson is a psychopath and a douche with absolutely no integrity. Here's how he reacted when he was caught:
Carlson, reached by phone Tuesday night, confirmed he impersonated Olbermann in the email responses to Bykofsky.
"Could you resist?" Carlson said. "It was just too funny. The flesh is weak."
Carlson said he didn't expect the email exchange to be published.
To which I call BS. You don't send emails to a newspaper reporter bashing someone like Phil Griffin in the middle of one of the biggest shitstorms MSNBC has ever seen and NOT expect them to be published. Of course he expected them to be published. He longed for them to be published. He fantasized that his little impersonation would get Olbermann fired for good. I guarantee it.
Speaking as the parent to three kids who all have grown up online, I feel qualified to assign the correct term to Tuckie's little prank. We call it bullying. It's a subtle form of bullying for sure. It's the kind where catty girls spread the rumor online that that girl they don't like so much is sleeping with the football team. That kind of thing. It's a highly-evolved middle school art form that 99% of the population outgrows by the time they go to college.
In Tuckie's case, it seems he's just stuck in 7th grade with a psychopathic hatred for Keith Olbermann.
Also, advice for Stu Bykofsky: The Google is your friend. So is BetterWhois.com.
So Phil Griffin, the MSNBC boss who suspended Keith Olbermann last week for the horrendous crime of donating to Democrats, issued the following statement announcing Olbermann's return tomorrow:
After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night's program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night.
"Appropriate punishment"? WTF? Is MSNBC a news network, or Phil Griffin's little red schoolhouse? What kind of professionals are these bozos?
As karoli pointed out, the looming acquisition of NBC by Comcast probably played a role in this. What seems most likely is that Griffin, anticipating the company's new conservative ownership, made this move in hopes of currying favor with the new bosses.
Instead, he created a fiasco that gave the entire network a black eye. If the new bosses are smart businessmen before they're political ideologues, Griffin will be gone with the first few days of the Comcast takeover. Serves him right.
"Keith is furious about the way this has all been handled and insisted that MSNBC bosses apologize to him before he would agree to return," a network insider tells me. "Keith sees himself as the star of MSNBC, the person who put them on the map and discovered fellow network anchors Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell. To be treated like this by the network he helped shape, he considers disgusting."
MSNBC employees follow ethics guidelines barring them from making political contributions. After Olbermann's "indefinite suspension without pay," it appears those rules may see some revision.
"In addition to an apology, Keith is demanding that the rules be changed," an executive tells me. "Keith thinks it's unfair that FOX News anchors can make contributions and support candidates and he can't. It's his money that he has earned, he should be allowed to do whatever he wants with it. What sort of country do we live in where an actor can trash a hotel room with an escort and drugs and Keith can't donate money to people running for office he believes in? It makes no sense. If they think they can slap Keith's wrist and have him to return a few days later like nothing happened, they are wrong. They picked the wrong guy."