Keith Olbermann On Bill Moyers Journal -- Dec. 14, 2007


Here's Keith back in 2007 being interviewed by another person that I deeply regret is no longer on the air, Bill Moyers. Full transcript available here.

I thought I'd share one portion of the transcript here where Keith talked about leaving MSNBC during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and whether he'd ever do it again.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, I noticed when you a sportscaster you never took sides between the teams on the field. But a lot of people think you've taken sides now. They think you've taken sides with the progressive or liberal story.

KEITH OLBERMANN: They didn't say that a lot during the Lewinsky thing. I always find that kind of ironic as I've seen some of the criticism from the right. But, what I've done on the air in the last 4 1/2 years, and particularly in the last year and a half since the special comments began, is really journalism. It's saying here's what you're being told. Here's the identifiable objective fact to the situation. This statement from the government may be a lie. And what we all did in this country, those who had voted for this president and those who did not, was to say we're in dire trouble. We've been attacked. Let's rally around him, give him all the support we can, and we will suspend our disbelief. The moment that it began to be obvious that we were being manipulated, used-- that was when my suspicions began to take voice.

BILL MOYERS: I watched you walk off when you were at MSNBC and they were covering the Lewinsky scandal. And I believe you said, "This is ridiculous."


BILL MOYERS: This is drip, right?


BILL MOYERS: You walked away.


BILL MOYERS: Would you do it again?

KEITH OLBERMANN: I think probably it won't happen. But I would say that there were circum-- there were circumstances in this show, there was one occasion where I was prepared to go out the door an hour before one of the shows because we had one of those conflicting moments. This is very early on again. This is 2003. When we were all still in that kind of, "Gee, should we suspend our disbelief? What if he's-- what if George Bush is right and this is the kind of threat that he portrays?" He-- it's probably exaggerated because he's a politician, number one. But number two, what if he's right? I think a lot of us were saying, "Well, okay, let's just tread gently." MSNBC hired a guy named Michael Savage. And he came on and did-- not only did he do a show once a week that was basically just spattering invective on people he didn't like and these people change from week to week, but it was terribly produced. I mean, it was an awful show. And he was-- he looked like he was standing in front of a chalkboard somewhere in somebody's basement with a camera. One night I walk in, my boss is out of town. And the guy actually running the show at the point said, at countdown, said-- "We're going to run a Michael Savage commentary. I've got to go now." And he ran away. And I said, "We're not running a Michael Savage commentary. That's in the"-- and he was gone.

I called my agent. Now, I'd just gotten back to MSNBC. I left, as you said, under the Lewinsky circumstances. A lot of bridges were burned. Came back. Everybody hugged. It's three or four months in. I'm enjoying it. I think I'm making a difference. I'm getting that little sort of skeptical thing back. And here we're going to have a Michael Savage commentary in the middle of it. So I finally got a hold of my agent. And I said, "I have to walk out, don't I?" She said, "Yep, you do." And I said, "Yeah, I guess so. Well, it was a nice career." I'm going to try to get a hold of my boss in Washington. And I called him and I said, "I can't"-- he said, "Can you find some reason not to run it that doesn't pertain to the politics?" I said, "Are you saying to me if I go and look at it and it doesn't meet production standards we don't have to run it?" "I might be saying that, yes. Just give me something to work with." And I went in and looked at it and the guy repeated himself nine times. So I called the guy back and said-- "It's very badly produced. He's repeating himself. I don't think you should run it." "Okay, good enough." But those things still happen, and I'm sure they'll still happen.

Here's part two.


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