When multimillionaires lie in your faces: We strongly recommend Glenn Greenwalds post concerning the apparent cessation of the BillO/KeithO feud. Long story short:
According to Brian Stelters report in the New York Times, the TV hosts corporate owners (Murdoch and Immelt) decided their feud was counterproductive. Greenwalds summary: According to the NYT, both CEOs agreed that the dispute was bad for the interests of the corporate parents, and thus agreed to order their news employees to cease attacking each other's news organizations and employees. More Greenwald: Though Olbermann denies he was part of any deal, the NYT says that there has been virtually no criticism of Fox by Olbermman, or MSNBC by O'Reilly, since June 1 when the deal took effect.
That isnt entirely true, Greenwald says, noting Olbermanns criticism of Fox on June 17. But a review of all of Olbermanns post-June 1 shows does reveal that he has not ever criticized (or even mentioned) Bill O'Reilly since then and barely ever mentions Fox News any longer.
Two words: Classic KeithO!
Lets start with one correction: Citing Stelter, Greenwald says that Charlie Rose tried to engineer an end to the feud. Stelters report just doesnt say that. Since we linked you, well warn against that.
Now, a few reactions:
For the most part, we should probably thank the liberal gods for an end to this silly, fake feud. Olbermanns attacks on OReilly were often the dumbest, fakest part of his very dumb, very fake program. Over the weekend, we read back through his worst person reports on Mr. O in April and May, before the truce apparently took effect,. Even we were amazed by the emptiness of the bulk of the work. Olbermanns staff must have spent thirty seconds per day constructing these brainless items. This was very, very dumb feed. Keith would throw it to us in the herd.
More significant is the way Olbermann seems to have dismounted from this shock jock-style feud. The deal took effect on June 1, Greenwald notes. And by complete and total coincidence KeithO announced, that very night, that he would be quitting BillO! The reason he gave didnt make much sense; it was tied to OReillys profoundly ill-advised comments, down through the years, about the recently murdered Dr. George Tiller. But Olbermann devoted his programs last segment to his plainly heartfelt dismount. We strongly suggest that you read the full segment. But heres how his heartfelt cri de coeur ended on that heartfelt night:
OLBERMANN (6/1/09): Fox News Channel will never restrain itself from incitement to murder and terrorism, not until its profits begin to decline, when its growth stops. So not so much a boycott here as a quarantine, because this has got to stop.
That I have a commercial conflict of interest here is obvious. So Ill make the first symbolic contribution to this quarantine. One of my pleasures, obviously, is constantly criticizing him [OReilly] in that Ted Baxter voice. It is the idea of laughter as a social sanction against inflexible behavior.
But this is no time for laughter. This is serious. Serious as death. As serious as George Tillers death. So as of this shows end, I will retire the name, the photograph, and the caricature. The words may still be quoted in the future as developments dictate. The goal here is to get this blindly irresponsible man and his ilk off the air.
Were only in the television news business, a profession that is at times about two inches up from carnival barking. We must again separate it, television, from terrorism. And we must again make the world safe for people condemned by the Fox News Channel.
Thats Countdown for this, the 2,223rd day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. Im Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.
We strongly suggest you read the whole segment, understanding as you do that Olbermann is apparently lying right in your faces the whole Fox News-hatin time.
No, that cri de coeur didnt exactly make sense. BillO had sinned as never beforeso KeithO would no longer criticize him! (We knowthat isnt quite what he said. But, according to Greenwalds review, all criticism of OReilly ended that night, not just the silly-bill clowning.) But then, very few things this big hack says ever make a whole lot of sense. If Stelters report is accurate, we now know the actual reason KeithO quit BillO that night. And we know he was lying right in your liberal faces as he wept, emoted, moaned and wailed all through that inaccurate segment.
Go ahead, read that whole segment. Dont say we havent been telling you.
About KeithO and Dr. Tiller: KeithO was veryextremely upset about OReillys past comments on Tiller. This is unusual, because until the time of Dr. Tillers murder, KeithO had never said a word about OReillys ill-advised comments. KeithO was right about one thing; OReilly had gone way over the line in his past comments about Dr. Tiller. Unlike most of the bullsh*t KeithO pimped, this was an actual, serious offense. OReilly should have been criticized for it, especially if you were running a show where you whomped on him every durn night.
Sorry. Although he battered BillO incessantly, KeithO had never mentioned Tiller (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/12/09). Why not? We have no way to know. But again, a bit of a guess: When you get to make up silly sh*tsilly sh*t it takes ten seconds to prepare; silly sh*t designed to please rubeswhy would you waste your time on such a substantive, complex matter? KeithO tended to hand us rubes silly sh*t about OReilly. In the process, he completely missed this very serious area of real concern.
Bottom line: Fox News does tons of horrible work. (Some of its work is OK.) The world would benefit if some competent, serious newsperson constructed a real critique of this workperhaps with ideas about how to combat it. But Olbemann has long performed like a clown, the charge he laid on OReilly.
Two clowns fought on the edge of a roof. On June 1, both jumped off.
TWO CHEERS FOR KING: Lets start with two cheersor maybe just onefor the Washington Posts Colbert King. Over the weekend, he joined two other heavyweights (Bob Herbert, Frank Rich), weighing in on the Gates/Crowley matter. Also appearing: New York Times reporter Helene Cooper, who got the chance to interview Gates. To see her solicit and sift Gates views, you know what to dojust click here. (Text below.)
Why the two cheers for Kingmaybe one? Of all these mammoths, only he even dared suggest some imagined dissatisfaction with recent judgments by Gates. For ourselves, we dont know how to assess Gates actionsin part because of reporters like Cooper. But in the passage which follows, King was at least willing to suggest, ever so vaguely, the distant imagined possibility that Professor Gates might have made the slightest error in sitting down for a good cold beer with his new friend, Officer Crowley. Two cheers for Kingmaybe one:
KING (8/1/09): George Washington University law professor John F. Banzhaf III argues that Gates should not have socialized at the White House. Instead, he says, Gates should sue the Cambridge police for arresting him without legal justification.
I'm not sure I would go that far.
But Gates, it seems to me, has an obligation in the search for common ground to do more than sip beer and munch peanuts with the prez and the cop who busted him.
The professor and I don't share the same circles.
But this I know: Henry "Skip" Gates is well positioned to take a public stance against the police practice of arresting people for exercising their constitutional rights. It happened in his case. It happens far too often in this country, especially to the poor, the politically unpopular and people too financially weak to stand up for themselves. And it is a practice that cries out for correction.
Lowering the temperature over the Gates arrest is fine. Papering over the offense and treating it as if it were just a matter of two cool guys getting hot under the collar is not.
Two cheers for King! It strikes him as imaginably odd that Gates would sit down for peanuts and beer with a man who had recently arrested him for exercising [his] constitutional rights. (Thats Kings view of what happened.) Somewhat daintily, King shaves down the meetings possible oddness, failing to note the very serious charges Gates has made against Crowleyclaims which may well be accurate. Should Gates sit down for peanuts and beer with someone who recently filed an arrest report which was an act of pure fiction? A report which was, from start to finish, such pure fabrication that Professor Gates was astonished at the audacity of the lies?
Should Gates have sat down with a man who did that? We dont know, in part due to Cooper. You see, when Cooper was granted an interview with Gates, she completely forgot to ask him about those very serious charges! In the aftermath of last Thursdays beer blast, Gates didnt take questions from the rabble, as his working-class counterpart did. Instead, he submitted to questions from Cooper. This is the piffle we got:
COOPER (7/31/09): Professor Gates said in an interview, I don't think anybody but Barack Obama would have thought about bringing us together.
The two men [Gates/Crowley] and their families first encountered each other in the White House library while each group was on individual tours of the White House on Thursday afternoon.
''Nobody knew what to do,'' Professor Gates said. ''So I walked over, stuck out my hand and said, It's a pleasure to meet you. That broke the awkwardness.
Sergeant Crowley added that the families ''had continued the tour as a group while the beer talk commenced.'' He described the interaction between families as very cordial.
Professor Gates concurred, saying: ''We hit it off right from the beginning. When he's not arresting you, Sergeant Crowley is a really likable guy.
We have no idea what was actually said in the course of Coopers interview. But heres what emerged in her report: Gates fawned to Obama; was gracious about Crowley; and of course lauded himself. But why in the world did he meet with Crowley, whom he has accused of gross misconductpresumably, of a serious crime? As we told you last week, skillful players in Coopers journalistic class will know they mustnt ask.
So it goes when our press corps swings into action! At Crowleys press conference, no one asked about the apparent factual errors in his official report (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/31/09). And then, when Cooper interviewed Gates, she didnt ask about his very serious claims against Crowley.
To his credit, King was willing to suggest the possibility that Gates has been slacking a bit. But then, he seems to say in his piece that he doesnt know Gates (pause for astonishment); elsewhere, among those who do, the pander was more thorough. On the op-ed page of the Times, Rich as usual played the buffoonand Herbert offered the kind of reaction which helps explain how liberals tend to lose ground in debates like this. Much of what Herbert says, about the wider society, may well make perfect sense. But this passage, about his friend Gates, simply doesnt:
HERBERT (8/1/09): Mr. Gates is a friend, and I was selected some months ago to receive an award from an institute that he runs at Harvard. I made no attempt to speak to him while researching this column.
The very first lesson that should be drawn from the encounter between Mr. Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, is that Professor Gates did absolutely nothing wrong. He did not swear at the officer or threaten him. He was never a danger to anyone. At worst, if you believe the police report, he yelled at Sergeant Crowley. He demanded to know if he was being treated the way he was being treated because he was black.
You can yell at a cop in America. This is not Iran. And if some people dont like what youre saying, too bad. You can even be wrong in what you are saying. There is no law against that. It is not an offense for which you are supposed to be arrested.
Professor Gates did absolutely nothing wrong, Herbert saysseeming to mean that he did nothing illegal. There is no law against yelling at cops, Herbert explains, even if what youre yelling is wrong. It is not an offense for which you are supposed to be arrested. Thats certainly true, at least up to a point; there is a law against yelling in public, if your behavior becomes tumultuous. But that is a question of what is legal, and Herbert sounded off about what is wrong. We liberals frequently conflate these questions, especially when such acts of conflation suit our interests, or those of our friends. Example: President Clinton did nothing illegal with Monica Lewinsky. But did he do something wrong? Thats a different question. Herbert was in such a frenzy here that he seemed not to notice or care.
Rich, of course, was pandering even harder, to Obama and to liberal readers. Frankly, the man is incurable. He may be the dumbest, most defiantly unbalanced writer in American pseudo-letters.
RICH (8/2/09): Ill return to the larger picture, but before the battle of Cambridge fades entirely, lets note that the only crime Obama committed at his press conference was honesty (always impolitic in Washington). He conceded he did not know all the facts and so wisely resisted passing judgment on what role race played in the incident. He said, accurately, that separate and apart from this incident there is a long history of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcing disproportionately. And, yes, the police did act stupidly in arrestingnot to mention shacklingsomebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. If Obama had really wanted to go for the jugular, he might have added that the police may have overstepped the law as well.
The presidents subsequent apology for his news-conference answer was superfluous. But he might have used it to acknowledge the one exemplary player in Cambridge, Lucia Whalen, the white passer-by whose good deed of a 911 phone call did not go unpunished.
Superfluous? We dont know what that word means here either. But no one tells a one-sided story quite the way this big oaf does. Has someone accused Obama of a crime? Rich is a master at spinning tales up through such silly language. Meanwhile, he forgets to say it was liberals like him who did the punishing of Whalen, by doing the thing we liberals love bestby attacking her as a racist. And of course, dont forget the meaning of High Pundit Language. When Rich says this: Obama spoke honestly, he really means this: Obama said something with which I agree. Its one more way Pundits Like Him play the fooland make us dumber.
Rich is the master of ludicrous claims designed to please an audience. For example, who else would write something as foolish as this: Crowley portrayed Whalen as a racial profiler by saying she had told him that the two men at Gatess door were black. (So thats who caused all the trouble!) Almost certainly, Whalen didnt say that. But why would she have been a racial profiler if she actually had? No one says things as stupid as thatno one but Rich, talking down to an easily buffaloed class. And of course, this same silly class is happy to read scripted tripe like this:
RICH: Ground zero for this hysteria is Fox News, where Brit Hume last Sunday lamented how insulting it is to be labeled a racist in contemporary America. That fact has placed into the hands of certain people a weapon, he said, as he condemned Gates for hurling that weapon at a police officer. Gates may well have been unjustwe dont know that Crowley is a racistbut the professor was provoked by being confronted like a suspect in the privacy of his own home.
We dont know that Crowley is a racist, Rich grandly proclaims. He then finds way to excuse any possible overreaction by Gates (Obamas judgment) with this: The professor was provoked by being confronted like a suspect in the privacy of his own home. Such blather makes our tribe feel good, but it ignores an obvious fact: At the point of first contact, the famous professor actually was a suspect in the privacy of his own home! And if he had an ounce of sense (and he does), he would have known why he was! The newly-sainted Whalen had called to say that two men may have broken into the home. When Officer Crowley arrived at the scene, Professor Gates was the man he encountered.
(By the way: On last Mondays On the Record, Whalens lawyer told Greta Van Susteren that Whalen does not believe the police acted inappropriately in making the arrest. If thats correct, is Whalen still saintly? Or is she a racist againnow that she has disagreed with an Approved View of our tribe?)
Rich will always play the fool, spinning us rube liberals hard. In the process, he makes us massively dumberas he did all through the 1990s, when he bought every peck of the right-wing/MSM bullsh*t about both Clintons, then Gore. (In an astonishing act of incomprehension, he managed to maintain the sh*t about Gore right through 2006! He only began to kiss Gores keister as the Nobel Peace Prize neared.) But Rich knows a rule of modern discourse: If you start a paragraph with certain key words (Ground zero for this hysteria is Fox), you can then type any bullsh*t you want. We rubes will stand and applaud you.
Two cheers for Kingor perhaps only onefor wondering why Gates isnt pushing back harder. (There may be an answer, if someone would ask him.) Our question: Was Professor Gates telling the truth when he made those remarkable charges? If so, we arent real clear why he sat and drank beer with his new friend, the one who committed the crimes he describes. But then, we arent real sure why Obama did either. Presumably, though, his did what he did because of an excess of honesty. When fakes like Rich starts to pander on race, thats all youll ever hear.
Clowns like Rich will always behave like he thinks our collective IQ is 9. Over and over, we will thank him. Well ask him to do it again.
Frankly, theyre all Joe the Plumber: That said, the following passage may be Richs finest. He praises Cooper, who somehow knew she mustnt ask the worlds most obvious question. And then, he reveals how a man as great as himself actually sees the world:
RICH: As Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and Helene Cooper of the Times have pointed out, a lot of todays variation on the theme is class-oriented. Some whites habituated to a monopoly on the upper reaches of American power just cant adjust to the reality that Obama, Sotomayor, Oprah Winfrey and countless others are now at the very pinnacle, and that they might sometimes side with each other just as their white counterparts do. Threatened white elites try to mask their own anxieties by patronizingly adopting working-class whites as their pet political surrogatesJoe the Plumber, New Haven firemen, a Cambridge police officer. Call it Village People populism.
See that? To Rich, theyre all Village People! The firefighter and the copand of course, Joe the Plumber. To Frank Rich, Frank Ricci is Joe the Plumber. Savants like us dont notice such taunts. Other voters doand should. This is how wealthy buffoons like Rich used to behave toward blacks.
Rich is a deeply stupid fellow, the Mr. Collins of our timea man who worked to put Bush into power. (Bush and Gore? Two peas in a pod!) From his very high Gotham perch, he surveys the rest of the world. If we might borrow from Professor Russell: Its Joe the Plumbers, all the way down.