Olbermann v. the Übermenschen

The invisible hand always leaves a footprint. Case in point: the conscious and intentional pursuit of Enemies of the Crypto-State™ (sometimes AKA the GOP) to destroy them in the wake of a rout. This is classical military strategy, but it is most assuredly NOT the spontaneous reaction of a grass-roots movement without any real leaders.

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Got that?

As “Leonard” says in Hitchcock’s  North by Northwest (written by the late , great Ernest Lehman): ”

Phillip Vandamm: Truth? I’ve heard nothing but innuendos.
Leonard: Call it my women’s intuition, if you will. But I’ve never trusted neatness. Neatness is always the result of deliberate planning.

So, what about Keith Olbermann?

As reported earlier, the whole timing issue of the sudden attack (via Politico) and then the “indefinite suspension” and the whole Memeorandum kerfluffing in yet another Helen Thomas/Dan Rather/David Weigel  removal of the Enemy of the Crypto-State™ was suspicious. It seems to leave an invisible footprint.

Let’s make a distinction here, and I’ll tell you something about my process. In my profession and my metaphysical practice it is extremely important to differentiate between what you KNOW, and what you THINK you know. In logic, the demarcation is, more or less, the difference between inductive and deductive logic.

Deductive logic leads us to “inevitable” conclusions. If A, then B. In its pure form, it only exists in mathematics.

The Legendary Triangle of FUBAR

In the real world, we have to use inductive logic, which means that we have to take variables and “might be’s” into account to produce an imperfect (but usable) conclusion, rather than stand paralyzed waiting for a perfect  conclusion that never comes.  We cannot ever perfectly solve for the footprint of the invisible hand, but we CAN approach ever greater certainty. This is, ultimately, the same logic that we use in the law.

But there is a trap for a reporter or a journalist or a researcher: you need to very carefully demarcate the difference between what you KNOW, and what you think you KNOW, you need to find the “given” that you’re not questioning. (My favorite example of that kind of thinking can be found in the wonderful, if obscure, 1957 sci-fi drive-in film The Monolith Monsters.)

Rather than dance in the streets, enemies were pursued. The pushback on Olbermann was too strong, and the Invisible Hand paused and drew back. Then, as The Daily Beast and Newsweek merged (Newsweek was still reeling after being spun off from the Washington Post’s media parent), Howard Kurtz, “media critic” appeared this morning with an unlikely piece of “insider baseball” in the (aptly entitled) Beast. It begins breathlessly:

Heart of Darkness: Kurtz

Vicious Infighting at NBC News
by Howard Kurtz

MSNBC’s president vowed to fire Keith Olbermann after he threatened to take his case to other networks. Howard Kurtz on the civil war that has NBC brass—and his own staff—fuming.

Keith Olbermann was having dinner with his manager at an Upper East Side restaurant, chewing over their battle to lift his suspension at MSNBC, when Phil Griffin called.

Michael Price stepped out of the Atlantic Grill to talk to MSNBC’s president, leaving his client with a platter of 18 oysters. It was Sunday, Nov. 7, and Price informed Griffin that if they couldn’t resolve their differences quickly, Olbermann would take his complaints public by accepting invitations from Good Morning America, David Letterman, and Larry King…

Interesting. Moreso when you read this poisoned pen lettering [emphasis added]:

… there has been a deepening sense of anger and frustration among his colleagues, according to interviews with eight knowledgeable sources. These sources, who declined to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the situation, say that several of NBC’s front-line stars, including Tom Brokaw

Network staffers use phrases like “scorched-earth policy” and “totally narcissistic response” to describe how Olbermann has dealt with criticism of his political donations. A recurring theme is that he has made it impossible for MSNBC to argue that it is journalistically different from Fox News, which has no prohibition against political donations by such commentators and talk-show hosts as Sean Hannity and Karl Rove. The word hypocrisy has frequently been aimed at Olbermann.

Yeah. Keith and Phil on the phone. Who do you suppose the source was? Hmmm.

Then Howie justifies his water-carrying with this little parenthetical.

(NBC and MSNBC executives declined to comment, and Olbermann declined to be interviewed.)

Ah. Just backstage backstabbing? And NAME-DROPPING “Tom Brokaw” as a justification for these “eight” sources of backroom newsroom gossip?

And Howie means, “declined to attach attribution to their nasty gossip,” since one HAS to wonder in a two person phone call, from a New York restaurant to a Manhattan office, seems like the only two authoritative sources would be Olbermann and Griffin.

Olbermann responding to the Ann Coulter slur
denigrating and dismissing his college degree…

I am not particularly aware of Howie Kurtz ever having been seriously called a journalist in the past (and I am hazy on this) but at this point, it would seem ridiculous to do so in future.

Because we’ve just been handed another little packet of poison to take out Keith Olbermann, and it’s all breathlessly repeated by Howie Kurtz, as turned on by his “hot stuff” as was ever a National Enquirer reporter at pawing through Elizabeth Taylor’s medicine cabinet or Bernadette Peters’ lingerie drawer.

This is a kind of psychological perversion: to “uphold” journalistic principles by engaging in the lowest form of office gossip journalism, all with the imputed cachet of “mainline star” Tom Brokaw?

See “Our Imperial Media – Milbank Edition,” for the same arrogance from one of Kurtz’s old stablemates at the increasingly embarrassing Washington Post.*

*The Dana Milbank post is, to Milbank’s chagrin,
a very popular piece around the world, from
Hanoi and Tehran to Sydney and Warsaw

Even as the mainstream media fragments, is merged, is subjected to the same sort of metamorphic process that marble undergoes to transmute from limestone, the concept of “reporting” continues to degrade. Kurtz is now with a strange magazine/blog as a media critic engaging in the worst forms of media manipulation that ever he criticized. Each slur, each slander is repeated with loving care …

Because Keith Olbermann made donations in two political campaigns!


MSNBC is becoming …. FAUX NOOZ!


Oh noes!

This has been a long drumbeat: Keith is “disliked” or “arrogant” or whatever. We used to call it a whispering campaign, and I’ll leave it to the reader to induce who might be behind it. Wikipedia:

whispering campaign or whisper campaign is a method of persuasion in which damaging rumors or innuendo are spread about the target, while the source of the rumors seeks to avoid being detected while spreading them (for example, a political campaign might distribute anonymous flyers attacking the other candidate). It is generally considered unethical in open societies, particularly in matters of public policy. The speed and anonymity of communication made possible by modern technologies like the Internet has increased public awareness of whisper campaigns and their ability to succeed. This phenomenon has also led to the failure of whisper campaigns, as those seeking to prevent them are able to publicize their existence much more readily than in the past. Whisper campaigns are defended in some circles as an efficient mechanism for underdogs who lack other resources to attack the powerful.

But the inductive fact is that somebody would like to make sure that Keith Olbermann vanishes from the airwaves when Comcast takes over day-to-day operations of NBC Universal’s media operations. Unless the Justice Department or the FTC realize what empowering a generation of robber barons has led to and is continuing to lead to.

First Mike Allen at Politico breaks the story, adding that Rachel Maddow and the new lineup don’t NEED Keith Olbermann like they used to. Then Howie Kurtz makes the SAME ARGUMENT. When was the last time that a straight news story pointed out, entirely anonymously, what a horrible person someone was, hinted that he ought to be fired, and argued that IF he were to be fired, here’s the good business justification for doing it?

Seriously. Howie concludes:

…  NBC executives say that the cable channel is far better positioned to withstand an Olbermann departure than it might have been a year ago.  Rachel Maddow has emerged as a genuine star, Ed Schultz is gaining momentum, Chris Matthews has been energized by the midterm campaign, and Lawrence O’Donnell has successfully launched a new show in the 10 p.m. hour previously reserved for Countdown reruns.

What’s more, the incoming bosses at Comcast, which will soon close a deal to buy NBC from General Electric, are a more buttoned-down crowd, and people at the network expect less tolerance for Olbermann than Zucker has shown over the years.

Olbermann quit MSNBC once before, in 1998, after openly criticizing his bosses. He is, today, a far bigger star. Management doesn’t want to turn him into a martyr, but no one will be shocked if he winds up leaving again.

On one point, all sides seem to agree: With the notable exception of Maddow, his onetime protégée, Olbermann has no major allies left at 30 Rock. And that, given his history of crusading against authority, may be how he likes it.

May be that’s how Howie WANTS it. Seriously, “less tolerance”? Jeebus, Howie.


The Kracken (actual size)

So, WHY Keith Olbermann?

Well, you might recall that Olbermann was ALONE in the media in pointing out the grotesque election irregularities in Ohio in 2004. And, as the Old Guard suckled the rovian teat with all the vigor that the SAME press sucked the Johnsonian teat on the Vietnam War, Olbermann, nearly alone, spoke out against the insanity, the manipulation, the torture, the depredations.

the stuff they’re now proud of

Which undoubtedly enraged the lap-dogs of the “insider” media. How DARE a …a SPORTSCASTER do THEIR jobs when they themselves weren’t?

Howie tips his hand by repeating the old slur. Mike Wallace, remember, used to be a game show host:

It is entirely possible that the anger will subside and the former sportscaster will reclaim his cleanup spot, as the leader of a liberal lineup.

Awww. Couldn’t help yourself, could you, Howie?

And he even tosses in the old false equivalence that one hour of Keith on the Left = three hours of Rush, four hours of Beck (1 hour TV + 3 hours radio), four Hours of Hannity, and FOUR HOURS of O’Reilly. (Not to mention three hours of Lars Larson, unless you live in Oregon, in which case, I think it’s SIX.) Three hours of Michael Savage, three hours of Michael Medved, three hours of Dennis Miller, three hours of Jerry From Babylon 5, etc. etc. etc….


Glenn’s prescription for progressive speech

Remember: these guys play for keeps. They didn’t take Helen Thomas out over her Obama White House coverage. They took her out for her coverage of the Bush White House. They took out Dan Rather as a masterpiece of self-defensive disinformation. Bush WAS a draft-dodger who’d pulled strings to get out of Vietnam. No one ever disproved the story. It was buttressed, in fact, but Dan Rather was taken out, instead, as the first coordinated kerfluffing in internet history was adapted to satanic and rovian ends.

Governor Elliot Spitzer of New York points out that the Bushies are using an 1872 banking law to keep states from defending against interstate banks, and suddenly, a federal wiretap catches him with call girls. He resigns the governorship. The bank meltdown he tried to warn us against happens anyway. The 1872 law facilitates it.

Bernie Ward of KGO in San Francisco speaks out against Bush and the wars for several years, and is now in federal prison for having kiddie porn on his computer. Convicted on federal charges in federal court. Hmmm.

John Edwards is long gone from public office, and isn’t running for any office, but is suddenly and publicly humiliated with a sex scandal that precludes him in any wise from any position in the Obama Administration.

professional journalism standards continue to rise

Joe Wilson speaks out against the Niger “yellowcake” story, having been there, and they out his wife and try to destroy him as a liar. There’s a movie about it opening this week. (Fair Game; Haven’t seen it.)

They managed it with David Weigel, who ended up like a rat pushed from a sinking ship. The formerly great Washington Post chases the formerly great Los Angeles Times and the formerly great Chicago Tribune down the rat hole.

Yeah, these could all be coincidences. And I could be the Easter Bunny. (Cross me, bub, and those won’t be chocolate pellets in your Easter basket.)

They only slightly miscalculated in their post-electoral rubbing our noses in their shite: Bush was trotted out for a victory lap; a whispering campaign to UNSEAT Nancy Pelosi from Democratic leadership, and when it died, Heath Shuler of North Carolina was trotted out to keep it going, etcetera. And, by Thursday following the Tuesday election, Keith Olbermann is off the air.

Howard Kurtz is not engaged in journalism here. He is, seemingly, a willing accomplice in a campaign of professional assassination.

And this isn’t the first time.

I do not deduce this; I INDUCE this. I do not know it, I merely THINK that I know it. But we are at a tipping point. Action is required and we must leave certitude to our eulogists. The footprints seem apparent.

They are patient and they are ruthless. Inductive reasoning and just more than comatose empirical observation tells us that. And, if we let them consolidate their stranglehold on politics on commerce and on media, you won’t have to worry about the perky blonde with the cleavage reading you the happy news and thick innuendo of propaganda, because they probably won’t have television in the camp they stick you in.

Because Sinclair Lewis’ prophecy will have come true:

A misquote of Harrison Evans Salisbury‘s 1971 remark about Lewis: “Sinclair Lewis aptly predicted in It Can’t Happen Here that if fascism came to America it would come wrapped in the flag and whistling ‘The Star Spangled Banner.‘”

of COURSE not


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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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