Video: Post reveals true colors

By Keith Olbermann Anchor, 'Countdown'
msnbc.com
updated 9/27/2006 8:58:53 PM ET 2006-09-28T00:58:53
COMMENTARY

The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, The New York Post, may have just impeded an FBI investigation into terroristic threats.

I know this because I was a recipient.

The Bureau asked us not to report any of the details so that the person or persons responsible would not know any of the threats had been received by any of the targets -- and we of course complied.

I still cannot confirm many of the specifics -- again in order to make the jobs of the FBI and the New York Police Department a little easier.  But I find it necessary to respond to the genuinely shocking tone with which Murdoch's paper reported the event, and the string of factual errors they made either through negligence or a premeditated disregard for the truth.

Powder Puff Spooks Keith," reads the headline.  The article then gives the details of the event which we were asked not to divulge.

"The caustic commentator panicked and franctically called 911."

There was no panic. 

And if that needs to be independently verified, I'm happy to authorize release of the 911 call recording. In fact, from my own sense of the thing, I was confident there was no danger.

My first inclination was to wait until the start of the next work day to notify authorities.  But the remote possibility that any delay might have endangered others, led me to reverse my decision.

"An NYPD HazMat unit rushed to..." then the paper helpfully reveals the location of the event, "but preliminary tests indicated the substance was harmless soap powder. However, that wasn't enough to satisfy Olbermann, who insisted on a checkup."

The results of part of the preliminary tests referred to did not come back for nearly six hours, and the other results did not come in for about 14 hours.

And I made no insistence on a checkup.

The officer in charge of the 18 or so police officers who responded, asked that I follow their protocol: a decontamination shower at the scene, the bagging and sealing of the clothes I was wearing at the time of the incident, and my transportation to an emergency room.

I mean, not to overdo this, but they had to melt my keys and my wallet.

"He asked to be taken to..." -- and forgive me for not mentioning the specific hospital -- "where doctors looked him over and sent him home."

In fact, I was there ten hours before they permitted me to leave, even after several forceful requests by me and my employers to the New York Department of Health, that I should be released.

Incidentally, I apologize if those were too forceful.

Apologize for the requests -- not the commentaries that obviously inspired the event I'm talking about, and the Post's mocking of police and FBI efforts, and its endorsement of terroristic threats from the Radical Right.

We will not be intimidated here.

"Whether they gave him a lollipop on the way out isn't known. Olbermann had no comment."

What they gave me on the way out was not a lollipop, but a prescription for Cipro, the antibiotic most frequently used in the event of exposure to Anthrax.

And one of the reasons I offered no comment, was obvious: the authorities asked me not to.

Also, a New York Post reporter attempted to gain access to me by falsely identifying herself as a friend of mine.

And, most relevantly, the New York Post never called NBC News or MSNBC seeking any comment. They would have been told that the FBI had requested we try to keep this quiet.

But of course that would have interfered with the New York Post making fun of a terror threat.

It's almost melodramatic to ask why the New York Post would choose the side of domestic terrorism, rather than choose the side of the FBI.

It's interesting too that Murdoch's paper was able to get a jump on this story so quickly -- nearly as quickly, as if they'd known it was coming.

Lastly, it's remarkable that this was actually printed by any newspaper, even in the current political climate, even in the wake of my editorial stance here, even with Rupert Murdoch's international reputation.

A month ago when reporter Steve Centanni of Murdoch's Fox News was kidnapped in Gaza -- along with his camera-man -- that network reached out to the others, this one included.

They relayed that the authorities there had urged everyone to keep reporting of the kidnapping low-key, and to a minimum, because it was believed the kidnappers did not know they had gotten hold of some one 'recognizable.'

We -- and every other major news organization -- immediately and thoroughly cooperated with Murdoch's request.

Now, in a return case, Murdoch's newspaper did not even make the single phone call that could've told it the potential damage it was doing.

So, next time a Fox or a New York Post employee is in distress -- or the government is investigating something endangering them -- and Murdoch's people ask us to hold a story?

Of course we will do so.

On this end, we're still human beings.

And Americans.

And we'd never have any problem choosing whether to support the terrorist, or the FBI.

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