Guests: Jonathan Alter, Brandon Friedman, Arianna Huffington, Kevin Poulsen, Uri Geller
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? The Petraeus report, less Petraeus, more betrayaeus (ph). The definitive assessment of the surge will not only not be written by General Petraeus, it will not be presented by General Petraeus. Secretaries Gates and Rice will be the messengers. The White House insists General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will be there to testify.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON JOHNDROE, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In trying to start a fight where there really isn‘t one because this has always been the plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Is there any kind of plan to help our soldiers in fatal distress. The news reverberates through the military and civilian world—the suicide rate in the active service at its highest since 1981. Why are we pushing our heroes to the ultimate challenge?
And the tragedy at Sago. The unceasing nightmare in Utah. President Bush‘s head of mine safety, twice rejected by the Senate when the Senate was still Republican controlled. Did coal mining industry insider Richard Stickler protect, not the safety of the miners, but only the profits of the mine owners?
The Wikipedia controversy. A new on-line gadget can tell you who‘s changing the data at the site web users take for granted as an encyclopedia. Somebody at the “New York Times” altering an entry about the “Wall Street Journal.” Someone at FOX Noise cleaning up the entry about Bill O. and dirtying up the entry about Al Franken and some other guy?
And 30 years since Elvis Presley died, or since he left, not the building, but jut a life he had come to despise. Is Elvis still alive but hiding? Mentalist Uri Geller isn‘t certain. He‘ll join us. Is Elvis pumping gas in the Witness Relocation Program, staying anonymous by appearing daily on satellite radio, serving as a press spokesman for Mike Gravel‘s presidential campaign?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIS IMPERSONATOR: My temperature‘s rising. My soul‘s on fire.
Girls, girls, girls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And, whether dead or alive, what might be the last Elvis concert commercial ever recorded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Elvis Presley, live, at the War Memorial Auditorium in Syracuse, Saturday, August 20, at 8:30 p.m.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I think it was that commercial that made him what to disappear. All of that and more on “Countdown.”
(on camera): Good evening, from New York. It is sleazy enough that the endlessly hyped General Petraeus report ends up being just a White House spin. It is sleazy enough that the White House maintains that its authorship and not General Petraeus was the plan all along, and the rest of us just did not understand that. But in our fifth story tonight, another high and low, reports that the administration also wanted to prevent General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker from even delivering that report and, therefore, testifying in public. The “Washington Post” sighting congressional aides, reporting that the White House floated the idea of closed-door testimony, a private congressional briefing from General Petraeus as an Ambassador Crocker on Capitol Hill, leaving Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to deliver the White House‘s cooked-books report on Iraq. While administration officials did not floating that idea, a spokesman did deny there was any effort to enact it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNDROE: General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker will testify to the Congress in both open and closed sessions prior to the September 15 report. That has always been our intention. I believe the president has talked about the need to hear from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. Those two men will come back to the United States. They will report to the president. They will report to Secretary Rice. They will report to Secretary Gates, as well as the Joint Staff. They will report to Congress and, more importantly, they will report to the American people as to what they see on the ground there. And I think it is unfortunate that anyone would, you know, suggest that they would not do that, trying to start a fight where there really is not one because this has always been the plan. And in fact, it is even called for in the legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I am joined now by our own Jonathan Alter, the senior editor at “Newsweek” magazine.
John, good evening.
JONATHAN ALTER, SENIOR EDITOR, “NEWSWEEK”: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The White House is accusing somebody—that presumably would be the media, particularly “The Post,” of trying to start this fight where there is not. But congressional aides are the ones that talked to the newspapers. Does that suggest there is already a fight between Congress and the president over what we have to call the so-called General Petraeus report?
ALTER: Absolutely, because what happened was they smelled something rotten up on Capitol Hill. They recognized that they were going to spin this thing so that General Petraeus never actually publicly testified. That is a nonstarter. It‘s not going to happen. You will see him up on the Hill. But the whole idea behind this, that the report, the Petraeus report is going to be written by the White House—it is kind of ludicrous, Keith. It‘s as if the reviews of your program by television critics were written at MSNBC, not a real independent.
OLBERMANN: We will talk about that and Wikipedia later on in the show, because there is actually an incident of that, not from here, but somewhere else.
OLBERMANN: I know we are in vacation month, but where is the Democrat‘s public anger about this?
ALTER: I think Democrats are upset. They are the ones that leaked this to the “Washington Post.” They do not want a Potemkin Village presentation about the Petraeus report, and they will question him closely. They have control of the Congress, and there will be public testimony, but that does not mean we are necessarily going to get a true independent assessment by General Petraeus. You know, he knows who is calling the tune here? He has always been a pretty political general, so I would not expect him to be too out front in this issue.
Keith, there is another reported that is coming first on September 1. It is by the GAO, the Government Accountability Office. It used to be called the General Accounting Office. It is one of the best agencies in Washington, and its report by auditors of the political developments in Iraq, as well as the progress of the reconstruction, all the money that has been wasted.
As we know, the General Petraeus report on the military progress is only a small piece of this, so the political progress, the reconstruction progress, will be assessed by this GAO report. And I hope it gets the attention it deserves.
OLBERMANN: Of course, it will probably be buried in the Labor Day activity as well.
ALTER: Yes, there‘s a possibility.
OLBERMANN: The one thing that was said by Gordon Johndroe today was true, the law enacted by Congress in May called for the Iraq report to be prepared by the president, it does call for General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker and other members to testify in open sessions and in closed sessions. So this is the knowledge, if not public, then certainly within Capitol Hill—why, then, are the Democrats, why is the administration, even the media, why are the report—referring to this as the General Petraeus report, as if everything, or anything hinges on what he says when it is obviously more and more clear that his assessment is just one part of what the White House is going to present, which is what the White House wants to present.
ALTER: I agree. This should be called the president‘s report, and then, General Petraeus should be questioned on Capitol Hill, and then we will find out the extent to which he agrees with the findings of the report. There might be a little daylight there between them, since General Petraeus does have a reputation of being a political general and also a straight shooter. So those will be interesting.
There are already some indications about what General Petraeus will report that are coming out of Iraq. It seems that he might be talking about some troop withdrawals within the next 12 months, and essentially, what they call the George Akin Strategy, from the war in Vietnam, let‘s declare victory, and go home.
OLBERMANN: About time. “Newsweek‘s” senior editor, our own Jonathan Alter. As always, great thanks for being with us, John.
ALTER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: As to the men and women who are actually fighting that war, while politicians dither about it, a report officially released by the Pentagon today, but previewed last night by the Associated Press, pointing to a disturbing correlation between the extended tours brought on by the war in Iraq and the number of suicides within the military -- 101 American soldiers killed themselves last year, and nearly one-third of those, 27, occurred in Iraq. That Marks the highest suicide rate in the armed forces in 26 years. And there is one more horrific new detail tonight -- 900 more soldiers tried to kill themselves last year, but failed. Army officials say the driving factor in most of the suicides was the strain put on family and relationships by frequent and lengthy combat deployments.
Joining us, Brandon Friedman, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan
and has written a book on his experience. It is entitled “The War I Always
Wanted: The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War”
Thank you for your time and for your service, sir.
BRANDON FRIEDMAN, ARMY VET & AUTHOR “THE WAR I ALWAYS WANTED”: Thank
you for having me on, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The report found a significant relationship between suicide and the number of days served in a combat zone. These results were from last year, before the extended deployment from the Pentagon, when they went from 12 months 15 months. So is this disgusting number only going to be worse, looking back at 2007?
FRIEDMAN: The force is stressed, and when you send soldiers over repeatedly for 12-month tours and now 15-month tours. And you only give them two weeks off during each of those time periods, things like that are going to happen. And the high number of suicides is just one way that is manifests itself, so I would think we could expect to see more as long as we continue to do things the way we are doing them.
OLBERMANN: The report indicates—the Army number -- 26 percent of those who committed suicide had some sort of diagnosed psychological disorders, only 4 percent, though, had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. That number seems really low. Is there an inference drawn here that many of the soldiers never even got diagnosed, let alone got the psychological help they need after serving so long in combat?
FRIEDMAN: Absolutely. There is a couple of reasons for that. One is that the military and the V.A. have no way of streamlined quantifying or determining who has PTSD or who does not. The other thing is that you have this culture in the military where people see it as a sign of weakness if they admit to having PTSD. There is a book by Jonathan Shay, about PTSD, where he says that it is a combat injury, just like any other injury. When somebody gets there are blown off, nobody says that of missing our disorder. It is just a combat injury. And PTSD needs to be seen the same way. It needs to be seen the same way by the combat troops, by the Department of Defense, and by the V.A. The government needs to be spending more money on finding treatments for these guys when they get home.
OLBERMANN: Every time this has come up in war, dating back to the shell shock of the first world war, that has been impossible to get people to believe, as you say, a combat-related injury, and then, they finally get people into thinking that way, and then they reclassify it, change the name in some way, and we go through the whole process again from the beginning.
Something even more disturbing, as if this is not entirely disturbing, most of these victims, these soldiers, did not kill themselves until they are home. The administration says it is trying to fix the overstretched veterans services, especially for those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, trying to make sure that family members know how to look for suicide tendencies in their loved ones. But is that going to do anything for the soldiers who are coming on now?
FRIEDMAN: Well, it will do something. The thing with PTSD, one of the insidious things is that it has a delayed onset, so a lot of these guys come home—and this is what we see with these suicides—the guys come home. They don‘t realize they have. They weren‘t exhibiting symptoms while they were in the military. And then six, eight, mine months after they get home, they start exhibiting symptoms. I talk to guys every day. I was over there. I did a tour in Afghanistan and another tour in Iraq. I talk to my guys, and I hear their stories. I am not a doctor. They tell me what they are experiencing. The symptoms they have are indicative of somebody who has PTSD, and it is way more than the numbers that you see even by the Department of Defense or the V.A.
OLBERMANN: And if you don‘t know you have that, you think you are just going nuts and not able to readjust to real life. It is a horrifying thing.
Brandon Friedman, of votevets.org, and a veteran of service in Afghanistan and Iraq, and an author of “The War I Always Wanted.” Thank you for your time, and thank you for your service to our country, sir.
FRIEDMAN: Thank you for having us on.
OLBERMANN: Mine Safety Director Stickler a stickler for mine safety in name only. As the Utah nightmare drags out, how did a corporate fat cat, opposed even by Republicans, become the president‘s man in charge of this thing?
And as mentioned, a new level to the Wikipedia scandal. False charge changes are traced back to Rupert Murdoch‘s FOX Noise. Now, Rupert Murdoch‘s newspaper, and its television network, do stories on the entry editing, and they never mention FOX Noise.
Scandal upon scandal, you‘re watching “Countdown” on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: It is 10 days now since the earth violently closed in on six Utah coal miners. In our fourth story tonight, fading hope for the rescue effort, mounting scrutiny on those running the system that was supposed to protect those men and may have wound up only protecting the people who made money off their sweat.
Today, officials said a five-minute long sound, heard yesterday, could have been breaking rock or even an animal. A new hold drilled down to the site turned up oxygen levels sufficient, barely, to sustain life, if life there is to sustain still. But it is not known whether the six men are together or spread out in an area described as being as big as several football fields.
If their numbers are added to the government‘s list of coal mining fatalities, they will be part of a disturbing tend. Coal mining deaths started to decline in 1926, through administrations, both Democratic and Republican. That 80-year declined ended last year when 48 coal miners died, the most in a decade, and the largest percentage increase in the 107 years.
The man in charge of federal mine safety and of the Utah rescue is Richard Stickler. Stickler is no novice, but his experience is not necessarily reassuring. As an executive, the mines he ran suffered three fatalities and an incident rate that was often twice the national average.
As Pennsylvania‘s mine safety chief, a grand jury investigating the 2002 Quecreek disaster found that his agency should have flagged problems later played for the flood that trapped those nine miners there for 77 hours. After one dozen miners died at Sego last year, Richard Stickler declined to endorse proposed new safety rules. Two miners died in separate incidents the next day.
When Mr. Bush nominated him for his current post, he was opposed by the miner‘s union, the AFL-CIO, a Sego widow, eight out of nine Quecreek miners, congressional Democrats and enough Republicans that Mr. Bush had to circumvent the Senate entirely to put Mr. Stickler into his current position last year as a recess appointment.
Let us turn now to Arianna Huffington, founder of huffingtonpost.com and author of “On Becoming Fearless”.
Arianna, good evening.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, COMMENTATOR: Thank you for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: If even Mr. Bush‘s own party would not confirm Richard Stickler when they controlled Congress, how has it happened that the miner‘s lives are now in his hands?
HUFFINGTON: Well, this is really the question the media should be asking, and one of our reporters at the “Huffington Post” wrote about that. And the question we are asking for the last week is why is Richard Stickler allowed to give press conference after press conference without any media outlet asking him those very questions you are asking tonight, because clearly, this is a man, with even Republicans, like Senator Arlen Specter, have opposed publicly his nomination and his appointment in his current job. This is a man with a terrible record. He is going to oversee the investigation, once we know what the fate of the miners is.
OLBERMANN: Regardless of the laws Congress passes, how much of this comes down to how the agency and who the agency chooses to inspect and to enforce and to punish?
HUFFINGTON: Well, of course, this is a major part of what happens, Keith. And this is why is so disturbing about seeing the increase in miner‘s deaths. Because here we have Bob Murray, who is appearing again, day after day, in press conferences, and he has been charged with millions of dollars because of the safety violations at his various mines around the country. And he and Richard Stickler are only asked about the rescue. Cannot the media cover two stories at once, the rescue and the oversights that he is really failing at the moment to protect the minors?
OLBERMANN: Looking at the worst-case scenario, let us stipulate now that the mining industry owns the Bush administration on this front. Even in that context, though, isn‘t it self-destructive, namely, more expensive to cut back on safety and instead bear the costs of accidents and rescue efforts and retrieval efforts?
HUFFINGTON: Unfortunately, Keith, not necessarily. If you did a purely financial cost-benefit analysis, it would lead to different conclusions results. You need to take human lives into account. And the idea as a society with a government responsible for protecting human lives, even when it is not the most profitable thing to do—after all, right now, in Utah, they are looking for coal at an incredible depth because it is much more profitable to produce more coal now than it was. And the mine is not equipped with the kind of equipment that the legislation passed in 2006 has required, which would have made it much more possible to communicate with the miners. They gave them three years to comply with the legislation. Why not give them much less time to comply when lives are at stake?
OLBERMANN: I want to change the topic just for a second here, and this is an extraordinarily important one, but this one just came across the Associated Press wire, and I want your reaction to it. There is a report from Senator Joe Biden about his son, Bo Biden, who is an advocate general in the National Guard and is the state‘s attorney general, and is part of the 261st Signal Brigade that has been told to prepare for deployment to Iraq next year, that Senator Biden‘s son is going to Iraq next year. We have heard, time and time again, about how those who are fighting this war do not have any personal stake in it or any personal stake in stopping it. This seems a cruel irony regarding Senator Joe Biden‘s position regarding what to do about Iraq, does it not?
HUFFINGTON: It is amazingly how few people who are making decisions have any direct connection to the cost, to the sacrifice being incurred in Iraq. So it will be interesting to see. Obviously, we all hope and pray that by the time Joe Biden‘s son goes to Iraq, our troops have begun to come home. But at the moment, it seems as though the administration that does not even want General Petraeus to be questioned personally, is determined to continue with the surge despite the results that we are seeing.
OLBERMANN: An extraordinary development. Arianna Huffington, founder and editor of the “Huffington Post.” Great thanks for your time. Thanks for helping us on this breaking news.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Ryan Seacrest is going to host the Super Bowl pre-game and half-time shows. Like he does not have enough jobs. You never see him on TV.
How do you tackle the job of catching a Pennsylvania crocodile? If you answered with a rake and a hammock, you‘re probably that guy right there. Next, on “Countdown.”
OLBERMANN: Twenty years ago today, new-agers around the world began to celebrate so-called harmonic convergence, the moment at which the astrologic houses would all align and nine consecutive Mayan cosmological hell cycles would end and the world‘s collective energy would shift from one of conflict towards one of cooperation, with many of the planet‘s false power structures collapsing. Actual Mayan religious historians said it was bunk and, thus, they must have been a little worried when the Soviet Union and Apartheid South Africa promptly collapsed. But since then, we‘ve all seen it was bunk. And the earth post harmonic convergence is the same crap hole it was, pre-harmonic convergence.
On that happy note, let‘s play “Oddball.”
We begin in Gator Country, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, when a man and his friend spotted an alligator in a creek, he vowed to get the thing. He came back the next day armed for the hunt with standard crock-catching equipment, a hammock and a rake. First, you gently rock it to sleep. Then you sweep up into a nice little pile.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE REMENAR, ALLIGATOR CATCHER: It is one of the things you have to do before you die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Sometimes, right before you die. To Subic (ph) Bay in the Republic of Philippines, where giant space robots from the future beat the crap out of earth‘s greatest, mightiest machines. Our sweet, sweet rides. A cover story for all this mechanized mayhem, officials claim, the luxury cars were smuggled into the country, and they were smashed to send a subtle message to the smugglers. The message—if you are luck enough to have 18 pristine cars, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, you will, A, give them to the poor, B, sell them at auction to raise money for social services, C, play Rock‘em-Sock‘em Robots with them. Ain‘t nobody said spiting your face was easy.
The anonymity of the Internet. You can go in and falsify somebody‘s Wikipedia page, until now. With the invention of a device that locates the computer from which the editing was done. Yes, fixed news fixing Al Franken and others.
Thirty years since the king headed his scarf to Charlie Hodge for the last time. Is he dead or just a recluse? We will play for you what might be the final Elvis concert commercial ever.
Details ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three news makers of this day.
Number three, the Chinese couple that tried to name their new born son @, as in the curly cute A used in computer addresses. You probably heard this by now. You probably haven‘t heard why. In China, the symbol is pronounced as two syllables, A-T, which sounds like the mandarin for love him.
Number two, Oliver the monkey, love him too. He has escaped again for the second time from the Buffalo Park and Zoo in Tupelo, Mississippi. Fitting, considering that‘s where Elvis was born. Olver can pick locks it turns out. The park manager says he is going for titanium locks from here on in. Quoting him, I am tired of chasing a monkey. Who isn‘t?
Number one, Bev Ellis, manager of a bookstore in remote Alice Springs, Australia. She and a customer noticed this creepy looking guy taking the Stephen King books down one by one and writing in them. As they planned to call the police, they discovered that the guy writing in the Stephen King books was Stephen King.
He was autographing them. The customer who nearly turned him in gets one copy, the others go to charity. The manager actually said, of meeting King, I told him, if I knew he was coming, I would have baked him a cake.
OLBERMANN: Richard Nixon once asked how history would remember him, replied, it depends who writes it. If only Tricky Dick had met Wikipedia. Our third story, why wait for somebody else to write history when you can write it or rewrite it yourself. That‘s the idea behind Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that its inventors envisioned as a universal source of knowledge.
Anyone anywhere is free to add or edit information about any person, place or thing, the theory being that anything wrong will be corrected by somebody with the facts. The trouble is, the honor system is not infallible. People play with it. But now a young computer scientist has developed a program called Wikipedia Scanner that can show who makes changing by tracing their computer address, like somebody using a computer at the BBC changing one letter in George W. Bush‘s name, turning the president‘s middle name walker into wanker, which is British slang for—well, you just have to Google wanker and find that out yourself.
But the scanner has detected more sinister changes, alterations in the biographies of Presidents Nixon and Reagan traced to computers at the CIA, glossings over of the story of the Exxon Valdez disaster traced to computers at Exxon. References to the Diebold Voting Machine Corporation, its CEO‘s role in fund raising for President Bush, and the disputed election of 2000, deleted by somebody at Diebold.
And surprise, surprise, our old friends at Fox Noise taking some shots at their critics, including Al Franken and even me, traced to a Fox address. The removal of critical references to Bill O‘Reilly. But also more assiduously, a complete fictionalization of what I did here once on COUNTDOWN the night Peter Jennings died of lung cancer. The Wiki entry had read, “he vigorously urged his viewers not to wait until they see symptoms to quit. Do whatever you have to do to stop smoking now while it‘s easier.”
Until somebody at a Fox computer changed it to, “He was taken to task in the blogosphere for trying to make the story about himself the day after news veteran Peter Jennings passed away from lung cancer.” Yes, the first 20 minutes of COUNTDOWN consisted of my obituary of Peter Jennings and interview with his colleague Tom Jerril (ph), and the last five were pleading with people not to smoke, and I was trying to make the story about me.
Now, strangely enough, one news organization has covered this story with a 900-word article filled most of the grizzly details, except the ones done by Fox. This would be the Rupert Murdoch owned “Times of London.” Tonight, Fox Noise actually reported it on air and left themselves out of it.
For a tech savvy view of the wackiness at Wikipedia, we go to Kevin Poulsen, senior editor of Wired.com. Thanks for your time tonight, sir.
KEVIN POULSEN, SENIOR EDITOR, WIRED.COM: Thanks for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So this is legit? This is not right wing or left wing mayhem designed to confuse us non-computer geeks.
POULSEN: It‘s completely legit and the number of organizations that are being outed as a result of this is just staggering. At Wired, we put up a tool to allow readers to submit their own fines things that they discovered through the system, and seeded it with six. And now it has well over 100, any one of which would have been worth a news item in itself a week ago.
OLBERMANN: As not technically as you can, tell me who developed the scanner, how it works, and how I actually know my Wikipedia entry was actually edited by someone sitting at a computer at Fox.
POULSEN: The scanner was developed by a Cal Tech student named Virgil Griffith. What it does is it takes information that was already out there and publicly available and mashes it together and reorganizes it and indexes it in a new way that really changes everything. Because it uses publicly available information, you can verify the results pretty easily.
So in this case, in your case, the Internet address that was used to make those edits belongs—it is registered to Fox News.
OLBERMANN: And this raises the 64 million megabyte question; is there some sort of warning in this to others who think they have made, say, anonymous postings at blogs or any other website? Will this tool be useful for unmasking them? Is it specific to Wikipedia or could it just, in turn, suggests some later technological advance that would be able to work this magic elsewhere?
POULSEN: It is specific to Wikipedia, and it relies on the fact that Wikipedia deliberately makes the Internet IP addresses of anonymous posters public. Wikipedia has never been about anonymity. It has been about inclusiveness.
OLBERMANN: OK. We can hope on that next front. We will see. We mentioned the changes made by somebody at the BBC, CIA, Exxon, Diebold, you said more than 100 have been submitted at Wired.com. Give me some other ones that have been tracked by this scanner device?
POULSEN: Our readers have voted the Diebold case most shameful. Shortly below that, we have Dow Chemical, which rewrote part of its history to eliminate references to Agent Orange and similar topics. The National Security Agency cut a reference to its top secret global surveillance program Echelon from A Wikipedia article. There are many, many others.
OLBERMANN: I suppose it is comforting that somebody at the NSA knows how to use a computer. That‘s at least the silver lining there. The founder of Wikipedia, we asked him to come on. He did not want to. He sent a statement. He said, “we‘re having a lot of fun watching this all unfold. We think people should behave themselves on the Internet and realize Wikipedia expects mature behavior of everyone. Be good, people.”
What use is Wikipedia if it can be changed so easily and so often, and why is Mr. Wales being so hands off on this?
POULSEN: If he is counting on the Internet to behave like mature adults, he is in for a disappointment. That said, Wikipedia, by and large, is going to come out of this pretty good, I think. Because these changes that we see don‘t last very long.
In your case, the edit that you were talking about, lasted about an hour and a half before another user, a responsible user went in and said, this is wrong, and changed it. If you look at all of these controversial and self-serving changes now, they have pretty much been ironed out by the Wikipedia process.
OLBERMANN: So your advice from Wired.com for people who want to enter information to Wikipedia?
POULSEN: I like Wikipedia. I think it is a great source. We link to Wikipedia articles all the time at Wired News. It‘s going to be going strong for a long time and it will weather this storm, I think.
OLBERMANN: And if it doesn‘t, somebody can always go in and fix the biography of Wikipedia. Kevin Poulsen, senior editor at Wired.com, great thanks for your insight, sir.
POULSEN: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: He is not losing a daughter. He‘s gaining Karl Rove‘s former intern as a son-in-law. White House wedding bells. And Ryan Seacrest to host the Super Bowl, because he‘s not on TV enough as it is, next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: On march 17th, 1971, President Richard Nixon announced the engagement of his eldest daughter Trisha to Edward Cox, a New Yorker who had previously worked for then consumer advocate Ralph Nader. In our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, Keeping Tabs, for the first time in the intervening 36 years, another sitting president announces the engagement of his daughter.
Jenna Bush, one of President Bush‘s twins, is now engaged to Henry Hager, the son of Virginia‘s former lieutenant Governor John Hager, and a boyfriend that Mrs. Bush—Laura Bush described in 2005 as, this is not a serious boyfriend. Got that wrong.
No wedding date has been set, according to the statement. President Nixon gave his daughter a wedding outside the White House on June 12th, 1971. The next day, the “New York Times” started printing the Pentagon Papers.
Mr. Hager is currently in his second year of graduate school at the University of Virginia‘s School of Business. The couple became engaged while vacationing in Maine. Mr. Hager was a White House intern who worked for Karl Rove. Rove has his fingers everywhere.
We should have seen this coming, the American Idol-ization of the Super Bowl, or something creeping towards that direction, with your host Ryan Seacrest. Fox announcing that Seacrest will act as the big game‘s master of ceremonies. No play by play, we think, just the pre-game and halftime shows.
But “Variety” says the pre game extravaganza will be modeled after red carpet events, with Seacrest interviewing celebrities as they enter the University of Phoenix stadium in Arizona. The NFL has to sign off on the halftime show. The entertainment has not been announced. We can only hope it will not be a sampling of this year‘s “American Idol” wannabes with Randy, Paula and Simon on the 50 yard line. We better not give these guys any ideas.
Britney Spears might be available, if she can work through her stomach turning soap opera by then. The latest that she hires nannies who are fun and even invited one of them to sleep in the same bed with her and the kids. This according to “US Weekly,” citing an unnamed ex nanny and other sources, good grief. When so-called source saying Miss Spears also likes to ask the nannies if she looks pretty and sexy, because she is extremely insecure.
TMZ.com giving us evidence of that, saying Spears was seen at 4:00 this morning at a hotel in Beverly Hills with the magician Chris Angel, mind freak. For my next trick, I will make your remaining self-respect disappear.
Elvis, dead or just really shy? Mentalist Uri Geller, who bought the King‘s old house joins us next from London. That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World.
The bronze to the operators of Heathrow Airport in London. They did the seemingly impossible yesterday. They batted 1000; 100 percent of departures from Heathrow yesterday, August 15th, were late, everyone of them. Another dumbfounding statistic, the combined delay time for all passengers flying out of Heathrow on the average day in 2006 was 6.66 years.
Our runner-up, Bill-O. Still fighting the website Daily Kos long after it won. And he has bought himself some possible legal trouble. To suggests that the site is anti-Semitic, he read a posting and attributed it to a D-Honeg (ph). The snippet was awful, quoting, “if Jews love the U.S. so much, how come their numbers in the U.S. military are so dismal. Instead of selling ones soul to be diamond brokers or investment bankers.”
The problem is, Mr. Honeg did not write that. He was quoting that posting by an anti-Semite who was promptly thrown out of the website. Mr. Honeg was trying to help the self-policing and what he wrote was, quote, “was there some sort of contest to see how many stereotypes could fit in one paragraph?”
Here‘s your problem, Billy. Mr. Honeg is an attorney, licensed in three states and before the Supreme Court. He says you had defamed him. Also, there is that little ethical nightmare headline, Bill O‘Reilly attacks critic of anti-Semitism.
Our winner, he hasn‘t had a two-fer in a while. Nobody knows that better than he does. Well he‘s done it again, making stuff up. “A new poll says that most Americans won‘t vote for you if you get an endorsement by a gay rights group. What is that poll? Pew Research or something like that?” Oops again. The Pew Research Center has taken no such poll.
We‘re thinking O‘Reilly is referring to a Quinnipiac poll from a week ago of voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, not a national poll. Its question 18 reads, “If a presidential candidate is supported by gay rights groups, does that make you more likely to vote for that candidate, less likely to vote for that candidate or does it make a difference?”
The combined response in those three states -- 30 percent said it made them less likely to vote for the candidate; 10 percent said it made them more likely to vote for the candidate; 58 percent said it made no difference.
So when you said, “a new poll says most Americans won‘t vote for you if you get an endorsement by a gay rights group,” but the poll actually shows that less than one-third that way. Is it the truth that you hate, Bill? Or is it just the math? Pew, Quinnipiac, what‘s the difference? Peabody, Polk, loofah, whatever. Bill O‘Reilly, today‘s Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: Thirty years ago today Elvis Presley dies, and/or retired, I mean really retired from show business. Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, Elvis sightings have diminished over the years, but that does not mean the theory that he isn‘t dead is itself dead. It may very well be the case that he can be found sitting home all alone, age 72, and we could ask later on what the King may have been doing since the first year Jimmy Carter was president.
Also, one of the last radio commercials, maybe the last one ever recorded, for an Elvis concert in the event—guy doing it will surprise you as much as it surprises me in retrospect.
First your Elvis news of the day, events commemorating his passing will culminate in a Memphis concert tonight, featuring Lisa Marie Presley singing a duet with her father. The 1969 classic in the Ghetto. Elvis‘ video image will appear on stage beside his daughter. Oddly enough, it will be his second duet. The first one with Celine Dion on “American Idol.” If he wasn‘t dead, that would kill him.
About 75,000 people have gone to Graceland this week, many of whom stood through yesterday‘s temperatures of 105 degrees just to be part of last night‘s candle light procession to the Presley grave.
About that last radio commercial; forgotten in recountings of his demise, Elvis was supposed to start a two-week concert tour on August 17, 1977. Ten cities, including two show stays in Portland, Maine and Memphis, and one nighters everywhere from Hartford to Asheville to Syracuse, New York. Promoters there blanketed ever radio listener within 100 miles of the war memorial arena, buying commercial time even on stations that had not played an Elvis record in a decade, like WVBR FM in Ithaca, New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Elvis Presley live at the War Memorial auditorium in Syracuse, Saturday, August 20th at 8:30 p.m. Tickets priced at 15 dollars, 12.50 and 10 dollars, plus 25 cents per ticket service charge. Tickets are on sale now at the auditorium box office and by mail. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Elvis Auditorium Box Office, 515 Montgomery Street, Syracuse, 13202. That is Elvis live at the War Memorial in Syracuse, August 20th.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Like that echo? That was me, aged 18, selling Elvis Presley tickets. And keeping with our station‘s cutting edge rock format, they let me alter the original script, which read, and I kid you not, Elvis, Elvis, Elvis, live, live, live, which in retrospect would have been much more prophetic.
One more note about Elvis‘ death and that commercial; the news broke just before 5:30 p.m. and our half hour newscast done by my buddy Peter Chacnow (ph), now of CNBC. As operations manager of the station, I was the one who heard the bells ringing on the UPI machine and ran the story in to Pete in the announce booth. Huh, he said matter of factly in the seconds before his news cast started, does this mean you don‘t get paid for the commercials.
In fact, I didn‘t. So if Elvis Presley is not dead, he owes me my commission. I want my 15 bucks and I want it now. Or an interview. An interview and we call it even.
Joining me now from London, the world renowned Mentalist who owns the home Presley lived in before Graceland, Uri Geller. Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
URI GELLER, MENTALIST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We can‘t know how many people believe that Elvis is still physically alive, but neither can we resist asking you. Do you think he is or do you think he isn‘t?
GELLER: I will tell you, Keith, 99 percent, I believe he died, but his spirit lives forever. But there is always that nagging one percent in me that says wow, what if he is really somewhere around the world.
OLBERMANN: The energy that comes together when so many adoring Elvis fans get together in a place like Graceland, this week, does it encourage his spirit or his energy or whatever you want to call it to appear, to do certain things? what Is the extra temporal status here?
GELLER: Because I am a great believer in the human spirit and in energy, there is no doubt in my mind that not only 75,000 people that went to Graceland, but worldwide hundreds of millions adored and still love Elvis Presley. That must produce a mammoth energy. And I think the whole world feels it.
Here in England, I could not open anything without seeing Elvis today whether heard him on radio or television, all over the place. He is on front covers of newspapers, magazines. Here I walked in and I saw an old LP and it was Elvis Presley on the table. He was an amazing man. I actually met him in the early 1970‘s outside Las Vegas. And when he stepped out of his caravan—
He came out of his caravan and there he was. I was just stunned. I was astonished. I was mesmerized. He had magnetism. He projected power into people. It was just a person that captivated you and, of course, the good looks, the charisma, the power. He will never ever be forgotten.
OLBERMANN: What prompted you to buy his house and have there been any messages that have come through from the great beyond from Mr. Presley himself in that house?
GELLER: Well, come on. I mean the house was on Ebay for less than a million dollars. That was shocking. I went for it. And the hammer went down, and me and my two partners won the house. Unfortunately, I won‘t go into the legal aspects of what is happening now. But I wanted to take the house, sort of refurbish it to its old glory and have it opened free for anyone who wants to go through the house.
Again, I believe that if a person lives in a place, the energy of that individual is almost absorbed into the house, into the walls. Some people think that it is all mumbo jumbo, but it‘s really not. Albert Einstein in 1925 came up with E = MC squared, which means that everything in the universe is energy. So Elvis is around. I want to believe that. Elvis, if you can hear us now, we love you.
OLBERMANN: Uri Geller, mentalist and owner of one of Elvis‘ homes, great thanks for coming in tonight from London.
GELLER: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That is COUNTDOWN for this 1,569th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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