Guests: Richard Wolffe, Craig Crawford, Paul Rieckhoff, Robert Greenwald
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Good evening. This is Monday, November 12th, 358 days until the 2008 presidential election. It is the most solemn and ceremonial of remembrances for our fallen dead and surviving soldiers dating from the time of our first grim venture into international combat in World War I, the beginning of our role as if not the policeman of the world than rather its moral force. The laying of the wreath at the tomb of the unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day. And where was the president of the United States? In Waco, Texas.
Our fifth story in the COUNTDOWN: The commander in chief who has sent our troops to their deaths on nonsense intelligence throughout a presidency of loopholes, who has described his own grief at the soldiers‘ suffering so much he‘s made a brand name out of it. Who has exploited every wound as an opportunity to sell his agenda of fear and his politics of hate, he could not be bothered to lay the wreath on Veterans Day. Why, you might ask, does George W. Bush hate the troops? The president managing to put together a five-day weekend at Crawford, Texas, trying to sell his guaranteed no-fail military trumps diplomacy every time solution for curving Iran‘s nuclear ambitions to his guest there, German chancellor, Angela Merkel and trying to sell his brief visit to an American Legion post in Waco as some sort of more important than the one the vice president went to in his stead at Arlington National. Mr. Bush himself said he was there to join in quote, “Honoring our sons of the great state of Texas who gave their lives in freedom‘s cause,” unquote, four of them in particular. The White House concocted headlines of this deserving but nonetheless narrowly focused Veterans Day side bar, quote, “President Bush marks Veterans Day at National Fallen Soldiers Memorial ceremony,” with many more fallen Americans apparently to come.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: Your service is noble and it is necessary. The enemies who attacked us six years ago want to strike our country again, and next time they hope to kill Americans on a scale that will make 9/11 pale by comparison. By fighting this enemy in foreign lands, the men and women of our armed forces are helping to ensure we do not have to face them in our own land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You thought he was going to make a speech about military service and not somehow tie it back to the 9/11 attacks? In a refreshing change of pace, the vice president‘s speech at Arlington, a speech that apparently Mr. Bush should have been making himself, was remarkably 9/11 free, but there was a reference to the so-called war on terror. Mr. Cheney saying that the Americans veterans, no matter what the war have been fighting for essentially the same things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: And the legacy of the American armed forces is truly extraordinary. They‘ve thrown back tyrants, liberated death camps, carried out heroic rescues and kept the peace in volatile regions. Above all, they‘ve kept us free in the land we call home, free to live as we see fit, free to work and worship and speak our minds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: But not free to speak our minds if we happen to be veterans against the war in Iraq—more on that with Veterans Advocate with Paul Rieckhoff with just a moment. First, the politics of this national holiday with our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For a president, who claims to be pro-soldier, pro-veteran, how difficult would have been to make that event at Arlington National Cemetery went by the way didn‘t fly commercial he‘s got his own 747?
WOLFFE: Yes, well, he does have many modes of transport. And I start by a couple things and not just his non-presence, but over all these years since 9/11, how the White House has often lamented that there‘s no national unity when it comes to war, that it‘s been politicized and they scratch their heads wondering who did that in the first place, but when you look for instance the contrast with the British ceremony at the Center Top (ph) just near Whitehall, that seat of government in London, you have all the political leader, all the different parties there, plus the heads of state, the royal family and nobody gives a speech. And it is a national moment, a very solemn one and quiet one. I wouldn‘t offer up many comparisons with Britain, but that is one tradition that really this president could have taken on.
OLBERMANN: And the silent recognition involved in the poppies that are worn everywhere from newscasts to commuters going to work. The talks with chancellor Merkel ended on Saturday. Did selling the next war take precedence over honoring the veterans of current and previous ones, in your estimation?
WOLFFE: Well, he didn‘t do a good job of it if that‘s what he was trying to do. In fact, obviously where his at right now is the diplomacy in Germany has a crucial role to play in that, but listen to what Merkel actually said? When it comes to economic sanctions, Germany has a lot of trade with Iran. And the chancellor said, maybe they should talk a little bit more to German business about this whole sanction thing. It really wasn‘t terribly impressive. And frankly, the Germans really aren‘t playing much of a role when it comes to the hot war in Afghanistan as well, their troops have been notoriously absent from the fight there. So, Germany is not a country this president could count on if he really is serious about tough diplomacy never mind the war with Iran.
OLBERMANN: Richard, we used to be where in Iraq, according to the president to prevent another attack like 9/11, now apparently we‘re there to prevent an attack that would be some unknown number times worse than 9/11. Did the White House suddenly raise the stakes on the rhetoric because it‘s the holiday? What‘s the explanation for this new advanced cataclysmic forecast?
WOLFFE: Well, it was a curious amping up for the rhetoric and look, the president has said many times that he thinks that people are going to forget 9/11 or that it will lose its impact. I think that‘s what he was grasping for here, to try and shock people about it and make it even bigger than it once was. Really, the power of 9/11 to move people hasn‘t faded because of time. It‘s faded because it‘s been overused.
OLBERMANN: Exactly. If he thinks it is fading over time, he‘s simply an idiot. The big picture, we‘ll get the details of what happened in Boston and Long Beach with veterans there who don‘t have the same point of view and suicidal veterans and homeless veterans. But the big picture on this, does anybody at the White House see that point that you just made about overused, that a lot of people can now see through the facade and recognize that everything else he says about empathy for veterans, all this is just another one of these George Bush brand names?
WOLFFE: You know, they count strongly on the way the president meets with these families, bereaved family, the wounded soldiers privately. But it is private. And beyond that, the political impact of the word veteran has come to mean Walter Reed. That‘s why the White House tried to get out ahead of Veterans Day with some Walter Reed related events about the health care for veterans. But it has been a very mixed picture for a president who seems to think he has a close alliance with these veterans.
OLBERMANN: Yes, we‘ll talk about what he actually did with them at one of the hospital rehab centers in Texas in a moment. Richard Wolffe of MSNBC and “Newsweek,” as always sir, greatest thanks.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Any veterans against the war in Iraq hoping to speak their minds this Veterans Day weekend out of luck and in trouble, at least if he or she tried to exercise his or her right to free speech in Southern California or in Boston. The groups: Iraq Veterans against the War, Veterans for Peace, Military Families Speak Out all banned from marching in yesterday‘s Veterans Day parade in Long Beach, California. The reason given by parade organizer, Martha Thuente, quote, “They do not fit the spirit of the parade, the spirit being one of gratitude for what the veterans have done. We do not want groups of political nature advocating that troops‘ withdraw from Iraq.”
Never mind showing gratitude for what the anti-war veterans have themselves done for this country or the fact that the American Legion to h not the mention the fact that the American legion and VFW, two pro-war groups who have advocated any number of political positions were allowed to march in Long Beach as well they should have been or that Mr. Bush could use a Veterans Day venue to bring up 9/11 or that Mr. Cheney can use the Veterans Day venue to invoke General David Petraeus. Anti-war veterans in Boston meantime, arrested for exercising their rights to free speech and freedom of assembly at that city‘s parade. And those of the veterans with the presence of mind, body and spirit to protest at all, a shocking new study having found that one in four veterans is homeless even though, one out of every 10 Americans is a veteran. Aid workers are saying now that Iraq and Afghanistan vets appear to be turning up homeless sooner than the Vietnam veterans did. And few who saw this image of Lance Corporal James Blake Miller in November 2004 is likely to have forgotten it or to forget it. In the years since this photograph of the then 20-year-old dubbed the Marlboro marine was taken, Corporal Miller has been kicked out of the military for, quote, “Personality disorder” when he had trouble adjusting life back at Camp Lejeune, he‘s been divorced, he‘s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, jobless and at times suicidal, helped most not by the government but principally by the “L.A. Times” photographer who took that picture. As promised, let‘s turn now to Paul Rieckhoff, executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Paul, thanks for coming in, good evening.
PAUL RIECKHOFF, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: My pleasure, Keith. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: So on Veterans Day, veterans, not the rest of us, not commentators, not politicians - veterans—can‘t criticize the war even if they‘re doing so silently?
RIECKHOFF: Yes, I think it‘s unacceptable. The bottom line is that these veterans who were members of Vets for Peace, Iraq Veterans against the War, they served in combat. They answered their country‘s call when that call came and they have a difference of political opinion with the administration, but they have a right to march. I marched yesterday with thousands of veterans here in New York City. And there were people of all political persuasions, all political parties that came together to honor their service and pay respect to veterans. So, these veterans have done their part and they should have been allowed to march.
OLBERMANN: Yes, we‘re thanking all the veterans. I can‘t imagine you saying that those veterans that think that we should still be there and go who knows where else, I can‘t imagine you or anybody in your group‘s saying they don‘t have the right to be here.
RIECKHOFF: No, I mean, the veterans are not a monolithic group. They have the diversity of opinions over 17 million veterans make up our population here and they come from all kinds of backgrounds and they have a variety opinions on this war and most wars. So, they take arms in defense of their nation, they come home, they deserve to march in the parade and receive the gratitude and the thankfulness that we all received yesterday marching in parades around the country.
OLBERMANN: About the Marlboro marine, this Lance Corporal James Blake Miller, if he had not already been one of the iconic images of this war, did he just become so because of this story about post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal tendencies, everything that he‘s had to face since he came back from Iraq and basically, after we took his picture, we threw him away?
RIECKHOFF: Absolutely. He represents what many veterans have faced coming home - 1.6 million veterans have been through Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11 and roughly one on three are coming home with the mental health issue—post-traumatic stress disorder being the chief problem. If that post-traumatic stress sort of goes untreated, it results in high divorce rate, employment problems, incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and homelessness. Hundreds of thousands of veterans are on the streets tonight, homeless. That served in Vietnam and past wars and that should be unacceptable to everybody in every political party.
OLBERMANN: I thought of you when that homeless announcement came out last week. Do you have any idea of your contemporaries from Iraq, from Afghanistan, how many are already out on the streets?
RIECKHOFF: The V.A. has said, there are over 1,500 right now, nationally and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We‘ve seen dozens in our office here in New York City and we heard from others around the country so we think the numbers are much higher. But even if it‘s one, it‘s unacceptable. The American public should be outraged. We need the president to do more, the Congress to do more and right now the V.A budget is late as of October 1st. Every V.A. hospital around the country is operating on last year‘s budget. We need that budget passed. We need Congress to focus on that instead of Moveon.org ads, Rush Limbaugh and the other stuff they‘ve been occupied.
OLBERMANN: You say you need the president to do more, but he wouldn‘t even come back for the wreath laying. To talk about that—really run on the backs of the veterans, time and time again and not show up for the ceremonial laying of the wreath. That‘s not just disrespect. That‘s stupidity. How is that possible?
RIECKHOFF: I wish I had the answer for you, Keith. I don‘t. I know the bottom line is we need the president to be there. We need him to be out in front on veterans‘ issues. We need the American public to hold him accountable. You can‘t just stand up and take a photo op on Veterans Day. Every day has to be Veterans Day. We should all be able to unite as veterans and as Americans around this issue. It doesn‘t matter where you stand on this war. We all have a moral obligation to take care of the people who served.
OLBERMANN: Or at least show up to the photo op. We have all been raised on and our grandparents were raised on and our great parents in some case.
RIECKHOFF: You have to lead by example. We learned that in the military and the president should do the same thing.
OLBERMANN: The punch line—he doesn‘t go to Arlington but on Thursday, he have this rehab center in San Antonio, he played video games with wounded vets. There‘s not a problem with that. But the White House press secretary, Dana Perino was explaining proudly to the White House press corps what the game was. It simulates a firefight in Baghdad and her quote was, “Mr. Bush helped shoot the bad guys in a bad neighborhood.” Do you get the feeling sometimes that it is not a question of whether or not he cares about you and the other vets, but that he doesn‘t understand that it‘s not a video game?
RIECKHOFF: He doesn‘t have the personal understanding. He‘s never served in harm‘s way. He‘s not a combat veteran. And I think he‘s really detached from the realities of war. His never experienced it first hand. His family hasn‘t experienced the impact of war on a visceral level on the personal level. And I think the entire American public needs to understand this is not a video game, it is not a reality TV show. This is real life and millions of people have been affected for a generation by this show.
OLBERMANN: His family meaning his generation onwards. His father knows what the hell he‘s talking about when it comes to veterans. He flew with great distinction in Second World War.
OLBERMANN: Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Great thanks for coming in tonight, Paul.
RIECKHOFF: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, did you wonder where those people who staged the faked the FEMA press conference ended up? Working for Hillary Clinton‘s campaign evidently, finding at least two questions.
And whether its topless cheerleaders in Ohio, or lesbian dancing in Los Angeles, FOX NEWS will show it to you. The host may show outrage, but your screen will show nothing but skin. The new mini-documentary on FOX‘s family values. You‘re watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: With a Republican president who speaks only before handpicked audiences, whose staff gave fake reporter James Guckert alias Jeff Gannon in White House press credentials, whose emergency management team held a fake news conference to pat itself on the back during (ph) from them this would be almost old news but our fourth story tonight, the leading Democratic candidate now trying to figure out what to do after her campaign aides planted questions at two Iowa appearances. Hillary Clinton smarting from what‘s being dubbed plant-gate. The “New York Times” reporting aides twice gave suggested questions to people at public events, the latest incident, last Tuesday at an event in Newton, Iowa, where the Grinnell College student claimed that Clinton aide suggested this question which she then willingly pitched.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURIEL GALLO-CHASANOFF, GRINNELL COLLEGE STUDENT: As a young person, I‘m worried about the long-term effects of global warming. How does your plan to combat climate change?
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you should be worried. And you know, I find as I travel around Iowa, that it‘s usually young people who ask me about global warming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Asked about it in an interview with the Associated Press, Senator Clinton‘s response: “I think in campaigns things happen and you just go on and that‘s certainly what I‘ve done for 35 years and it‘s what I‘ve done for eight years in the White House and now seven years in the senate.” She told the “New York Times, “Neither I nor my campaign approve of that, and it will certainly not be tolerated.” Also in Iowa, Barack Obama‘s stepping up attacks on his Senate colleague, giving what was reported as an impressive performance at a Democratic event this weekend and narrowing the gap in the polls between himself and front-runner Clinton to only nine points in New Hampshire that in the latest poll from the “Boston Globe.” MSNBC analyst, Craig Crawford of CQpolitics.com just back from Iowa and he will now answer four planted questions for us. Craig, good evening.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, CQPOLITICS.COM: Hi, I recommend Iowa, the campaign junkies are everywhere. You can see many candidates, more them in three or four everyday and enjoy fine pork products while do it.
OLBERMANN: One down and four to go. So, at three times the at least I‘ve said to you, gee, can she really be caught unless she hurts herself. Would this be Senator Clinton hurting herself? And who in her campaign would have been stupid enough to do this?
CRAWFORD: Stubbing her toe, I think I‘d call this one. This is a perfect storm, Keith, of probably overzealous advance staff trying to make the best event possible, keep it focused on the campaign message of the day. An excitable college student who then told her college newspaper about it and then aggressive Democratic opponents who saw that article and they quickly touted it to the news media.
OLBERMANN: You describe it as a toe stub. Is there a question of degree to this? Is suggesting a question about global warming at an environmental event as onerous as, say, you know all fake reporters at an entirely staged fake news conference? How in common is enhanced questioning in politics?
CRAWFORD: Not uncommon at all. In fact, I follow Giuliani around several events Friday in Iowa. And I heard some eerily similar questions at two of his town halls from some of the people there. You know, the comparison to FEMA is sort of fun, but I don‘t know if they‘re as different as apples and oranges - maybe, tangerines and oranges. I mean it would be more like you know as you know reporters at a press conference were suggested—you know, suggested questions and, guess what, that happens at White House briefings every now and then.
OLBERMANN: Flesh out this Giuliani thing. Maybe we‘re breaking a little news here. What did you hear?
CRAWFORD: There were a couple questions about health care at his events that were real somewhat similar and I hear that all the time. You know, this is the sixth presidential campaign I‘ve covered and I‘ve always assumed some of the questions at these town halls do get planted, or I don‘t even like the word planted. I mean to just - suggested. Sometimes as simple as you get your supporters in the room, there are several ways that they do that. They tell their supporters to come really early and make sure they get all the seats up front where the questions are taken from, or you give them tickets in advance. There are a lot of ways to make sure your supporters are in the room and ask supportive questions and you know, that is often done. And I don‘t think this is a big deal. The trouble for Hillary Clinton is it fits the narrative that this is a very calculated machine of a campaign, but I got to say if they were doing this on purpose, Keith, from on high, I know these people pretty well. They would have done a better job of it than this. They would have covered their tracks a lot better.
OLBERMANN: Or she would have put a little spin on it and whipped this
out and gone, and miss, is this your card? Barack Obama, the reporting is
he did well this weekend. What is this based on, the Jefferson Jackson dinner?
CRAWFORD: He had a big night, you know, well organized, a lot of supporters there. All the candidates did pretty well. I sat through five hours of their speeches. I feel like I need college credit after listening to all the policy wanking at these speeches but he gave a very impassioned plea that I think what has caught the attention of a lot of these Iowa voters who is so pivotal is the arguments he was making about what kind of nominee do you want to pit against the Republicans and I think the most effective line is when he said, I will not be a candidate who can be—that the Republicans can say I voted for the war in Iraq. I think that got a lot of Iowans there thinking about how they want to run against the Republicans and what the Republicans will be throwing at them.
OLBERMANN: She‘s now at 11 over Obama in the Marist poll and near over the “Boston Globe” poll in New Hampshire. Look, who‘s gaining those voters that she maybe losing?
CRAWFORD: Well, you know, it‘s fascinating - the spin here has been that it‘s great for Obama and I suppose if there‘s anything bad for her helps him since he‘s the main alternative. But actually in those polls, the one they‘re comparing—John Edwards and Bill Richardson gained together the number of points that she lost and Obama actually went down one. And so I would say that in the long run, Hillary Clinton benefits even if she goes down in some polls so long as she stays ahead and it is split among two or three people. Then, she‘s still on top for actually winning.
OLBERMANN: Now, maybe Senator Obama needs some of those suggested questions. Our own crag Crawford answering all the questions, suggested or otherwise from CQPolitics.com. As always Craig, great thanks.
CRAWFORD: Happy to be here.
OLBERMANN: A former prominent political figure making a huge splash in worst. No American has ever been denied health care, he says. The crowd roars with laughter. And tonight it‘s proven the president that every Australian automatically knows what to do with the Roo. That‘s next. This is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: There are a lot of things millions of people did to stop Adolf Hitler, but on this date in 1941, one of the things he did to stop himself combined with a simple reality of meteorology to do as much as any opposing army. No German unit on the eastern front recorded a temperature higher than five degrees Fahrenheit. Winter had come to Russia and the ill-prepared, self-delayed Germans never really got any closer to capturing Moscow than they had 66 years ago this morning. On that reminder and note, let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Melbourne, Australia with another episode of Kangaroo crime. Why they run. Police unable to take down the marsupial menace called in wildlife experts dressed in stupid looking camouflage outfits.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the kangaroo comes towards us, and hits into the net, we‘ll pull it over; keep it tucked in. and one of us will be able to come in.
OLBERMANN: Blimey, it‘s hot in here, Bruce. Hot enough to boil a monkey‘s bum. That‘s a strange expression, Bruce. Well, Bruce, I heard the prime minister use it.
The theory looked good on paper. Only, after the kangaroo leaped into the net, and immediately leaped out, taking out a policeman and a young bystander as it did. The boy was OK. The cop lost his shirt. But attempt number two just had to go better, only nobody told these people that kangaroos can jump. Going to need a bigger net, Bruce. The kangaroo was finally wrestled down by a few good Samaritans named Bruce. It will be released into the wild and wildlife experts will be demoted to pooper scooper patrol.
To Berlin in Germany and the list of history‘s great musical duets grows one longer. Move over Wonder and McCartney. Step aside Elton John and Kiki D (ph). There‘s a new duo in town, the French and German foreign ministers, Bernard Kouchner and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, singing their new hit from the R&B world “Deutschland.”
That‘s R&B, as in both really and bad. The song is the two diplomats‘ contribution to the upcoming Franco-German summit focusing on European integration. The final mix will be released on Youtube later this month. If only Tupac and Biggie had lived to see this.
Finally, to New York City and the tallest guy in America. Certified last week by the Guinness folks, George Bell stands a whopping 7‘8 tall. He‘s still almost a foot shorter than the world‘s tallest man, Leonid Stadnik. He‘s still 19 inches taller than the George Bell, who played outfield for the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1980s. In fact, this George Bell is so tall you can can‘t see his pretty face under the graphics up there. Anybody have any idea where we got this video from.
An amazing and infuriating story from the airline industry tonight, as prices shoot up and the Thanksgiving and Christmas travel nightmares approach. How could British Airways have possibly done this.
And how do you get away with showing soft core porn on a purported news channel? By decrying soft core porn. The Bill O‘Reilly trick. Was it a negligee situation? Used over at Fox Noise as recently as 4:24 this afternoon. These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three best persons in the world.
Number three, best substitute, the unnamed brother of the groom at a wedding in the Arwal (ph) District of Behar (ph) in India. The groom was too drunk. So the bride‘s family invited his brother to marry the bride instead. And they did. Well, the hall was already really rented.
Number two, best post news-casting career, Laurie Dhue, now Bill O‘Reilly‘s ombudsman at Fox. I don‘t think either of them knows what that word means. She‘s revealed she thinks she‘s getting far too many complaints about the crap they put on the air every night. It‘s a negligee situation? He explained to her, it‘s all coming from the haters on the far left. Just throw it in the garbage. But the regular folks who really enjoy this program, what we want you to ask, Laurie, is why do we do things? Why do we do them? Like a tour guide.
Number one, best informed citizen, Supermodel Kate Moss. At a charity dinner for flood victims in Great Britain, she met a man who spoke sympathetically about the damage in the area he was from where she also has a home. He apparently appeared to be an expert on draining flooded houses. So Ms. Moss said, quoting the man, god, you sound like a really useful guy. Can I have your phone number? The man was actually David Cameron, leader of Britain‘s opposition conservative party, who currently has a slim lead over the labor party of Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Apparently he‘s also good at drainage.
OLBERMANN: A mind numbing, tear your hair out story from England tonight, and from about a dozen different angles. If you‘re an airplane passenger, you have been hit by a gas surcharge. You‘ve had to pay through the nose for a seat. Watch this and you‘ll want to punch somebody. You‘re an aviation safety expert; you‘re terrified at the ballooning number of planes in the sky which traffic controllers have to try to keep from plowing into each other. Watch this and you‘re going to want to punch somebody.
You are aware of global warming or maybe of just pollution. You keep hearing the international carriers claim they‘re going to reduce emissions. Watch this and you‘re going to want to punch somebody. Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, look, up in the sky, it‘s a bird, it‘s a plane, it‘s a British Airways plane crossing the Atlantic with nobody on board, a bunch of them. From our affiliated Network ITV we bring you the revelations of the so-called ghost flights correspondent Mark Eddo with one final warning, watch this and you‘re going to want to punch somebody.
MARK EDDO, ITV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Don‘t bother to wave good-bye because this British Airways plane could very well be empty. ITV News can reveal that B.A. is flying dozens of airplanes thousands of miles across the Atlantic without a single passenger on board. Environmentalists are disgusted.
EMILY ARMISTEAD, GREENPEACE UK: British Airways keeps telling us that it‘s faced its responsibility on climate change, and that it‘s doing something about the problem; yet it is flying these ghost flights and spewing out thousands of tons of greenhouse gas emissions. It‘s an absolute disgrace.
EDDO: In the last week alone, ITV News has learned of seven British Airways passenger flights with no one on them. On the 4th of November, flight number BA-179 flew across the Atlantic from Heathrow to New York completely empty. Just two days later, flight BA-176 flew back to Heathrow, but again the flight was empty. Yesterday, two empty planes left Heathrow. One was flight BA-93 to Toronto, the second BA-279 to Los Angeles. Today, another empty flight crossed the Atlantic, this time from Gattwick (ph) to Houston.
And tomorrow, we can reveal that a scheduled British Airways flight from Los Angeles to Heathrow will fly, you‘ve guessed it, with no passengers on board.
Some of those flights burn more than 100 tons of fuel each. The news coming on the day B.A. announced it was passing more of its fuel costs on to customers.
SIMON CALDER, TRAVEL WRITER: I think passengers who have booked in the lowest of seasons, in mid-November, yet are still being hit for big fuel surcharges are going to be appalled that an airline the size and scale of British Airways simply doesn‘t have enough cabin crew on the right days.
EDDO: The airline admits it‘s having problems rostering its 15,000-strong cabin crew.
(on camera): British Airways have tonight issued this statement. They said, on very rare occasions recently we‘ve experienced a temporary unavailability of cabin crew to work on certain flights. It has been necessary to fly aircraft with only pilots and cargo on board to minimize disruption to customers.
(voice over): But those ghost flights may yet come back to haunt British Airways.
Mark Eddo, ITV News.
OLBERMANN: Couldn‘t put the crew on other flights?
“Lions for Lambs” for the birds. Tom Cruise on a movie losing streak.
His latest doing about a quarter of the business of “Bee Movie.”
Speaking of losing streaks, there was outrage, there was bombast, there was the cry of the desecration of Veterans Day, everything except the fact that the event comedian Rush Limbaugh was complaining about had been canceled before he ever heard about it. Nice fact checking.
OLBERMANN: Tom Bruise—or rather Tom Cruise leading our number two story, Keeping Tabs. His latest star turn raising questions about whether his star power has been wounded. “Lions for Lambs,” a political thriller starring Mr. Cruise and Merrill Streep, coming in fourth place in its premiere weekend, grossing 6.5 million dollars. That movie directed by Robert Redford, also a pet project of Cruise, the producer under his studio division, United Artists. But box office tracking experts say the film‘s poor showing, about a quarter of what “Bee Movie” did not necessarily indicative of Cruise‘s true draw, since “Lions for Lambs” wasn‘t of the classic blockbuster variety. That seems like a circular argument.
Our cameraman, Bernie Sweetman (ph), says he saw the movie on a bus the other day.
Good news, ladies, Prince Harry is single again. Honest to goodness, what are your expectations, ma‘am, if you drop the third in line to the British throne? The “News of the World” tabloid reports that Chelsea Davie (ph), who apparently has better prospects somewhere, dumped the 23-year old guy child over the phone. Final straw not strawberry blond, but hunky young men; Harry missing Chelsea‘s birthday to attend a rugby match. There is a report in another British tabloid in the morning that Harry was caught sending text messages to another woman.
You will recall their relationship reached a turning point this year when she chose to study in England to be near him and he forgot to pick her up at the airport. Smooth, just like dad. Just hours after their breakup, the paper reports Harry needed a shoulder to cry on and apparently preferred a variety of shoulder that comes with creamy alabaster skin and a variety of other features.
The rapper Kanye West is in mourning tonight. His mother Donda died on Saturday after having undergone cosmetic surgery. A coroner today suggesting complications from that surgery might have caused her death. Fifty eight year-old Donda West was no mere show business mom. She became the CEO of her son‘s business after having retired in 2004 from her previous gig, the chair of the English Department at Chicago State University.
In his 2005 song, Hey Mama, Kanye sang, I appreciate what you‘ve allowed for me; I just want you to be proud of me. Officials expect to conduct an autopsy on Wednesday.
How to get away with showing soft core porn on a cable station that claims it‘s a news channel. The world is coming to an end because of this stuff. So Fox Noise shows you more of it than anybody this side of the Spice Channel. That‘s ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s worst person in the world.
The bronze to Republican Governor Mike Huckabee, not scared off after Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani. I Huckabee went on Robertson‘s TV show and said, quote, I truly understand the nature of the war that we‘re in with Islamo-Fascism. These are people that want to kill us. It‘s a theocratic war. And I don‘t know if anybody fully understands that. I‘m the only guy on the stage with a theology degree. I think I understand it really well.
So you plan to fight theocracy with theocracy? And you‘re legitimizing terrorism by saying it is part of a religion, like your religion is a religion? May I see that theology degree please.
The runner up tonight, comedian Rush Limbaugh; the parent of an elementary school student, Kimberly from Sarasota, phoned in to complain that one of her kid‘s teachers was talking about putting up a banner with the names of conscientious objectors as part of the school‘s observance of Veterans Day. Comedian promptly mentioned the school‘s name of national radio 11 times. The school was immediately blanketed with calls and e-mails, including self-righteous pronouncements from Sarasota veterans groups.
One detail was left out. The school had already decided the conscientious objector banner was way over the top. Kimberly from Sarasota was complaining about something that had already been canceled. Comedian was spouting out of date outrage, as usual.
But our winner, former House Republican Leader Tom Delay. Said at the Oxford Union, the debating society at the British university of the same name that, if elected, Hillary Clinton would seek to create national health care similar to the English system. Thunderous applause. Then he explained that under the current American system, there‘s no one denied health care in America. There‘s 47 million people who don‘t have health insurance, but no American is denied health care in America. Derisive laughter.
Ever heard of a pre-existing condition, Tom? Incidentally, Delay was there to debate Al Sharpton. Sharpton never showed up. As the laughter suggested, Delay still managed to somehow lose the debate. Tom Delay, today‘s worst person in the world.
OLBERMANN: Bill O‘Reilly‘s words often require translation. So culture warrior turns into smut peddler just as fast as you can say great video. And in our number one story in the COUNTDOWN, was it a negligee situation? It isn‘t just Bill-O showing soft core porn while railing against soft core porn, it is the entire Fixed News latest establishment. The latest recorded example, 4:24 p.m. Eastern standard time today.
And film maker Robert Greenwald, who will join us presently, has documented a telling slice of it in his four-minute video production. Family Values, as seen in the Alice through the looking glass kaleidoscope that is Fox News. Like this Bill-O classic; no, not a negligee situations, but O‘Reilly being shocked, just shocked by the Carl‘s Jr. burger commercial featuring Paris Hilton. Beginning with, quote, tonight, one of the most offensive TV advertisements we‘ve ever seen, which he then showed non-stop.
Likewise, less than two weeks ago in his Culture Wars segment, O‘Reilly complained about the Exotic Erotic Ball in San Francisco while showing video from the Exotic Erotic Ball for about half of a five minute segment and getting the grisly details from a journalist who had attended. Quoting Bill-O, we were simply reporting on the atmosphere in San Francisco since the secular progressives took over.
And this pattern is the virtual upholstery of Fixed Noise. Like today, Cavuto discussing bars that lure pre-teens, saucy video and still pictures included. And perhaps one of the most egregious examples, high-highted in Mr. Greenwald‘s production, Fox News covering a serial killer in Daytona, Florida last March.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A serial killer is on the loose in the Daytona area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first victim was actually killed about three months ago. But what‘s really important in this case—and I think the captain on the line will agree with me—is that the suspect has used a handgun, from what I understand, and has shot the victim.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of kids heading down there for spring break this time of year. What would you tell them by way of caution as they head into this area?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most important thing right now is for everyone, not only the kids that are down there on spring break, but even people living in that community. Because the thing about this case, Martha, is the fact that whoever is committing these crimes, it seems to me, is very familiar with the layout of that general area down there. So they are very familiar with the area. So they know the getaway route.
So right now, all the people in that area, whether they‘re college students or not, need to be very, very vigilant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The layout, you say? Joining me now, as promised, the man who brought us “Out-Foxed,” filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Thanks again for your time tonight, sir.
ROBERT GREENWALD, FILM MAKER: Pleasure.
OLBERMANN: so you noticed a bit of a trend on Fox News, did you?
GREENWALD: Well, that‘s putting it mildly. Actually, it‘s interesting because we notice as the ratings continue to go down, the smut continues to go up. There seems to be a direct correlation.
OLBERMANN: Your piece begins with O‘Reilly taking an e-mail from a viewer complaining about his use of graphic video, but the ombudsman there concludes, I think the important point is that you never use this video gratuitously. Of course, O‘Reilly seemingly enjoys giving warnings about the video he‘s about to show. That doesn‘t solve his problem, does it answer your criticism?
GREENWALD: Well, you know, the hypocrisy from Bill O‘Reilly and the others there is actually part of a consistent pattern. I mean, think about it, Murdoch goes out and says Fox News is going to be green. Then Hannity and the rest of them say global warming doesn‘t exist. Roger Ales goes out and says, we‘re going to do a debate for the Black Congressional Institute. Then we see all the cases of racism.
So it‘s part of what they do. They say one thing; then, of course, they do the other. Bill, being the leading hypocrite, it makes perfect sense. But they‘re in a little bit of trouble here because the advertisers absolutely hate this. I mean, they may disagree politically, but the advertisers really don‘t want to be paying for smut. And so we are launching a campaign now encouraging people to contact the advertisers and asking them to pull the ads.
OLBERMANN: As I pointed out, they did this on the “Neil Cavuto Show” four hours and 30 minutes ago. And who knows? Nobody has watched since then. What is the providence of this process? Who started this? Because years ago—I‘ll leave the names out of this—but we had an executive here on this show who had been hired away from Fox News, and he had devised a segment with a female correspondent. One night we did this and she was doing what she would do, reading a script as video of a news story played, an ordinary news story, and this guy went crazy.
Stand her up in front of the screen. Make sure she‘s always on camera. She‘s there to be eye candy. Needless to say, we got rid of the guy as fast as we could. We basically professionally cut him up and smuggled him out under our robes. Is this an Ales invention, complain about this video as a rationalization to show the video? Or was there some original umbrage in here? Or where did it come from?
GREENWALD: Well, it seems consistent. I don‘t sit in the news meetings at Fox, although I‘ve asked to be included. Somehow they haven‘t included me. It certainly seems to be the pattern with Ales, who has taken every possible element of news and degraded it, degenerated it, and turned it into, in this case, smut. And if it is not smut, we see the right wing propaganda.
So I think it is certainly something we can attribute to the way he deals with what really should be a very important function in a Democratic society, which is the decimation of news.
OLBERMANN: All right, let‘s cut our use of that video now, before we start to imitate them. But you make a serious point in here that it‘s not just oh, you‘re showing all this T&A, but you‘re also not covering the war in Iraq or other important stories as a result.
GREENWALD: Yes, well see—the studies have been done showing how little they cover some of the serious and important news stories because so much time—they‘re showing “Girls Gone Wild” in prime-time. I guarantee you the advertisers don‘t know that. But, of course, with Fox, it‘s a real question; you know, are we better off? Because we don‘t want them covering the news the way they cover it.
OLBERMANN: Yes, the porn that they cover is fair and balanced. We can give them that. We‘ll just leave them the porn news. We‘ll stay out of the porn news if they want to do that full time. The documentary film maker Robert Greenwald, as always, thanks for joining us.
GREENWALD: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: That‘s COUNTDOWN for the 1,657th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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