November 11, 2009
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED
Guests: Clarence Page, Paul Rieckhoff, Richard Wolffe, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Town halls junior? Senator Alexander promises another wave of protest
meetings, not protest at the public events of Democrats, but staging
Republican gatherings with Republican supporters who are going to disrupt -
their own meetings? Huh?
Plus, Michele Bachmann's rally jumped not one, but three sharks. She broke House rules by using her taxpayer-funded Web site to solicit, quote, "grassroots lobbying."
FOX got caught showing video of another protest with 10 times the crowd, claiming it was from Bachmann's rally.
And a week later, financial addressing the anti-Semitism and the invoking of the Holocaust at her rally, she offers a non-apology apology.
Happy Veterans Day! Two thousand two hundred and sixty-six of our heroes died last year because they did not have health insurance-while a Republican senator personally holds up legislation that would increase benefits for disabled vets.
Sarah Palin's book leaks. It's five chapters-five long chapters.
And she rips into the McCain people. Oh, and she wants her own talk show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN, THEN-SPORTS ANCHOR: The Iditarod, of course, is the biggy, but it's not the only mushing going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: "Worsts": Behold, unto us has been given a new decider-in-chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN COLMES, FOX NEWS: What's the agenda? Let's get all the facts before we decide it's terrorism.
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS: OK. I've decided it's an act of terror.
COLMES: Well, OK, you've decided.
O'REILLY: Yes, I have the highest-rated show, Colmes. So I can decide. I can decide.
COLMES: That makes you the authority on defining things. I understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: That would be a lot funnier if he was kidding.
And the captain: Basketball immortal Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a form of leukemia, but the marvels of medicine have reduced what was once a death sentence to what one doctor equates to treating high blood pressure. Now, he says, if only we can get everybody the treatment they deserve.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, BASKETBALL LEGEND: We're supposed to be the can-do nation, and our health care system really fails so many people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: My special guest, my friend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
All that and more-now on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Good evening, from New York.
The memo instructed tea party protesters on how to artificially inflate their numbers, spread out in the hall, the rep should be made to feel that a majority, if not a significant portion, of at least the audience opposes the socialist agenda of Washington. How exactly to do that? Yell. The goal is to rattle him, stand up and shouted out and sit right back down.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: The Republican Party going back to the drawing board, returning to the town halls, the same fake populism and over-hyped testoteronic (ph) it relied upon in its misguided attempt to misinform the American public about health reform during the dog days of summer.
But those Republicans have apparently decided they can be self-town halling, no Democrats require. The folks at Politico.com are reporting that the GOP is trying to resurrect the angry town halls of August.
Senator Alexander is saying that Republicans are quietly planning about 50 gatherings, some to be held in person, some by telephone, to drum up opposition to Democratic health care bills.
Question: The town halls of July and August were held by Democrats, Astroturf groups having instructed protesters on how to harass Democratic members of Congress, thereby creating only the impression of mass public opposition to health care reform. And the town halls of November will be held by Republicans. Could the GOP merely be organizing opposition to itself?
The geniuses who run the Republican Party are not merely wishing but inviting this kind of lunacy upon themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never seen my America turn into what it has turned into and I want my America back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm scared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's a man in the crowd who has a gun-a handgun strapped on his lower leg.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is not an American citizen. He is a citizen of Kenya!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to do to restore this country back to what our founders created, according to the Constitution?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How dare you claim that I'm part of a conspiracy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're going to give free health care to all illegal aliens. They're going to give us classes on euthanasia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the Obama plan would kill you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you continue to support a Nazi policy as Obama has?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please hear this voice of the disabled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask the question!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to say that I'm a proud right-wing terrorist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And don't forget the euthanasia.
Meanwhile, Senator Jim "Waterloo" DeMint offering a helpful reminder that no Republican intends to vote for the final bill no matter what is in it. The South Carolina Republican telling a conservative radio talk show host that even health care reform without a public option is something he believes needs to be defeated.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. JIM DEMINT ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: They may pass something that's much more benign, that doesn't have a government-run plan in it, and they say they've fixed it. The problem is, that bill will meet Nancy Pelosi in a conference and, where they really rewrite the whole bill. We can't let anything pass in the Senate, otherwise we're going to create a monster.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Time now to call in our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington correspondent for "Newsweek" magazine.
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Senator DeMint also analyzed Republicans' chances of doing what he wants done in that interview. It will be a chess game, but I think we got a better, a 50/50 chance to stop this thing before Christmas.
Did he just admit that killing reform-any reform-has always been the only intended outcome, not bipartisanship, not Republican input, not even a Republican alternative to the Democratic bill?
FINEMAN: Well, Keith, I think he admitted it. But it's something that everybody, I think, pretty much already knew. I think, in the Senate and the House, but I think perhaps especially in the Senate, with the possible exception of Olympia Snowe-remember her-they were going to be against this, whatever. Mitch McConnell, the leader, has made that clear. Jim DeMint and others have made it clear.
Now, it's on the table. That's what these meetings coming up this winter are about. They're-they're going to try to kill the thing if they possibly can. Delay it as long as they possibly can; asphyxiate it, if they can.
OLBERMANN: About these meetings, the sort of round two of town halls. In July and in August, that strategy made some sense, at least from a media perspective-shout at, shout down the majority. But yelling amongst yourselves? How does-doesn't that look a little hot house atmosphere kind of thing?
FINEMAN: Well, I'm waiting for Lamar to throw himself out of his meeting.
FINEMAN: You know, what's interesting about this, is that Lamar Alexander, the senator from Tennessee, is viewed at the White House-or at least was viewed at the White House-as one of the Republicans they could talk to, as a sort of man of moderation in both style and substance and so forth.
But the fact that Alexander is sending out this memo, which really wasn't all that necessary, meaning the Republicans are going to have these meetings to display the anger of their base anyway, shows that the formerly traditional leadership of the Republican Party is being guided by, if not intimidated by, the Limbaughs, et cetera, of the world. Because they're getting with the program, and, sure, they're going to have these meetings and they're going to uncork the dissent and anger in the base of the Republican Party. But it's for show, and to demonstrate. That's what it's all about.
OLBERMANN: But is there something-might there be sort some actual strategy inside this kind of Carrie Prejean tape version of a town hall meeting? I mean, Democrats have figured out how to respond to these town halls. So, if you specifically don't want them there.
OLBERMANN: . you want them yelled at in absentia where they can't refute this stuff, correct?
FINEMAN: Yes. That's right. Also, frankly, one of the ways the Democrats-Democrats are dealing with the town halls is to not have them because they turned into the circuses that you show. So, yes, right. The only objective here is to get video. It's to get a lot of video that will be shown on some channels and not others, displaying the anger, which is real, in the base of the Republican Party and the conservatives in this country.
I was talking to Republicans today. They say, "Frankly, you know, our people are angry and they're scared," and they didn't say to me we want to show that off for the cameras, but that's exactly what they're going to do. That's exactly what they're going to do.
And by the way, some polls show that the reform plan is just enough of a plan to get the right apoplectic and paranoid, but not enough to really inspire all of the base of the Democratic Party.
OLBERMANN: And the talking points that are designed to keep the Republican base angry and scared, even though some of them have very debatable, disprovable points in it.
OLBERMANN: . like, it would lead to higher premiums, when, of course, doing nothing would lead to higher, more higher premiums.
OLBERMANN: Is the-is the protection on that, "Well, our people won't believe that anyway so we don't have to worry about it being disproved"?
FINEMAN: They're not-the basic point is that the Republicans are not going to attempt to explain any halfway decent feature of this legislation-and there are lots and lots of them-to Republicans or independents. They're going to sit there and say nothing, and let the people at these meetings speak to the cameras. That is their strategy and that's going to happen all the way through to the end of the year.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of MSNBC and "Newsweek"-as always, great thanks.
FINEMAN: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: More fallout tonight from the Bachmann rally, to focus hatred and encourage Americans to harass Democratic members of Congress. The congresswoman herself today condemning the most hateful image to emerge from last week's protest on the steps of the Capitol-no, it's not this, it's the other pictures-still refusing to apologize however, for having enabled it.
The Minnesota Republican today releasing statement calling the anti-Semitic imagery at her rally, quote, "regrettable and inappropriate." Of this sign that equated health care reform to the Nazis, showing the horrific corpses from Dachau, she also called it sad that some individuals chose to marginalize tragic events in human history like the Holocaust.
You did not hear nor see the word "sorry," nor any conjugation of that verb to apologize in her statement.
As for her colleagues, House Minority Whip Cantor's spokesman had called the photograph inappropriate. Mr. Cantor said nothing. While Minority Leader Boehner's spokesman replied that Leader Boehner did not see any such sign, obviously, it would be appropriate, even though, of course, Boehner was 15 feet away from it. An explanation if not apology for how Mr. Boehner confused the Declaration of Independence for the Constitution at that event would have been nice, too.
Meanwhile, the excellent work of the "Daily Show" on Comedy Central revealing that FOX News showed file footage of the better-attended September 12th tea party protest in D.C., used it as if it were images from the Bachmann rally in order to give the false appearance that last Thursday's fake press conference on the Capitol steps had been much larger in attendance than it actually was.
On the left, this is how Sean Hannity covered the Bachmann rally last week. On the right, Glenn Beck's coverage of the September 12th protest two months ago. They look surprisingly similar giving lie to Hannity's utterly shameful deceit on this.
Lots to talk about, thus, with Clarence Page, "Chicago Tribune" editorial board member and Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist.
Clarence, good evening.
CLARENCE PAGE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Hi there, Keith. Are you picking on Sean Hannity again, now?
OLBERMANN: Yes. It's a day that ends with "Y" in its name.
OLBERMANN: And it appears that in using her government-funded House Web site to organize that protest, the congresswoman from Minnesota may have broken federal House rules. Could-could she be forced to apologize just for that?
PAGE: Well, no, there's a reason why the House has these rules about Franken. You know, I know it seems really passe now in this era of email to talk about snail mail. But, you know, Americans care about things like how members of Congress use things like their stamps. Dan Rostenkowski, former chairman of House Ways and Means went to jail because of abuse of privileges like stamps up on Capitol Hill.
Nowadays, in the day of the e-mail and the Web site, these rules still matter, and that's why she now has been accused of having violated that rule by using her Web site to promote a rally, which she calls a media event.
OLBERMANN: And speaking of that definition, does this-this news here explain that charade of why the leadership was calling it a press conference, not a rally, because they knew using tax funds to sponsor a rally was illegal and they were doing everything they could not to get caught doing that?
PAGE: According to reports, yes, because, as you notice, this was a news conference where there was-there were no journalists allowed to ask any questions. This was not called in order to face the press. It was called in order to have a rally.
OLBERMANN: That's a Republican dream press conference, as it's also known. There was a lot of.
OLBERMANN: There was a lot of faint outrage when the White House declared FOX News was not a news organization. In the wake of that videotape research that proved it swapped out one event for another, courtesy of the "Daily Show" folks, should the-should the White House be feeling vindicated tonight? Did they actually prove their point? Or did the-you know, Comedy Central proved it for them?
PAGE: Well, I got to say, that was a good got you. I mean, just look at that tape there, Keith, and you see, it starts out at Michele Bachmann's rally and the leaves on the trees are changing colors, because it's autumn, and then, suddenly, you go to these scenes where the trees are bright green like they were back in early November in the time-and September, the time of the Beck rally and-well, I call it the Beck rally. Beck insists it's not his rally, but everybody know it was, that 9/12 affair. And it's just so blatantly obvious. I mean, this is a real embarrassment to FOX, simply on-simply based on good journalism.
OLBERMANN: But then again, they don't-that's not journalism and they don't embarrass.
PAGE: Well, yes, that's what the White House was saying.
This new Gallup Poll tonight that Howard made a slight illusion to some of these numbers that are coming in. Republicans have a slight edge over Democrats, 48-44 in that generic congressional ballot if the 2010 elections were held today. The poll in July, as we saw, the Democrats were ahead by six points.
Is there some reason to interpret this as that the Republican lies have gained traction, particularly on health care reform?
PAGE: Well, it's important to point out, first of all, of course, that generic polls don't necessarily tell you how any one individual member of Congress is appealing to their voters. But that said, it is significant after months-I think it's been years now-that Democrats have been ahead in these generic ballots. All of a sudden, now, they're slipping behind the Republicans.
This doesn't mean that Republicans have really gained that much, as far as their own popularity or approval is concerned, which has been running very low. But nevertheless, it's the kind of trend that Democratic leaders do not want to see happening. And I think it's because, lots of it because they themselves have had a real problem in selling their health care message to people who already have coverage.
OLBERMANN: Clarence Page, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist of "The Chicago Tribune"-as always, great thanks, Clarence.
PAGE: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Of course, it turns out there are death panels. On Veterans Day, as Republicans race to wave any flag they can find, another Harvard analysis says 2,266 veterans under the age of 65 are dying each year in this country because they don't have insurance.
And a Republican senator, a physician no less, is using his ability to put a personal hold on legislation that would increase benefits for disabled vets and their caregivers. "Thank you for your service"-another empty GOP catchphrase.
OLBERMANN: The difference between saying, "Let's thank our veterans" and actually thanking them, the six veterans under the age of 65 who will have died today from lack of insurance and why Republicans want to let them die.
Later, Rupert Murdoch digs himself a deeper hole.
Lou Dobbs quits CNN. Anyone needs a used Lou Dobbs impression? You hate (ph) Lou Dobbs?
Ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Nobody is faster to the podium to pay tribute to the troops than Republicans. But when it comes to actually paying them for their health care, for room and board, for those of them who are homeless, they know they can truly depend on Republicans, because Republicans will always let them down.
Our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN: As new statistics are released indicating at least 2,266 vets died lasted year in this country because they didn't have insurance, and that an average of 100,000 vets are homeless at any given moment in this country-Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma celebrated Veterans Day, paid tribute to them, rushed to be the first to pose for a photo with them to show the voters, by exercising a personal hold, preventing passage of a bill that would increase benefits to disabled vets and their caregivers-a bill endorsed by every vets group across the political spectrum from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to the American Legion, because it's easier to pretend to care about them than to actually care for them.
Every day, Coburn blocks the Veterans' Caregiver and Omnibus Health Benefits Act. Every day, Republicans drag out the health care debate, another six U.S. veterans, veterans under the age of 65, die for lack of health insurance-this, according to the new Harvard study.
Lack of insurance currently killing veterans about five times more
quickly than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. Almost 1.5 million
veterans lack insurance now because they can't get private insurance, not -
but are not poor enough or not disabled enough by combat to qualify for V.A. coverage. They're in between the safety nets. Instead, they're left to their own to battle conditions, like post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, which inflict as many as one in five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
Let's turn now to Paul Rieckhoff founder and director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, author of "Chasing Ghosts" and himself a veteran of Operation: Iraqi Freedom-great thanks for coming in tonight, Paul, and on this of all days, thanks for your service.
PAUL RIECKHOFF, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Thank you, Keith. Appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: Does that figure sound possible -- 2,200 veterans dying every year because they lack health insurance?
RIECKHOFF: Sure. Yes, it's definitely possible. And we've got so many Americans across the board who lack health insurance. And if you're a veteran who doesn't have a service-connected disability, you can't go to the V.A. for care. So, there's a lot of folks who will fall through the cracks.
And, you know, we believe that veterans deserve to be cared for and if they have health care issues. Especially around Veterans Day, we'll bring veterans together of all generations. You know, this brings some attention to some of the health care needs that are facing veterans. And that's a good thing.
OLBERMANN: The Harvard study says that even the Democratic health care bills will barely dent the problems of uninsured vets. So, what will?
RIECKHOFF: Well, I think we've got to expand health care. We've got to do a better job tracking. We've got to focus on delivering health care better to people who actually qualify now at the V.A. We got to do a better job of screening for post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health injuries. We got to do a better job of caring for women's health care.
And this omnibus bill that you mentioned earlier, we've got to take care of the caregivers and everybody else. We got to understand that Veterans Day is about the veterans, but caring for veterans is a comprehensive thing we got to do. We got to take care of the families and everybody who surrounds the veterans in order to really provide the best health care for them.
OLBERMANN: All right. Yes, you mentioned this and the omnibus bill, and Senator Coburn hold-putting a hold on it, which is the senator's right to do that.
OLBERMANN: His basic argument, at leas the public one, is, I need to see how this is going to be paid for. Does he have a point in demanding that it'd be paid for in advance? Or what do you.
RIECKHOFF: No. This is why they call him "Dr. No" in the Senate.
And I think you made an important point. He's isolated here. This isn't even the GOP.
This is one senator standing in the way of the most comprehensive health reform and health benefits package for caregivers, the wives, husbands, grandmothers, parents, who are caring for the most severely wounded folks. They are really under tremendous pressure and tremendous stress, and they need stress counseling themselves. That's a part of this bill.
And he's very isolated. Every veterans group has lined up against him on this and he's got to back down. We hope the American people will pressure him and do just that.
OLBERMANN: Yes. Maybe the one thing I've seen that every veterans group-no matter where they stand politically on any other issue-are completely uniform about.
OLBERMANN: This bill has to get through.
OLBERMANN: One in four homeless people are thought to be veterans in the latest of those studies which have been put out just at this time of year. More than a quarter million veterans will lack somewhere to live some time this year, and the average is 100,000 a night-right now as we talk.
OLBERMANN: We discussed this the first time a number like this was promulgated. Why is this the case-lest, how can we let it be the case and we understand what-perhaps what that's about. But why is that the case?
RIECKHOFF: Well, it's a national embarrassment that we haven't focused on for too long. We have folks coming home from combat who have experienced traumatic injuries and they just didn't get the care they needed. Many of them are Vietnam veterans. Thousands and thousands of Vietnam veterans have been left for decades on the streets.
Give the president credit here. Last week, he and Secretary Shinseki stood up and said they are going to pledge to end homelessness. They need about $2.3 billion to commit to that. All the veterans groups are going to stand against it. It's a bold prediction. It's a very, very-you know, big goal to go for.
But we're going to push for it. We're going to hope they execute it, and we need the American people to help. It can't just be the V.A., it can't be just the president. On Veterans Day, especially, all veterans have to help.
OLBERMANN: It's nice when people say, "Thanks for your service."
It'd be nicer if they-if they didn't say it to you.
OLBERMANN: . and put the pressure on the politicians, correct?
RIECKHOFF: That's right. That's right.
OLBERMANN: All right. And then, let's do that.
Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America-again, thanks for coming in tonight, Paul.
RIECKHOFF: Thank you, Keith. Appreciate it.
OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin's book has leaked, it has five chapters. She wants a TV talk show, and she was just thrown under the fact checking bus by-no, you won't believe by whom.
OLBERMANN: "Bests" in a moment, and one heck of a school fundraising scheme: sell better grades.
First, on this date in 1938, Mary Mallon died, nearly 30 years after she had first been quarantined on an island for reasons she never truly believed. She'd been a cook for several families in Metropolitan New York, members of nearly all of the families developed typhoid fever. At least 57 people were sickened and at least four whom she cooked for died.
But Mary Mallon herself was never sick and never believed doctors' conclusion that's she must have been transmitting typhoid fever somehow while avoiding it herself. She was Typhoid Mary.
Let's play "Odd ball."
We begin with a check of "Oddball" traffic in Tennessee. Highway 64 outside Chattanooga just about ready to be opened up again after the road crew has cleared debris left by the landslide of the-alternate routes suggested for those traveling on Highway 64 just outside Chattanooga.
The videographer from the "Chattanooga Times Herald" went out to cover the first landslide when workers felt some tremors and decided to bail out. Luckily, no one was hurt and no equipment was lost. Still, the stretch of road is going to be closed for about a week, (INAUDIBLE) planning a benefit.
To Tarlton's Underwater World in Auckland, New Zealand, where it was a confusing day for kiddies visiting an aquarium shark tank. Why? Because after witnessing one of the adult female sharks getting attacked by another shark and suffering a major gush in her side, four baby sharks suddenly squirted out of the ailing mother's open wound. That's where baby sharks come from, Timmy.
Aquarium staff took four more baby sharks out of the mother via the unscheduled C-Section, before she was patched up and returned to her tank. All eight babies sharks are also doing well, but the Kitner (ph) boy is still unaccounted for.
The Palin book leaks. She wants a talk show. There is one available on CNN. And Bill-O announces Bill-O reports, Bill-O decides.
These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN's top three best persons in the world.
Dateline Goldsborough (ph), North Carolina, number three, best bad idea busted. Principal Susie Shepherd of Rosewood Middle School there looking for new funding sources. The school's Parent Advisory Council came up with this brain storm, donate 20 bucks and you get 20 points, 20 test points, 20 points the student could add to his or her test results. No more than ten to a given test, mind you, but ten would be enough to turn a B into an A or an F into a D.
At this point, several parents pointed out that Mrs. Shepherd's school was now selling grades. The practice has been stopped.
Dateline New York, number two, best contradiction, digging himself deeper and deeper. After saying Lonesome Roads Beck probably should not have called the president a racist, but he was right that Obama was racist; a Fox functionary has now told "Politico" that Rupert Murdoch didn't say anything like that. Quote, "he does not at all for a minute think the president is a racist," says Gary Ginsberg. Ginsberg added Murdoch did not seem to suggest he agreed with Beck.
But listen to Murdoch talking to his own interviewer and you can tell that clearly is not true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUPERT MURDOCH, NEWSCORP: On the racist, that caused a great thing. But he did make a very racist comment about, you know, blacks and whites and so on, which he said in his campaign he would be completely above. And, you know, it's something which perhaps shouldn't have been said about the president. But if you actually assess what he was talking about, he was right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In that interview, Murdoch never explained which of Obama's comments was very racist. Neither Murdoch nor his flack will explain it now, nor offer any proof. And certainly neither can explain how you are not suggesting Murdoch agreed with Beck when Murdoch said of Beck, "he was right."
And dateline Wasilla, number one, best sinking stock, Sarah Palin. Her implication last week in a speech in Wisconsin that President Obama was responsible for moving the words "In God We Trust" from the dollar coin-or on the dollar coin from the face to the edge. That has been fact checked and found, quote, "in actuality, the coin's design was commissioned in 2005, when Republicans controlled Congress, and was then approved by then President Bush."
Who proved Palin wrong? Fox News. When Fox News begins fact checking Sarah Palin, she's toast.
OLBERMANN: Sarah Palin wants her own talk show. Judge, not lest she be judged, Sarah? In our third story on the COUNTDOWN, we now have a vague idea about the contents of her book, available for free with a subscription to virtually any right wing magazine or website in America. The vague idea comes from the idea people who have survived the book, all five chapters of it, five long chapters.
Not incidentally, the former governor is eyeing this talk show, according to audience members, who witnessed Palin's interview with Oprah Winfrey, which was taped today. As for Palin's book, set for release next week, "Time Magazine" has culled various sources, Palin associates, who know something of its contents.
Some key elements; it is comprised of just five chapters, five really long chapters. To put this into some perspective, Moby Dick has 133 chapters. A recent Superman comic book has three chapters.
Palin's book also said to feature score settling with certain McCain aides, who will be named, a healthy bashing of the national media. Hi. Let's check to see if my name was spelled correctly. How her upbringing made her all mavericky, a testimonial to her faith, presumably not including that witch hunting guy in Wasilla, and all of it written in a warm personal tone, reportedly written in Palin's own voice, despite the involvement, wink-wink, of a collaborator.
Despite? A good collaborator adapts the tone of the author, so there's no good reason to think that Palin would have had to go to Herculean efforts to inject her so-called warm personal tone, unless that tone doesn't come easily for her.
Palin's book does not include hefty policy prescriptions, reportedly. It has no index. More on the possible implications of no index in a moment. We here at COUNTDOWN don't doubt all that great stuff will be in the book. We've made an educated guess now about the most important thing, the chapter titles.
Chapter one, education. Four colleges, one of them twice, are better than one. Chapter two, sports. I like it when they win. Chapter three, family. Todd is crazier than I am. Chapter four, Alaska. We hunt because we eat. And also, chapter five, Politics. I can see the future from my present.
Let's bring in an actual author, MSNBC political analyst, and a book that does not come free with cereal, "Renegade, The Making of a President," Richard Wolffe, also senior strategist at Public Strategies. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening, Keith. I'll be asking you for my next chapter titles.
OLBERMANN: I'm happy to oblige. A talk show? We all suspected that was an option. Talk show? I hear there is an opening at 7:00 on CNN.
WOLFFE: Yes, it could work. But here's what we know about Sarah Palin: she thinks everything is easy, because, hey, there was this guy called Barack Obama and he got elected, so how hard can it be? You write a book and then you become president. And by all my sources, the people in publishing industry, the folks on the political circles, some of whom have actually seen this book, there has been a huge amount of planning and effort into this rollout. Typical for Sarah Palin, she goes on a talk show and thinks she can do it too. How hard can it be to be Oprah Winfrey?
This is a pattern here. And for all of the prep work, for all of the battle grounds states, this is no small book tour that she's got lined up. It obviously has a political angle to it. But hey, she just wants to commandeer the bus and drive it straight into the ditch in Michigan, or wherever she wants to go.
OLBERMANN: The book, no index, five chapters. Is the premise of this
and there was speculation in "Time"-the speculation was twofold here about why there was no index in it. It would force people to actually read through it, because in Washington you never read the book except the parts that you find about yourself in the index. So there's no index. It's an up yours to the beltway establishment. There's no index to skip to.
WOLFFE: You know, I'm going to find that a hard one to agree with. You know, often when a book is crashed like this-and it may be a train wreck in a completely different sense. But when they're rushing the schedule, there is no time to put an index together because the page numbers are changing. There may also be a cost factor. She didn't want to waste the money on it.
But there are other explanations other than telling Washington to go screw itself. I don't buy the index argument at this point. Sorry.
OLBERMANN: There is another one that I remember, just a book with Dan Patrick 11 years ago. The index would have been-we dropped so many names, the index would have been 44 pages long.
WOLFFE: There is that too.
OLBERMANN: There is that too. Does this structure, five long chapters, suggest that she might have ignored editorial suggestions here? Couldn't they have just said, we don't care what you do, we'll just cut it up into chapters? How do you get a book, an actual full-length book, that has only five chapters in it?
WOLFFE: Big print. No, look, here's what I hear; the collaborator actually worked this book from top to bottom. So the extent that this is a good read, there is someone responsible for it. But five chapters does suggest, no matter how good the writer is, that you've got to have something to say.
Let's take the proposition that she does want to be Barack Obama and ride this book tour all the way into the White House. You've got to have something to say. "The Audacity of Hope" was a policy prescription book. So if she's only got five chapters, that suggestions she doesn't actually have much of a prescription. In terms of all the challenges facing this country, that may limit her scope for a three-year long presidential campaign.
OLBERMANN: Does it mean there's only going to be one chapter bashing the McCain campaign staffers?
WOLFFE: I think there's going to be plenty of that. And certainly the people who were handling her and trying to control her are bracing for the worst. They have to decide what they're going to do. She's going to name names. They say no holds barred. Let's have at it. It will be a great spectacle.
OLBERMANN: Richard Wolffe of MSNBC, author of "Renegade," which does not come free with jelly and glasses.
WOLFFE: Not yet.
OLBERMANN: Maybe some leftover at the end there. Also with Public Strategies as well. As always, great thanks, Richard.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The health of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his thoughts on the health of our health care system. Worsts, Lou Dobbs, gone. CNN's president says Dobbs has decided to carry the banner of advocacy journalism elsewhere. Maybe like Guadalajara? What do I do with this impression of him?
When Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, her special guest tonight, Dede Scozzafava. Wow!
OLBERMANN: My special guest, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, on his health and the nation's next. But first time for COUNTDOWN's number two story, tonight's worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Lou Dobbs, who tonight-as of tonight has just quit his CNN show. "I'm the last of the original anchors here on CNN. And I'm proud to have had the privilege of helping to build the world's first news network. And then I discovered America. Over the past six months, it's become increasingly clear that strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us. Some leaders in media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond the role here at CNN and to engage in constructive problem solving, as well as to contribute positively to a better understanding of the great issues of our day. And to continue to do so in the most honest and direct language possible."
You just denied me that impression? How dare you, sir. The rumor around here is they're going to do two hours of their 8:00 show. And as to Dobbs, I hear he's going to Telemundo.
Our runner up, Bill-O. He's back in fine delusion of grandeur form, having decided that Ft. Hood was terrorism. I can read this in the Ted Baxter voice, but then you'd get the impression that maybe O'Reilly was kidding here or being self-deprecating.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN COLMES, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Before we decide-
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I decided it's an act of terror.
COLMES: OK, well, then you decided?
O'REILLY: I have the highest-rated show. I decide, I can decide.
COLMES: The authority on defining things. I understand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: He's not kidding, is he? So "Dancing With The Stars" drew nearly 16 million viewers last night, near three times O'Reilly's highest rated show, does that mean host Tom Bergeron gets three votes on the what actually happened ballot? And what happened to We Report, You Decide? They don't mean you, Billy.
But our winners, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. These are, of course, utilities and coal companies trying to sell pollutant saturated coal burning as some kind of environmentally friendly energy alternative. But their lies go way beyond that. They sent forged letters on NAACP stationary to at least one Congressmen, urging him to vote against real clean energy legislation. They lied under oath about what they were doing. And now they've sent out a veterans day timed e-mail that takes the cake. "We wanted to take a moment to reflect on all the military personnel who were involved in ensuring our country is protected. Energy security is one issue that has been increasingly important to our veterans. In fact, national veterans groups Vote Vets and Operation Free are urging the government to become more energy independent and less reliant on foreign oil. We can do this by using the abundant domestic fuels we already have."
Wow. Vote Vets and Operation Free believe in using the abundant domestic fuels we already have? No, actually they don't. Vote Vets said it has never advocated the use of more carbon-based fuels. And Operation Free is a vets group dedicated to fighting climate change. So this sleaze bag coal industry lobbying group lied about both veterans groups and pretended their opposition to this was support, on Veterans Day. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, bull crap artists, today's worst persons in the world.
OLBERMANN: It's the kind of journey that has been experienced, in one form or another, a million times over and then some. But it is urgent and singular and revelatory for anybody who goes through it themselves. Our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, a health crisis first hand, and the necessity of health care reform now.
Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is here with me tonight. He has revealed that he is battling cancer, specifically a rare form of Leukemia, called Chronic Myloid Leukemia, but the prognosis is very good, as he will tell us. He is basketball's all-time leading scorer, a record that has not been broken since his retirement in 1989, 20 years ago. Meaning our stint as co-hosts of the local CBS coverage of the NBC finals is 19 years.
In fact, over his 20 year professional career, he set NBC all time records in nine categories. Playing first with the Bucks, then the LA Lakers, after being, of course, the star center for the UCLA Bruins. In 2008, he was chosen the greatest player in college basketball history. Today, he is a special assistant coach for the Lakers, also the author of six best-selling books focusing on African American contributions to American culture and history.
A pleasure to be joined, as promised, by my friend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It's good to see you sir.
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, FMR. NBA GREAT: Nice to be here, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Walk us through the health thing a bit, if you would, your diagnosis, your first thoughts, and the rest of that stuff.
ABDUL-JABBAR: It started with hot flashes and sweats. And they did not go away. And at first you just discount it, and more or less ignore it, and it just persisted. And it got to be several months. I mentioned it to my doctor. And he said maybe we should get blood work and see what is going on. I went to the lab and got blood work done. And they called back the next day and said, hey, you need to go see a specialists. Your white cell blood count is sky high.
OLBERMANN: Oh, boy.
ABDUL-JABBAR: So I went over to the hematologist and they said it was probably Leukemia. And that was a very scary moment in my life. I thought it was-you know, the clock was coming down to zero.
OLBERMANN: Your understanding of it would have been everybody else's, and would have been accurate as of five to ten years ago, that that was it. Essentially, if you did not get a total bone marrow transplant, you had no chance of fighting this.
But now there are drugs that can-as a friend of mine who is a doctor at UCLA said, you manage this basically like high blood pressure. It's almost-it's almost an easily controlled thing. It's amazing.
ABDUL-JABBAR: It's manageable. You have to work with a specialists. You have to take your medicine. And you have to get your blood checked regularly. But if you do those things, you can manage it. It barely impacts your life. You have to see the doctor on a regular basis, and you do have to take medicine every day, and you have to make the arrangements to go get your blood analyzed. But other than that, it doesn't have to change your life that much.
OLBERMANN: So how quickly after that bit of-good news probably doesn't describe what that feels like. By the way, this thing you think is automatically fatal, we probably can manage it for a very, very long time. How soon after that did it occur to you to get involved in raising awareness of this? And were you taken back to that awful day that you and I and 500,000 other people shared at the Forum in 1991, when Irvin Johnson came out and said, you know, I am HIV positive, and, by the way, changed the world for all of those people. How quickly were the links between those two things?
ABDUL-JABBAR: For me, I wanted to deal with it. I wanted to make sure I was on the path hopefully to remission. I wanted to do that. And then I decided that I needed to know as much as I could about it. My son is in med school. And so fortunately I had somebody with his knowledge to talk about it. And I reached out just to find out what I could about it. Novartis is the leader in this field, in terms of what they know about it and their ability to disseminate information.
So I went that route. And it really made sense to me that somebody in my position can use my public prominence to educate the public about this, and get them to understand that you have to take this seriously, your own health in particular. So many people just take it for granted. It's not the way to go.
OLBERMANN: Did you hesitate at all about that? I know how private a person you are. Did you worry about putting yourself out there on this?
ABDUL-JABBAR: No, I didn't. Everybody asked me that. I am a very private person. But I feel like I have been given a reprieve, and I need to spread the good news, because this is-there is good news in this. This does not have to be a death sentence.
OLBERMANN: Contextualize it for me, in terms of what you found out, again, about the health care system in our country, and where we stand on this issue that's so much in the forefront, about health care reform. How does it all fit in?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Sometimes, people without insurance could have a problem. So they need to know how to deal with that. There are websites they can go to. One very good one is CML-oh, geez. CML Earth. CML Earth is a social website where people share their experience in dealing with this condition. And they could also go to my Facebook page, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar CML Patient Advocate. And there are link ups there to the various websites.
OLBERMANN: One thing the late Senator Kennedy used to do with his colleagues was take them on field trips, take them into hospitals, introduce them to ordinary patients, just expose them to what is going on in the health care system. Obviously, you've been in a lot of health care situations since last December. Do you advise that? Even for the healthy, would that be a good thing to go and do, to see what needs to be done and what sort of people are in trouble out there?
ABDUL-JABBAR: It's always good to know what is happening in your location, what will affect you with regard to it, how the health care system works. It's a good thing to know, because you never know when you're going to have to rely on that information. So having an idea of how the health care system around you works, what is good for what situation, is-it's crucial.
OLBERMANN: And the bottom line here is remission and you feel good?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Yes, I feel fine. I am in remission. I am going to continue to do what I have to do to stay that way.
OLBERMANN: Well, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, good luck not just with this mission to raise consciousness, but also as you continue to fight this, because this Earth place would just not be the same without you.
ABDUL-JABBAR: Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: Pleasure, sir.
ABDUL-JABBAR: We will get to talk more baseball, huh?
OLBERMANN: Yes, sir.
That's COUNTDOWN for this the 2,386th day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night-
I'm embarrassing myself in front of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by throwing something-good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC's copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.>
Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research.
User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user's
personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed,
nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion
that may infringe upon MSNBC and CQ Transcriptions, LLC's copyright or
other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal
transcript for purposes of litigation.>