Daily Made-up News (Keith Olbermann)
SECAUCUS - Everybody who writes for a living ought to be subjected to one day in which they are written about. The results would be mortifying - and educational.
Today’s lesson in this subject should go to gossip columnist Lloyd Grove, his assistant Katherine Thomson, and their employers at The New York Daily News, who are guilty of taking quotes out of context in such an egregious manner -- and ignoring an extraordinary conflict of interest for Ms. Thomson -- that what they published wouldn’t have gotten past the editor of my 4th Grade Class Newspaper.
, I managed to compliment both my boss at MSNBC, network president Rick Kaplan, and our bosses at NBC and the parent company GE - Kaplan for his support of Countdown and the corporate types for never letting what might be their own personal ideologies get in the way of the news, or their corporate mission to make money.
Compliments. On tape. On television. And Grove and Thomson twisted them into negatives, into insults.
Grove wrote today: “BLOOD FEUD? MSNBC's Keith Olbermann deeply distrusts the top brass at NBC and its parent company, General Electric, judging by his interview with C-SPAN's grand inquisitor, Brian Lamb. ‘There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all,’ he claimed, without naming names. ‘Moral force and money often do not mix in the slightest.’”
Well, that’s a fantastic job of selecting quotes, draining them of their context, and trying to start trouble where none exists.
Here’s what I said, in full, according to the CSPAN transcript. The parts Grove and Thomson pulled, in their bush league attempt at journalism, are in italics.
“I haven’t met a lot of flying monkeys at NBC. I have met people who -- and by the way, this is the great freedom and the great protection of American broadcasting, commercial broadcasting.
“We made a mistake in the ’20s. We let broadcasting in this country develop with commercial broadcasting taking the lead and all other kinds of information on radio or television secondary or tertiary.
“But the protection of money at the center of everything, including news to the degree that it is now, is that as long as you make the money, they don’t care what it is you put on the air. They don’t care. There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all. Anybody who knew anything about American history and stepped out at any point in American history and got an assessment of this presidential administration would say, yes, I don’t know how much they need to be criticized, but they need to be criticized to some degree.
“There are people who I work for who would prefer, who would sleep much easier at night if this never happened. On the other hand, if they look at my ratings and my ratings are improved and there is criticism of the president of the United States, they are happy.
If my ratings went up because there was no criticism of the president of the United States, they would be happy.”
Brian Lamb then asked me “What does say about moral force?” I replied, “It says that moral force and money often do not mix in the slightest. They are often separate beams of light traveling through the universe, and you may have to jump off one to ride the other for a while.”
In short, I was praising NBC and GE for not - as Fox and other corporations do - letting their personal opinions override the assessments and inquiries of the people they’ve hired to do the news. In other words, they don’t mess with it. Far from “distrusting” - as Grove put it - the brass here, I actually trust them.
Shame on Lloyd Grove.
He also tried to make it personal. Last August he printed an exaggerated version of the kind of “the boss gets angry” moment everybody in every office in America has gone through. Grove happily wrote of Rick Kaplan yelling; he never wrote of Rick apologizing, nor of his support for the show.
As Stewie Griffin says in “Family Guy” - “Oh, here we go.”
From Lloyd and Thomson’s column today: “When Lamb asked about MSNBC President Rick Kaplan dressing him down last August for a commentary about Peter Jennings that featured a graphic account of Olbermann spitting up blood, the "Countdown" host explained that Kaplan ‘is a very emotional, very high-strung, gigantic man, also a very squeamish man. … He just was squeamish about blood.’”
I was - as the CSPAN transcript again points out - complimenting Rick Kaplan, and explaining what happened, something Grove never attempted to do. All of this had followed my cancer scare, when a benign growth had been removed from the roof of my mouth, leading me to do a commentary about how even if smoking isn’t going to give you cancer, the often bloody mess that ensues from its benign results is bad enough. Again, here’s what I said, with the selective edits by Grove and Thomson in italics:
“So I come back the following Monday to do a commentary on this, and Peter Jennings finally passed away and we did most of the show about Peter Jennings. And then at the end, I said, if somehow Peter Jennings’ death has not convinced you, let me tell you what happened to me in the roof of my mouth.
“We were premiering a new 9:00 show that night and Rick, as the President of MSNBC, is a very emotional, very high strung, gigantic man, also a very squeamish man, was very surprised to hear, even though it had been discussed before, I was talking about spitting blood into a garbage can and all the rest of this stuff.
“And he was - he was mortified. He just assumed everybody would be terrified by what I was saying, change the channel, and here we have the premier of this new 9:00 show that I would have just ruined, and he was yelling and he was yelling uncontrollably.
“And a couple of days later, after he calmed down, he was apologizing to the same degree of giant-sized gestures and such. He just was squeamish about blood, that was all it was.”
Brian Lamb then asked, “So it wasn’t an attack about you?” I answered “no, not at all.” “Or on you?,” he asked. “No, Rick - if he’s not the biggest fan of the show within NBC, he’s doing a very good impression of it. No, he’s been completely supportive of the show, all the way through.”
There’s one more element in play here that should worry the editors of The New York Daily News. Grove’s lackey, Katherine Thomson, used to work here at MSNBC, and her departure did not exactly bring tears from her ex-colleagues. Last week, an awful item appeared in the column in which she helps Grove shovel manure about the personal lives of two producers at another NBC broadcast. The producers aren’t famous, they aren’t public figures, and a freshman student in J-School somewhere would question why they were subjected to public scrutiny.
But they were.
In a column partially written by a woman who recently left the company for which they - and I - work.
So, on top of disgraceful de-contextualizing quotes, there is the issue of a bald-faced conflict of interest.
We’re naming Thomson and Grove tonight’s Worst Persons In The World. That is scarcely sufficient for their journalistic recklessness. They should be fired.
Comments? Email KOlbermann@msnbc.com
Baseball's greatest Ambassador: Buck O'Neil (Keith Olbermann)
Secaucus - The man some call baseball‘s greatest ambassador was denied admission on Monday to its Hall of Fame, in what is scheduled to be his last opportunity for election. Tuesday, he told the people who voted against him that he would be happy to speak at the induction ceremonies anyway on behalf of the .
That is Buck O‘Neil in a nutshell. Ninety-four years old, first baseman on four pennant winners and manager of five more in the old Negro Leagues, the first man of color to be a coach in the major leagues, also told the rest of us who are still incensed at the snub not to be angry at those voters.
This while those voters continued to hide behind the cloak of anonymity, refusing to say who voted for O‘Neil and the equally deserving Minnie Minoso and who didn‘t and why. This while it proves that the voting process that excluded O‘Neil and the 83-year-old Minoso was a blank check, a yes or no ballot. The 12-member committee had 39 finalists to select from; it could have elected all 39, O‘Neil and Minoso included, if it had wanted to.
Explanations from that committee, though, have been few and cowardly. One who did speak up who apparently had voted for Buck O‘Neil was Ray Doswell, curator of the Negro League‘s museum.
“Honestly,” he says, “Buck has a lot of fans on this committee, and I think even the people who didn‘t vote for him are his fans, but they decided to vote with their conscience and the high standards of the Hall of Fame.”
Those high standards, by the way, permitted them to yesterday elect Alex Pompez, a former racketeer in the Dutch Schultz crime family, who once owned the New York Cubans and later scouted for the New York Giants. And to honor the Negro Leagues, that committee also elected two white owners, J.L. Wilkinson of the Kansas City Monarchs and Effa Manley of the Newark Eagles, whose co-owner husband reportedly traded away at least one of the team‘s players because she was having an affair with that player.
These were not the regular Hall of Fame voters, but 12 so-called experts, at least eight of whom are, like me, members of the Society for American Baseball Research. Nine votes from them were required for election.
The voters were named Todd Bolton, Greg Bond, who‘s associated with the University of Wisconsin, and Adrian Burgos, Jr., an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dick Clark, Ray Doswell, who mentioned, Leslie Heaphy, associated with Kent State, Dr. Larry Hogan from Union County College of New Jersey, Larry Lester, Sammy Miller, Jim Overmyer, and the late Robert Peterson, who passed away just two weeks, and Rob Ruck.
I contacted seven of them by e-mail, got four replies today. Each refused a request to say even how they voted on Minoso or O‘Neil. Mr. Overmyer wrote, “The members of this committee were specifically asked by the Hall not to talk about their choices, and I have to respect the implicit promise I made to the Hall when I took this assignment.”
However, baseball‘s Hall of Fame tells us it only asked the voters not to talk about their choices yesterday, as those choices were first being revealed to the public. There is nothing restricting the voters from speaking publicly now; they just won‘t.
Comments? Email KOlbermann@msnbc.com