Guests: Dana Milbank, James Moore, Robert Greenwald, Harvey Levin
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of those stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Another day, another plan for Iraq offered to the body politic, one that sounds awfully like stay the course. General Abizaid testifies to the Senate, no timetables, no withdrawals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. JOHN ABIZAID, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Our troop posture needs to stay where it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And Karl Rove‘s posture apparently will stay where it is too. He knows too much, says a source to the conservative publication “Insight.” The last thing the president wants is another published memoir. So Bush‘s Brain stays on, and stays on life support, with the occasional joke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I obviously was working harder in the campaign than he was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Speaking of campaigning, the smoking gun, in how news is altered for political purposes at Fox News Channel. “Let‘s be on the lookout,” its senior vice president instructs his troops in a leaked daily memo, “for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents, who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled Congress.”
How the make the facts fit your conservative prejudices.
Perhaps more nauseating still, O.J. Simpson on how he would have killed his wife and Ronald Goldman, not just in a book, but now on national television. It‘s called hypothetical, emphasis on the “pathetic” part.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wrote, “I had never seen so much blood in my life.”
O.J. SIMPSON: I don‘t think any two people could be murdered without everybody being covered in blood. (INAUDIBLE).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And just when you thought this guy could do no more of that, Michael Jackson performs tonight at the World Music Awards in London.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL JACKSON: I‘m not performing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Wait, Michael Jackson is a performer? I‘d forgotten that.
I thought he was only a defendant and a puppet. Whoo-hoo-hoo.
All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN. Whoo-hoo-hoo.
Despite the American electorate‘s complete condemnation of business as usual in Iraq, the Bush administration‘s top general in the region still arguing on Capitol Hill today that we must stay the course.
Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, the White House seemingly digging in its heels in the wake of last week‘s midterm elections, not just by advocating the status quo in Iraq, but also by initiating its own internal review of Iraq policy—which might make you ask, What about that Baker commission thing? -- by keeping Karl Rove on the payroll, and by proceeding with a plan to push its self-named Terrorist Surveillance Act through the lame-duck Congress, despite new documents now suggesting it was Mr. Bush who actually authorized the CIA to detain and torture detainees.
We begin tonight on Capitol Hill, General John Abizaid warning the Senate Armed Services today against setting a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Among the carrots dangled to support his recommendation, that it might take less than a year to train Iraqi forces, and that, in his opinion, the security situation is Iraq is getting better and not worse. Even the Republicans on the committee, it would seem, no longer as willing to buy whatever the Pentagon is selling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABIZAID: I‘m very encouraged by my most recent trip, and that while sectarian violence remains high and worrisome, it‘s certainly not as bad as the situation appeared back in August.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: General, it‘s not encouraging to us. It‘s not encouraging to those of us who heard time after time that things are, quote, “progressing well,” that we‘re making progress, et cetera, because we‘re hearing from many other sources that that‘s not the case.
I regret deeply that you seem to think that the status quo and the rate of progress we‘re making is acceptable. I think most Americans do not.
ABIZAID: Well, Senator, I agree with you. The status quo is not acceptable. And I don‘t believe what I‘m saying here today is the status quo. I‘m saying, we must significantly increase our ability to help the Iraqi army by putting more American troops with Iraqi units in military transition teams, to speed the amount of training that is done, to speed the amount of heavy weapons that gets there, and to speed the ability of Iraqi troops to deploy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, General.
MCCAIN: Could I just say in response, Mr. Chairman, you say we need to do all these things, train the Iraqi -- I don‘t know where those troops come from, number one. And many of us believe that this may not be a long-term commitment, but at least a commitment to bring Baghdad under control. And that is not happening today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Even critics of the administration policy in Iraq not sure that troop withdrawal would be the best next step. Some of the very generals who pushed hardest for the ouster of Secretary Rumsfeld now cautioning against redeployment, General Anthony Zinni, the former head of U.S. CentCom, telling “The New York Times” that any substantial reduction of American forces in the next few months would be more than likely to accelerate the slide to civil war than to stop it.
What happens next in Iraq called into question by the actions of the president, who just yesterday formally launching an internal review of Iraq policy, thereby paralleling the effort by Mr. Baker‘s Iraq Study Group, having charged the bipartisan commission with the specific task of developing an exit strategy for Iraq.
Time now to call on our own Dana Milbank, the national political reporter of “The Washington Post.”
Dana, good evening.
DANA MILBANK, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:
OLBERMANN: Your own newspaper reported this morning that the president launched this new sweeping internal review of Iraq policy even though Baker-Hamilton is about ready to deliver its conclusions. Are we back to the future here? Is there some suggestion the administration‘s going to keep looking for reasons to maintain status quo in Iraq, invent them, if necessary, despite all the evidence and advice to the contrary?
MILBANK: Well, it‘s appropriate that you‘ll be discussing O.J. Simpson later, because this does have that sort of a ring of O.J.‘s vow to launch his own investigation of his wife‘s killing.
The administration has done this sort of thing before with the WMD commission to sort of investigate itself. I suspect what‘s going on here, the idea is to have them report at exactly the same time the Baker commission does.
I think what‘s going on here is the administration wants to say, It‘s our idea, as opposed to, it‘s something being forced upon us. The administration realizes as well as anybody that they have to do something other than what they‘re doing now. I think they just want to make it clear that they‘re the ones driving this.
OLBERMANN: About Senator McCain today, how should we attribute those remarks to some newfound freedom among Republicans to question administration policy in Iraq now the election is past? And how much of it, how much of it, not to be too cynical of this, is to, you know, owes to his own aspirations for the presidency now?
MILBANK: Well, it‘s certainly fair to say that Republicans are feeling very free. In fact, Warner, the chairman of the same committee, was also voicing a great deal of frustration today.
On the other hand, McCain has been very consistent here. He‘s been very critical of the situation the way the administration is handling Iraq. But his solution all along—I talked to him more than a month, maybe two months ago, and his argument then was, Yes, it‘s not working, the answer is more troops, a massive new effort in there. Of course, that‘s not really on the table anymore.
OLBERMANN: How difficult will coming up with an exit strategy really be for the Democrats, and Republicans like McCain, like others, if even people like General Zinni are now warning against troop withdrawal in the immediate future?
MILBANK: Well, right, and here‘s where they‘re really stuck, because everybody sort of understands what the options are, the range of options, but none of them are terribly good. The Baker commission‘s expected to say, Well, you can talk more with Iran and Syria. Well, we can redouble our efforts to train the troops there, or we can go (INAUDIBLE) in the direction of a partition.
But none of these is particularly attractive. And as Zinni has pointed out, as John Batiste has pointed out, all these generals who are critical of what‘s going on there, none of them is actually, like McCain, none of them is saying we should be pulling out right now.
OLBERMANN: Let me turn to the new report in “The New York Times” and “The International Herald Tribune” revealing the existence of a classified CIA document in which the president may have been the one who authorized the agency to set up these out-of-country detention centers and what methods of interrogation, or you could read torture into that, were approval—or approved, and all that coming from him rather than from some bad apple, as I think he termed the people at Abu Ghraib?
Does that complicate the president‘s effort to get this Terrorist Surveillance Act, as he calls it, through the lame-duck session?
MILBANK: Well, it certainly would complicate it, if that complication were necessary. This particular lame duck Congress has been adding, really putting the lame into lame duck, unable to get even some very basic legislation through.
So very doubtful that they‘re even going to take up the NSA. Senator Rockefeller, the incoming chairman of the Intelligence Committee, has plans that he has just announced to take up that issue in the new Congress. So it seems as if there were more reason to wait till another Congress, there‘s yet another one.
OLBERMANN: Thank goodness for small favors. An occasional lame duck is better than no duck at all.
Dana Milbank, great thanks for your time tonight.
MILBANK: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: If the White House shakeup spreads further than Donald Rumsfeld, at least one person may have the ultimate immunity. Karl Rove will remain in the White House through January 2009, according to a report coming from “Insight” magazine, which is a sister publication of the conservative newspaper “The Washington Times.”
Even before control of the Senate was officially decided, of course, the president had made a crack suggesting that he was less than fully pleased with Mr. Rove.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I obviously was working harder in the campaign than he was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: And they even have different views of what happened in that campaign. Rove told “TIME” magazine, quote, “I see this as much more of a transient, passing thing.”
How did Mr. Bush see it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The people went to polls. And they cast their vote for new direction in the House of Representatives. They ran good campaigns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: So why would Mr. Bush keep the boy genius who masterminded the loss of Congress, despite the most sophisticated voter turnout operation and most aggressive gerrymandering in history, “Insight” magazine explaining, “‘He knows too much,‘ a source said. ‘The last thing the president wants is another published memoir and book tour of life inside the White House.”
For almost 30 years, James Moore has been the—following Karl Rove‘s career, chronicling his story while he was a newspaper reporter, later co-author of the books “Bush‘s Brain” and “The Architect,” Mr. Moore joining us now.
Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
JAMES MOORE, CO-AUTHOR, “BUSH‘S BRAIN”: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let me start with a two-part reality check. First off, is Mr. Rove going to stay on at the very end, or is that a Rumsfeldian kind of quote? And if so, would the reason be the one that “Insight” is floating, that the president is afraid of a Rove tell-all book?
MOORE: I don‘t see Karl going anywhere. I‘ve said from the beginning that I sort of see him and the president as two heads on the same radical political monster. And I don‘t think you can cut off one head without killing the entire beast.
And Karl—there‘s always been something just a little bit pathological about Karl. And he creates his own realities, frankly. And for him to go away would be to suggest that the reality Karl has created isn‘t real. And if, in fact, that happens, then he tends to get vengeful. He tends to say, Well, you know what? What I believed wasn‘t real, and reality‘s whacked me upside of the head. I think there‘s a great risk that he would take it out on the president.
OLBERMANN: Of course, he had been taken out, had it taken out against him by the first President Bush, that would be Mr. Rove. Is it possible that the current president, who‘s already at least moved towards his old man‘s people, if not necessarily his point of view, who‘s already advertising a bipartisan approach, even if there hasn‘t been too much bipartisanship showing, could he be losing his taste at all for this brand of politics over patriotism down the stretch of his presidency?
MOORE: I think Karl has to be a little bit wary, seeing the first President Bush get back involved. But remember also, it was the first President Bush who began Karl‘s career in 1972 at the Republican National Committee when he was chair. He did fire Karl Rove back in the presidential campaign in Texas here.
But the fact is that Karl Rove knows that the most important thing to George W. Bush is allegiance, and it‘s loyalty. And George W. Bush knows that he would not be occupying the most powerful position in the world without Karl Rove.
And it‘s always been very difficult for this president, as a businessman or a politician, to separate himself from the people who put him there. Two years ago, Andy Card was talking about getting rid of Donald Rumsfeld, but the president simply couldn‘t do it. I don‘t see him doing it with Karl Rove. Could be wrong, but it‘s entirely difficult thing for me to imagine.
OLBERMANN: “Vanity Fair” once quoted Karl Rove describing the moment that he met the then-27-year-old George Bush. Let me read this.
“I can literally remember what he was wearing, an Air National Guard flight jacket, cowboy boots, blue jeans. He was exuding more charisma than any one individual should be allowed to have, huge amounts of charisma, cowboy swagger, cowboy boots, flight jacket, wonderful smile, just charisma -- you know, wow.”
That‘s got to have something to do with this. You want to walk us through that minefield?
MOORE: Well, I‘ll tell you what, I think Karl has always lived in some ways vicariously through George W. Bush. I mean, let‘s look back at the guy‘s background. He was the ultimate nerd at his high school in Salt Lake City. He‘s a guy, even back in the ‘60s, when the rest of us were wearing tie-dyed T-shirts and hair down to our shoulders, Karl was going to high school with a coat and tie on.
And this is his chance to be close to the cool guy, to be hanging out with the quarterback, even though George W. was a cheerleader. But it‘s Karl‘s way of being close to coolness, because Karl has never, ever seen himself in that particular manner.
Now, that‘s really a base way of describing the relationship, but it is the dynamic that informs what‘s going on between those two. They are close in ways that those of us on the outside can‘t imagine, or can‘t really put a name to.
OLBERMANN: Lord knows there‘ve been a lot of those relationships in American political history.
One final news story relating to Mr. Rove that we‘d love your perspective on. ABC reported that Jack Abramoff, who reported to prison this morning, is about to begin giving up whatever he has on Karl Rove. Rove‘s assistant, who was Abramoff‘s former assistant, Susan Ralston, suddenly up and quit this summer. Has Karl Rove already had need to dictate the terms of his pardon to President Bush? Is there anything in Abramoff that could really come up and bite Karl Rove?
MOORE: I don‘t see how there is not something in Abramoff. Way back when Karl was building his dynasty here in Texas, and removing every Democrat from state office, he knew who the money people were. And he knew how to get to them. There‘s no way that Jack Abramoff came to Washington with satchels full of money, and a great Republican ideology, and Karl ignored him.
There is a closeness there that has not been examined by the public. And frankly, I think that eventually we‘ll see that maybe there were some things there that, if not illegal, certainly were unethical. And Karl will have to answer for them.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll see what the prosecutors have to say about that.
James Moore, co-author of “The Architect” and “Bush‘s Brain.” Great thanks for your insight. Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
MOORE: My pleasure to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: To the leadership battles on the Hill. The Dems back in power, and so too is Trent Lott for the Republicans. What has sparked this remarkable comeback from disgrace?
And the disgrace that is the so-called Fox News Channel, an interoffice memo leaking, showing not just blatant bias in their coverage of the war and the Democrats right after the election, but well-planned blatant bias.
You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: It‘s the eve of the answer to the question of who among Democratic lawmakers will get to assume control of the party when the party assumes control of Congress.
In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, it boils down to the debate over which issue was more important to the outcome of the 2006 midterms, the war in Iraq, or the electorate‘s war against scandal?
In the showdown for majority leader, soon-to-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi throwing her support behind Congressman Jack Murtha, the Vietnam vet who, by speaking out against the war in Iraq at a time when doing so invited ridicule, largely made the party‘s antiwar stance possible, those in favor of Mr. Murtha‘s challenger, Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, among those making hay out of the claim that Murtha has amassed his power, in part, by handing out taxpayer money to special interest groups.
The race for House majority leader to be decided tomorrow, Congressman Hoyer said to be holding a large lead.
In the Senate, the botched joke of former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry evidently exacting a price, a lateral move, the best the junior senator from Massachusetts could expect, getting to keep only his old position, chairman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, which he previously served as chairman of in 2001 and 2002.
Scandal at one time having led even the most cynical of Washington insiders to conclude that Senator Trent Lott‘s leadership aspirations were finished, and yet, nearly four years after the Mississippi Republican was stripped of his position as party leader for praising then-colleague Strom Thurmond‘s segregationist past, Senator Lott is back in power tonight, having been elected today as, of all things, minority whip.
Our correspondent Chip Reid on irony watch for us tonight on Capitol Hill.
CHIP REID, NBC CAPITOL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Banished from the Republican leadership four years ago, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott is back.
SEN. TRENT LOTT ®, MISSISSIPPI: And I‘m honored to be a part of this leadership team...
REID: In a stunning victory, Lott won his leadership race today by a single vote, making him second in command behind new Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
For six years, Lott was the Senate Republican leader, before his dramatic fall from power. It was triggered by comments he made in 2002 at a birthday party for then-Senator Strom Thurmond, who, in 1948, ran for president, calling for segregation of the races.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, December 2002)
SEN. TRENT LOTT ®: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We‘re proud of him. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn‘t have had all of these problems over all these years, either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: After a firestorm of criticism, Lott stepped down.
Now, four years later, political resurrection. Analyst James Thurber says there‘s still some taint from the Thurmond comments, but it‘s outweighed by Lott‘s value, now that his party is in the minority.
JAMES THURBER, POLITICAL ANALYST: He knows the rules, he knows how to build coalitions, he knows how to tie up the Senate. And they need that right now when they‘re competing with the Democrats.
REID (on camera): Lott has long blamed the White House for helping push him out of power. Now that he‘s back in power, he got a call from the president today, congratulating him on his new job.
Chip Reid, NBC News, the Capitol.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of everything old being new again, Captain Smith, I know there‘s nothing to worry about, sir, but First Officer Murdock says, well, he says he thinks he sees an iceberg up front. (INAUDIBLE).
Speaking of frightening things popping up out of nowhere, Michael Jackson at an awards show in London tonight. Oh, scary.
That‘s ahead. This is COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: On this date in 1738, the famous German-English planetary astronomer Sir William Herschel was born. He discovered Uranus.
Let‘s play Oddball.
OK, OK, he called the place Georgium Sedis (ph), after the British king. That‘s almost worse.
We begin in the waters off of southern New Zealand with another episode of, Global warming may end life as we know it, but it sure makes for some wicked cool video to watch as we die. There are icebergs dead ahead and all around. Scientists say they‘ve broken off the Antarctic shelf and have floated northward into shipping lanes, so many of them (ph) all the boats in the area are on alert. Hah, what‘s the worst that could happen? Tell the band to keep playing.
And it‘s official, we now live on the Kentucky Fried Chicken Planet Earth. Must have been out on the town (ph) the day that the KFC company bought the naming rights, but they‘ve gone ahead and put up the big sign, Colonel Sanders, that you can actually see from outer space. The 87,000-square-foot logo was constructed in the Nevada desert near Area 51, convenient for any visiting aliens with a hankering for a family-sized bucket.
Although, if you can hold off a little while, I think Venus has a Hardy‘s. KFC says workers laid 64,000 colored tiles in the desert over six days to construct the logo. A welcome addition to the IBM stellar sphere, the Microsoft galaxy, and Planet Starbuck‘s, which was previously known as Uranus.
Speaking of that, tonight, a huge leak from Fox News, a memo that suggests that long before they report, they decide. They decide what news is going to happen.
And looking for the truth out of O.J. Simpson. He‘s talking about how he would have murdered his wife and her acquaintance, but it sounds grimly and grisly like a confession.
But first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.
Theme warning. Three nonhuman newsmaker stories tonight.
Number three is Monstro the lobster, caught a month ago in the waters off New Bedford, Massachusetts, the restaurant to which he was sold held a raffle with the winner to determine if the 50-year-old, 15-pound lobster could be cooked or eaten, or returned to the wild. Claire Lupton (ph) of Whitefield, New Hampshire, won the raffle and declared, “I don‘t eat lobster.” Monstro is back in the Atlantic, bloody but unbowed.
Number two, Goran Peric (ph), director of tourism for Ijojina (ph) in Bosnia, announcing plans for the greatest tourist trap in all the Balkans. His city‘s new giant monument to its favorite produce, a statue of some cabbage.
Number one is Prasertsak Buntrakoon Pontawee. Of course he is. Panda Project manager for the city of Chang Mai (ph) in Thailand, he‘s found a money-making sideline to the panda exhibit in a local zoo, says he‘s going to make about $8,200 this year selling fans, greeting cards, keychains, bookmarks, and writing paper, all of it made from panda dung.
Ooh, I like your stationery with the little panda face on it. I‘m sorry, that‘s not a panda face.
OLBERMANN: One of the most ingenious aspects of the false charge of an intentional liberal bias in the news media is the unstated inference if there is a liberal bias there by necessity cannot be an intentional conservative bias.
Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, tonight a new piece of hard evidence that there indeed a conservative bias in at least one quarter of the media, a Rosetta Stone of jaundiced journalism, or if you prefer after Faux News spore and still fresh.
It‘s apparently a printout of that channels daily editorial memo, marching orders e-mailed to key staffers on how and where to slant the news. And how to adjust the facts to match the political conclusions and not the other way around. Dated November 9th, the morning after Democrats secured control of both houses, obtained by the huffingtonpost.com, it states quote, “The elections and Rumsfeld‘s resignations were a major event but not the end of the world. The war on terror goes on without interruption.”
Then it brings out the old, a vote for Democrats is a vote for terrorists chestnut. Quote, “Let‘s be on the lookout for any statements from the Iraqi insurgents who must be thrilled at the prospect of a Dem-controlled Congress.”
Then there‘s another dig at the new majority. Quote, “The question of the day and indeed for the rest of Bush‘s term is what‘s the Dem plan for Iraq? This could be a very short live shot for Jim Angle, but he‘ll try.”
And finally a reiteration for the network to continue to try the scare the crap out of the American people. Quote, “We‘ll continue to work the Hamas threat to the U.S. that came hours after the election results. Just because Dems won, the war on terror isn‘t over.”
The “Columbia Journalism Review” pointed out that hours after that memo was issued Fox News live desk host Martha McCallum reported from New York that there were, quote, “Some reports of cheering in the streets on behalf of the supporters of the insurgency in Iraq that they‘re very pleased with the way things are going here and also with the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld.”
Now, that‘s a coincidence. Let‘s explore the journalistic slight of hand. We‘re joined now documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who in his movie “Outfoxed” examined other similar memos and other stuff put out by that network. Thank you for you time tonight, sir.
ROBERT GREENWALD, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: Pleasure to be with you.
OLBERMANN: This basically is it, right? To see a memo from Fox‘s senior editorial vice president in black and white the day after the election last week prophesying the day‘s news and then making the news fit the prophecy. It is a smoking gun. Is it not?
GREENWALD: There‘s no question about it. And it‘s the worst kind of obscenity. I really think they‘ve crossed a new line here. In the year I spent studying them, in the memos we got from “Outfoxed” we compiled them. But to do it immediately after the election and to make these kinds of accusations and then to force the facts to fit what they want it to fit, really to me has brought them to a new line. If they were journalists they would be ashamed. But they‘re not.
And the Huffington Post and your show are to be commended for not allowing them to continue to get away with this. Now remember, Dan Rather was fired for not fact checking. I want Rupert Murdoch to fire whoever put out this memo now and to call for an investigation now of Fox News if they had anything to do with being a news organization.
OLBERMANN: Now his name is John Moody and we‘ll get a little bit on his background in a moment. But tell me about your experience with these memos. Theire frequency, their importance, they‘ve been shown before but here‘s one in the flesh that seems to have resonated pretty loudly. What do that mean? Do you have any idea how they would get out?
GREENWALD: Well, they would get out because there are good, solid patriotic citizens at Fox News, and this is just the beginning, there is going to be a lot more coming to the Huffington Post who think that it‘s a travesty. Who think that heads should roll because of this.
Now what the memos do, and I‘m sure you don‘t have this on your show, they tell the correspondents what to say and how to say it. Let‘s make no mistake about it, this is scripted entertainment. You give an actor lines. You tell them what they‘re supposed to say, you tell them how to say it. That is actors, that is puppets, it has zero to do with news. And what we found in “Outfoxed” was these would come several times a week.
Frankly, I thought that they stopped after our film, but I guess they‘re back in full fledged shining armor again.
OLBERMANN: The devil‘s advocate question. I‘ll read that fourth paragraph again and just sort of - I‘ll take it out of the context and ask you this. “The question of that day and indeed for the rest of Bush‘s term is what‘s the Dem plan for Iraq?”
On just that, what‘s wrong with that? Could there be a memo, if not a daily memo but a memo somewhere at any other network that reads, “The question of the day and indeed for the rest of Bush‘s term is what‘s Bush‘s plan for Iraq?”
GREENWALD: Well, there should be a memo saying what are the plans for Iraq? And I defy anybody to show me one hard question that Fox has ever asked about stay the course. Stay the course when there‘s no course to be staying, just this is kind of insane policy that has no place to go. And there‘s never been any questioning or probing about that.
But again, the assumption of what we all know is that they‘re not a news organization. They carry out the propaganda. They carry out what the administration tells them to say. And this is just further evidence of it. The tragedy is that some people still think they‘re really getting real news.
And in a democracy, which we love and cherish, news a critical part of it and the notion that they parade behind the banner of news, really does all of us a tremendous disservice.
OLBERMANN: Lastly, there are two separate references to the war on terror
continuing no matter what happened in the election. There‘s a third
reference to the Hamas threat to the U.S. Do you think the document
originates in the Fox offices? Or is it just too paranoid to think this might be a rewrite of White House press office or Republican National Committee daily talking points?
GREENWALD: Well, the sad thing is it almost doesn‘t matter because they are so in sync with each other that you‘ll never see a disparity.
So whether it comes from the White House or whether it comes from Fox News or they mutually feed each other, the notion of scaring and terrorizing us, when we did the “Outfoxed” movie, I literally had six hours worth of scare the hell out of them stuff that we couldn‘t put in the full film. And now you‘re going to see it more and more again.
Look, it‘s a terrible time for conservatives. The election‘s a tragedy. Fox News is losing viewers. It‘s losing advertisers. They‘re in free fall, so what do they do? They go to their same old, same old which is try to scare us. I don‘t think it‘s going to work and I think that we can call them on it.
OLBERMANN: And someone in that organization is calling them on it too and that perhaps is the good news contained within. Robert Greenwald, maker of the documentary film, “Outfoxed.” Great thanks for joining us here.
GREENWALD: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: By the way about the author of the memo, he‘s John Moody, Fox News Channel senior vice president of news/editorial. He‘s not nearly as well known as owner Rupert Murdoch nor majordomo Roger Ailes but on a day-to-day space he may be more influential than either.
A sidebar to this. He proves the theory that it might be nature or it might be nurture, but ultimately it‘s all about the individual. Moody got his news training, the beginning of it, at Cornell University, not long before I got mine at the same place. He and I each overlapped for two years at Cornell with another guy named Bill Maher several years before Ann Coulter graduated from the university preceding another Cornellian, Izzy Povich (ph) who is the executive producer of this newscast.
And by the way, we did call Fox News vice president of communications Arana Bergante (ph) for a comment, but received none. We wish her well.
Michael Jackson starts his professional come back on the world‘s biggest musical awards show. It‘s nice to be talking about somebody reputable after talking about Fox all that time. We‘ll take you to the festivities in London.
And it‘s been touted at the equalizer to the prenup in the Britney Spears/Kevin Federline divorce. But is there really a Spears Federline sex tape. That‘s ahead. But here are COUNTDOWN‘S top three sound bites of this day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, TALK SHOW HOST: Senator Edwards, if you had been fortune to be elected vice president in 2004, who would you have accidentally shot in the face?
JOHN EDWARDS, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Dick Cheney.
JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: Wal-Mart also coming out with their own wine. A two dollar wine from Wal-Mart. And McDonald‘s is bringing back the McRib sandwich. Wal-Mart wine, the McRib sandwich, it looks like Kevin Federline is going to have a nice Thanksgiving after all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . lady and her customers, the pooch is a fixture, a tradition. But the State Department of Professional Regulation said rules are rules and the rule is no dogs because of their hair.
SATEY HIGGINBOTHAM, HAS DOG IN BARBERSHOP Nobody on that board could give me a reason why dogs shouldn‘t be in the barbershop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They backed down. They said she could keep Snoopy in a back room at the shop.
HIGGINBOTHAM: They love that dog. The dog loves them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: This appears to be the month for resurrections. First the Democratic Party resuscitates itself in Congress. Then Trent Lott makes a triumphant return to Republican leadership. There is even O.J. Simpson later in the hour with him rising up like some hellish Loch Ness Monster.
But in our number two story on the COUNTDOWN, whatever your political bent, we can probably all agree this is the most terrifying comeback of them all. Michael Jackson. As correspondent Nina Nannar of our British affiliate ITN reports, he reappeared at the World Music Awards tonight in London.
NINA NANNAR, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The former King of Pop is on the comeback trail. And judging from this reaction tonight, Michael Jackson‘s fans are more than ready.
The 48 year old singer couldn‘t have chosen a bigger stage for his appearance here. The World Music Awards have an estimated TV audience of 1 billion and Jackson was here to accept a special award for his achievements.
But to reports he was to perform.
MICHAEL JACKSON, SINGER: I‘m not performing.
NANNAR: It‘s been 25 years since Jackson recorded “Thriller,” the biggest selling album of all time. It is to mark that anniversary and perhaps to remind us that behind all the damaging headlines of recent years he was once the biggest music star in the world that he‘s making a number of public appearances in the U.K.
JACKSON: This means the world to me. It really does. Thank you so, so much.
NANNAR: Today he picked up a number of certificates from the office of Guinness World Records. A year after Jackson was acquitted of child abuse charges in the U.S., he is well and truly out of hiding and making a return. Tonight he had the backing of other performers.
ENYA, MUSICIAN : He‘s such a fantastic musician. I love his music and I think .
LEMAR, MUSICIAN: Personal life aside, I think as an artist and as a performer he stands alone.
NANNAR (on camera): Tonight, Michael Jackson was given a special award for selling more than 100 million albums. Most of those sales are the reflection of work he did in his heyday, and that was in the ‘80s.
(voice-over): As we know, a lot has happened since then. Nina Nannar, ITV News.
OLBERMANN: And just take a second with me an enjoy repeating the e correspondent‘s name. Nina Nannar. OK. One more time. Nina Nannar!
An easy segue then into our nightly roundup of celebrity and tabloid news and the supposed alleged how can they be that dumb sex tape of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline.
Msnbc.com‘s Jeanette Walls (ph) reporting that grainy footage has recently been circulating on the Internets. It appears to be a sex act but in fact it probably features somebody other than Ms. Spears.
The guy who has brokered other deals involving such tapes, David Hahn Scmitt (ph) saying, quote, “Two days after Britney filed for divorce, I was contacted by an individual who indicated he had a digital video of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline having sex.”
Schmitt said the person sounded credible. No word one whether the caller also identified himself as a white male wannabe hip-hop artist with a tiny fanbase.
And supermodel and long distance cell phone tossing record holder Naomi Campbell has almost reached a plea bargain in her assault case. The New York prosecutor saying they are still working on a possible disposition. Ms. Campbell faces various charges and a civil case for allegedly hurling a cell phone at her housekeeper‘s head all over a missing pair of jeans.
The judge sets a new hearing for January 16th. Her attorney says she‘s a career, an industry. Well, she‘s certainly been keeping productions up in the cell phone industry.
From the celebrity legal files of yesteryear. The O.J. Simpson saga comes back in the most bizarre of ways. He is writing and talking about how he would have killed Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman. That is next but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for worst person in the world.
Bronze to an unnamed would be kidnapper in South Wichita, Kansas. A 23-year-old man tried to shoot his teenage victim, missed then jammed the gun back in the waistband of his pants the way all the cool gangstas do. That‘s when the gun discharged and struck him in the left testicle. He doubled over in pain as men are wont to do in such circumstances whereupon the gun went off again. This time the bullet hit him in the left calf.
Our runner up, Sharon Thurman (ph), a 20 year veteran teacher at Gibbs High School in Largo, Florida. She‘s been suspended 25 days without pay. She tried to fix the school homecoming queen vote so her niece would win. Officials noticed the scandal when it turned out there were more votes than students.
But our winner, conservative commentator Glen Beck interviewing congressman-elect Keith Ellison of Minnesota who will become the first man of the Muslim faith to serve in the House. Beck actually said this to Ellison, quote, “No offense and I know Muslims and I like Muslims, but that being said, you are a Democrat, you are saying let‘s cut and run and I have to tell you what I feel like saying to you is sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.”
Glen, you divisive fear monger, how about you prove to us that you‘re not working with our enemies? Glen Beck, today‘s “Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: The O.J. Simpson headlines of exactly 11 years ago today, November 15th, 1995, consisted of a judge ruling that whatever Simpson said in a deposition would become part of the public record and it would be videotaped.
And in our number one story in the COUNTDOWN, save for the part about the judge, the O.J. Simpson headlines of this November 15th are virtually identical. Nicole Brown Simpson cannot speak about her murder, Ron Goldman cannot speak about his murder, so why should O.J. Simpson be allowed to speak about it for cash in a book and on television and in a falsely hypothetical way so transparent that even the publisher and interview says it sounds like a confession.
Our correspondent is George Lewis.
GOERGE LEWIS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twelve years ago the nation was transfixed by O.J. Simpson.
O.J. SIMPSON, ACQUITTED MURDERER: I did not, could not and would not have committed this crime.
LEWIS: His murder trial became a TV soap opera with plenty of surprise twists.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not guilty of the crime of murder.
LEWIS: After the criminal jury set him free, a civil jury found him responsible for the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman and ordered Simpson so pay $33 million to their families. Throughout it all he maintained his innocence.
(on camera): Now Simpson is stirring things up once again with a book and TV special provocatively titled “If I Did It, Here is How It Happened.” He says its fiction but his publisher Judith Regan tells the Associate Press, “I consider it a confession.”
(voice-over): This as the promotional campaign goes into high gear
SIMPSON: I don‘t think any two people could be murdered without everybody been covered in blood.
ANNOUNCER: “O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here‘s How it Happened.”
SIMPSON: I can‘t take no more of this
ANNOUNCER: Fox TV picked up the Simpson special after NBC turned it down. The sister of murder victim Nicole Brown Simpson, Denise Brown released a statement saying, “It‘s unfortunate that Simpson has decided to awaken a nightmare. We regret that Nicole‘s children, Sidney and Justin, will be exposed to Simpson‘s inexplicable behavior.”
LEWIS: The family of the other murder victim, Ron Goldman let their lawyer
do the talking
JONATHAN POLAK, GOLDMAN FAMILY ATTORNEY: O.J. Simpson is a killer and killers are not supposed to be glorified by society.
LEWIS: The Goldmans say they‘ll do everything they can to prevent Simpson from making money from the book or the TV special. George Lewis, NBC News, Los Angeles.
OLBERMANN: I‘m joined now by the managing editor of the entertainment news Web site tmz.com, Harvey Levin. Thanks for your time, Harvey.
HARVEY LEVIN, TMZ.COM: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Why do this? Does he really need to be in the limelight that badly? Does he need the money? What would make him do this be willing to have his own children hear this?
LEVIN: Well, I mean, Keith, you know I love you, but I‘m stunned that you would ask me that.
OLBERMANN: It‘s kind of rhetorical.
LEVIN: You know what. I know. Here‘s the deal. This is a guy who almost decapitated his ex-wife the mother of his kids and was willing to let those kids come downstairs and see their mother‘s body on the pavement.
So there is nothing much that could be worse than that. The only thing is I personally didn‘t think I could detest him more than I already did and he‘s actually raised the bar for me.
OLBERMANN: Where the money go, could the Brown and Goldman families see any of this, will they want any of it?
LEVIN: They could and they should and they should and they should go after him. But the bottom line here he is just thumbing his nose. He obviously doesn‘t care about anybody but himself. He professed to love Nicole Brown Simpson so now he‘s willing to make a game show out of it. Here‘s how I would have killed her. He is a despicable piece of crap.
OLBERMANN: Obviously, Harvey, even if he confessed tomorrow legitimately and I don‘t know with some sense of conscience he could not be tried again but could he be sued again under any circumstances and could something like this be fodder for such sort of secondary suit?
LEVIN: No. I mean, look, he‘s already lost the wrongful death lawsuit, $33.5 million has gone unpaid for a decade. So the bottom line is he has a pension, Keith, and the pension can‘t be touched. He‘s been making money under the table ever since he got acquitted and he‘ll continue to do it both under the table and now apparently even above board.
I think what is amazing is that Judith Regan who clearly has no conscience
and Fox which just stuns me is willing to pay along
OLBERMANN: Well, NBC declined this. Regan Books is Harper Collins which is also Newscorp via the same combination with Fox so I think you know what the answer is to that rhetorical question on your part is.
But is there a chance in here in terms of actually clarifying the story? Could there be a detail in his hypothetical explanation, I use the quotes around “hypothetical,” some detail that only the murderer would know, is there some definitive answer perhaps in this that he doesn‘t know he‘s giving out?
LEVIN: I mean the blood went from the bodies to his bathroom. I mean, he‘s the killer. And no matter what, you know, Judge Marilyn Milian in “The People‘s Court” has a phrase, “I wouldn‘t believe you if your tongue came notarized” and that‘s pretty much the way I feel about him.
I mean, whatever he says is irrelevant. The guy is already killer, so big
deal, he‘s a liar, so it‘s almost irrelevant what he says. He is a killer,
he has no conscience. He will hurt his children. He will hurt anyone
around him for his own self-aggrandizement and that‘s O.J. Simpson
OLBERMANN: Is there a chance that he‘s just nuts at this point?
LEVIN: The weird thing is, Keith, I think he‘s been living in this kind of
altered state for a long, long time. And I‘m sure he has demons in his
head and I think the thing that probably drives him crazier than he already
is the notion of obscurity. And this is his attempt to avoid that
OLBERMANN: Harvey Levin of tmz.com, I‘m sorry it was about this subject
but as always, old friend, great thanks for your time
LEVIN: See you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That is COUNTDOWN, for this, the 1,292nd day since the declaration of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. I‘m Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck. Our MSNBC coverage continues now with SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY. Joe, good evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. 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 Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.