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'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 28

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: John Dean, Richard Wolffe, Michael Musto

KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST:  Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

The Bush administration refuses to comply with the congressional subpoenas over the documents on the firings of the U.S. attorneys, claiming executive privilege.  The speaker of the House contemplates a contempt resolution.  Two branches of government could wind up in court in a constitutional clash.  And the only correct description would be White House in Crisis.  Oh, here we go.

White House in remorse.  Senior adviser Dan Bartlett shares the greatest regret of his tenure, the one that set the wrong tone, the one that was supposed to be a benign message, the on he wishes he had a do-over on, Ission-may Complished-Ay.

Perverting journalism not just for politics but for profit.  Part one of our study of Rupert Murdoch: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying to Stay Ethical.  Print line items about people who work for another company to punish the company for trying to buy “The Wall Street Journal” before you could.  Part one, Murdoch‘s London Years, a tale so sordid, it moved a dying TV playwright to actually say that if he didn‘t have better things to do with his last three months on earth...




OLBERMANN:  Breaking Paris Hilton news, she is really boring.


PARIS HILTON:  There was only, like, a little...


HILTON:  Yes, kind of a hole they would put through.


OLBERMANN:  If only what she was talking about there were really as interesting as that sound.

And we‘ll critique another snoozo guest, me.


DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST:  What it is about you, you seem to burn bridges wherever you leave.

OLBERMANN:  I don‘t burn bridges, I burn rivers.



OLBERMANN:  All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.


KING:  Were you strip-searched?


OLBERMANN:  Good evening from New York.

Hope floats, but anybody who still thought the White House might comply with subpoenas from the House—and evidently the Senate too—can apparently go jump in the lake.

Our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN, the deadline for turning over to Congress documents about the U.S. attorney scandal from former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor coming and going today, next up, as the White House ignores itself towards a constitutional crisis, forgetting about Senate subpoenas issued yesterday for documents related to the warrantless domestic spying program, on the House front, about the attorneys, scandal—President Bush and his legal team milking the executive privilege argument for all it‘s worth, at least in this instance, White House counsel Fred Fielding also making clear that Ms. Miers and Ms. Taylor would not be testifying to Congress next month, in response Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill wasting no time in asserting that contempt citations for the White House could be in order, not to mention a battle in federal court over separation of powers, Senator Chuck Schumer saying he has seen this kind of behavior before.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  I think that the—this goes to the level of what happened with Richard Nixon in his last years in the White House.  There is just stonewall, stonewall, stonewall.  The administration is trying to hide the facts.  When the administration is unwilling to put forward its facts, you wonder what they have to hide.


OLBERMANN:  For more on the subpoena showdown, let‘s turn now to our correspondent in Washington, David Shuster.

David, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  In asserting executive privilege today, did the White House reveal kind of inadvertently that it was more intimately involved in the firings of those U.S. attorneys than had been previously acknowledged?  Specifically, the solicitor general, who is in the Justice Department, the third man there, how did he become involved in this dispute, and on the White House side?

SHUSTER:  Well, Keith, technically, it‘s the solicitor general who argues on behalf of the federal government at the Supreme Court, and it will be the solicitor general‘s responsibility to essentially argue the executive privilege claim when this goes to court.  So in that letter that White House Counsel Fred Fielding said to Congress today, explaining the—notifying Congress about the executive privilege claim, there was a legal memo that the solicitor general himself attached, explaining the legal reasons for it.

And the (INAUDIBLE), and the solicitor general‘s name is Paul Clement.  He does indicate that the White House was far more involved than previously acknowledged, especially when you consider that President Bush previously stated that the Justice Department made the prosecution firings and the White House then accepted those recommendations.

But Clement, while explaining the executive privilege argument today, he talks about the White House communications about the firings that Congress wants to see, and Clement says, quote, “Among other things, these communications discuss the wisdom of such a proposal, specific U.S.  attorneys that could be removed, potential replacement candidates, and possible responses to congressional and media inquiries about the dismissal.”

So again, the level of involvement is far deeper than the White House has previously acknowledged.

The other intriguing issue about Paul Clement is that technically, because of what he does at the Justice Department, he‘s supposed to be overseeing the internal Justice Department investigation into the firings.  So some analysts are already saying that his involvement in the claim of executive privilege is a clear conflict of interest.

Finally, Keith, it is a bit unusual to claim a privilege over a conversation when you are willing to allow officials like Harriet Miers or Sara Taylor or even Karl Rove to talk to Congress about their conversations, just not under oath or transcribed.  In other words, the White House doesn‘t mind officials sharing the information, it just wants to limit the potential for one of these officials to be charged with perjury if Congress feels that these officials were lying.

And that is what is underscoring the anger by Congress.  They feel that there‘s not a rational basis for executive privilege, that instead the White House is simply using this to try and hide the truth.

OLBERMANN:  We should all have such privilege.  On a different executive privilege front, David, the Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel‘s promise to try to defund the vice president‘s office if it doesn‘t comply with the executive order regarding safeguarding of classified documents, where does that stand?

SHUSTER:  Well, the vice president‘s office is still not complying.  So today, the House of Representatives had a vote on Emanuel‘s proposal to take away about $5 million from the Treasury Department budget that would allow for funding the vice president‘s office, of his residence, his office transportation and entertainment.

The measure failed, but it was a lot closer than many lawmakers had thought it would be, 217 to 209 against the Emanuel amendment.  Republicans warned Democrats that the effort to cut funding could come back to haunt them the next time a Democrat occupies the vice president‘s office.  And that was apparently enough to sway a few Democrats and keep the vice president‘s funding intact.

However, even some Republicans who helped beat back Emanuel‘s proposal today said they were dumbfounded by the vice president‘s handling of this controversy.  The vice president has asserted he doesn‘t need to comply with the agency that oversees classified document handling because the vice president is technically not part of the executive branch.  Several Republicans said today the argument was ridiculous, and even more so because the vice president is holding himself above the president in this matter, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Two hundred and nine votes to cut off funding the vice president.

MSNBC‘s David Shuster in Washington for us again tonight.  Great thanks, David.

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  Ignoring subpoenas from the House, getting subpoenas from the Senate, the former chief of staff to the vice president getting his federal inmate number today, the House considering defunding the vice president‘s office and nearly doing so, a vice president who insists he is neither animal, mineral, nor vegetable, the attorney general under almost perpetual fire, the administration still pushing the wrong war in the wrong place and not even doing it very well, while it continues to position itself as the greatest threat to the Constitution since maybe the Civil War or the British in 1812.

There is only one phrase to describe this.  It will scrape some old wounds on this side of your TV, and if you were on that side of it, watching this channel in 1998, it may scrape some old wounds for you too.  But we got to call them as we see them, so let‘s get it over with and christen this era for what it truly is.


ANNOUNCER:   This is an MSNBC special, White House in Crisis.  Here is Keith Olbermann.


OLBERMANN:  For more now on the legal scandals that have the Bush White House in crisis, we‘re fortunate enough to be joined again by Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, now, of course, an author of “Worse Than Watergate” and “Conservatives Without Conscience,” as well as a columnist for

John, as always, great thanks for your time tonight.


OLBERMANN:  Does the solicitor general, from the Justice Department, have any business advising the White House on the legal basis for an executive privilege claim in the first place?  That would seem to be, I don‘t know, the White House counsel‘s job?

DEAN:  Well, it‘s not unusual for a White House counsel to seek the advice of the Department of Justice.  In this instance, the solicitor general is really the only man standing, with the attorney general recusing himself, the deputy attorney general, who‘s involved in this whole matter as well, has both recused himself and resigned.

So there‘s only one person to offer the opinion, and that‘s the person who did in the next line of succession, and the solicitor general.

OLBERMANN:  But the Justice Department, which is supposed to enforce that subpoena, a solicitor general, even under those circumstances, who is supposed to lead an investigation, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, who, were he independent, one can infer, would have been the 10th federal prosecutor to be fired, does it not seem that the entire deck of government has been successfully stacked, in this case, at least, in favor of the White House?

DEAN:  Well, I think that‘s a fairly accurate description of it.  We‘ve been here before.  We have a basically flawed law when you have this situation, because the Congress cannot necessarily insist that the Department of Justice go forward and prosecute a contempt citation that they send down to the Department of Justice or to the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia.  It‘s a flawed law, and it needs correction.  And the only way it can be solved is really through political pressure.

OLBERMANN:  If it‘s up to Justice to enforce those subpoenas, is there recourse for Congress if the Justice Department fails to act, short of changing the laws?  What could lawmakers do next, if anything?

DEAN:  I think the only thing—option really available for Congress is to insist upon calling for a special counsel.  Now, only the attorney general or the next in succession, in this instance the solicitor general, could appoint that special counsel, and he‘s not very likely to do that either.

So as I say, it really comes down to pretty much a fight, political fight, where the Congress has got to educate the American public about what this White House is doing, why they‘re doing it, and how they‘re doing it, because I think the public would find it intolerable.

OLBERMANN:  Solicitor generals and special prosecutors.  They don‘t—in our history, they don‘t tend to appoint them, they tend to dismiss them, as I recall from a Mr. Bork and a Mr. Cox.

But give me the larger picture here, John.  If this does not now qualify as a White House not necessarily in , you know, broad, easily discerned scandal, but a White House in crisis, what would?  I mean, if in the last administration the term came to be used in reference to an extramarital affair, surely some sort of watershed has been reached tonight with this White House, has it not?

DEAN:  Well, I think both Senators Leahy and Schumer have accurately called it a sort of a Nixonian stonewalling.  I can tell you from personal experience, Keith, that you only go into this stance and this crouch, if you will, and into the bunker when you got something worth hiding.

So they clearly have some problems down there, and the Congress is after it.  They‘re on it.  They‘re in deep trouble over what they‘ve done to the Department of Justice, making it a political extension of the White House.  They‘ve tainted some prosecutions.  And I don‘t think we‘ve heard the end of this, and it‘s going to be an ongoing story.

OLBERMANN:  And, and the, the, the polls have shifted to some degree.  In, in light of everything we learned about, about Dick Cheney this week, the conservative constitutional scholar Bruce Fein, who was on this named program nine years ago, former associate deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration, is now arguing that Vice President Cheney ought to be impeached.  Does he have a compelling case, if things progress that far?

DEAN:  I think he does.  I think he has a very strong case.  Whether the Congress is likely to do it or not is another question.  But when you compare the trumped-up charges that were designed to attack Bill Clinton, as opposed to the legitimate complaints that now exist against this administration, and particularly the vice president, and who is acting way beyond the bounds of accountability, there is good reason to start an investigation, at least to examine it.

I would hope that the speaker would reconsider her position on impeachment and might look first at Dick Cheney.

OLBERMANN:  John Dean, former legal counsel to President Nixon, now veteran of MSNBC‘s White House in Crisis and the new Son of White House in Crisis.  This is where we came in.  Great thanks for your time, as always, John.

DEAN:  Thank you, Keith.

OLBERMANN:  We gave its count an amount each night.  Tonight, for the first time, somebody at the White House acknowledges just how bad an idea that banner really was.

And can we actually measure just how bad Rupert Murdoch really is?  When a dying man publicly contemplated his assassination, and not for political effect, the answer has to be extraordinarily bad.

You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.


OLBERMANN:  In Baghdad, exactly four years ago today, under strict security, and with the number of roadside bombs taking an ominous spike, the U.S. officially handed Iraq back to the Iraqis, wishing them well.

In our fourth story on the COUNTDOWN, just weeks before that, an even greater irony, a milestone we note every night here, prompting today an unexpected, even remarkable, mea culpa.  The president‘s most trusted aide, his former communications adviser, Dan Bartlett, now telling “GQ” magazine that the biggest White House failure in years of polishing the president‘s image was his infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard the U.S.S.  “Abraham Lincoln” just off San Diego, May 1, 2003, the words on the banner behind him never uttered, but the hubris of victory unmistakable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, May 1, 2003)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  My fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended.  In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.


OLBERMANN:  Mr. Bartlett calling the PR blunder a benign incident that set the wrong tone, the word “benign” taking on the force of a profanity when you consider that fewer than 150 American troops had been killed when those words were uttered, today‘s toll standing at 3,568.  And a bipartisan House Armed Services report says more than $19 billion spent on training Iraqis to replace the Americans has had mixed results, with some of the newly trained Iraqis adding instead to the sectarian violence, and late today, erstwhile critic of the surge, General Douglas Lute, confirmed by the Senate as the president‘s new war czar, his job now to give the president an honest assessment of how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are going.

MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe joins us now to consider image versus reality in the Bush White House.

Richard, good evening.


OLBERMANN:  Even in the middle of this mea culpa, somebody‘s caught passing the buck, Mr. Bartlett says they did want that banner up behind the president, the former defense secretary, Mr. Rumsfeld‘s explanation that we heard awhile back that they removed “mission accomplished” from the speech but couldn‘t get the banner down is bunk.  Is anybody who‘s been in this administration ever been on the same page with anybody else?

WOLFFE:  Well, it‘s a whole lot better than the era when they blamed a bunch of frisky sailors, which is what Scott McClellan initially did.

Look, it‘s always entertaining seeing people turn on each other, and Dan Bartlett saying that Don Rumsfeld was making stuff up.  But the problem here was not about messaging, it wasn‘t about the banner, it was the whole mindset, call it the pre-2004 mindset, that they could have a decapitation strike, take out Saddam Hussein, and everything was going to be great.

Effectively, the banner they were really hanging out was, “Under New Management.”  And Iraq isn‘t a PR problem, it‘s a policy problem.  They didn‘t plan for the aftermath.  They didn‘t understand Iraq.  And no amount of good messaging can change that.

OLBERMANN:  It wasn‘t just “Mission Accomplished” in Mr. Bartlett‘s comments to “GQ,” about the idea of the president in a bubble.  He denies that the president is insulated from reality, says the president‘s closest advisers are paid to make sure he does not walk blindly into a decision.  Does that itself seem at odds with the record of this administration?

WOLFFE:  Well, yes, there‘s only decision that really matters, and they certainly walked blindly in it.  And, look, I remember interviewing senior administration officials, senior White House officials, who said, you know, We planned extensively for the aftermath of war.  We planned for things like famine and mass population movements.  We just didn‘t plan for what really happened.

There was a huge amount of blame that‘s going on now.  Are they still blind?  Is the president out of touch with reality?  No, I don‘t think that‘s the case.  He knows that he‘s in a deep hole in Iraq.  He knows how bad it is.  The problem is, he doesn‘t know how to get out.

OLBERMANN:  Bartlett also said he has an informal group of advisers in the communications field who are called in to give advice.  We don‘t know if Roger Ailes is one of them.  We know he‘s given advice.  One important piece of advice from them, according to Dan Bartlett, was, Give the people the bad news, not just the good news about the war.  Now, my reaction to that is, do you mean this war?  Do you mean the Crimean War?  Do you mean the Carthaginian War?  Your reaction to this is what?

WOLFFE:  I wish I could get one of those high-paying jobs where you give people some great advice.  Look, I think that public opinion actually is pretty well up to speed on the bad news out of Iraq.  And the president has always been caught in being this sort of rah-rah guy about Iraq.  The problem here, again, is policy.  What‘s the exit strategy?  Not what‘s the communication advice.

OLBERMANN:  Bartlett was asked about giving advice to people like the vice president, when he said the insurgency was in its last throes, and he said, this is a quote, “It‘s a big challenge handling presidential personnel, let‘s put it that way.”  How do you think the White House is handling the latest troubles with the presidential personnel named Cheney, comma, Richard?

WOLFFE:  With these asbestos gloves that they carry.  I‘ve never understood the fear in the White House about dealing with the vice president.  It‘s not like he screams at people.  He just goes into this deep silent mode and seems to scare them by brooding.  And look, he goes right the way off at the top.  When the president had to tell him, Listen, you‘ve got to go out and tell people you‘ve shot your friend, go out and talk to the press, he bottled (ph) out, he didn‘t do it.

And again, there‘s a fear there that I don‘t see what it‘s grounded in.  I mean, really, the chief of staff should be delivering these kinds of tough messages.  Maybe he is, and we don‘t know about it.  But I haven‘t found any evidence of it so far.

OLBERMANN:  Well, it could be fear of a vice president with a gun and bad aim.  But let‘s close out here with this study from the House Armed Services Subcommittee, four years, $19 billion just spent training Iraqi police, military, with at best mixed results, no sign that 356,000 Iraqis are nearly ready to take over for American forces.  How does that reverberate now?  What does that mean, and what, what can be done about it?

WOLFFE:  Well, it‘s a great question for Bernie Kerik, who actually started out training that police force, or his mentor, Rudy Giuliani.  And failing that, you could maybe ask the president, Whatever happened to standing up and standing down?  I mean, everybody knows the Iraqi police are basically sitting down.  And it‘s time for a change.

OLBERMANN:  Richard Wolffe of “Newsweek” and, we‘re fortunate enough to say, also of MSNBC.  Great thanks, Richard.

WOLFFE:  Any time.

OLBERMANN:  If the mission was to put about 3 million to sleep, Paris Hilton can put up her own big “Mission Accomplished” banner.

And the latest in the desperate effort to make watching golf interesting.

Next on COUNTDOWN, your golf-stripper newscast of record.


OLBERMANN:  If you‘ve ever wondered why golf tournaments are often suddenly suspended the moment clouds gather and rain falls, your answer was provided 32 years ago today at the Butler National Golf Club in Oak Brook, Illinois.  They did not stop the Western Open fast enough, and golfer Lee Trevino was struck by lightning on the 13th hole.  It fused some of the vertebrae in his spine.  And nobody had even shouted “Fore!”

Let‘s play Oddball.

Speaking of golf, we begin in Stroudsburg, P.A., and the lush greens and friendly fairways of the Cherry Valley Golf Club.  We‘ll take particular note of the hole on 18, where there‘s a dogleg right, and a stripper hazard on the left.  Fore!  This is home video shot by annoyed neighbors, what appears to be exotic dancers performing lap dances on area golfers.  They‘ve turned the 18th hole into the Champagne Room.

The women are reported to be from an area gentlemen‘s club.  They were hired for a private party on the golf course.  Police shut the party down and are attempting to figure out if any laws were broken.  And remember course etiquette, golfers.  Replace your divots.

Finally, to Denver, Colorado, and the COUNTDOWN Chase of the Week, and nobody was seriously hurt here.  It started with just a single officer running down a suspected bank robber and car thief, ducking and weaving through traffic.  He manages to knock the guy down.  But when he turns around, there‘s an oopsie.  Yes, it‘s actually worse than it looks.  The guy in the car was an undercover cop.  He missed the whole point of a foot chase, mowing down not just the perp but his fellow officer as well.  Don‘t worry, as we said, both of them were fine.  And now this fleet-footed felon gets to cool his heels in the Big House.

There is no one person more responsible, said the dying British playwright of Rupert Murdoch, for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press.  Part one tonight of our investigation of the man who would pollute and break any code to make an extra $1.49.

And Dan Olbermann was on David Letterman‘s show last night. 


But first, here are COUNTDOWN‘s top three newsmakers of this day.

Number three, Jusuf Kalla, the vice president of Indonesia, reiterating his opposition to the legalization of marijuana, but adding, It‘s OK in cooking.  All right to use it as a food seasoning, he said, but it should not be fully legalized.  Dude was so high when he said that.

Number two, the first of a group of really dumb criminals tonight, Michael Demoss, super genius.  Allegedly, he stole a 1979 El Camino from a Mr. Jim Black who had parked it outside church on Mother‘s Day.  Nasty enough as it is, but Mr. Demoss elevated the crime to the upper echelons of moronity because a month later Demoss called car owner Black and offered to sell the car back to him for $500. 

Number one, a pair of 17-year-old girls in Germany who mugged a 15-year-old, stole her shoes, money and her cell phone.  But they decided to give her their older cell phone as a kind of compensation.  Their older cell phone, the one with their pictures still stored in it, which the police promptly released to websites and the German television networks. 


OLBERMANN:  It is perhaps the biggest media monopoly on the planet, News Corp.  And at its helm, the man who uses his power of the press to influence elections, to sway politicians, to persuade the populace to his conservative causes and, probably most of all, to further his own business interests within the rules or without any rules.  Our third story on the COUNTDOWN, Rupert Murdoch.  In protest of his five billion dollar bid for their mother company, Dow Jones, and in protest of a lack of a contract, as well, many “Wall Street Journal” reporters blew off work this morning.

The Union president, Steve Yount, saying the boycott is, quote, about preserving what is special about Dow Jones and that does not include an unnecessary sale to News Corp.  The paper‘s owners, the Bancroft family, do not appear to agree.  They are reportedly close to sealing a deal with Rupert Murdoch that would include measures to allow the paper to maintain a measure of editorial independence. 

One must assume the Bancrofts either do not know about his M.O., or they are somehow hoping it has changed overnight.  If the former, perhaps this might help, part one of our study of Rupert Murdoch.


OLBERMANN (voice-over):  In 1994, in what was to be his final interview, playwright and former British newspaper journalist Dennis Potter revealed that he had named the cancer that he already knew would kill him within months Rupert.

DENNIS POTTER, FORMER BRITISH JOURNALIST:  That man, Murdoch, is the one, who if I had the time—I‘ve got too much writing to do and I haven‘t got the energy.  But I would shoot the bugger if I could.  There is no one person more responsible for the pollution of what was already a fairly polluted press. 

OLBERMANN:  Rupert Murdoch‘s latest plan to add the “Wall Street Journal” to the hundreds of newspapers and TV stations he already owns in this country, reminding those who had forgotten just why the late Mr.  Potter was not alone in so loathing Murdoch‘s impact. 

There had been word that the parent company of this network, G.E., might also be interested in acquiring the “Wall Street Journal,” but Rupert Murdoch had already made his five billion dollar bid.  Then, at the same time as that business battle was going on, Bill-O and his friends at Fox Noise stepped up their libeling of NBC News as left wing and liberally biased. 

BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  As part of their business plan to woe left wing viewers, NBC News consistently attacks Fox News, as you know.

OLBERMANN:  And the “New York Post,” also owned by Murdoch, jumped in too, using the business section of the paper this morning to attack Mark Whittaker, the new senior vice president of NBC News, quoting so called  sources, without ever actually any of them.  Of course, it could just be coincidence that the network we work for is slandered just as the company that owns us went up against Rupert Murdoch.

But then, using his media to achieve his agenda is such classic Murdoch behavior, not just across this nation, but the world, that the suspicion might be forgiven.  One had only to read the extensive investigation by the “New York Times” newspaper this week to remember just how he operates. 

Take his dealings in Great Britain.  Upon acquiring the venerable “Times of London,” much as he is currently promising the Bancroft family regarding the “Wall Street Journal,” Murdoch had promised not to meddle with the editorial tone of the paper. 

RUPERT MURDOCH, CEO NEWSCORP:  There will be no fundamental change in the characteristics. 

OLBERMANN:  But in no time at all, according to former editors, Murdoch started meddling.  According to the “New York Times,” quote, “Harry Evans, who was editor at the time of Mr. Murdoch‘s acquisition, and was forced out soon after, describes Mr. Murdoch‘s ordering the publication of a cartoon that Times editors had deemed tasteless.  And his complaining that too many stories had a left wing bent. 

“Another former editor said Mr. Murdoch once pointed to the byline of a correspondent and asserted, that man is a commie.”

He then fired 5,000 employees, shifted his newspaper operations to East London in secret, and refused to recognize the unions.  That was in the 1980‘s.  By the 1990‘s, as it became obvious that a Labor Government was coming to power, Murdoch starting wooing that party to protect his newspapers and cable TV station in Britain.  He endorsed Tony Blair, meeting with him so often that one of Blair‘s spokesmen described Murdoch to the “New York Times” as effectively a member of Blair‘s cabinet.

And the courtship was so successful that, against the wishes of many in the Labor Party, Mr. Blair dropped any talk of limits on media ownership.  The Times reporting that, “Blair‘s attitude was quite clear.  Andrew Neil, the editor of the “Sunday Times” under Mr. Murdoch in London from 1983 to 1994 said, in an interview, if the Murdoch press gave the Blair government a fair hearing, it would left intact.”

He has tried the same technique in China.  In his bid to crack the tightly controlled communicated market there, the “New York Times” also reports, “Murdoch has dined with former President Jiang Zemin in the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing and repeatedly met other members of the ruling Politburo in Beijing, New York and London.”

He and his minions also reportedly toe the Chinese government line, insulting the Dalai Lama and the persecuted Falun Gong sect.  And so much for freedom of the press.  According the “New York Times,” “Mr. Murdoch cooperates closely with China‘s censors and state broadcasters, several people who work for him in China say.

And as we reported here last night, that extends to the Internet as well.  News Corp agreeing to open a for China that censors users, as per Chinese law.  Ironic considering that over her it is both the power and the freedom of the media that has allowed Mr. Murdoch to systematically both intimidate and influence American politics to suit his own business interests. 


OLBERMANN:  We will take a look at just how he has done that over here and who he has intimidated and influenced to get his way in part two of our study of Keith Rupert Murdoch.  That is right here tomorrow night on COUNTDOWN. 

Talk about intimidating, Dan Patrick and I had to go on David Letterman‘s show after the actress Claire Danes in a low cut dress.  Not Dan and me, her. 

It could have been worse, it could have been some kind of Spice Girls reunion.  Wait, there‘s going to be a Spice Girls reunion?  Why?  Did we lose a war or something?  Next on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN:  Our number two story on the COUNTDOWN has absolutely no redeeming news content value whatsoever.  It‘s my radio partner Dan Patrick, of the “Dan Patrick Show” on ESPN Radio, and me appearing on the “Late Show With David Letterman” last night, ruminating about our days at Sportcenter.  None were injured. 


DAVID LETTERMAN, “THE LATE SHOW”:  Give us some examples of the kind of thing that would happen on the show. 

OLBERMANN:  We had one night where we had a rookie production assistant watching a ball game and giving us the highlights of it.  And they brought in a rookie pitcher from the Detroit Tigers.  It was his highlight.  I was something of the baseball expert at the time.  And this girl comes out and hands the shot sheet to him, says, this is very important Dan.  This is a rookie pitcher with Tigers, just called up.  And his name is Ben Blowdoll.

He goes, are you sure?

DAN PATRICK, ESPN ANCHOR:  Now, we‘re in commercial break.  I‘m thinking Blowdoll?  It can‘t be Blowdoll. 

OLBERMANN:  And I said to her, don‘t you think that if his name was Blowdoll, he would have changed it by now, and I would have heard about it certainly.  So he starts to sweat, because he‘s about to say Blowdoll on national television.

PATRICK:  And so he‘s worried about his own stuff.  They‘re talking in my ear, saying we‘re back in 15 seconds.  I‘m thinking, here‘s my career.  I‘m going to be the guy known as the Blowdoll guy.  And I said, Keith, it can‘t be this.

OLBERMANN:  I‘m pulling down record books and waiving at guys and praying.  I‘ve seen the man‘s name before.  I‘ve never heard it pronounced.  But it can‘t be pronounced Blowdoll.  So at the last minute, while I‘m doing my highlights and he‘s spitting sweat everywhere, I just sort of stop my highlight and wrote it out, Bloomdahl.  She left out the M and that was it.   

LETTERMAN:  And how he doing today?  How did his career—

PATRICK:  It didn‘t last.  He should have stayed with Blowdoll. 

OLBERMANN:  Oh yes, we wanted to do this.  He insisted on that. 

LETTERMAN:  That is nice.  I wish I had somewhere to go. 

Just take a second her and tell me what it is about you.  You seem to burn bridges wherever you leave.  Do I have that right or not? 

PATRICK:  This is when I leave, Dave.

OLBERMANN:  I don‘t burn bridges.  I burn rivers. 

PATRICK:  The big show with Dan and Keith on ESPN Radio, good to see you boys again.  Thank you very much.  Dan Olbermann—Keith Olbermann, Dan Patrick. 


OLBERMANN:  Thanks Dave.  And easy segue then into our nightly roundup of celebrity and entertainment news, Keeping Tabs.  If Dan and I could reunite after eight years apart—tomorrow night is 10 years to the day since I left Sportscenter—Why not a reunion of the Spice Girls?  Don‘t answer that.

Ginger, Sport, Posh, Scary and Baby Spice held a big old girl power news conference today, announcing that they are reuniting for a world wide 11 city new tour and a greatest hits album.  one cut 12 times?  Girl Power is back said Emma, Baby Spice, Bunton, now a grand mother.  No.  We‘re going on the road.  Much has happened to the Spice Girls since their initial 1990s fame.  Three are now mothers.  Another is expecting.  Victoria Posh Spice married a soccer star and became a Beckham, and Melanie Scary Spice Brown announced that the father of her new born baby girl is Eddy Murphy, confirmed with a bit of Spice DNA. 

But the Spice Girls‘ music has not gotten any better. 

Lindsay Lohan must be hoping for straight A‘s on her rehab report card, since the result of her blood test from her DUI test reportedly show both alcohol and cocaine. citing multiple unnamed law enforcement sources, saying that the toxicology reports from May 26th put Lohan‘s blood alcohol at nearly twice the nearly limit, with traces of cocaine in her blood stream.

Miss Lohan had crashed her Mercedes into the curb in the wee hours of the morning, and was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.  Her lawyer told TMZ that it was extremely unprofessional for law enforcement to discuss her case. 

And Paris is out of prison to tell us what it was like in prison.  I‘ll tell you what it was like.  It was like watching her being interviewed.  That is ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s latest list of nominees for Worst Person in the World.   

The bronze to the I-Robot corporation.  It makes those little automatic vacuum cleaners that scoot around your floor, not really cleaning your floor, but giving you the sense that you‘re not utterly lazy about vacuuming.  I-Robot has now teamed with a stun-gun manufacturer to make a weapon for the Pentagon and the police.  They stuck a Taser on their robotic automaton.  That‘s right, your Roomba can now shock you into submission.

The runner up, Republican Congresswoman Illeana Ros Lehtinen of the Florida 18th, interrogating Retired General John Batiste, who explained that even though he joined the group, he is a diehard Republican.  He voted for President Bush twice.  If he ever ran for office, he would do so as a Republican and he would take his seat alongside her and the other Republicans. 

Congresswoman is not buying it.  She accused the general of targeting Republicans, quoting, I believe that the people you are targeting are the ones who will want to help you in this world wide fight against Islamic extremists.  And the folks that you‘re working to defeat will be substituted by people who use brave generals like you as a shield and a sort of a front to make them look like they‘re pro military.  When, in fact, they will be always against any war at any time in any place, my humble opinion.  Humble?  One of the definitions of humble is relatively low in rank, you bet.

But our winner, Bill-O, commenting on the murder of the Ohio pregnant woman Jesse Davis and the murder of the wife of the professional wrestler Chris Benoit, “In both of these terrible situations, the men involved were troubled and chaotic.  And the women involved had to know that.  Now, I‘m not blaming the victims here.  But I am saying that everyone of us has to make smart decisions, especially when children are involved.  Jesse Davis had to know this Cutts guy was a chaotic, irresponsible person with two families in Ohio and another out of wedlock child in California.  Then Miss Davis gets pregnant by Cutts again.  Come on.  If you are involved with someone who does chaotic things, you will get hurt.  It‘s just a matter of when.”

Yes, everybody who knows you will take your word on that.  So, while insisting he was not blaming two dead women for getting themselves murdered, he proceeded to blame two dead women for getting themselves murdered.  Bill O‘Reilly, today‘s Worst Person in the World. 


OLBERMANN:  Breaking news, Paris Hilton is a bore.  During a full hour with Larry King, Hello, Miss Hilton sent the nation into a premature slumber and turned out the light.  The good news, Mr. King did not confuse Miss Hilton with any of the other Beatles and did not refer to her as George Hamilton.  Oh right, that‘s because she is none of the Beatles.

But if Miss Hilton was looking to be revelatory, she struck out.  As for her new founds spirituality, it is like that Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich, a gimmick with cheese to it.  Anyway, to our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, Paris Hilton speaks. 

After sashaying into the CNN studios on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California, Miss Hilton sat down for an in depth interview, in which she talked about the trauma of going to jail, overcoming claustrophobia, wearing an orange jump suit, eating a bologna sandwich, and writing down her own personal thoughts and meditations. 

Bricking news, Paris Hilton is a bore.  But happily, Larry King did not confuse Paris with London, Madrid or Rome.  Begin communication.


PARIS HILTON, “THE SIMPLE LIFE”:  There was a little—


HILTON:  Yes, a hole to put it through. 

KING:  What is a personality trait Paris Hilton would change?

HILTON:  When I get nervous or shy, my voice gets really high. 

KING:  Have you ever been addicted to drugs? 


KING:  Taken drugs? 


KING:  Never taken drugs?


KING:  Are you jealous? 


KING:  Quick to anger? 

HILTON:  No, I don‘t really get angry.  I consider myself normal. 

KING:  You consider yourself normal?


KING:  Were you strip searched?  Do they do that in jail.  I know they do that in prison.

HILTON:  Yes.  They do. 

KING:  Is it as gross as we might think it is? 

HILTON:  Well it is pretty gross. 

KING:  What is your favorite bible passage? 

HILTON:  I don‘t have a favorite. 

KING:  Do you think you would be a loathe for someone now?  I mean, a guy‘s going to have to—come on.

HILTON:  It is hard.   


OLBERMANN:  Sandy Koufax, your memories.  And with that let‘s go once more onto the breach with “Village Voice” columnist Michael Must.  Michael, good evening? 


OLBERMANN:  Do you recall your first thoughts after watching that interview?  Or, in fact, do you recall anything about that interview?

MUSTO:  At first I thought Eva Longoria looks great.  Then I realized I was on the wrong channel.  Then I thought, you know what, this is better than Larry‘s interview with Al Pacino last week, where Larry‘s big question was where did you get Hoo-Ha?  And after that they just kind of stared at each other‘s hair plugs.  That was death.  This was medium death. 

OLBERMANN:  She made a few assertions that we think deserve some fact checking, if you would kindly set your mind to it.  For instance, she said several times that she had never taken drugs. 

MUSTO:  Yes and Kirstie Alley has never had a fudge burger and Kathy Griffin has never masturbated to a video of Joan Rivers, and I won the Peabody Award for my segment on this show called Suri Cruise is a pillow.  Actually, that part is true. 

OLBERMANN:  Assertion number two, she reads the Bible and she goes to mass? 

MUSTO:  Let‘s start with just she reads.  But, in any case, you saw the part where Larry said what is your favorite part and she blanked.  It‘s like he was asking her to do logarithms or something.  Even I know about the Garden of Eden.  I could have come up with that.  And plus she billed herself not only as a reader, but as a writer.  Come on.  I read her book.  It was ghost written.  My book sucked too, but at least I wrote it myself.

OLBERMANN:  My favorite part is where Michael J. Fox meets his mother. 

MUSTO:  That is Deuteronomy. 

OLBERMANN:  Assertion number three, that she is easy to get along with and she is very loyal friend? 

MUSTO:  I met her.  She was nice—two hours late but nice.  I don‘t think she is the type of friend who would say, hey, what is on your mind?  What are you thinking about.  Because the follow up would be you stole my boyfriend, you bitch.  I think Tinkerbell is even more loyal than she is.  And Tinkerbell doesn‘t pee on the street.

OLBERMANN:  Assertion number four, she is normal. 

MUSTO:  Oh, please.  Normal people don‘t have a problem with lunch meat.  Normal people don‘t get to record an album because they feel like it.  Normal people don‘t have mothers that bring in expensive tan leather bags to visit them in jail and then they have to borrow a quarter from the guard because they didn‘t bring pocket change—don‘t get me started. 

OLBERMANN:  Assertion number five, she overcame her severe claustrophobia when she was sent back to jail by essentially talking to herself?  Does this one sound about right?

MUSTO:  Yes, she is so dumb that she actually texted herself.  She had to pay extra.  The conversation was something like, hey self.  How you doing self.  Oh, fine self, except I‘m claustrophobic.  Me too, self.  It‘s ridiculous.  It doesn‘t even constitute schizophrenia because there is so little brain matter there, it is more like molecular splitting. 

OLBERMANN:  She also tried to say, in this interview, nice things about Britney Spears and about Lindsay Lohan.  But a minute later, she said, quote, I don‘t have any friends in rehab.  Did she pull a fast one there?  Was she insulting them?  What was that about? 

MUSTO:  Probably Lindsay got early and they went and had a drink last night.  But look, she said a lot of things.  She said that thing about I found it embarrassing to be strip searched.  As Kathy Griffin—not to bring her up again—said, please, we‘ve seen things go in there. 

OLBERMANN:  Paris Hilton did not leave anybody who was looking for some great moral to this whole sordid story with anything to take with them.  Would you like to take a shot at that? 

MUSTO:  Actually, she did.  She said, don‘t serve the time.  Let the time serve you.  And that is currently embroidered on my pillow at home.  It‘s sort of like when Phil Specter said to Lana Clarkson, don‘t let the gun shoot your mouth.  Let your mouth shoot the gun.  And she was like, huh?  Macabre, I know.

OLBERMANN:  The one and only Michael Musto, as always, great thanks.  That is COUNTDOWN for this the 1,520th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq, and the first since the declaration by Dan Bartlett that he would like a due over on that declaration.  From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.



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