Guests: Arianna Huffington, Richard Wolffe, Jonathan Turley, Norman Lloyd
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Get peace in the Middle East. He can‘t even get their names right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In that context, maybe it‘s just as well that Mr. Bush started the talks at Annapolis and then left since he wasn‘t truly invested in the outcome to stick around. What was his political investment in this? We know his political investment. Rewriting history - Iraq was Congress‘ war on Congress‘ timetable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL ROVE: The administration was opposed to voting on it in the Fall of 2002 because we didn‘t think it belonged within the confines of the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Except the president was insisting Congress vote on it in the Fall of 2002. So, Rove is lying. How to do he lies away from the public‘s gaze without really trying? The declaration of a state secret and the Senate‘s push to close that loophole. From loophole to loopy. Bill O. slams Mark Cuban again for “Redacted” while FOX News sells commercial air time to Mark Cuban to advertise “Redacted.” And he slams the USO for not sending, seriously here - for not sending Dr. Laura Slazenger to Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O‘REILLY, TV HOST: If Dr. Laura wants to go. You let her get over this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Dr. Laura who told the group of military wives they are not dodging bullets so I don‘t want to hear any whining. Is the idea to send her there not to let her back? And for 75 years, a fixture of stage and screen, from the saboteur in Hitchcock‘s Saboteur to St. Elsewhere to a scene in bed with Cameron Diaz. The subject of the new documentary - “Who is Norman Lloyd?”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL MAIDEN: Who is Norman Lloyd? Well, if you don‘t know Norman Lloyd, you should know Norman Lloyd because he is the history of our industry up to now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Our special guest tonight, Norman Lloyd. All that and more, now on COUNTDOWN.
Good evening. This is Tuesday, November 27th, 343 days until the 2008 presidential election. Mispronunciations and faux pas are not the exclusive province of the dummy. Two time presidential candidate, intellectual U.N. ambassador, Adlai Stevenson once told the world body that under Fidel Castro, human rights in Cuba quote, “Have been circumcised.” He meant circumscribed. But on our fifth story on the COUNTDOWN: Everybody screws up words. This however, is getting ridiculous. During his cameo at the Israeli-Palestinian Conference in Maryland today, the president had less luck with the names of the participants than Czech President Vaclav Havel did with Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa did in 1998. With no new American proposals or promises to actually help facilitate the peace process the rhetoric of progress ringing hollow at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis this morning. And so did the pronunciation ring hollow. The president flanked by leaders from Israel and Palestinian territories try to convey an air of important gravitas. Even putting on glasses, before he embarrassed everybody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: The representatives of the government of state of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization represented respectively by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas in his capacity as chairman of the PLO Executive Committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Elmo was not there. That would be Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas he‘s talking about. Mark Mecwer and Sammy Soser. But why remember names when the only reason for being there was to secure a photo opportunity for posterity though incredibly, Mr. Bush even needed help to do that properly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: Congratulations for your strong leadership.
PRIME MINISTER EHUD OLMERT: If we move from the podium they will see us shaking hands.
BUSH: Yes, come on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Thus with the help of a man whose name he can‘t pronounce and whose company he quit after a mere three hours, President Bush got his photo op. We‘re joined by our own Richard Wolffe, senior White House correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine. Richard, good evening.
RICHARD WOLFFE, NEWSWEEK: Good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: But well, in any event, the president could only spend 120 minutes in Annapolis, if that much. This afternoon he made time to grant an interview to the Associated Press he said he‘s been quote, “Very engaged up to the moment in the peace process that he‘s concerned that it won‘t work.” So, why has he avoided going to the countries and why did he leave after three hours today?
WOLFFE: Well, there are a couple of ways to look at this. First of all, any peace process at all, after seven years of nothing under this administration, is to be welcomed. And it is a significant step forward. But, look, if this president can achieve this much doing relatively little, then imagine what he could achieve actually engaging with this. So, as this moves forward, remember, this is the beginning of this, not the end. There is scope for him to actually become much more fully engaged than he has. The White House says he‘s been making phone calls. He‘s been doing stuff. But we all know from his language, from his schedule, that‘s not the case. He could do a lot more and he could achieve a lot more.
OLBERMANN: But, when the A.P. pressed him on what he thinks is very engaged, according to his own terms today about the Middle East peace mission, Mr. Bush replied, “I work the phones. I listen, I encourage, I have meetings, I do a lot of things.” He ran out of specifics after meetings? Why didn‘t he go back to that line from the debates three years ago that it‘s all hard work?
WOLFFE: Hard work. Right. Look, every model that has happened before with American presidents getting involved in the Middle East whether it‘s Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton has been about personal engagement. I have no doubt that Secretary Rice will fully immerse herself in this. But it does require leadership. The way the president has looked at this the way he expressed it today was a bilateral negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians. Well, yes, the two countries have to work things out but it‘s been bilateral for seven years. And bilateral has meant war. So, really, it does require in the words of one very close American ally, it requires baby-sitting. There is only one babysitter that can happen here and that‘s the United States of America.
OLBERMANN: I have one question about one of the other nations there in a moment. But first, about the photo op, did he get it simply getting that photograph? Was that what he wanted out of this? Did he get it or was it back fire for him?
WOLFFE: Well, it wasn‘t Bill Clintonesque? It wasn‘t the south lawn and Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. He rushed it. I‘m not sure it was a very good photo op. Again, there‘s a lot of skepticism out there not just in the region but on very close allies elsewhere about whether they will continue to be involved and the photo op isn‘t enough. Not at this stage.
OLBERMANN: And one specific point about international diplomacy. Invited to this at the behest of Secretary of State Rice - Syria. The “Wall Street Journal” pointed this out, this is just seven months since the Bush administration came down like a ton of bricks on Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House because she visited Syria and their quote at that time was that it might make Syria believe they are a part of the mainstream of the international community when, in fact, they are a state sponsor of terror. So a visit by the speaker to Syria misleads Syria, misleads the world but bringing them to a Middle East conference in the United States does not mislead anybody?
WOLFFE: Yes, you know, I was talking to one former senior administration official today about this. And they said what does this mean for the Bush doctrine? What does it mean for all the work that went into Lebanon where Syria is playing a very active disruptive role and, frankly, democratically elected leaders in Lebanon are scared of being assassinated by Syrian elements? If—it is at best a mixed message and at worst undercutting this administration as White House - is what very hard to do which is to isolate Syria.
OLBERMANN: Maybe everybody from Syria has an easy to pronounce name.
Richard Wolffe of “Newsweek,” great thanks, Richard.
WOLFFE: Any time.
OLBERMANN: With the presidential election of 2008 firmly in mind, the Republican Party‘s former Mayberry Machiavelli, Karl Rove has set his sights on 2002. Not the one you experienced but a brand new 2002. On the eve of Thanksgiving, Rove began signaling Republicans to blame the Iraq war not on Mr. Bush but on Congress. It is Congress‘ fault America invaded Iraq when it did because the Congress voted to authorized the use of military force in Iraq too soon. Mr. Rove‘s remarkable remarks coming in an interview with Charlie Rose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROVE: One of the untold stories about the war is why did the United States Congress, the United States Senate vote on the war resolution in the fall of 2002?
CHARLIE ROSE, HOST: Why?
ROVE: This administration was opposed to it. I‘m going to talk about that in my book.
ROSE: Well, tell me.
ROSE: Come on, give me something.
ROSE: Give me something.
ROVE: I just did. I told you the administration was opposed to voting on it in the Fall of 2002.
ROVE: Because, we didn‘t think it belonged within the confines of the election. There was an election coming up in a matter of weeks. We thought it made it too political. We wanted it outside the confines of it. It seemed to make things move too fast. There were things that needed to be done to bring along allies and potential allies abroad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: It‘s an untold story because it isn‘t true. Here is what really happened according to a Rove Web site called Whitehouse.gov, despite Rove‘s claim that the White House opposed voting on Iraq in the Fall of 2002, on the first full day of Fall that year the president urged Congress to pass an Iraq resolution, quote, “Promptly.” A week later, the president and the House Republicans agreed on Iraq resolution. A week after that, President Bush was pleased with the House vote on Iraq. And a week after that, Mr. Bush signed the authorization for the use of military force in Iraq. Joining us to assess the motive for the attack on history, Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffingtonpost.com and author of “ On Becoming Fearless.” Great thanks for your time tonight, Arianna.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Is this the work of A, the boy genius who got Bush elected or B, the proverbial Turd Blossom who lost Congress. And whichever the answer is, what is he up to?
HUFFINGTON: I think it‘s neither. I think it‘s the work of a shameless, remorseless and, perhaps, soulless political animal who cannot help himself even when he‘s out of the White House trying to rewrite history in his own way. This is going to be a very lucrative march for Karl Rove because clearly he has his book. He has his “Newsweek” column. He‘s going to have many speaking engagements. And during that whole time, he‘s clearly determined to wash away the greatest debacle, the greatest disaster of the Bush administration. Not his own time there, which is the war in Iraq.
OLBERMANN: Never mind his book, can he put out his own encyclopedia with all these facts that nobody else knows. But we‘ve all used George Orwell references and 1984 references so much that the state of Eric Blair ought to be suing us for copyright violations. But this really is that book, isn‘t it? Can‘t you now just see John Hurt talking into the Dictaphone, rewriting the old newspapers with Karl Rove over his soldier to eliminate inconvenient facts? Is this not the practical application of he who controls the past controls the future?
HUFFINGTON: It is. But the only problem is that when 1984 was written, Google and Lexus nexus did not exist. And right now they do. And you could go to the White House Web site and we can go to endless statements about that time. We can go to the fact that Karl Rove and Dick Cheney had created the Iraq study group. Remember the White House‘s main objective was to sell, sell, sell that war. I actually happened to be at a conference in Aspen in September 2002 before that vote when Karl Rove himself spoke and was so a bit about that war. I remember him saying things like we have Rumsfeld‘s new army which is going to basically produce this liberation of Iraq, casualty-free. And he was completely elated about the prospect of dominating the Middle East by invading Iraq. So, I‘ve seen hop spa (ph) of this man is not going to work this time. You see it worked easier when he was in the White House because he had that amazing platform, that amazing bully pulpit. But, right now, as a private citizen, it‘s going to be much harder to pull that off.
OLBERMANN: Although, I trusted the integrity of the Internet, except I worry about the telecom companies after what we‘ve seen them do, you never know. But the former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, the Democrat said he met with the White House in September 2002. He was asking Bush why the rush for an Iraq resolution and his quote was, “He (Mr. Bush) looked at Cheney and he looked at me. And there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: ‘We just have to do this now.‘” There‘s one hitch in this thing with Rove, the unexamined possibility that he‘s telling the truth, that the administration really did not want to go at that time. They wanted to wait for some reason. If that‘s the case, did Mr. Rove just paint his boss as, again, blatantly lying to Congress and the nation in the run-up to war in a new way we didn‘t know about?
HUFFINGTON: I‘m sorry, Keith. I don‘t think there is any possibility that what Karl Rove is saying has any connection to the truth. There is just too much evidence. We have reached a class corrupt (ph) book, we have the Downing Street memo that shows that they‘re already fixing the Intel. They were determined to use 9/11 to use the president‘s incredible popularity at the time, to use the spinelessness of the Democrats to take us to war as fast as possible. It doesn‘t matter what Karl Rove says. The truth is the truth. It exists. It‘s real. And he can‘t change it.
OLBERMANN: All right. We‘ll write it down and save it for me because I‘m worried about it. Arianna Huffington of course of Huffingtonpost and the author of “On Becoming Fearless.” Great thanks, always our pleasure. Take care.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Are you spying on me? I can‘t tell you. It‘s a secret for your own good. Well, I‘ll sue. You can‘t. The court can‘t hear about it. The secret is prevail on good too. The push tonight in the Senate to change that piece of dialogue and the Frank Burns of the news business is attacking the USO again with the unlikeliest of weapons. Bill O‘Reilly wants them to send to Afghanistan the radio doctor who once told military wives they should stop whining. You are watching COUNTDOWN on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: The Senate trying tonight to reign in Bush administration abuse of the idea of the state secret. How? Well, it‘s a secret. Ted Kennedy has a new book, I have a new book. And in Worse Persons, Mitt Romney saying, he probably wouldn‘t have room in his cabinet from somebody from a particular religious group because that religious group is not among the larger ones in the country. The irony is irony on its most based level. It‘s still pretty damned funny ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: For those in power, the obvious advantage of keeping people in fear is that they are less likely to question what you then do to them purportedly in the name of their own security. The hidden but perhaps greater advantage is that if any of them do ask you what you‘re doing, you can reply “can‘t tell you,” because that could compromise your security. Thus, has the Bush administration not only eavesdropped illegally on Americans but it also hidden behind the state‘s secret claim when its illegal wiretaps have been challenged in court. Our fourth story tonight, a top Republican is teaming up with no less than Senator Ted Kennedy to strip Mr. Bush of that protection. The Associated Press reporting that Republican Senator Arlen Specter is working on legislation to change the current system in which civil lawsuits against the Bush administration are routinely killed because the administration claims the suits would expose state secrets. Under Kennedy and Specter‘s proposed law, judges in these cases would be instructed to evaluate the administration‘s claim for secrecy rather than just accept it at face value as many, if not most do now. The bill may end up as part of the Senate‘s Wiretapping Law, due for a vote next month after which the president will sign it and monkeys will fly out of his butt.
On the premise that this might become law somehow, let‘s turn to Constitutional Law scholar, Jonathan Turley, professor at George Washington University. Jon, good evening.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Am I wrong about this? I mean, if you stripped the politics away somehow from this and you asked every American about this topic, wouldn‘t they assume that this already was a law, that the government has to make at least some token effort to justify acting in secret against its own citizens?
TURLEY: Well, it actually is the law. You know, this has been a distortion or mutation of the law. The privilege has become something that I think the Supreme Court never imagined when it first created in a case called Reynolds. They stated in Reynolds expected judges to try to minimize the scope of the privilege. But, today, the privilege is used primarily not to keep something secret but to keep something from being used against the government. In litigation like the Area 58 case that I litigated, we had a report that showed the government was lying. The court had the report. I had the report. The government had the report. But what the government didn‘t want is for the report to actually be used to prove that they‘re lying. And we‘ve seen that in case after case. I was in a courtroom when people laughed when the government counsel argued that they could use the privilege to claim a secret something that was published on the cover of the “New York Times.” That‘s how grotesque the privilege has become.
OLBERMANN: Hence that phrased laughed out of the court. But as the Associated Press reported, some judges are already taking it upon themselves to, I guess, adhere to the original idea of the law and to evaluate these secrecy claims by the administration. Why don‘t all of them do that?
TURLEY: I‘m afraid that part of the answer is that some judges are
lazy and some judges are not fulfilling their - what should be a sacred
duty as an article three judge. You‘re giving life tenure so that you
shouldn‘t be afraid. But many judges just simply use this as an easy way
to get out of a difficult problem. I have been in cases where the
government was most clearly and certainly lying to the court. And the
court did nothing to look at whether that allegation was true. And I think
that‘s this Congressional action is so need here. You know, Reynolds
itself, the original case was built on a lie. It was, at the time, people
believed the Air Force had lied to the court. Many years later, the
families showed it was a lie. And a few years ago, went back to the
Supreme Court and said, look, here is the proof that you base this decision
on a false representation by the government and the Supreme Court refused
to re-examine the case
OLBERMANN: All right. With or without this new law, suppose one of the anti-wiretapping civil lawsuits succeeds - what does that legal victory actually mean then in terms of stopping the government or punishing Alberto Gonzales or any other top officials responsible for this?
TURLEY: Well, it could mean a lot. And that‘s one of the reasons there‘s lot of people, both Democrats and Republicans don‘t want to see it happen. They don‘t want a court to say that the president did something that is a federal crime. That‘s why they‘re trying to get all these cases thrown out of court because it is rather clear that what the president ordered was a federal crime- clearly defined in Federal Law. But that causes a problem. Because many of the Democratic leaders and Republican leaders have promised each other that they would not start impeachment proceedings. But when a federal judge says the president committed a crime, it‘s pretty darn hard to ignore that.
OLBERMANN: Unless everything gets tabled until 2009. And let‘s say that this law does become the law of the land officially again, even though it‘s already on the books, the first act signed by president x in February 2009,would it offer a tool for prying the lid off some of the Bush administration‘s secrets, sort of after the fact?
TURLEY: It would. Keith, if I could get one wish granted, it would probably be this - that we could put this genie back in the bottle in terms of the privilege and allow citizens to sue their government to prove things like crimes. If you look back at history, most of the great reforms were not brought forth by Congress or presidents. They were brought forth by citizens standing up to the government. The privilege is now a tool used to protect the government from its own crimes. And that‘s what we need to work on.
OLBERMANN: Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University.
As always, sir, most harrowing and great thanks, anyway.
TURLEY: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Now we get to the real meat of the presidential campaign. If Barack Obama has Oprah Winfrey, with which celebrity does Hillary Clinton counter? And, ample parking day and night, people shouting howdy neighbor. We‘ll explain how this guy got a real good spot. Next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: On this date in 1956, Philip Todd Griffin was born, sports director for CNN‘s New York bureau from 1981 to 1984, working with their correspondent, K Olbermann, executive producer on “The Big Show” on MSNBC in 1997, 1998 working with, well, most of the time, host K Olbermann. Now vice president of NBC News in charge of “The Today Show” and MSNBC. Happy birthday, buddy. We‘re all glad you were born because this birthday saved me the trouble of looking up a more interesting anniversary for the lead-in to this segment. Let‘s play Oddball.
We begin in Connecticut Point in Warwick, Rhode Island where a local teen just got his first lesson in real Life Science. Park your vans, parking your truck along the shoreline late at night during low tide and presto, next morning, Jimmy, when you go to pick it up, it will be surrounded by the ocean which is very moist. He tried to drive it out or get it towed out by a local boat to no avail. Now, a crane is being called in to try and get the truck loose. Good luck, sir.
An update on story we brought you last week from Hagerstown, Maryland.
The turkey in line at the Dunkin‘ Donuts turns out it was a stolen turkey. A beloved pet called Speedy, who had been snatched from his owner Clark Clip (ph) just before Thanksgiving. Fortunately, someone rescued Speedy and returned him to the bosom of his family.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn‘t know where he was. We didn‘t know anything. We got a call. My father did say at noon, knowing where speedy was. We went out and picked him up. And thank God, we got him.
OLBERMANN: Thank God, indeed. Now the family Clip has something to celebrate at Christmas with cranberry sauce and candied yams.
Bill O takes another shot at the USO and he‘s back from Afghanistan. The cover of the vital issues of security for his America contained in the Natalee Holloway story. And after he made a movie or a TV show or play about basically everybody and everything else, they have finally made a movie about him. Norman Lloyd is here. These stories ahead, but first time for COUNTDOWN‘s top 3 world‘s best persons.
Number three, best track record, Dr. Kenneth Merkitch of Lacrosse, Wisconsin. He‘s the on-call OBGYN at Gundersan Lutheran there. In his 24 hour shift at the start of the weekend he helped in five deliveries, four sets of twins.
Number two, best career-ending moment, Emma Clarke, the voice of the PA announcements on the London Underground, the Tube. She is the woman who says, mind the gap. She has recorded a bunch of mock subway announcements, including “we would like to remind our American tourist friends that you are almost certainly talking too loudly.” And “would the passenger in the red shirt pretending to read the paper, but who is actually staring at that woman‘s chest please stop. You are not fooling anyone, you filthy pervert.”
London transport has shown it has a sense of humor. It‘s fired her.
Number one, best conscience, Jerry Mika of Salt Lake City. He was supposed to get a refund from the Utah Department of Commerce for 15 bucks. The check arrived in the mail the other day, 2,345,342 bucks. He said he thought about it but he gave it back. Mr. Mika even runs a charity to help Sherpas in Nepal, seriously. Just to show is he not a complete Sunday school case, he did, he said, spend days showing off the government screw-up to anybody who wanted to see it.
OLBERMANN: Perhaps the only thing more offensive than slamming the folks who are trying to support the troops is to have one of those persons on your show and slam him in person. Thus, in our third story on the COUNTDOWN, the Frank Burns of news, Bill O‘Reilly, did exactly that. Attacking the USO again, and suggesting that one celebrity who should definitely be allowed to entertain the troops is the conservative radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, even though she has bad-mouthed wives of the troops.
Last night, Bill-O returned to his dilemma of why the USO doesn‘t send more celebrities to Afghanistan; “When I visited Afghanistan a few days ago, I found very few celebrities had gone to that country and nobody there knew why.”
In case you didn‘t check your messages, Bill, you got faced by the USO while you were over there. After you had shot off your bazoo about how only you and Toby Keith had gone to Afghanistan and the USO had displeased you, the USO pointed out that 12 acts visited Afghanistan last year alone, including the Dallas Cowboy‘s cheerleaders, the actor Gary Sinese, Vince Vaughn and Al Franken. By the end of next month, 19 more acts will have toured the country this year, actual celebrities, not Bill-O.
But besides repeatedly complaining to the president of the USO, Edwin Powell, that the USO is not doing enough, O‘Reilly specifically cited the case of Dr. Laura.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, TALK RADIO HOST: I had my staff call the USO at least four, if not more, times and volunteer me, and run around and rejection. They said, you can‘t just come once or twice. You have to go on a specific tour of going back 18 million times or something. Anyway, they just blew me off.
BILL O‘REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: And then, you heard Dr. Laura. She says you blew her off. What‘s that all about.
EDWARD POWELL, PRESIDENT AND CEO, USO: Well, again I can‘t --
O‘REILLY: You are the head of the show.
POWELL: Well, that‘s true.
O‘REILLY: Is she lying?
POWELL: I‘m not going to go there on that.
O‘REILLY: All right. And if Dr. Laura wants to go, you get her butt over there, sir.
POWELL: It‘s not up to me to determine whether she goes or not.
O‘REILLY: If the DOD says no, then we‘ll find out about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Is he drunk? He sounded drunk there, didn‘t he? In May of this year, before she took the stage at the Base Theater at Fort Douglas in Utah, Dr. Schlessinger addressed complaints of military wives, quoting;
“he could come back without arms, legs or eyeballs and you‘re bitching? You‘re not dodging bullets, so I don‘t want to hear any whining. That‘s my message to them.”
In fact, O‘Reilly defended Dr. Laura back when that piece in “The Salt Lake Tribune” was published, saying that the reporter, quote, is out to hurt you. Not as much as she is evidently out to hurt herself. The hypocrisy rolled on; O‘Reilly spent most of his program on issues vital to the well-being of the troops and the safety of the nation, the Natalie Holloway story, followed by breaking news from the perilous situation involving TV‘s Hannah Montana.
And then he went back and tried to kick Mark Cuban in the basketballs again for his financing of the movie “Redacted,” which fictionalizes real life examples of the brutality of the war in Iraq; “the very few theaters they‘re even showing it are the subject of demonstrations, like this one in Denver, led by our pal Tom White. So Mr. White and his group are patriots. Of course, the pin head of the season is Mark Cuban, who financed the awful movie. He remains unrepentant while dancing with the stars.”
Well, Mr. White and a couple of protesters drew even more attention to a movie Bill-O supposedly wants people to ignore. O‘Reilly himself ignored Mark Cuban‘s National Guard night at his Dallas Maverick‘s team game, in which he gave away 20,000 t-shirts as part of the National Guard‘s recruiting effort. He also ignored Cuban‘s challenge to debate the movie here on COUNTDOWN. But did he play a poorly edited piece which interspersed combat video in Iraq with Mr. Cuban dancing on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Most importantly, Bill-O still hasn‘t addressed how a commercial for “Redacted” wound up in the middle of his own show. This was on November 15th. Obviously, O‘Reilly does not sell the advertising time for his own program. But the fact that Fox Noise knowingly sold the spot in O‘Reilly‘s show to Cuban, even after Mark Cuban‘s people specifically told them the commercials were for “Redacted,” raises again the question of what Bill O‘Reilly and Fox News and Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch stand for. The answer to which is not for the troops, not even for some self-flag wrapping cartoon version of America.
They sold commercial time to a man they called un-American to advertise a movie they said was helping terrorists. What do O‘Reilly and Fox stand for? The money.
Another celebrity endorsement on the campaign trail. And speaking of Bill-O, actual hard data tonight about how much his endorsement would hurt the candidate of either party. Then in worst, how much does it hurt your campaign when you say there are not enough people of a certain religion in this country to justify having one of them in your administration, especially when your own religion is only about three times as popular as the other religion, ahead on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: Our number two story tonight, not “Dancing With the Stars” but voting with them, keeping tabs on celebrity endorsements. Oprah Winfrey had already come out for Obama, Chuck Norris for Mike Huckabee, Robert Duval backing Rudy Giuliani. Now it is Barbara Streisand endorsing Hillary Clinton, not too surprising since the singer, actor and activist backed the other Clinton previously, although Streisand has reportedly given money to the campaigns of all three top Democrats this year.
Streisand calling the idea of a madam president an extraordinary thought. The value of celebrity endorsements is in doubt, however, according to a recent Pew Poll that shows newspapers carry more weight than celebrities, that an endorsements from, say, Bill O‘Reilly would give the recipient a 10 percent net loss of support.
Politicians can be celebrities in and of themselves, especially if they can land one of the most lucrative book deals ever, especially if the name is Kennedy. Several publishers reportedly bidding millions for the rights to publish the memoirs of 75 year old Senator Edward Kennedy. The “Boston Globe” reporting he may have landed a near record deal with Handchet (ph) book group, estimating the advance at upwards of eight million dollars, a significant portion to be donated to charity. The memoir would be released in 2010, half a century after his brother‘s election as president.
All the excuse I need to briefly show you this. Not exactly the inside story of the Kennedy‘s, mind you, but it might be of some interest, “Truth and Consequences, the Special Comments Book,” shortly to be available without a prescription.
The documentary is “Who is Norman Lloyd?” The answer is my special guest, next. But, first, time for COUNTDOWN‘s worst persons in the world.
The bronze to Fox Business Network. And the rough start continues. Yesterday, it did a live man on the street type interview from an online shopping fare with a Mr. Peter Perwhiler (ph), identified only as a, quote, online shopper. It turns out Mr. Perwhiler is the marketing manager of the national retail federation. Fox Business Network initially said it had no reason to suspect the guy was not just some online shopper and they hood winked them. Today, it turns out the online shopping set in which Fox set up its camera was arranged and publicized by the National Retail Federation, which warned the media that some of its employees would be there.
Fox evidently never asked the guy.
The runner-up, FEMA. Remember its fake news conference about the California wildfires last month? It turns out that was at least the second news scam of the Bush administration. An inspection by Homeland Security has turned up a news conference by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in January of 2006 featuring a question asked by an employee of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Don‘t worry, he was reprimanded verbally, and they stared daggers at him, too.
But our winner, Willard Mitt Romney, presidential candidate, who has done a not very effective 180 after being asked if he would consider appointing an American Muslim to his cabinet, “it‘s not that I need a certain number of people representing ethnic groups. Instead, I would choose people based on merits.” That‘s what he is saying today.
What he said yesterday was, “based on the numbers of American Muslims as a percentage of our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified.” Governor, if we‘re going to go down this road, you do realize that the best estimates at the moment is that Muslims constitute about one half of one percent of the American population. For contrast, say Mormons, for instance, constitute 1.3 percent, Baptists 16 percent, Catholics 24 percent.
So if we are going by quotas, you are in line closer to the Muslims than you are to the front. Not to worry, Romney made it worse, “of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration.”
Willard Mitt Romney, today‘s Worst Person in the World!
OLBERMANN: And to our number one story on the COUNTDOWN, and a few simple facts; somewhere in the English-speaking world right now it is happening; a kid of about 11 or 12, maybe younger, maybe older, is watching for the first time an episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” He will be shortly made simultaneously scared out of his mind in a way no slasher movie could cause and also impressed. He will want to know who are the people who did this to him?
He will watch the credits and see a name listed as actor or director or associate producer or executive producer, Norman Lloyd. Somewhere else, somebody else is seeing the underappreciated Hitchcock classic “Saboteur” for the first time and will be amazed by the just crazy enough title character, and watch the credits and see the actor‘s name, Norman Lloyd.
Or it was this past Sunday night on the American Life Cable Network and somebody else was discovering the subtlety of the character of Dr. Outlander (ph) in the 1980‘s staple “St. Elsewhere,” played by Norman Lloyd. Or the choreographer in Charlie Chaplin‘s movie “Limelight,” or Finley in Jean Renoir‘s “The Southerner,” or the president of What‘s The Matter You in the “Adventures of Rocky and Bulwinkle,” or on “The Practice,” or in his most recent major film, as they like to say, “In Her Shoes,” in his scene in bed with Cameron Diaz, or in a legendary performance as Cinna the poet in the Orson Welles‘ version of Julius Caesar just 70 years ago, or in a new documentary film, the title of which, intended to be a rhetorical question, becomes more than a little ironic when you realize just how ubiquitous he has been in a career that began right around 1932. It is called “Who is Norman Lloyd.” The answer joins me after this excerpt from the film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY CHRISTOPHER, PRODUCTION DESIGNER: You pick up a book on Charlie Chaplin—you‘re coming through a book on Charlie Chaplin, and there is a picture of Charlie Chaplin around a swimming pool with Paul Legot (ph) and god knows who all, and there is Norman Lloyd.
You pick up a book on Orson Wells and the Brute Theater. You‘re thumbing through it. There is Norman Lloyd.
KARL MALDEN, ACTOR: Who is Norman Lloyd? If you don‘t know Norman Lloyd, you should know Norman Lloyd, because he is the history of our industry up to now.
NORMAN LLOYD, ACTOR: I was summoned one day by the fellow who was the head of then the studio. He said, Norman, there seems to be a problem.
TOM FONTANA, FRIEND OF NORMAN LLOYD: I had no idea that Norman was black listed in the 1950s. I can only imagine that it must have hurt deeply.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: As promised, actor, director, producer, and at this point probably America‘s 22nd or 23rd ranked men‘s tennis player Norman Lloyd. What a pleasure it is to see you in the flesh, sir.
LLOYD: Nice to see you, Keith. I have admired you for a long time, ever since the sports days.
OLBERMANN: I can beat you on that. I have admired you longer than you have admired me. There is no question about that. Here comes something, maybe the one thing you have never done or been in, maybe the one thing, a movie about you. What is this like?
LLOYD: You have got me. I don‘t know, do I play the heavy, or do I play the lead? But, “Who is Norman Lloyd” is apparently about me.
OLBERMANN: Did you enjoy it? Was it an unnerving thing to watch or to experience?
LLOYD: I enjoyed it, because the approach to it was very interesting. We went everywhere in this town that I had played in California to the stages that we shot on, and so on. And I got a retrospective. I got a sense of a long life in show business, 75 years.
OLBERMANN: Seventy five years. And on top of everything else, you were in the earliest known American television drama “On The Streets of New York,” televised on NBC August 1939. You had a show on this network, in my network in 1939?
LLOYD: If you would call it a show. It is an example of the worst acting ever seen by man or beast. And when they ran it again last night at the film forum, I warned them that it was the worst acting. When I saw it, it was worse than that.
OLBERMANN: It had improved with memory?
LLOYD: It had just—it had gotten so bad that it almost got good. I was thoroughly ashamed of it. But it‘s provided a lot of laughs for the audience.
OLBERMANN: The one movie I was in, I like to show to people and say, I got an award from the National Cabinet Maker‘s Society for the most wooden performance of 1987. I‘m afraid—the opposite end of the spectrum, I‘m afraid to spoil the ending or the plot of “Saboteur” for anyone who hasn‘t seen it yet. If you haven‘t, go see it now. But about the Statue of Liberty scene—there is something I didn‘t know about it until I was doing my reading today, and—let me just play the penultimate part of that seen and then ask you this question.
We will leave you hanging there for a moment. You did that back flip yourself?
LLOYD: I did the back flip. But I only fell about four feet, five feet.
OLBERMANN: You are not on the Statue of Liberty for real at the time. I couldn‘t do that in Judo class when I was 10 years old. You did a back flip?
LLOYD: I did the back flip because Hitchcock said I would hope you will be able to do this flip over the railing, Norman, because I want to be in a shot right on you so that we see you go and we don‘t have to cut.
LLOYD: That‘s what he did. He held the camera and you actually saw me go, not a double. The cut, where you see the body fall and hang on was about the best stunt man of the time, Davey Shaw (ph). At one time, they used to have their equivalent of the Oscar was called the Davey Shaw, no more. That is the stunt man had that. He does the fall. He did it in one take. And that is the exact proportions of the Statue of Liberty.
OLBERMANN: So it‘s a piece of work?
LLOYD: He really went right through the air and caught right between the thumb.
OLBERMANN: Somebody who hasn‘t seen it, we are just going to leave it there and not tell them what happens after that. But I want to tell something that we now had a good happy ending—it was a terrible experience, but the black list, which is mentioned in the documentary—
More than what happened, and the gist of it—if I get it wrong, correct me. The gist of it was, nobody accused you of anything, but they wanted you to throw your friends under the bus. It was one of those, basically, right?
LLOYD: That was the general picture.
OLBERMANN: All right. I want to know whether you think it, the black list, could happen again.
OLBERMANN: What do we do to stop it?
LLOYD: Be vocal in your opposition to it. As I say in “Who Is Norman Lloyd,” it was cowardice on the part of those in authority that they fell victim to it, that they agreed to it, that they acquiesced in exercising a black list. And if they had resisted and said, no, we are not going to do it, you can‘t do it, it wouldn‘t have happened.
OLBERMANN: It would have been that simple. And, the point you made -
you had an extraordinary observation the other night when somebody asked you at the film forum in the question and answer session after the premier of the movie, about Elia Kazan, the great director who did throw people under the bus, and whose Lifetime Achievement Award at the Academy Awards just in 1999 was still a subject of extraordinary controversy because he did this. Your observation was, he must not have trusted his talent? That‘s why he went along with it?
LLOYD: No. I may have indicated that. I didn‘t mean to put it that way. He was a man of enormous talent. Kazan I worked with a couple of times. He was a wonderful director. And he had a great sense of warmth and so on for the actor. He preserved the actor‘s ego. He was constantly interested in your performance. Those are two of the best things that a director can do.
But—and he changed his mind politically from being where he was to he didn‘t want anything more to do with it. That is perfectly acceptable.
LLOYD: What is not acceptable is that he gave names. And the story behind that is he was told by a major producer, it‘s your career that‘s at stake. And if you don‘t, your career is out the window. He didn‘t have to do that. He could have worked forever, come back in the theater forever. He didn‘t have to do that.
OLBERMANN: It was just easier to do it.
OLBERMANN: In some way. Well, let‘s close out on some happier notes.
Playing tennis with Charlie Chaplin and he wouldn‘t wear his eyeglasses?
LLOYD: Well, yes. You know we actors, we have our vanity. I wear mine though, because I want to win more than be a good actor, you see. And Charlie—that is to say he would stay on the baseline. There he is on the baseline. He could see the ball well. But if he went to the net, the ball was upon him so quickly that he couldn‘t focus. So he wouldn‘t wear his glasses and therefore, could never go to the net in doubles.
OLBERMANN: And what he said to you when you were rallying against him in one of your matches—what you heard him say to himself actually?
LLOYD: In a given game, he was well ahead in the game and his lead began to decrease. I got within one point of tying him in that game. And I heard him muttering to himself as he went to the baseline to pick up a tennis ball; Charlie, he said to himself, take all the success you can get.
OLBERMANN: Marvelous. Much of what we have left out is in the documentary “Who Is Norman Lloyd.” There is the obviously named website for additional info. It is playing at the moment at the film forum here in New York City. Norman Lloyd himself will be playing at a tennis court adjoining his home first of next week probably. You have honored me with your presence, sir. Thank you.
LLOYD: It has been an honor to be here.
OLBERMANN: Thank you. That is COUNTDOWN for this the 1,677th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. From New York, I‘m Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
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