On The Occasion Of Olbermann’s Return
A Tribute To Keith Olbermann
One night around four years ago, I was lamenting the complete and utter end of real American journalism in a country that I grew up in but could no longer recognize. It had become a country of “pre-emptive war” but as a student of history, I recognized it as “preventive war”, something that Eisenhower described as
“That isn’t preventive war; that is war.
I don’t believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn’t even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing.
… It seems to me that when, by definition, a term is just ridiculous in itself, there is no use in going any further.”
“All of us have heard this term “preventive war” since the earliest days of Hitler. I recall that is about the first time I heard it.”
Not only had this foreign concept gripped my country’s foreign policy due to hegemonic dreams of the neoconservative movement, but a system of torture (and even death) prisons which is against domestic, Constitutional, and international law was set up complete with it’s own tribunal judgement system outside the rule of law to circumvent the rule of law much like “the People’s Court” of World War II Germany. Journalistic questioning of the administration and its lies to commit this nation to war could cause one to lose their job in journalism as was shown in the firing of Phil Donohue, Ashley Banfield, Dan Rather, or producer Mary Mapes. It was under this setting of 21st century McCarthyism of which there were no Walter Cronkites or Edward R. Murrows emerging to push back. That is, not until Keith Olbermann stepped forth that night in question to take on Donald Rumsfeld who in his speech, impugned all Americans who questioned the administration’s war in Iraq.
The Rumsfeld speech in question was his address at the 88th Annual American Legion National Convention in Salt Lake Utah on Tuesday, August 29th, 2006. In this loathsome speech, Rumsfeld attacked America’s newspapers, Newsweek, CNN, and Amnesty International for their questioning of the war. Some of it was typical apologist type of criticism calling those that seek truthful answers or that notice inconsistencies to the administration’s rhetoric and explanations as the “blame America first crowd” that could be made by any political liar or hate talker on right wing radio or television. But what was particularly disgusting was his descriptive terminology of critics with “moral or intellectual confusion” and called on the legion to have a “watchdog role” in keeping the media and others “straight”. All in all, it was typical attack the messenger stuff usually characteristic of that administration.
As I sat in the kitchen next to the den where Countdown was being watched by my family, Keith began his “special comment” on the matter and as those words drifted to my seat in the kitchen, it was if I were hit by a sharp shock of electricity. I turned immediately to those watching in the den and yelled “record”. He even invoked Murrow and it really hit me that someone was standing up and saying, “enough” ! It was what we had been missing for years from a generally uninformative and complacent press that had led a cheerleading role in the lies that had launched the war. Maybe that is why today, many in the press try pushing the idea Olbermann is the left equivalent of Bill O’Reilly. Maybe through their false equivalency of giving “balance” to both sides of an argument, even when one side is false, continues to drive corporate oversight over content in what should be in the public interest instead. There is no comparison with speaking truth to power and lies and never will be. Welcome back Keith.