'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 20
Guests: Craig Crawford, Janice Karpinski, Karl Kronenberger, Arianna Huffington
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Iraq divides the country, Iraq divides the Democrats. Speaker Pelosi also booed at the Take Back America conference, while a heretofore amorphous element takes firmer shape in the presidential landscape. Bloomberg spoiler alert?
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MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK CITY: We have two people from New York who are candidates for president of the United States. I'm not sure the state needs a third.
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OLBERMANN: Of course, he's also not sure it doesn't.
The truth shifts again in Afghanistan. After denying it, the military now says its special ops forces did too know that there were children inside the compound they attacked with rockets.
Afghanistan and Iraq, and how to report what happens there, with our new MSNBC military analyst, General Wesley Clark.
And the squelching of the investigation of Abu Ghraib, the viewpoint of our special guest, its former commander, General Janice Karpinski.
Internet libel. You are slandered on a Web site in a comment posted anonymously. What do you do? Two women have sued the Web site. Will the laws of the land be applied to the Web?
And Bill-O, he gets the Second World War wrong again, and tells you you are not permitted to hear about children killed in a tragedy of war in Afghanistan, because anybody who reports it is, quote, "jazzed" about it. And you are not permitted to see terrorist bombings in Iraq, because knowing about them is a terrorist victory. Plus, it takes away from his important coverage of what's really important.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: We bring you stuff that is new, that is relevant to your life.
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O'REILLY: (INAUDIBLE) segment tonight, the increasing problems with bears.
Gold medal Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard, who is undraped in "Playboy" this month.
BillOReilly.com, best Father's Day stuff, Spin Stops Here pin, Dad wants it.
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OLBERMANN: All that and more, now on Countdown.
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O'REILLY: Burt Reynolds was once the most highly paid actor in the world.
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OLBERMANN: Good evening.
Senator Hillary Clinton has made it clear she has no intention of apologizing for her 2002 vote authorizing the war in Iraq. Today, the liberal base of the Democratic Party made it clear that it has no intention of stopping asking her to do so.
Our fifth story on the Countdown, having already ruptured the Republican Party from the Republican president, the war in Iraq now separating the Democrats as well, Senator Clinton at the liberal Take Back America conference in Washington this morning trying to play up the fact that she voted against last month's Iraq supplemental, but her comments about Iraq prompted a mixture of boos and applause from those trying to drown the booing out.
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SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government which has failed to make the tough decisions that are important for their own people.
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OLBERMANN: In contrast, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the same audience what it wanted to hear, that the war was a grotesque mistake, her mistake, that she failed to tell them soon enough. Instead, she tried to recite a laundry list of what she saw as other Democratic accomplishments and priorities, only to be shouted down with cries of "Bring the troops home now."
Against such a backdrop, why would anybody want to run for president anyway? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg still keeping everybody guessing on that point, with his first public comments since yesterday's announcement that he was leaving the Republican Party. Let's just say the man with $500 million in petty cash to spend on a White House bid did not utterly rule out doing so.
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MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK CITY: I have said that my intention is to be mayor for the next 925 days and probably about 10 hours, whatever's left, 11 hours, and that is my intention.
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OLBERMANN: Our intention is to call in our own Craig Crawford, also columnist at "Congressional Quarterly" magazine.
Craig, good evening.
CRAIG CRAWFORD, "CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY": And we follow through on our intentions.
OLBERMANN: We got that one done, anyway. Having witnessed what happened at Take Back America this morning in Washington, might the Democrats have seriously miscalculated how vital getting out of Iraq, and doing so quickly, is to a large segment of their party?
CRAWFORD: I think they know that now, Keith. And these kind of events, I was over there today, you know, getting booed like that, there's a certain tin-ear quality to Speaker Pelosi, and maybe even Senator Clinton, to an extent, about this - these type of Democrats.
I don't understand it, because I know they're there, and in Senator Clinton's case, she was booed by the same group last year, so she knew it was coming. Maybe they wanted it, maybe, you know, maybe being seen booed while praising American troops is something they want Americans to see for the general election.
OLBERMANN: The recent poll numbers, though, showed that approval of Congress has dropped. It's led many to conclude the solution was for the Democrats to cut their losses, find a way to reach (INAUDIBLE) - consensus on the issues, more issues with the White House. But given that reception today, between Senator Clinton and Speaker Pelosi, might that be entirely wrong? Might people actually be mad at Congress precisely because it caved in to the White House about Iraq?
CRAWFORD: That poll showing Congress less popular than Bush was a bit of a shocker to Democratic leaders, Keith. And that is the consensus among the many that I've talked to, the operatives, the consultants that, you know, defying the base, almost, in that, is one reason for it.
They calculated that by, you know, giving, putting of timetables and withdrawal bill on the table and that Bush signed, that that was going to satisfy that base, that at least they tried. But I think it's clear now, they got to do more, and they are going to do more. They're planning to bring Iraq back to the table, because they now, I think, begin to realize, that's how to get the (INAUDIBLE), the coalition back together, for maintaining their control of Congress.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of fractures, the most prominent Republican mayor in the country, Mayor Bloomberg, ex- Republican, ex-Democrat and ex-Republican, a third-party presidential candidate last even did as well as second in 1912. So naturally the question becomes, if he runs, who does he hurt? Does hurt the Republican? Does he hurt the Democrat? Or would he not be strong enough to hurt either one of them?
CRAWFORD: And that was a former president back in 1912 did that. The high watermark since Teddy Roosevelt was Perot, I believe. There've been about eight fairly serious independent candidacies. Ross Perot got about 19 percent of the vote in 1992. So that is the tough part for Bloomberg. Does he want to be a spoiler, or does he want to run for this thing for real?
And it depends on how much dissatisfaction. I've always thought there is a market, there is a huge market out there for independent candidacies. I do - I think, though, independent movements should start in Congress and get independent numbers in Congress and build a party from there, and then run for president.
OLBERMANN: His calculus is what? If the Republicans nominate somebody extremely right, he becomes, in effect, the sane Republican, if the Democrats nominate somebody extremely left, he becomes, in effect, the safe Democrat?
CRAWFORD: Yes, that's pretty good Ouija board electoral math, I think, which is, at this point, all we got to deal with. But that's probably true. (INAUDIBLE), the only evidence of data we got on the table so far suggests there are, there's a likelihood in the battleground states that there's a net benefit to Democrats, particularly in some key states like Missouri, where one poll shows a Giuliani lead, for example, flipping to a Hillary Clinton lead if Bloomberg's in the equation. But we're a long ways down the road to see if any of that pans out.
OLBERMANN: Well, if it only costs him $500 million to find out, what the heck?
CRAWFORD: It'll take about half that just to get on the ballots with the two-party monopolies of state laws.
OLBERMANN: All right, then he'll put in another $500 million.
Craig Crawford of MSNBC and "Congressional Quarterly," also the author of the new book "The Politics of Life." Great thanks, Craig.
CRAWFORD: Good to be here.
OLBERMANN: Time bringing about a big change in spin from the U.S. military regarding the weekend attack on a suspected al Qaeda hideout in Afghanistan, which killed seven children. At first, the U.S. said it had no idea children were inside. But now American officials are telling our Pentagon correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski, that the U.S. military special ops forces, who launched the attack, knew that there were children present inside that compound.
Their justification for going ahead anyway, that the al Qaeda leader they were targeting was considered such a high-value target that it was worth the risk.
As of this morning, still no word from the U.S. military on whether or not that target they sought was killed.
And as we mentioned, a far cry from what the military had been saying about the attack on Monday, because it had claimed it did not know the children were there. The mere fact that the networks like this one were even reporting the story thus prompted criticism from some quarters.
An honor now to welcome to MSNBC our new military analyst, retired four-star Army general Wesley Clark, also, of course, the former supreme allied commander at NATO, as well as a former Democratic presidential candidate.
General, thank you for being with us.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: Great to be with you, Keith. I'm really happy to be here.
OLBERMANN: As we are.
Should the media, sir, ever be restricted on what it can and cannot report about a military offensive after it has taken place?
CLARK: Well, I think it's hard to make a case for restricting the media in that circumstance, unless there's something that would put American troops in the continuation of the operation at risk. If there was something about disclosing that it had begun that puts the follow-on force at risk, maybe you could make that case.
But in general, I don't think it's wise policy for the United States government to try to restrict what can and can't be shown on television. The American people can see through that. We want to know how are troops are doing. They're representing us. We love them, we want them to succeed, we want them to be safe. And it's the media that helps us interpret how well it's going.
OLBERMANN: And it's always been true that way.
But now this subject about the children in Afghanistan, that would not be not so much what happened, but the military's assessment and revelations about what happened, and whether or not they knew about the kids there. During the Afghan and Iraq Wars, there have been other examples in which the military's version of events have evolved, Pat Tillman's death, the cover-up of the fact that he'd been killed by friendly fire, the capture, the rescue of Jessica Lynch in the Iraqi hospital.
Stories change, circumstances change days, weeks, sometimes months after the fact. Does that not even further underscore the need for persistent, consistent reporting? I mean, without it, would we ever have learned the true story about Corporal Tillman's death or Private Lynch's rescue?
CLARK: No, I think you're right. I think it's really hard to know what happens in battle. And usually, the first reports are wrong. And in my personal experience, the first reports have been wrong.
We had a case when I was leading the operation that was striking the Serb forces in Kosovo, where we actually bombed a convoy. The airmen swore that it was a Serb force that was driving these tractors and burning houses. And we intensively looked at it over a period of weeks. And finally, finally, at the end, a year later or so, we talked to the Albanians who'd been there, and they weren't Serbs.
And it was an extremely difficult thing to get the truth out of the circumstances. It's just - it's difficult. So sometimes there may be some misleading. I think there was misleading in the case of Pat Tillman, I think their investigation bears that out.
In this latest case, we don't know if there was misleading or not. It may be just that first reports weren't correct, and by the time they got the special forces guys back in and debriefed them, they realized they had, in fact, taken the calculated risk of calling in the bombs, even though they saw the presence of children in the compound.
OLBERMANN: On the other issue that has been made and raised, the argument that's being made in criticizing news organizations for covering at all insurgent attacks, terrorist bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan, that covering them only helps the insurgents, what's your assessment of that charge?
CLARK: Well, I think it's an absurd charge. I think the truth is that the word on military successes and defeats is important in a democracy. And that word's going to get out, whether a TV station covers it or not. And the American people have a right to know, they have a need to know. And the idea that you could sort of decide not to show this because it might be discouraging or whatever, that's the kind of censorship that undercuts faith, not only in news organizes, but in governments.
We always believe in the truth. I think if you lay out the truth, if your policies are sound, if your motivations are correct, if your policies are honorable and legal, then the truth is the best policy. If it isn't, if those aren't your policies, maybe you got something to hide.
Let me ask you, this is more of a philosophical question, an assessment question, than a breaking news question. But given that we had to do that, that there was an attack looking for an al Qaeda high-level target on the loose in Afghanistan, not to mention bin Laden, and it's five and a half years after the attacks of 9/11, and the start of the war in Afghanistan, do you think we are devoting our resources as we should when it comes to fighting what the administration calls the war on terror?
CLARK: Absolutely not. It's been mistaken almost from the beginning. We went into Afghanistan as we should. We did not have a plan for success in Afghanistan to get al Qaeda. We didn't want to put the American troops in, because the administration was already planning on going after Iraq, even though there was no connection established between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein.
So we short-changed the operation in Afghanistan repeatedly. It was an economy of force mission. Now we're really committed in Iraq, the Taliban's coming back, because basically, in that part of the world, there are forces and people that don't want to see the Americans there.
When you go in there, you have to have a plan for success, you have to get your success, and you have to get out again. You cannot occupy these countries. It's - we wouldn't want to be occupied in America either. And so why we think we can stay there year after year and build friends, it's backwards.
You got to have a plan for success at the outset, you've got to have enough resources to bring that success together, and then you've got to turn it over to local people. That's - we haven't done that.
In the meantime, al Qaeda's using all our efforts as a recruiting incentive. And so they're training against us, they're recruiting people against us. It's trouble.
OLBERMANN: The retired general, Wesley Clark. We're proud to have you with us on MSNBC, and particularly on Countdown. We look forward to talking with you again soon, sir.
CLARK: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Another former general, Janice Karpinski, with us with reaction to the news of how the Pentagon stymied the investigation into Abu Ghraib. She may have been the fall person.
And Bill-O says covering every bomb in Iraq is meaningless. He only reports the important news, such as, quote, "the increasing problems with bears."
You are watching Countdown on MSNBC.
OLBERMANN: We told you yesterday about the disturbing new allegations from the retired general who investigated Abu Ghraib.
Tonight, in our fourth story on the Countdown, the former general who ran Abu Ghraib, Janice Karpinski, will join us to respond to, corroborate, or quarrel with the claims made by Major General Antonio Taguba in the latest issue of "The New Yorker" magazine. Specifically, Taguba suggests that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and even President Bush both knew about the abuses months before his report was leaked to "The New Yorker."
He also strongly implies that his investigation was strictly defined to ensure that only lower-level officials took the fall, when in fact Taguba believes that culpability for the abuse and, in some cases, torture went very high up the military food chain, with a potentially significant side trip into the murky world of military intelligence, and the, quote, "other government agency," OGA, a military euphemism for the CIA.
General Karpinski was criticized in the original Taguba report, reprimanded, relieved of command of the military prisons in Iraq. After she went public to claim she was made a scapegoat and started to name other officials, she was demoted to colonel.
Now, as promised, former brigadier general Karpinski, commander of U.S. military prisons in Iraq back in 2003 and '04, now author of "One Woman's Army: The Commanding General of Abu Ghraib Tells Her Story."
Great thanks for your time tonight.
JANICE KARPINSKI, AUTHOR, "ONE WOMAN'S ARMY": Great to be with you.
OLBERMANN: Setting aside, obviously, the dispute that you would have with General Taguba, would you agree that it does seem that the two of you agree that intelligence officers deserve, at the least, some serious scrutiny about their role in interrogations and prisoner treatment at that facility?
KARPINSKI: Yes, absolutely. It just took him three years longer to get to the same point that I was saying to him from the very beginning.
OLBERMANN: If Taguba's report began and ended with the 800th Military
Police Brigade, who did or who should have looked into roles played by CIA,
by military intelligence, or by anybody else?
KARPINSKI: There was a subsequent investigation done, and it was conducted - it was one of the 19 investigations conducted surrounding Abu Ghraib and the other - and the tentacles (ph) of Abu Ghraib and the photographs.
And that investigation was conducted shortly after the testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the 800th MP Brigade, when it was very clear that there was other involvement.
And there was an investigation conducted to look into the OGA and other aspects of it, missing funds, contractors' involvement, et cetera. But none of those investigations really produced any charges. Certainly no soldiers spent time in prison as a result of any of those investigations.
OLBERMANN: Tell me about this cellblock 1A, this special section that the intel people used at that prison. What was different about it?
KARPINSKI: Well, it was the only cellblock in all of Iraq with high-security individual cells, maximum security cells. So the restoration of Abu Ghraib started at that end of the cellblocks and continued. And we didn't have hardened criminals to hold in any of our facilities.
The first time that those cellblocks were actually used was during General - Major General Miller's visit. And they took higher-value detainees that were awaiting or undergoing interrogation, and put them in kind of like in an isolation setting, in those particular cellblocks. And that's what they used the cells for, because they could segregate each one of them so there was no discussion about information between them.
But shortly after - during General Miller's visit, the military intelligence took control of cellblock 1A and B to house these higher-value detainees. And then there was an incident involving a handgun, which gave them the justification to cover all of the windows, all of the doors, and restrict visual access to those cellblocks altogether. It was the only cellblocks in any of our prison facilities configured in such a way.
OLBERMANN: You mentioned Major General Miller. Maybe the most chilling part of all this might be the similarities between the methods of treating suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, and the methods for treating the people in cellblock 1A at Abu Ghraib. I'm gathering this was not coincidental.
KARPINSKI: It was not coincidental, because those same techniques migrated with General Miller and his 22- or 24-person Tiger Team on their visit to Abu Ghraib, specifically sent by the secretary of defense, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his assistant, Dr. Stephen Cambone. And Major General Miller brought those techniques with him after he apparently tested them and refined them in interrogations down at Guantanamo Bay.
He's the one who made the comment that he was going to "Gitmoize" the operation at Abu Ghraib. And he's never clearly defined that, but we see in the photographs exactly what he intended.
OLBERMANN: There was one disturbing quote, among a sea of them, in the Taguba-Sy Hersh story in "The New Yorker," in which a general on the ground in Iraq tells those investigating - I guess Taguba, I'm not sure off the top of my head - about the people inside, in those pictures, that, quote, "They're just Iraqis." Does that ring familiar to you? Does it resonate with you, to you in any way? Do you have a reaction to that one particular quote?
KARPINSKI: It is very offensive. But I heard a similar quote, if not the identical quote, used several times, where people responded when we said we needed, you know, we needed to get running water out at Abu Ghraib, or in any of the other prison facilities. And the deputy to General Sanchez, on several occasions, turned around and said to me, "But they're only Iraqis. My priority is to U.S. service members."
The first mortar attack we had out at Abu Ghraib, which immediately killed about nine Iraqis and subsequently some more died, and there were numerous injuries, I was pleaded for more force protection from one of the combat units. And the same individual said to me, "But they're only Iraqis," and - as if that - that they were disposable or something. Very chilling.
OLBERMANN: The former commander of U.S. prisons in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib, Brigadier General Janice Karpinski. Great thanks for your forthrightness, great thanks for joining us tonight.
KARPINSKI: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The Internet, what do you do if your picture rockets around the Web, or just your identity, and it then provokes anonymous threats against your safety, your life, your career? Two law students decide to sue a Web site manager over anonymous quotes and anonymous posts.
And a new meaning to the phrase from basketball, "Driving to the basket."
Next on Countdown.
OLBERMANN: June 20, widely reported, particularly on the Internet, as the 50th birthday of the actor Butch Patrick, who played Eddie, the boy of the family, in "The Munsters." It isn't. He was actually born on August 3, 1953. This does, however, permit me to repeat the rhetorical question about the character of Eddie Munster. If his father was a Frankenstein and his mother was a vampire, why the hell is he a werewolf?
OK, let's play Oddball.
We begin on the Internets with one from the Please Don't Try This at Home file, from way downtown. Bang. Or if you prefer (INAUDIBLE) rotation splash. It's our Oddball Play of the Day, courtesy of some wacky teenagers with a Jeep and the rock.
This, of course, would be completely illegal in a regulation game. You got to put the ball on the floor, or you're going to get dinged for traveling. Well, I mean, not if your Kobe Bryant, but, I mean, if you're the average NBA player. Plus, we're not saying this video's fake. I'm guessing there were quite a few airballs that didn't quite make the good old upload.
Also on the Internets, from the For the Love of Joe, Please Don't Try This at Home Either file. It is a Web video showing a bunch of Norwegian kids messing around with the tracks in the path of an oncoming high-speed train. Very dangerous, because some of them had welding equipment. What do you think? Do you think this might be a fake?
Just another day on the Acela.
The downside of the Internet, anonymous posts, anonymous web sites. You can slander. You can libel. You can encourage violence against people. Tonight, two victims say they can fight back.
And Playboy says we don't care if she has a criminal record, we would still let this woman pose naked for us. Those stories ahead, but time now for Countdown's top three news makers of this day.
Number three, Shawn Breault, the bartender at the Daily Double in Glens Falls, New York. After a customer tried to rob the place on a dare, Mr. Breault first punched the man in the head, then kept him immobilized until police arrived by pouring hot sauce on the cut he had opened up in the guy's face.
Number two, Helene De Geier in the Netherlands. There is a lottery in Holland based on where you live. If your zip code is drawn, you could win anything from a dollar to several million, provided you entered the lottery, which Miss De Geier did not do. Her zip code was drawn. So she sued the lottery for emotional distress, claiming that her neighbors who did enter it flaunted their winnings and taunted her for not having entered. The judge said tough. You can't sue the lottery just because you didn't do the things necessary to win the lottery.
And number one, Taryn McCarthy of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. She will serve three days in jail after pleading guilty to driving drunk on New Years Eve and attacking her arresting officer by grabbing his genitals. Miss McCarthy describes herself as an aspiring model. Model, what kind?
OLBERMANN: If someone threatens you, you can press charges. If a newspaper somehow prints an anonymous slander about you, you can sue the newspaper. But if this happens on the Internet, all bets are off. Our third story on the Countdown, until now. Take the case of a California high school athlete, Allison Stoke (ph), whose images appeared on a sports blog, then spread around the web, producing legions of fans, but also swarms of lewd, offensive comments, to say nothing of threats of violence against her, which she says made her feel violated.
Her father claims he's forced to constantly search the web for anonymous threats. Other women and men have become the victims of online racial, sexual, even physical harassment. But now two women, both Yale law school grads, are fighting by fighting the anonymity of the web. The lawsuit aimed at this site, popular with Ivy League law students, AutoAdmit. The women demanding to know the identities of 28 users who spread rumors about their academic record, their sexuality, and they say even threatened them with rape.
And it is not just distress or fear either. They say the posts were so damaging they actually cost them legal internships, and other job opportunities. They're also suing a former website manager who refused to remove the posts. This could turn into the first attempt to bring some of the same rules that apply to broadcast or print media, or just real life, to the web.
Let me turn to a specialist in Internet law, former prosecutor and current attorney, Karl Kronenberger. Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
KARL KRONENBERGER, INTERNET LAW ATTORNEY: Thanks Keith.
OLBERMANN: Has any legal recourse been established for people who have been flat out slandered in anonymous posts on the web? Is this still new territory?
KRONENBERGER: I actually don't think it is new territory. If people think that there is a constitutional right, an absolute constitutional right to post things on the Internet, they are wrong. There is a great amount of protection that the First Amendment provides. However, that is a qualified right. If the First Amendment activity, your commentary on the Internet, falls within a certain number of exceptions, then the First Amendment will not be a shield for you.
For example, defamation. The First Amendment is simply not a shield against defamation. And it has not been for years. So I really don't understand what all the hubbub is about this case, except for the fact, perhaps, that somebody got sued. I can say that if you defame an attorney, there's a higher likelihood of you getting sued than if you defame a non-attorney. That's the only thing I can think of.
OLBERMANN: Do you the hubbub maybe stems from the idea that these Yale trained attorneys are suing not some anonymous poster that they have tracked down, but, in fact, are trying to make responsible for the anonymous comments, the person running the website. Is that not the potential precedent here, that you are responsible for what is posted anonymously on your web site if it is defamatory?
KRONENBERGER: Well Keith, that issue has been litigated by the courts before. There is a federal law, called the Communications Decency Act, which gives immunity for defamation liability to people who run websites. Now, there could be an argument here that this person who was sued, Anthony Chielli (ph) I think his name is, actually was an information content provider, where went beyond just running the site, and was actually posting on the site and he lost his immunity.
There's an argument there. But this suit does not just involve defamation. There are copy right allegations. There's an allegation of intentional infliction of emotional distress and some other allegations as well. Copy right is another issue. ISPs do have immunity under the federal statute. So, there is a potential that this individual could be immune from liability.
The bigger issue is, both legally and practically, will these plaintiffs be able to get the identities of these anonymous posters? Legally, I think there's a good chance that they'll have the right to issue subpoenas. Practically speaking, will they be able to actually get the identities? It depends. It depends on the information that the website has when these anonymous individuals signed up. Maybe there is an IP address that was used on the sign up.
If that is the case, the plaintiffs will get that IP address and can subpoena the ISP and find out who was using that ISP address at that date and time. Perhaps it's a DSL account at home or a Comcast account. Or perhaps it is a free Internet cafe or a local coffee shop that offers free Internet. Then we will probably not find the identity of these anonymous posters.
OLBERMANN: The Internet law specialist, former prosecutor and attorney, Karl Kronenberger, great thanks for your time and great thanks for joining us tonight.
KRONENBERGER: Thanks Keith.
OLBERMANN: An offer of a job for Paris Hilton after jail from Playboy. And speaking of naked and undesirable, Bill-O says news outlets which report on the bombings in Iraq are helping the terrorists, while he is helping America by reporting news that really matters, like whether we should beware of bears. That is ahead. This is Countdown.
OLBERMANN: Our number two story on the Countdown, our nightly round up of celebrity and entertainment news, keeping tabs, with a suggestion from Hugh Hefner on what Paris Hilton might do when she gets out of jail, pose nude for "Playboy Magazine." Hefner said it's a standing offer. What, she's only going to pose standing?
Telling "Access Hollywood," quote, I think the problem, quite frankly, is mama. Mama does not want her to pose. Meanwhile, Miss Hilton is reportedly effusive in answering her fan mail. In one obtained by E! Online, she writes that, quote, the letters I'm receiving really do put a smile on my face as I sit here in my cell, sad and alone. Was that written to Joel McCale (ph) personally?
And according to a recent visitor, still looking good, even without makeup is Miss Hilton. An actress named Jule Erascoq (ph) saying that it was surreal how Miss Hilton was naturally beautiful.
A lawsuit filed against Nancy "I Know What You Did Last Summer" Grace and CNN is now going to federal court. Grace being sued for wrongful death by the family of Melinda Duckett, the mother who committed suicide hours after Grace drove her to tears last September, haranguing her on air as a neglectful parent because her two year old son Trenton had disappeared. The boy has never been found.
There is nothing in it for the attorney who is taking the case pro bono. There is also a lawsuit over what has been done with the money raised in the boy's name, money raised with the help of Nancy Grace.
And then there is Bill-O, saying that he's not going to cover bombs going off in Iraq because it's, quote, meaningless, unlike, say, his investigative report on the epidemic of at least one bear attack, or his penetrating interview with a woman athlete who had posed nude.
But first, time for Countdown's latest list of nominees for Worst People in the World. The bronze to the unnamed resident of Middleton St. George in England, who caused a sewer pipe to burst and the road above it to cave in because he or she had flushed down the toilet two items that blocked the pipe, nine inches in diameter though it was. The two items, a bra and panties, proceeding, no doubt, by the phrase, quick.
Our runner up tonight, Woody, an otherwise unidentified wheelchair-bound individual in Orlando, Florida. Woody rolled up to a guy he knew named Antonio Jennings, promptly removed his own artificial leg, and whacked Mr. Jennings in the face with it. Woody and another alleged perpetrator then stole 30 dollars from the dazed Mr. Jennings, and took his bottle of beer from him. Then they left the area.
But our winner, good old Newt Gingrich. Boy, this is the devil frustrated. He has two of his favorite temptations almost tied together and it's killing him. Gingrich has put out, even lent his voice and face to, a TV ad attacking any immigration compromise, which begins with Gingrich saying, quote, Mohammad Atta and several other 9/11 hijackers were in the United States illegally. Except that the 9/11 ring leader wasn't here illegally. As the 9/11 Commission has confirmed, he came in on a legal tourist visa.
He then applied for and got a student visa to stay here through October, 2001. Gingrich just made that up to scare people. In fact, all the 9/11 hijackers got into the country legally. And one would assume anybody sent here to try to harm us would also try to get in legally to avoid being susceptible to being picked up as illegal aliens. Newt "Get Thee Behind Me" Gingrich, today's Worst Person in the World.
OLBERMANN: Bill O'Reilly has resumed telling you what you can and cannot think and what you can and cannot watch. Our number one story on the Countdown, angry at MSNBC, as usual, like him getting thrown out of a baseball team's clubhouse the other day because he didn't have the right credentials, but I did. Bill-O has again tried to pretend that he's taking some kind of high moral stance in ripping NBC. He is not, unless he really thinks propaganda and lying to the public and censoring the news comprise a high moral stance.
And don't forget the secular progressive outrage that is an epidemic of attacks on Americans bears.
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BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: All three network newscasts reported seven Afghan children were killed in fighting between the Taliban and U.S. forces. ABC New spent 15 seconds on the story, just told you about it. CBS News, ten seconds. But NBC News gave it a full two minutes. Dead Afghan children killed in an American airstrike, NBC News is jazzed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: He also explained that he brings his listeners and viewers stuff that is new, stuff that is relevant to your life. We decided to give you a brief sample of the stuff Bill-O and Fox Noise have recently decided are more relevant to your life than the horrors and realities of war. and all of these are from the past week.
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O'REILLY: Caution, you are about to enter the no spin zone. We bring you stuff that is new, that is relevant to your life.
Next, gold medal Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard, who is undraped in Playboy this month.
And I'm not going to cover every bomb that goes off in Tikrit.
Because it is meaningless.
Unresolved problem segment tonight, the increasing problems with bears.
On my program, I don't do a lot of Iraq reporting, because we don't know what's happening.
Plenty more ahead as "The Factor" moves along this evening. Big rock n' roll controversy, who is blocking the Monkeys from being in the Rock Hall of Fame?
What do you learn about a terror bombing in Baghdad every day?
Our body language expert will analyze the latest Rosie O'Donnell Internet posting.
You get a lot of bang bang for the sake of bang bang, OK. No context, burning stuff.
When we come right back, having sex in your sleep. Is that a legitimate defense against rape charges or total BS?
We're trying to do the facts, and there's nothing to be learned from another explosion.
Which performer did not appear with Burt Reynolds in the Smoky and Bandit movies? Did not appear with him -
There's little news value in broadcasting daily bombings.
"The Factor" continues 24/7 on BillOReilly.com. Best father's day stuff. Spin stops here. Pen, dad wants it.
The folks know news when they see it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: We didn't even include tonight's loop of supposed Paris Hilton pornography. In a more serious aspect to all of this, Bill-O also got the Second World War wrong again. You will remember his insistence that the slaughtered American prisoners at Malmedy at the start of the Battle of the Bulge were actually war criminals who had murdered German prisoners.
Now, to rationalize criticizing actual news organizations for showing actual news, he's bulldozed over the facts of the greatest generation yet again. "What about President Roosevelt setting up the Office of War Information in 1942?," he asked, "which censored, among other things, the results of enemy action and American casualty lists. Roosevelt did that to prevent the erosion of morale here in America."
Actually, the OWI, under the leadership of the very liberal former CBS News man named Elmer Davis, was responsible not for censorship, but for patriotic posters and radio broadcasts and warnings to the public about accidental revelation of war secrets. Loose lips sink ships. And eventually it created the Voice of America.
Censorship, the decision not to show the results of enemy action, like American dead, was actually discontinued during the Second World War when President Roosevelt himself decided that keeping such information secret was keeping Americans at home from realizing how serious, how vital the war was, that censorship was eroding morale here in America. Famously, Roosevelt personally lifted the ban on publishing photographs of dead American servicemen, and "Life Magazine" printed an astounding photo, the first of U.S. casualties engulfed in the sands and maggots of the beaches at Buna, New Guinea.
So, Bill O'Reilly's reporting lives up to its usual 27 percent standards. I'm joined now by the founder and editor of the "Huffington Post," Arianna Huffington. Thanks for your time tonight, Arianna.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: So, O'Reilly is presented with the fact that MSNBC and CNN have covered the Iraq war three times more frequently than Fox News of late, and goes on the offensive with these premise that mere knowledge of a terrorist bombing helps the terrorists, and so MSNBC and CNN are, by definition, liberal, if not traitorous. Then he twists what FDR did 65 years ago, because FDR found out that if you keep the awful truth from the American public, it will make them apathetic and unwilling to sacrifice.
This is some pretty intricate propaganda this time from this guy, is it not?
HUFFINGTON: Well, it is actually the height of irrationality and hypocrisy. It is kind of a new low, at the same time, in Bill O'Reilly's way of arguing. Also, it's the height of, kind of, soullessness - you touched on that - because to call bombs that kill real people meaningless while he is spending the kind of time he's spending on whether you're having sex in your sleep and whether you are - before this week, you know, we had endless reports on Anna Nicole Smith, who the father of her baby was, and Paris Hilton.
So, it doesn't make any sense, except Bill O'Reilly has decided that a good offense is the best defense.
OLBERMANN: There was a complaint in here about reporting bombings without context. That's the one kind of issue in there that you might have an actual intelligent conversation - if you had another intelligent person involved in the conversation besides him. But he gripes about NBC News and presumably other news organizations devoting actual time, two minutes in this case, to the children killed in Afghanistan. But a two-minute report is exactly what gave it context. So now he is going after the coverage from another set of contradictory angles. Isn't he?
HUFFINGTON: Well, he is. But the ultimate contradiction for me is when Bill O'Reilly, again and again, criticizes those of us who are opposed to the war as being unpatriotic and not supporting the troops. But he thinks that he is supporting the troops by ignoring their deaths, by ignoring their ultimate sacrifice. I have no idea how he can justify that. I wonder is anyone holding him accountable.
If he continues to pretend that he's a journalist, he is basically missing the whole point of journalism, which is to tell the news to the American people and to develop the story as it evolves and as it unfolds. If that is not journalism, and if that's not what news shows are supposed to do, then I do not know what they're supposed to do, except talk about bears and having sex in your sleep.
OLBERMANN: While being threatened by bears. One other thing here that struck me as a fundamental conflict in the positions that he has offered; he says be afraid of everything, because there is terror around the corner. Fight in Iraq because there is terror around the corner, the traditional party line from the government. But then he says don't show the results of the terror.
I thought propaganda only worked if you give the message - one message to the victims of propaganda. Is this not even ineffective, because he's contradicting himself just on the purely propaganda level?
HUFFINGTON: He is contradicting himself on the purely propaganda level, but that is, of course, what he feels he has to do, because if we go back to the amount of time that Fox and Bill O'Reilly spent on the war when it was going well for the administration, right just about the Mission Accomplished moment, then we would have a very different argument from him about why they were devoting so much time to the war.
This is purely the fact that the war is not going well, that every day we have more evidence that the escalation has not worked, and that, as a result, the only way to stop the American people from being even more opposed to what is happening than they already are is to just withhold the facts from them, to allow them to be in a greater level of denial then they are at the moment.
OLBERMANN: And the point that Wes Clark made at the beginning of this hour; when people know what is happening in a war, they care, and they care about the people who are fighting the war on their behalf. That seems to have been lost in this equation too. Does it not?
HUFFINGTON: It has, and, you know, it is really tragic, because we need to level with the American people from the beginning, from before we invaded Iraq. The problem with this war has been our leaders not leveling with the American people, and the American media not leveling with the American people. But this, Keith, is a new low. It is a new low, as a said in the beginning, in irrationality.
It is impossible for anybody to try and defend what Bill O'Reilly is saying.
OLBERMANN: Arianna Huffington, founder of HuffingtonPost.com, as always, great thanks for your time and joining us tonight.
HUFFINGTON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That is Countdown for this, the 1,512th day since the declaration of mission accomplished in Iraq. I'm Keith Olbermann, good night and good luck.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END