'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, January 22nd, 2010
Video via MSNBC: Quick Comment (media laziness), Quick Comment (Doocy), Worst Persons
Video via YouTube: Quick Comment (media laziness), Quick Comment (Doocy)
Guests: Rep. James Clyburn, Bob Edgar, Mark Potok, Chris Hayes
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Corpocracy: When Democratic whip in the House and one of George Bush's key lawyers in Bush v. Gore both decry it, when Obama's deputy campaign manager and McCain's media strategist both deplore it, when Delta and Hasbro and Seagram's and Ben & Jerry's and "Playboy" and Men's Warehouse all beg Congress to pass laws to supplant it with publicly-financed elections, you know it's bad.
The Supreme Court cuts the breaks on corporate-sponsored political campaigns day two.
Our special guest, the man who predicts, "Special interests will drown out the voices of the individual voters," House Majority Whip James Clyburn.
On the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the trial begins for the assassin of Dr. George Tiller. The judge permits testimony claiming the terrorist was acting in defense of other people. Are other doctors who treat women's reproductive issues now in danger?
Can you hold a tea party to protest the original tea party? A top right-wing blogger says the Nashville tea party convention next month, quote, "smells scammy."
The "Quick Comment": Well, this feline is out of that receptacle.
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STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS: Did Senator Specter step over the line? We're going to report. You're going to decide - but the answer is yes.
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OLBERMANN: And tonight's comment about this guy's special comment about one of my earlier not special comments. My head hurts from just saying that.
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JON STEWART, TV TALK SHOW HOST: You wallow in the fetid swamp of baseless - of baseless name-calling. And as we both know, sir, that's my thing!
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OLBERMANN: All the news and comment-ary - now on Countdown.
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STEWART: It is beneath you!
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OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
The fear in the wake of Thursday's stunning Supreme Court ruling that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of cash on campaign ads has been that instead of, say, the senator from Delaware or the congressman from Maine, the people of this nation could soon be represented by the senator from Delta or the congressman from MetLife, as if they're not currently.
Today expressing that fear, the chief executives of Delta and MetLife among many other CEOs, tired of the fund raising calls they have already been getting from lawmakers - and after the court precedent-setting decision, now afraid it could get a lot worse and soon.
The yesterday's decision by the court, more than three dozen U.S. executives today sending a letter to congressional leaders with this message: Stop hitting us up for campaign cash and a request that lawmakers approve public financing for the House and Senate campaigns. Their letter reading in part, "Members of Congress already spend too much time raising money from large contributors, and often, many of us individually are on the receiving end of solicitation phone calls from members of Congress. With additional money flowing into the system due to the court's decision, the fundraising pressure on members of Congress will only increase."
Among those signing the letter, current or former executives of Delta Airlines, MetLife, toymaker Hasbro, ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's, the Seagram's liquor company, Men's Warehouse, Quaker Chemical, Playboy Enterprises, Brita, San Diego National Bank, and Crate and Barrel.
Meanwhile, the Center for Public Integrity asking today: what about foreign companies? The CPI is saying that the Supreme Court might have cleared the way for foreign-owned multinationals, like the Venezuelan-owned Citgo Petroleum Company, to pump money into U.S. campaigns in an attempt to influence the outcome of our elections. Wonder how the Hugo Chavez-hating Republicans might feel about that.
Republican campaign lawyer Ben Ginsberg from Bush v. Gore and his colleagues at one of D.C.'s top lobbying firms, warning in a memo today that, "Unless the laws change, the political party as we know it is threatened with extinction. With the limits on the amounts and sources of funds they can accept, the parties will be bit players compared to outside groups that can now conducts those core functions with unlimited funds from any source."
So, if you have been harboring dreams that now might be the time to create a viable electable third-party alternative, I guess we're supposed to be grateful for the two political parties we've got, for as long as we still got them.
Congressman James Clyburn, majority whip, using the word "corpocracy" to describe how our government might devolved, saying in a statement that the Supreme Court has now "opened floodgates that will allow special interest money to overrun our elections and turn our democracy into a coprocracy. As a result of this divisive ruling, insurance monopolies will have undue influence over your health care, fat cats on Wall Street will control your money, and big oil will wreak havoc upon the environment."
Congressman Clyburn joins us now.
Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: Thank you so much for having me, Keith.
OLBERMANN: You've used this word "corpocracy." What would, in your estimation of corpocracy look like and what about it should voters most fear?
CLYBURN: Well, if you were to look this word up, you would have a hard time finding it in various dictionaries but Google it. Look it up. And what you will find is that it is a government that is controlled by conglomerates, corporates, and many of them even with private entities. It is as clear to me as anything I've ever read anywhere that this opens the door, this ruling, this Supreme Court decision, opens the door to the corpocracy in our society.
OLBERMANN: As we mentioned, some chief executives writing congressional leadership today they were already tired of being viewed as, you know, ATMs for campaigns, and the corporations that they represent are asking for public financing of House and Senate campaigns. As a member of the leadership, what's your reply to that idea and where it comes from?
CLYBURN: Well, I think it opens the door for a couple of other things as well. I think you mentioned it at the beginning of the program. We could very well see foreign corporations having undue pressure on our trade policies. I can see now these fair trade or open trade agreements that aren't so fair being influenced by this sort of thing.
But, also, I believe very strongly that we need to sit down now and take a hard look at campaign finance reform that will include public financing of campaigns, because if we don't, you will see too many people elected to office feeling beholding to these contributors, not so much because of the money that they give to them, but the kind of money they can now go out and spend against them.
All of us know that if you say anything 10, 12, maybe 14 times, somebody is going to believe it. And if you've got big corporations spending money against people, you will see people redefined in the media in a way that's far beyond the truth. And that will be very, very bad for our system. People will be intimidated by that kind of a process and you will see bad government coming out of Washington. And that will be horrible for the American people.
OLBERMANN: Do you think there's enough bipartisanship to act quickly? Because obviously, you'll have to act quickly because the gates have been opened and the money is already there on the other side. I mean, if Ben Ginsberg, who - as I pointed out - was one of the lawyers for Mr. Bush in Bush v. Gore in 2000, is warning that political parties are threatened with extinction - "A," what does the fact that he said that mean symbolically? And, "B," how do you combat what he's talking about?
CLYBURN: Well, he's underscoring what I've been saying. If you render the political parties as we know them to be extinct, I don't understand why a third party would be any different from the two parties we've got now. What you will have is all the parties being neutered, corpocracy being the order of the day. That, to me, cries out for some bipartisan consultation in the very near future.
Now, if you look at all of the reactions to this, my Republican friends seem to be very, very happy with this decision. Maybe with one or two exceptions, one being Senator McCain seemed to call this decision sort of "disappointing," I think is the word that he used. But I really believe that we need to get our heads together and do something to ameliorate the damage that's being caused - that's going to be caused by the Supreme Court decision.
OLBERMANN: Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip - always insightful and always a pleasure. Great thanks for your time, sir.
CLYBURN: Well, thank you so much for having me.
For more on what might be done to fix the mess wrought by the Supreme Court, let's turn now to Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause.
Thank you for your time tonight, sir.
BOB EDGAR, COMMON CAUSE PRESIDENT: It's good to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: First off, your reaction to this ruling? Where does this rank among Supreme Court decisions?
EDGAR: This is the Super Bowl of bad decisions. I agreed with your comments last night. After looking and reading and looking at the detail of this decision, I think it sets us back 100 years. It gives corporate power, so much power.
It's hard to believe that your viewers don't already know that the housing crisis, the investment crisis, the banking crisis, and this whole year where we talked about health care, was an already corroded by the amount of money that corporations and labor unions and others have already put into the system. This is like adding to that, putting money on steroids and adding money on top of money on top of money.
And I think the congressman is right. This is a game-changer. And I think it's time for us now, after we've agonized for 24 hours, to have people like you and others who are watching tonight to begin a campaign to change the playing field.
I know - I knew Dr. Martin Luther King, just five weeks before he was assassinated, he wrote a book called "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" I think if we really want community, we're going to have to move through the chaos of the Supreme Court's decision and we're going to have to find specific ways to rein in corporate expenditures. If we don't, our children and grandchildren are going to have a very different nation moving forward.
OLBERMANN: Yes. That wouldn't be a game-changer. It would be a game-ender unless something is done, which begs the obvious question. You mentioned the ideas - the broad ideas of fighting this, but how do we go about fighting it?
EDGAR: Well, I served in Congress. I think we need a mass education of the people across the country to help them understand how bad this decision is.
Secondly, I think there are some options. One of them is something called Fair Elections Now, which is a public financing system that's already been introduced into the House and into the Senate. It's mirrored on trying to allow individuals to make small contributions, up to $100, have it matched with public funds, and get candidates to pledge not to take corporate money. They did that up in Connecticut in 2008 where 74 percent of the candidates used our public financing system; 81 percent of them got elected. Both Democrats and Republicans took no special interest money.
I think, third, you already mentioned all of these corporate leaders who have signed a pledge and have gone after House and Senate members, large corporations who said voluntarily they don't want this to happen. They've been donned enough by politicians. We've got to look at reform. We have to get the president involved, the House involved, the Senate involved.
And because it's a game-changer, I think Republicans and Democrats need to come together and put in place some controls. Otherwise, I think corporations are going to own our government. Suppose, for example, Keith, a congressman votes wrong on the health bill or on some banking issue, moves in, particularly in rural districts, and puts $5 million or $10 million or $15 million in to recycle that congressman simply because they voted wrong, or puts that money in support of a candidate they think will serve their corporate interest. I think it's a very dangerous precedent that they've set, thinking that corporations are persons.
I think there's a real difference. Corporations may be thought of as persons, but I don't think all of them have a heart.
OLBERMANN: Yes. And they shouldn't get all of the votes, in essence.
How much time do we have before they do, in fact, get all the votes?
EDGAR: Well, I think we've got to start urgently now to put some legislative constraints on. My guess is that the 2010 midterm election, you're going to see money being spent.
And I'd say this, Keith: It's not just the money. It's the fear. If you're a large corporation - say you're Boeing Vertol or you're Wall Street, you just walk into a congressman's office and say, you know, I watched this vote, this vote and this vote, I've got a pocketful of money that I'm going to put in against you if you don't change your opinion.
That fear factor is very powerful.
OLBERMANN: And now, it is very legal.
Bob Edgar, the president of Common Cause - great thanks.
EDGAR: It's great to be with you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Mr. Edgar was involved in getting top officials in the 2008 Obama campaign and 2008 McCain campaign to call author an op-ed decrying this pernicious ruling. That's how pernicious it really is. And yet, watch TV news, listen to the radio, read the Internet, left and right, and the potential impact of this society-changing ruling was not only not estimated, the ruling itself was barely covered.
Tonight's "Quick Comment": but thank God they went wall-to-wall with the John Edwards love child, who apparently threatens the space/time continuum. Next.
OLBERMANN: The start of the trial of the terrorist who assassinated Dr. George Tiller and what that means for all other physicians handling reproductive issues for women. That's next.
Now, tonight's first "Quick Comment."
I worked full-time in sports for about 20 years and I've worked full-time in news for about 10 years. And after yesterday, I must finally say aloud what I have long thought but have been reluctant to voice. The average person in the American news industry appears to be about 1/5 as plugged into the world he or she covers, as does the average person in the American sports industry.
If yesterday, the Supreme Court have ruled that the salary and payroll caps in football, basketball and baseball were unconstitutional and that teams could thus spend any amount of money they chose on the players they wanted, every sports outfit from ESPN to the local cable access show in Sandusky, Ohio, would have been on the air with a special report about the obvious big as Mt. Kilimanjaro consequence of this. That the big city teams would quickly corner the market in talent and a place like Green Bay, Wisconsin, would shortly lose the ability to keep its franchise, let alone win anything.
But when the court instead ruled that the equivalent of salary and payroll caps for corporate political advertising were unconstitutional, guaranteeing that corporate donations would soon turn every other kind of donation into a kind of bankrupt Green Bay Packers, America's crack political reporters went: Supreme Court, boring. Let's talk about John Edwards' love child. That will affect people's lives.
Not the court and John Edwards. I can live with that. I'm in TV.
I've made choices like that.
"Nightline" and "Good Morning America" - reports the "Huffington Post" - between them two minutes coverage of the Supreme Court decision, more than half an hour on Edwards. Newspapers and online sites were nearly as blinkered.
Some people rightly fear right-wing media bias. Some claim there is a left-wing equivalent. The real threat to journalism and thus to democracy is its blinding lack of thought, of effort, of imagination. As I said in sports - get a roll of stamps and mail it in.
OLBERMANN: It's a fundamental idea, deterrents, giving someone life in prison for murder acts as a far greater deterrent than giving him a mere four years. So, if the assassin of a doctor who was an abortion provider manages to get such a light sentence, other abortion providers might be rightly be extremely concerned. And in the trial of confessed killer, Scott Roeder, the judge will allow him to present a defense that could lead to a sentence of just four years.
The trial began today in Wichita, Kansas, on the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, ironically enough. The jury heard testimony from a church youth director who saw Mr. Roeder shot and kill Dr. George Tiller last May, in the vestibule of the church that Dr. Tiller attended.
And although Mr. Roeder has previously admitted in court that he killed Dr. Tiller, he now says he did it to save unborn children. Judge Warren Wilbert has refused to bar evidence that would support a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and that could mean a sentence of four to six years for Mr. Roeder instead of life in prison for first-degree murder.
The murder of Dr. Tiller may therefore turn on what Mr. Roeder sees as a kind of justifiable homicide.
The voluntary manslaughter defense is built on the argument that Mr. Roeder used deadly force because he believed, even unreasonably, that there was an imminent threat to another.
The prosecution has argued that this defense is simply not justified in this case, but the judge says he will consider such evidence on a witness-by-witness basis.
Let's bring in the director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mark Potok.
Mark, good evening.
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Good evening, Keith. Glad to see you.
OLBERMANN: What kind of impact might this trial and particularly this line of defense have on the safety of abortion providers?
POTOK: Well, I think it obviously presents a real danger to abortion providers out there. It seems to me that potential assassins really get two things out of this. On the one hand, as you suggested, they're looking at as little as four or five years in prison if they successfully make a voluntary manslaughter defense. And even more important, I think, to a lot of them, it allows or has the potential to allow them to actually test in court as to what their ideology was, why they think abortion providers are murderers and all the rest of it.
So, I think it presents really a high danger.
OLBERMANN: Judge Wilbert has refused to allow Roeder to argue that he killed Tiller out of necessity. And the prosecution has argued that, then, in turn allowing Roeder to claim this voluntary manslaughter defense is basically the same thing. The prosecutor said, to quote, "You have thrown the wolf out and it's crawling back into the court under the guise of voluntary manslaughter."
Do you agree with that assessment?
POTOK: Yes, more or less. I mean, there's a difference in the sense that if he were allowed to - if he successfully presented a justifiable homicide defense, then, of course, he could be completely acquitted. In this case, he can get four or five years.
I think the really remarkable thing about the judge's instruction is that Kansas City law - Kansas law is very clear on this matter. To present a voluntary manslaughter defense, you have to be able to say that the defendant unreasonably but honestly held the belief that someone was in imminent danger, imminent danger of death.
And, in fact, this was just upheld, the idea of imminence, in a 2007 Supreme Court case in Kansas in which a man shot his son-in-law because he thought that man's boy was being molested by the son-in-law. The thing is, he shot him at work. And the boy was not there. And the court ruled very clearly that is not imminence. The victim, the supposed victim, has to be right there.
In the case of Scott Roeder, he murdered George Tiller in church on a Sunday. That means, of course, that the physician, Dr. Tiller, could not have been back at his office performing abortions until Monday. So, the obvious bottom line is, it's a completely unreasonable instruction that is not called for in any way under Kansas law. It's very clear.
OLBERMANN: So as this trial goes on, how do the pro-choice groups combat the added pressure that this adds to an already obviously dangerous environment for the abortion providers and the people who work at the clinics?
POTOK: Well, I think it's very tough for them. It is a dangerous environment.
It's worth remembering. We've seen eight people murdered by anti-abortion assassins. We've seen something like 40 clinics bombed, at least a couple hundred fire-bombed. It's incredibly dangerous out there.
You know, I think, really, probably what will protect or help abortion providers, Planned Parenthood and so on out there more than anything, is the fact that despite this judge's instruction, clearly, the jury cannot find this man guilty of voluntary manslaughter. It just does not fit under Kansas law. It would not be upheld.
OLBERMANN: There's nothing guaranteed with courts, is it? Are you - are you guaranteeing that to within some reasonable certitude or - seeing how these things have played out and the external influences that play into a jury's decision, a judge's decision, an appeal court's decision, you're still fairly confident about that?
POTOK: Yes. I think fairly confidence about the right estimation. Look, I think that it could not survive on appeal is my sense of that. You know, the whole thing, though, is very worrying.
It's worth remembering that back in the early days of Operation Rescue and the other anti-abortion outfits, that would do things like carry out invasions of clinics, that we saw judge after judge after judge all around the country essentially letting people off because they were sympathetic to the demonstrators, to the anti-abortion demonstrators. And, you know, we may be looking at a similar situation here. It's known that the judge in this case is a practicing Catholic and, more important, that he, in fact, in 2008 put his name on an ad listing him as a pro-life candidate.
So, you know, it's tough out there. And I think we don't need to see this kind of what really amounts to a kind of judicial activism.
OLBERMANN: Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center - great thanks. Have a good weekend.
POTOK: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Just under 11 days after the earthquake in Haiti and two more people rescued alive, and when does the help get to those who are still alive who did not have to be pulled from the rubble? The latest from Port-au-Prince - next.
OLBERMANN: Twenty-four hours had passed in Port-au-Prince since a soul had been pulled from the rubble and this morning, Ed Roman (ph) and his man were awakened by moans coming from their collapsed home. After hours of digging with their bare hands, they freed his 84-year-old mother. Severely dehydrated and state of shock, her chance of survival admittedly slim. But one doctor charged with treating Maria Carida Roman (ph) says there are always people who defy the norm - like another man rescued by Israeli searchers late this afternoon out of what remains of the national cathedral. Stories like his, of course, are increasingly rare as the Haitian government declares the work on the ground a recovery effort.
As for relief, the U.S. military reopened the capital's port but its primary pier is unusable, significant damage making it dangerous to unload aid there. Many Port-au-Prince neighborhoods and major swaths of the country have yet to receive any materials. These survivors are getting water from a cracked pipe.
I think we can stop asking how long their patience will last. Their patience has already outlasted anything we could imagine.
Dominating the hunger-fueled chaos, gangs thwarting a peaceful attempt at aid delivery, those who wait for their turn left with nothing.
Tonight, on the streets of Port-au-Prince, the fight for survival goes on. This man says he was given several bags of rice as a gift. Haitian police accused him and a companion of stealing, they opened fire. A stray bullet grazed a bystander waiting for a bus who had just applied for a job as police officer.
The man accused of looting was wounded. His companion, a 20-year-old carpenter fatally shot and left to die on the street.
Kind of puts a $550 ticket to a tea party convention at the Grand Ole Opry Hotel in perspective. Not that they know what I meant by that.
Protests against the T.P. convention by other tea partiers - next.
OLBERMANN: We have presumed all along that the tea partiers model themselves on the Boston Tea Party, but those rebels wanted representative government which today's tea partiers already have.
The status of the first national convention to be held next month suggests an alternate explanation, a possibility that today's tea partiers are modeling themselves in a different tea party altogether, the one imagined by Lewis Carroll, best known as the "Mad Hatters Tea Party," or as Carroll titled the corresponding chapter of Alice's adventures in Wonderland, "A Mad Tea Party."
Here is what the non-fictional first actual mad tea party looks like as of today, the pro-tort reform convention amid a flurry of lawsuit threats run by a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases. Tickets to the anti-big spending cost $550 for its anti-elitist members who will be dining on steak and lobster at the fabulous National Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center with its own indoor river.
But the pro-transparency convention will be closed to any media that might scrutinize it and the not affiliated with any party convention is headlined by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and former Alaska governor for a half a term, Sarah Palin - all Republicans.
The every man convention agreed to fly Sister Sarah there first class on a private jet or both. The anti-big spending and deficit protesting convention paid Palin's $100,000 speaking fee by borrowing half of it, which was not repaid by last week's deadline, according to Politico.com and the anti-regulatory "get government out of our lives" conventions is being supported by one originator of that loan, a businessman named Bill Hemrick, who told "Politico" he has a new auto safety device that he wants the government to start mandating in everybody's car.
Maybe Republican Chairman Michael Steele will have some reaction to this next week while he's at the Republican National Committee meeting in Hawaii.
Let's bring in Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of "The Nation" magazine.
Chris, thanks for your time tonight. Good evening.
CHRIS HAYES, THE NATION: Good evening.
OLBERMANN: "Politico" reports that the "party of protest" may wind up having protesters of its own outside the convention. So, this is the snake eating its own tail, the tea partiers are now protesting the tea partiers?
HAYES: Well, first of all, I think it's kind of awesome.
HAYES: . that they're going to protest. Second of all, you know, I mean, I do want to say that, you know, obviously, you know, on the left, there's a lot of anger and frustration at the tea partiers. But I think this actually is useful to make a distinction. There are people out there who have, you know, terrible politics (INAUDIBLE) are genuinely frustrated, angry conservatives, or in some sense, is not even conservatives, just ticked off about the way things are going.
And the tea party movement has managed to kind of channel that energy. But there's also this part of it that really it just a racket, it's a hustle. And there's this amazing quote that I've never been able to find the origin of, which is that, you know, all causes begin as movements, become businesses, and end up as rackets. And you see that process in a very accelerated way on the right-wing. And this is sort of a perfect example.
OLBERMANN: Is the agita over this convention a microcosm of their efforts not to get co-opted by the GOP?
HAYES: Yes. I think that's - I think that's really interesting what's happening right now, because really, what you're seeing on the tea party movement. And I know this - thanks to great reporting by Dave Weigel of "The Washington Independent" and others - is that, you know, there's a kind of institutional battle. I mean, you know, the tea party folks, the sort of genuine grassroots are as angry at the institutional Republican Party as they are at anyone else.
And so, the Republican Party recognizes they need to chase the energy that's in the tea party. They're trying to co-opt it. There are a lot of people trying to make money off it. The question is, whether there's sort of - there's any coherence enough to the grassroots that they can resist those moves.
OLBERMANN: Also here, if you only let FOX News and Drudge and a handful of others on the right in the right-wing media cover your convention which features three Republican stars, why not just be Republicans? What's the point?
HAYES: Yes. I think it's a really good point. This is a real - not to overstate the case, but there's a real identity crisis here. I mean, there's a broad identity crisis in the sense that, you know, I had a great story today from someone who is - works in the office of Senator Paul Kirk in Massachusetts who had some pro-lifers who are in town, kind of tea party, pro-life conservative activists who are there to drop of gifts for Scott Brown.
And he wanted to say to them, you know, Scott Brown is pro-choice, right?
HAYES: So, there's a real kind of - I mean, right now, because opposition - we saw this on the left during the Bush years - and what happens is that opposition tends to kind of paper over these distinctions and differences. And so, there's a unity of purpose in opposition right now. But there's zero coherence when you drill down. And I think that's something that eventually is going to cause problems.
OLBERMANN: Also, though, on the media front, the success of this whole thing has been to get cameras there. And whether they've all been from FOX or wherever they've been from, they've left this impression.
OLBERMANN: . and occasionally got in the mainstream, here's this outsider movement.
OLBERMANN: . and you have just made sure that none of those people can take photographs. If you're - if it's a stunt, if it's - if it's, you know, the daffy duck drink the gasoline and throw the match on yourself stunt, and you don't admit the cameras, what is the point of that?
HAYES: Well, look, I mean, from the beginning, the reason that we've heard so much about it frankly is because FOX News has been.
HAYES: . kind of, you know, in concert with the entire thing. But, you know, the irony here is that one of the things that people have been railing about - this is actually across, I think, ideological lines, is the sense that people in Washington aren't representing them and, quote, "they're making backroom deals," right? The negotiations weren't on C-SPAN.
And then here you have the sort of iconic example of the movement that's against that and they're going to keep, what? I can't go down there and other reporters can't go down and see what's going on? I mean, it's - there's no coherence there.
OLBERMANN: Well, yes. I think you just summarized it, didn't you?
Chris Hayes of "The Nation" - great thanks. Have a great weekend.
HAYES: You, too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Let's see what else is on the television. Oh, wait, this can't be good.
Well, this other thing certainly isn't. Quote, "To some people, "banker" is a code name for Jewish, and guess who Obama is assaulting? He's assaulting bankers." How many sharks can one man jump?
And when Rachel joins you at the top of the hour, she will debunk the myth in the conservative echo chamber that someone is trying to keep Senator-elect Scott "Pro-choice" Brown from being seated.
OLBERMANN: "Worsts" and Jon Stewart's special comment.
But now, the second of tonight's "Quick Comments." Normally, I leave the Alice in Wonderland world of "FOX and Friends" for "Worst Persons." When anybody on the channel lets as big of the bit of the truth slip as this one deserves a more focused examination. This won't take long.
Covering a verbal dustup of manners between Senator Arlen Specter and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the priceless Steve Doocy gave away the store over at fixed news. Just consider the deep symbolic meaning of the appendage with which Doocy finishes his tease of the segment.
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DOOCY: What was he thinking? Did Senator Specter step over the line?
We're going to report. You're going to decide - but the answer is yes.
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OLBERMANN: Wow. Propaganda network defined in exactly one dozen words: "We're going to report. You're going to decide - but the answer is yes."
Thanks for confirming that, Steve.
OLBERMANN: Another smack down by truth-teller Jon Stewart lambasting his traditional foes, the anchors at MSNBC? Oh, boy. That's next.
But, first, tonight's "Worst Persons in the World" starting with an entry from the Department of Corrections.
The bronze goes to Michael Landauer of the editorial page of "The Dallas Morning News." I, quoting his blog, continue to assert that Scott Brown participates in vulgar sexual act himself." I never said anything of the kind. I used the word teabagging and admittedly unfortunate verb first promulgated by tea party members themselves to describe the act of being in a tea party, mailing tea bags to the White House on Tax Day.
If Mr. Landauer chooses only to think of the sexual act, that is for him to explain. He also claims I'm lying about whether Brown actually answered the assault threat against his opponent. In fact, I offered both what the videotaped evidence suggests, that he sure did and the possibility that he never heard it, which begs the question why didn't he denounce it and quickly.
But lastly, Mr. Landauer writes, "The bigger question is why MSNBC let a political pundit anchor a live news event. Olbermann did not address that in tonight's rant."
Well, I'm also the lead live news anchor on this network and have been for about five years. But the specific answer about Tuesday is, because it happened during my show. The way it happened on Greta Van Susteren's show over on FOX and she anchored it, too.
Now, I know why Mr. Landauer originally just accused me of lies without anything to back it up, because he didn't have anything to back it up.
The runner up, Lanny Davis, who used to be a friend of mine or, more correctly, who used to let me think he considered me a friend back when I did his political bidding for him without realizing that's what I was to him, Bill-o talked about nasty, hateful garbage against Brown and Lanny says, "I know what you're talking about. I remember the candidate I supported in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton, was attacked by the same voices and attacked personally."
Lanny Davis, on with O'Reilly again - just like the man he said he would never stoop to address, Dick Morris.
Here's a personal word to consider, Lanny - "collaborator."
But our winner is Orly Taitz Limbaugh. It is hard to believe he could dig himself out of this one. It is so bad, even for him, that I will not quote it. I have to just play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: There are a lot of people when you say "banker," people think Jewish. People who have prejudice, people who have - the best way - a little prejudice about them. To some people, banker is code word for Jewish. And guess who Obama is assaulting? He's assaulting bankers. He's assaulting money people. And a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish. So I wonder if there's - if there's starting to be some buyer's remorse there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Yes. The Anti-Defamation League already condemned that.
Limbaugh did not respond.
Last week after his unbearable racism in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, Limbaugh lost any standing he might have had with the black community and, you know, nonracist white people. So now, he's trotted the oldest most vile stereotype about Jewish people and money.
Seriously, somebody must care about this man, or more likely, at least depend upon him for their income. He is committing professional suicide. You have to take it away from him for his own sake.
Rush Limbaugh, today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: Into each life, some rain must fall. You'll often here Rachel Maddow and I lumped in together with Jon Stewart of the "Daily Show" as the only truth tellers in mainstream television.
Now, this week, Mr. Stewart was critical, first, of Rachel, and last night, of me. So, the old truth telling list has gotten shorter by one name or maybe two or, I guess, maybe all three.
Seriously, my response to Mr. Stewart's critique will not mean much unless you see it. So, I'll show it with two prefaces only.
One, Jon, you invited me on the show in 2003 and I said I couldn't make it because of the taping time. It didn't mean I couldn't make it forever. What, you can't pick up a phone and give a jingle?
Two, I think it should be noted when Affleck did this, he didn't have a teleprompter. That guy is a technician like Rembrandt was a technician.
JON STEWART, TALK SHOW HOST: Obviously, with the stakes so high in this week's Massachusetts Senate race, emotions ran high on both sides of the contest peaking on election eve.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: In Scott Brown, we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: I understand you may disagree somewhat with Senator Brown. But two things: A, a Massachusetts Republican is still considered, like, a gay Democrat in other parts of the country, so. And, B, I think that's the harshest description of anyone I've ever heard uttered on MSNBC. And that includes descriptions of the guys that star in your weekend prison program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pulled his brain out and took a bite out of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: By the way, he lost his congressional race by three points.
STEWART: But, all right, Keith, I understand it's emotional. You probably give it a day, you'll see you went too far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I need to apologize for comments made here last night about the Republican candidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Thank you, thank you. It was a little much. It was an emotional night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I'm sorry. I left out the word "sexist."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: I see you're looking to plant your flag on this one, all right. Testify.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I said Mr. Brown was an ex-nude model - specifically in the June 1982 issue of "Cosmopolitan" magazine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: The focus: soft. The trail: happy.
STEWART: Point Olbermann. Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I said Mr. Brown was irresponsible - specifically he swore at a hall full of high school students in 2007.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Or, as they remember it, the best assembly ever!
STEWART: OK. For those charges, I mean, I swear in front of an audience full of high school students every night. So - oh, which by the way, I forgot. Hey, kids (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
STEWART: Now, let's get into some of the harder chargers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: I said Mr. Brown was sexist - specifically nine years ago, he said a woman Massachusetts state senator had, quote, "alleged family responsibilities."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: That's it?
STEWART: Nine years ago, he said something I'm not even sure I understand. You think that - you think that's sexist? I know a guy who cheated on his cancer-stricken wife and then denied paternity.
STEWART: . earlier in the show.
Here's the capper and perhaps the most damning allegation for a man who has two daughters that he cleared seems to love. That he supports violence against women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Specifically, this past Sunday, when a man at a Brown rally shouted they should, quote, "shove a curling iron up Martha Coakley's butt," Brown responded by answering, "We can do this." Or, if that remark was unconnected to the shout, he never refuted, condemned, nor disassociated himself from the call to violence and even sexual assault.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Come on!
STEWART: If I had to refute or disassociate myself from every offensive statement some jackass from my audience shouted out, I'd never get my show on the air.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself, Jew boy!
STEWART: We can do this!
STEWART: You know, I think it's time for a special comment on the subject of Keith Olbermann.
For years, sir, your outrage was warranted based in fact, saturated in reason, marinated in malice but tenderize with clever of careful consideration once wielded so masterfully by the demigods of discourse whose very chair you sit, Murrow, Cronkite, Spiceland.
You fought your fight.
STEWART: And you fought it furiously and forthrightly. But isn't a fight if ill-foughten folly? Fer-haps. How far, sir, how far will you fall?
Once you toiled in the fields of the factual, equal parts punditry and profundity with prodigious prose that was as powerful as it was purple.
But now this, now this, sir! This, sir! This, sir! This, sir! And know, sir - this teleprompter is not stuck. I am doing something called repetition for dramatic emphasis. You, sir, invented it. I like it.
But now, you're just kind of calling people names. To it, you said this of Joseph Isadora Lieberman, Democrat, Connecticut, a senatorial prostitute of Roger Ailes' fat ass; Chris Wallace, a monkey posing as a newscaster; Rush Limbaugh, a big back of mashed up jackass.
STEWART: All right. All right, I'll give you that. I'll give you that one.
STEWART: I'll give you that one. That was a good one.
And of Michelle Malkin you said, "a mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk, fascistic mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it," end quote, that, my fine-feathered friend sounds a lot more like violence against women than anything Scott Brown ever said. You can't resort to childish attacks as hominem as they are ad-nauseum.
You've ceded the high ground, and now, you wallow in the fetid swamp of baseless - of baseless name-calling. And as we both know, sir - that's my thing!
STEWART: It is beneath you. It is next to me. A man of your intellect need not be - me. Petty, pompous, pusillanimous or poopy head.
OLBERMANN: Fetid swamp you say, sir - it's from a guy who reached his professional apex when he was the host of short attention span theater, 1991? You want some baseless name-calling? You are - no, you know what, you're right. I have been a little over the top lately. Point taken. Sorry.
That's Countdown for this, 2,448 days since the previous president declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq.
Up next: Rachel Maddow debunks the myth that someone is trying to keep Scott Brown from taking his place in the Senate.
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