ShowPlug1: NYPD maces women who couldn't protect themselves: OccupyWallStreet Day 10 w/ protestor @KellyHeresy + Guardian's @KarenMcVeigh1
ShowPlug2: Obama vs the GOP Candidates, but Obama vs the Cong. Black Caucus? Burying your own headline w/Roll Call's @DavidMDrucker
ShowPlug3: Roger Ailes "throttles back" Fox. Admits it's not news, he pushed Beck, he's culling GOP'ers he doesnt like. @Markos joins me
ShowPlug4: Worsts: Go To Church, or Go To Jail? And, sorry Joe McGinnis: you're wrong (so is @SarahPalinUSA who just out-dumbed herself)
ShowPlugLast: + @KenBurnsPBS on his "Prohibition" - seemingly about Politics of 1911 - really about Politics of 2011.
watch whole playlist
#5 'Pepper Spray Brutality', Kelly Heresy
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#5 'Pepper Spray Brutality', Karen McVeigh
#4 'Base Complaint', David Drucker
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Tall Tales from Ailes', Markos Moulitsas
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#2 Worst Persons: Joe McGinniss, Gov. Rick Scott, Mike Rowland
#1 'Prohibition', Ken Burns
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
Topics: Barack Obama, Congress, FEMA, Fox News, Jobs, News Corp., NYPD, Occupy Wall Street, Sarah Palin
Contributors: Ken Burns, Markos Moulitsas
Guests: David Drucker, Karen McVeigh, Kelly Heresy
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Occupy Wall Street, Day 10. Four young women - penned in, unable to move, unarmed, not dangerous - pepper sprayed.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: People were chalking on the sidewalk, and they were arrested. People who had a wooden pole for an American flag were arrested. People who were - said that they were blocking the sidewalk were arrested.
OLBERMANN: The New York Police Department does what the anti-corporate protesters could not do. They make Occupy Wall Street the lead story. Huh?
The president to the Congressional Black Caucus:
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: I expect all of you to march with me and press on! Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes! Shake it off! Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying, we are gonna press on!
(Excerpt from video clip) BARBARA LEE: He must have been just caught up in the moment, went off script.
OLBERMANN: Roger Ailes off the rails. He throttled back Fox News to make it less ideological, he says. He hints he offed Glenn Beck. reveals O'Reilly hates Hannity and still insists "Every other network has given all their shows to liberals. We are the balance."
(Excerpt from video clip) BILL HADER: I'm Shepard Smith and I come from a town full of secrets.
OLBERMANN: Markos Moulitsas on the insanity of King Roger. What will the tea partiers applaud next?
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SCOTT: We have 15,000 less government jobs in the state of Florida.
OLBERMANN: That's right, they applauded 15,000 people getting fired. And it seems like ancient history.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: It turned citizens into criminals and criminals into kings. It changed the very nature of our democracy, twice. Prohibition.
OLBERMANN: The new documentary series, "Prohibition." The story of how a minority viewpoint - cloaked in religion and government restraint - bullied elected officials, took over the government, and damn near wrecked the nation. Wait a minute! That sounds like today! My special guest, the creator of "Prohibition," Ken Burns. All that and more now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) HOMER SIMPSON: To alcohol!
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York. This is Monday, September 26th, 407 days until the 2012 presidential election.
It seems like a clear-cut case of police brutality by the New York police force. Four young women on the periphery of a peaceful march, part of the Occupy Wall Street protests, suddenly fenced in and - without warning - hit with a blast of pepper spray.
The police say the action was performed appropriately. Videotape suggests otherwise.
The fifth story on the "Countdown," the Occupy Wall Street protests - now in their 10th day - had received minimal coverage from national and local media. Thousands have demonstrated against a corrupt financial system, unchecked corporate power and a divisive and ineffective political process. Hundreds have marched. And many have been arrested in a near-media blackout. That may be about to change.
Hundreds - perhaps as many as a thousand - protesters took the streets on Saturday, marching from their base in Zuccotti Park in New York's financial district, north to a park that's been the scene of many political rallies of all stripes for 150 years, Union Square.
Among the marchers, many who didn't fit The New York Times description of a "noble but fractured and airy movement."
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #1: I'm a student. I have student debt. I worry about job prospects. And I'm also just generally concerned with the economic and political situation of our country.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: I'm so tired of hearing about 'the - the country is broke' when it's not broke. The oil companies are not broke, the CEOs are not broke.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2: These guys are stealing money from the people. They're criminals. And they belong in jail.
OLBERMANN: About 80 people were arrested along the way, charges including "disorderly conduct" and "impeding traffic," along with "inciting riot" and "assaulting a police officer."
However, no police officers were assaulted in the incident you're about to see. Instead, a New York officer, dressed in the white shirt of a supervisor, walked up to four women - just penned into place by a plastic net - and deliberately fired a can of pepper spray into their faces. Two of the women say they were temporarily blinded. Medics poured milk into their eyes to flush out the spray.
One of the protestors, Chelsea Elliot, told the newspaper "The Village Voice": "It was incredibly painful . . . like pouring a bottle of Tabasco all over your eyes and face." Miss Elliot was not arrested. She says after the spray was fired, "The cops left. They moved the net."
She also told The Village Voice, "Most of the time, the cops are really not like that. Most of the time, they're with us."
New York police spokesman Paul Brown told The New York Times, that "Pepper spray was used once, after individuals confronted officers and tried to prevent them from deploying a mesh barrier - something that was edited out or otherwise not captured in the video."
You saw the video. There's no evidence to support the contention of editing.
Presumably, spokesman Brown might be technically correct. Some other individuals, in some other place, might have confronted officers and tried to prevent them from deploying that netting. But those women clearly did not. And it is beyond disingenuous for the New York City Police Department to imply so.
To continue our coverage of Occupy Wall Street, I'm joined first by Kelly Heresy, one of the Occupy Wall Street protestors who took part in the march on Saturday, who was himself pepper sprayed by the police. Thanks for coming in.
HERESY: Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.
OLBERMANN: What happened to you?
HERESY: Well, in the video you saw - the women who were penned behind the orange net - I was on the opposite side of the street, and at that moment - just moments before that took place - a police officer violently threw a young African-American male onto the sidewalk and stepped on him and lifted his arms back above his head in a very awkward position and cuffed him.
And I saw it and I was completely appalled by what I was seeing, so I pulled out my camera phone and I went right up behind the police officer and I tried to snap a picture, but there was a lot of chaos going on. And then he noticed me there and he turned and sprayed me right in the eyes. And I was actually the first person to be pepper sprayed.
OLBERMANN: Was there any explanation for it or any warning or "Stop and I'll spray you"?
HERESY: No, not at all. I was there and he just - he sprayed me in the face.
OLBERMANN: What - has this - I just read the quote from Chelsea Elliot that most of the cops have not been like that. They have not been doing this. This is not something where you've gone to essentially create this kind of environment so there'd be more attention to the march, that the police have largely confined themselves within their own rules. You agree with her assessment of that?
HERESY: Yeah, I would agree with that completely. And our position has been this entire time that we are not against the cops. The cops are part of the 99%. The cops, we would like to believe, are on our side, because we understand that they have families, they have children and - with budget cuts - they could be losing their jobs and pensions as well. So, we always try to tell the cops that we love them, we want them to be on our side, and we've always remained peaceful. But in tense situations like that, there - you know, sometimes people, human nature, you just don't know how to react. And sometimes - it's unfortunate that they responded violently in some cases.
OLBERMANN: Do you think there's an issue about the protests and its focus? I've been thinking about this a lot. That, again, we've said this 1,000 times. If there were 20 tea party protesters dressed, almost identically, to the way you guys are - only carrying signs that had, you know, "No More Taxes" or "Fewer Taxes" or "Lower Taxes" - that, for good or for ill, and for whatever else cover they provide for other issues - they have an identifiable, easy-to-digest message for the people they are trying to get the point across to.
Do you worry if Occupy Wall Street is not focused enough in that way to make the kind of impact, say - just as an example, not to say you're the liberal tea party or anything - but are you worried that you can't make that kind of impact, because there are so many issues at hand here?
HERESY: I'm not worried at all. I think the message - the media right now is focusing on the fact that it seems - it appears to be unorganized, or there isn't a concise message, but I think that's our greatest strength. If - I think the most interesting thing about this movement is what's happening in Liberty Plaza - or also known as Zuccotti Park, but we call it Liberty Plaza - what's going on there is we're having general assemblies, we're having an open Democratic process, where anyone who wants to speak has an opportunity to speak. And we decide our actions by consensus. So, there's a plurality of views. There's many different opinions. And it's a work in process. It's a process right now.
And, you know, eventually, we will be ready to address the media with specific things, but right now, we're very - we're still a very young movement. And we're growing. And eventually, we'll be ready to share that.
OLBERMANN: Do you think you're getting a little traction on this, as the politicians would say? I mean, you had - our friend Michael Moore is down there as we speak right now.
HERESY: That's right.
OLBERMANN: Speaking to the assembled group. Do you get that sense that things are turning in terms of what you want to accomplish?
HERESY: Well, if we're talking about public opinion, then absolutely. It's like night and day with the media. We had very little exposure, but this afternoon there was cameras everywhere. I've been talking to the media all day long. And -
HERESY: It's great. It's too bad that we have to be arrested by the police and, you know, assaulted, in order to get any media exposure. But it would be nice if the media would focus on what we're - the Democratic process that we have going. It's really a beautiful thing.
OLBERMANN: But you don't have any illusions about the value of one relative to the other, in terms of our media today, right? I mean, Gandhi - Gandhi was doing this 100 years ago. - 120 years ago in South Africa, let alone what he did in India. There is a way to get headlines.
OLBERMANN: Right. So, in any event -
HERESY: We'll do what we have to do.
OLBERMANN: Take what you have to do. Kelly Heresy, part of the "Occupy Wall Street" protest, pepper spray victim himself. Great, thanks for coming in.
HERESY: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Along with the video we showed earlier, a number of still photographers took pictures of Saturday's Occupy Wall Street protests, the pepper-gas assault on protesters and the NYPD supervisor - possibly a lieutenant - who fired the spray at the protesters.
The photographer who posted these photos wrote that one of the women was hit in the - with the spray - happened to be deaf and that he can "still hear her screaming in pain, sobbing, saying how much it hurt as we held her head, spraying milk into her eyes and on her face."
He also says the police officers holding the net were flabbergasted by the attack. And almost got hit themselves.
Karen McVeigh joins us now, senior news reporter with The Guardian, who's covered the Occupy Wall Street protest and she's here with us. Thanks for coming in.
KAREN McVEIGH: Thank you for having me.
OLBERMANN: You've seen this in person, and you've seen this either not covered by the U.S. media or - let me read a little of what The New York Times said, that the protester was rightly frustrated, but airy and The Times portrayed a blonde woman who had stripped to her underwear as their default ambassador.
There seems to be a little bit of a disconnect between what's actually happening there and the way it's being treated by the American media. Do you have any theory of why this is?
McVEIGH: Well, I've been down to the protest on a couple of occasions last week and this week. And I've seen a lot of things going on there. I mean, we at theguardiannews.com, we consider that it's - there's an issue there, there's an issue going on there that are people who are exercising their legitimate right to protest.
You obviously feel that they're not being heard, you know, they're not been served by the Democratic process. They feel that there's an injustice with financial institutions around them. And our readers have responded to the things that we've written about - not just in America, but all around the world. And they want to - they want to be informed of this. They're interested in it and they want more input. So, we feel that , you know, it's something that we want to cover.
OLBERMANN: How do you see it in terms of the - both the international nature of protests - I mean, in this time, this is pretty tame stuff, but in this country - which I think would be described in terms of public protest is having been pacified for several decades, particularly in the decade since 2001 - this is - is this viewed as kind of the first crack in the dike? Is this the first sign of there being any kind of public protest against the way life is lived in this country? How do you view it?
McVEIGH: Well, it may be that it has - because of this whole grassroots nature of it, it has a similarity with UK Uncut.
In the U.K., where there are protests against corporate greed, against social injustice, against things that protesters feel that is important and they feel that their concerns aren't being listened to. And those protests have sort of taken place all over the U.K. and I can see similarities in the protests that are going on here.
OLBERMANN: Things - and not the direct parallels, but various protests obviously in the U.K. had gotten to a very high point of violence and destruction, and obviously that's not what were seeing in New York - but what - have you seen any incidents of police - let's say, excessiveness - we don't want to put that sort of charge -
McVEIGH: I haven't personally seen any instances. I wasn't there on Saturday. I've been down a couple of times. I've spoken to an awful lot of the protesters who have said either they've been arrested, they've shown me cuts on their hands, they have claimed that the police have been very heavy-handed in their tactics.
I think that there's a - there's a couple of things going on here. There's - I don't know if you've seen the video, but the video of the girls being - the young women being pepper sprayed - that seems to me to show pretty clearly that there's something going on. That there's something - you know, it seems clear that an officer had sprayed those girls - those women, those young women - and it seems that there's a case to answer and I'm surprised that - I spoke to the police, but they haven't gotten back to me about whether the case was investigated. Whether the officer who was publicly named back on Twitter, was - what the reaction to that was. Whether it was indeed the officer that was named.
I subsequently spoke to a lawyer who said that this officer is - there's a civil case - another civil case - pending against him. So, you know, I've looked for answers from the police, given them an opportunity to sort of come forward and see whether or not there were, you know - and I haven't gotten any response.
OLBERMANN: It is fascinating - there's also that - we showed the regular-speed video of that where it's kind of difficult to see what happens. There is a slowed-down version on YouTube, particularly, where you can see it essentially frame by frame. There's no question as to what happened. The question of intent and why this supposed supervisor got involved is left to be debated. But it is odd in this city - in which local media goes berserk at the slightest allegation of police brutality - that something like that would have occurred and gotten still relatively a small amount of notice even in the city, let alone nationally.
So, it's an interesting dynamic and Karen McVeigh of The Guardian, senior news reporter with that fine publication. Thanks for your perspective. And, again, thanks for coming in.
McVEIGH: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: You dirty hippies can't deliberately try to shut down the government, only the Republican Party can do that. The budget crisis is suddenly solved thanks to accountants. Plus, the president lashes into his potential Republican opponents and chastises perhaps gently - perhaps fondly - the Congressional Black Caucus, that's next.
This is "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The threat to shut down the government died today when FEMA suddenly concluded it may have enough disaster aid money on hand to get through this Friday and doesn't need the additional $1 billion, which Democratic legislators were insisting upon. Sure. The Senate will thus pass the stopgap budget measure without paying an extra $1 billion and the House will then pass the stopgap budget measure without the $1 billion in cuts. FEMA found the money in its under suit.
Still ahead, the president on his none of the above opposition and his confusing complaints to the Congressional Black Caucus.
Roger Ailes insists he has toned down Fox News. Rationalization is a hell of a drug.
And Ken Burns here on his documentary about prohibition and its subtext about a more modern lunatic fringe American political pressure group. Ahead.
OLBERMANN: Campaign Obama seems to have returned. The president has begun to seek out groups that have traditionally supported him to try and motivate them into action.
One base that has, of course, historically shown almost unwavering support for the president has been the African-Immunity community - African-American community. Perhaps the Immunity community, too, but in our fourth story in the "Countdown" - so amidst some entertaining salvos against these would-be Republican opponents, is the president telling the Congressional Black Caucus to stop complaining - is that annoyance or affection?
His speech to the CBC started off as typical campaign Obama, soaring rhetoric, some well-placed jabs at opponents, but it was the end of the speech that got the most attention, as he did his best to rally the CBC members to follow him on his jobs bill and beyond.
(Excerpt from video clip) OBAMA: I don't have time to feel sorry for myself! I don't have time to complain, I'm gonna press on! I expect all of you to march with me and press on! Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes, shake it off! Stop complaining! Stop grumbling, stop crying! We are going to press on! We got work to do, CBC! God bless you! And God bless the United States of America!
OLBERMANN: A couple of members of the Caucus found the language curious. Maxine Waters and Emanuel Cleaver both noting that in speeches to other base groups, the president had never suggested they stop complaining, and they were surprised he would use that language, of all places, in front of theirs.
But as quickly as the criticism had come, members began to back away from it.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAXINE WATERS: I think he got carried away. Got off script and got a little bit, you know, beside himself. But I certainly don't believe that he thinks that the Congressional Black Caucus is sitting around in house slippers and bed slippers or whatever the things are.
(Excerpt from video clip) LEE: I know I've been working hard. I know every member of the Congressional Black Caucus for years and years and years has been, and will continue, to be working hard. I had many calls, people are saying to me - "You know, I know the president really didn't mean that. Because he knows what the suffering and pain is out there." And so I say, he must have been just caught up in the moment, went off script.
OLBERMANN: To try to sort this out, let me turn to David Drucker, staff writer for "Roll Call." Thanks for your time tonight, Mr. Drucker.
DAVID DRUCKER: Good to be here, thank you.
OLBERMANN: We seemed to have a double mixed message in the president's remarks to the CBC, and the sort of divergent responses from the members of the CBC. Have you been able to straighten out what's going on here?
DRUCKER: Well, I don't know if we can ever straighten it out because we can't get in everybody's head, but I think the message was very clear and I think the message was received, but - of course - in Washington and in politics, whenever a message is delivered clearly, the people who don't like it always claim that it really wasn't meant to be that way.
OLBERMANN: So that message was what?
DRUCKER: The message was "Stop griping and getting on my case and get to work. I'm fighting a bunch of Republicans and a bunch of people who don't agree with me and I'm trying to do it for you."
Now, this is - this, Keith, is my supposition of what the president was saying. I also think that he was trying to use language that plays well with the Democratic base generally, which is "Let's go march, let's get to work, let's go fight." This is what the president's critics on the left have been saying, "We want you to fight."
So, he brought the fight to them and said, "Fine, you want me to fight? I need help," and the truth is, he's right, if he's going to be re-elected in 2012, he's gonna need their help more than anybody else's.
OLBERMANN: Not to be the guy who can never accept yes for an answer - 'cause I'm one of the people that's been calling on him to fight - but is there a clue on the strategy and particularly the juxtaposition here?
'Cause it seems like over the weekend the president bared what might have been his own kind of fighting words headlines, which would have been without this, president slams Republican opponents, specifically.
DRUCKER: Well, I think you bring up a good point, and I'm glad you allowed me to get to that. Which is - I think the president's message is perfectly fine, and it's communicated all the time by presidents and governors and others in his position. Usually, though - in my experience - is done in private. This is the kind of thing you don't want getting headlines because you don't want to make it look like there's a fight in the family.
And I think that it's possible that it wasn't taken all that well because I don't think that members of the Congressional Black Caucus feel like they've been complaining. I think they probably feel like they've been fighting for what they believe in, the same as the president. And I also think it shows a vulnerability that the president feels politically with his base, and in particular with independents and the soft Republicans that supported him in 2008 - that he may not get back in 2012 - and therefore he really needs the base to do the kind of work that it's going to take in a close race because he may not have that excess, that overage from the other side.
OLBERMANN: About the president slams Republican opponents would-be headlines that we would have been talking about otherwise, let's talk about them anyway.
OLBERMANN: About Rick Perry, the president said - and I'll read it exactly - "You've got a governor whose state is the on fire denying climate change."
And they talk about the Republican audiences at the debates - "You've got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don't have health care and booing a service member in Iraq because they're gay. That's not reflective of who we are."
That's - that's pretty specific given this president's campaigning history, and certainly it's pretty early, isn't it?
DRUCKER: I think it is. I would say this, there's nothing wrong in certain settings with reminding your supporters what you're fighting for, and trying to make sure that for people out there still making their decisions, maybe you don't want to vote for the other guy.
I would say, in general, it's a little bit early for the president to be participating in such direct campaigning, particularly because he doesn't really know who he's going to end up facing. And I just think that it sort of - it brings him down a bit into the swamp of the Republican primary campaign. If I'm him - granted, nobody's paying me for this and maybe I'm not the expert - but if I'm him, I let the Republicans fight it out and bring themselves down and have a tough primary and I kind of wait around and then I see what I'm dealing with in the spring and then I start going after them.
But clearly, he feels the need to begin to campaign early. He feels like he needs to begin sending the message now and we're going to find out if his choice was the correct one.
OLBERMANN: David Drucker of "Roll Call," much thanks for your insight and for trying to help us. I think we got it somewhat straighten out if not completely so. Thanks for doing so.
DRUCKER: Any time. Thank you.
OLBERMANN: The kinder, gentler Fox News - at least according to Roger Ailes. Markos Moulitsas joins me, and then Ken Burns on his new documentary "Prohibition," and how the Teetotalers of 1911 may have been the ancestors of the Tea Party of 2011, coming up.
OLBERMANN: The new kinder, gentler Fox News, Roger Ailes says he's throttled back on the ideology over there - apparently there will be fewer witch trials now.
First, the "Sanity Break," and on this date in 1774 was born John Chapman, better known to American history as Johnny Appleseed. The widely held image of the barefoot man walking across the nation in its earliest years - wearing a tin pot on his head, and throwing seeds wherever he could - is not exactly correct.
Chapman planted not trees, but orchards. He would fence them off, get the deed to them, leave them in the hands of neighbors - who sold trees for profits - and then come back and tend to them later. When he died, he left an estate of more than 1,200 acres, plus other large plots of land in Allen County, Indiana, and Ashland County, Ohio. Also, he was a religious missionary. But he did wear that tin pot on his head.
"Time Marches On."
To Casal di Principe, in Italy, where Kate Middleton's wedding dress has nothing on this fabulous garment. I can't exactly make out the front of the dress, but the - what's impossible to miss is the veil. Yes, that thing there that looks like draperies covering the street? Three kilometers in length - 9,842 feet for those of you not on the metric system - the longest veil in the world. You might think it seems a little excessive - unnecessary - right now, but when it comes time for this couple to buy curtains, they already have a mile in fabric. We'll see who has the last laugh.
In Tel Aviv, Lutz Eichholz has decided that riding a unicycle is not difficult enough. To add to the challenge, he has decided to ride his unicycle on top of bottles. After a few not-so-stellar attempts, Mr. Eichholz is able to travel nearly 30 feet on top of the bottles, setting a new record. Looks like a track to me - oh, I see, okay, there are the bottles. Afterwards, he reflected on his record saying, "It was much harder than I expected." What the hell were you expecting?
In sports, we check in on the wonderful sport of bike racing, but with obstacles - Wee! Somebody should've told him about the obstacle part of the race.
The 360-barrel roll, though, gave him enough style points that his fall from first to last is not quite as soul-crushing - I'm now being told there are no points awarded for style. Looks like I - spoke too soon. Ah-ha-ha-ha, laughing at a guy hurting himself. Ah-ha-ha-ha.
"Time Marches On."
Roger Ailes hints that he actually fired Glenn Beck, and that O'Reilly hates Hannity. Well, Hannity can just take a freaking number. Next on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: "The DuMont Evening News" with Morgan Beatty will not be seen tonight so that we can instead bring you "Countdown," live at 8:00 P.M. Eastern, 5:00 P.M. Pacific, each weeknight. The replay's at 11:00 P.M., 2:00 A.M., 7:00 A.M., noon, and 3:00 P.M. We call it our little miracle.
Fox News Chairman, Roger Ailes today seemingly auditioning for an on-air job on his own channel. In our third story tonight, Ailes - quoted by Howard Kurtz of "The Daily Beast" slamming federal regulators, and the left-wing media, and then saying he's going in a more moderate direction - to Brazil?
The piece painted Ailes as a reformed conservative operative who has "throttled back" Fox to make it less ideological. Thought he was just throttling Beck.
Part of that shift, Ailes says, was to get rid of Glenn Beck, saying that the conspiracy-theory-pushing Beck, "became a bit of a branding issue for us." And, wow, if you're endangering the Fox brand, you must be carrying bubonic plague or truth serum.
Fortunately, Ailes steered back towards his brand of "reality," saying, "Every other network has given all their shows to liberals. We are the balance."
The balance? Like the networks balanced wall-to-wall negative coverage of the president's use of a paper clip on his jobs plan, two weeks ago? In any case, Ailes is not saying he's providing unbiased news, just that he'll supply an extreme right-wing version of events to offset the "liberal mainstream - media."
Kurtz goes on to describe how Ailes was willing to push the Republican candidates - or at least Rick Perry - at the debate his network hosted last week. Going after Perry, though, does not mean Ailes has abandoned his political scheming. He's still very much the kingmaker, and has reportedly met with most of the Republican candidates, telling Mitt Romney to loosen up and Chris Christie to get in the race.
And he's still spouting the same conservative stuff, like this little gem about federal oversight:
"I think regulations are totally out of control, with bureaucrats hiring Ph.D.s to sit in the basement and draw up regulations to try to ruin your life."
But network chairmen ruining our democracy with propagandistic news coverage is absolutely fine, according to Ailes the moderate.
Let's bring in "Countdown" contributor, Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of dailykosos.com. Thanks again for your time tonight, my friend.
MARKOS MOULITSAS: How are you, Keith? I think you're having a lot of fun with this story, aren't you?
OLBERMANN: Only since 2003. Big picture on that article, Markos. How was the fact that Ailes is trying to, kind of, stage the purging of his own party - you know, throw out the Republicans he doesn't like for the presidential race, Rick Perry and others - and get huge ratings out of that. How is that mistaken for some fanciful notion that he's taking Fox News moderate?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, I don't know where Howard Kurtz got any of that nonsense. I mean, one point he's talking about how Roger Ailes is trying to moderate, on another point, he actually quotes Roger Ailes as saying that he chews out Shepard Smith anytime he appears to be too pro-Obama, and if we know Roger Ailes, we know what pro-Obama means - basically - accusing him of not being a Kenyan socialist, Marxist.
OLBERMANN: Another quote from this: "Privately Fox executives say the entire network took a hard right turn after Obama's election." No crap. . . "But as the Tea Party's popularity fades, is edging back towards the mainstream."
We can both have a large laugh at this, but is there some implication here that having co-founded, or created - or certainly enabled - the tea party, that Roger Ailes has now decided it's done its purpose, he's gonna kill it off?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, I mean, the notion that Fox News wasn't hard right before Obama was elected, and that that's now changing, is obviously pretty ridiculous, but I think this is a situation where - you know, he's reaping what he's sowed. Because if Fox News, obviously, was an instigator, and a prime driver in the creation of the tea party. So, now they don't like them - they realize that the Rick Perrys, and the Michele Bachmanns of the Republican Party are leading them to almost guaranteed defeat in 2012 - Fox News wants Mitt Romney. They want somebody who is electable. Mitt Romney polls the best against Obama, so they can read the polling better than anybody - just as good as anybody else. So, they've got an agenda. The notion that they're moderating is ridiculous, what they're doing is they're trying to say like you do, they're trying to play kingmaker.
OLBERMANN: But - do we see Roger Ailes sitting in his basement laboratory like Frankenstein after the monster gets out, and saying, "How am I gonna get this thing back in here?"
MOULITSAS: I don't doubt it. I mean, one of the things that was really funny after the Fox News debate is the chyrons on Fox News immediately declared Mitt Romney the winner of that debate. We're talking immediately, before anybody had said a word. I mean, they knew what their story line was gonna be. And this is Fox News, they're all about reinforcing their story lines and they're doing everything they can to try to make Mitt Romney palatable to a Democrat - Republican primary electorate that really wants nothing to do with him.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, polls. Romney has great hair. In this piece from Kurtz, are we seeing the essence - sort of a documentation of the enabling process by which Fox News came to exist and to maintain itself?
I mean if - 15 years ago - journalists, and politicians, and people in the public light had said, 'All right, you may call yourself news, but that's a brand name. You're no more news than, you know, the worst tabloid or the worst weekly supermarket tabloid,' if they had denied them access, if they denied them respect, denied them a seat at the table, some of this nightmare might have been averted, and yet if you - what I'm saying this is about, is this one quote that is used about Ailes by Ailes.
"It saddens me," Ailes said, "America used to be able to get straight journalism."
How can you print that - how could you let anybody who blogs on your site in a diary put that in there without pointing out that a man who is - personally - fifty percent responsible for the corruption of the, you know, straight journalism in this country was Roger Ailes? How could you do that - isn't that the essence of journalistic dishonesty and the enabling process that let Fox get where it is?
MOULITSAS: Yeah, yeah and it naturally - and to me what was interesting about Kurtz, is that - not only did he enable Fox News previously by giving them a veneer of respectability, not criticizing them - but now, he writes about how after Obama was elected, they turned hard right. He never wrote about it after Obama was elected. He never took the time to criticize him. So, now he basically enables him before, and now he sort of apologizes for them. So, I mean - this is great propaganda for Fox News, obviously. But it doesn't really speak well to Howard Kurtz to be played like that or to - you know, worse - be completely clueless to what Fox News is really all about.
OLBERMANN: Last point, quickly - saving grace here is what? The fact O'Reilly hates Hannity or fact that essentially Ailes said, yeah, we're just right-wing crap?
MOULITSAS: All of the above.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. "Countdown" contributor, Daily Kos founder and publisher, Markos Moulitsas, thanks as always, sir.
MOULITSAS: Thanks very much.
OLBERMANN: "Prohibition," the new documentary film by friend Ken Burns, it premieres Sunday. But he'll be here to preview it and explain its relevance to today's American political scene - coming up on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: It is seemingly a documentary about American politics of a century ago, but "Prohibition" is in many ways just as much about today's political environment as yesterday. Ken Burns joins me here.
First, The Worst and yes - once again I find myself defending Sarah Palin. Happily, there is late news tonight that makes it possible for me to defend her and attack her on the same issue, next.
OLBERMANN: Ken Burns, his new documentary "Prohibition." And why inside an extraordinary latest piece of history, there is a disturbing portrayal of the politics of America not in 1911, but in 2011.
First, because we can try to prohibit these folks until the cows come home and I still think our best bet is sarcasm like this. Here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze, to Joe McGinniss, author of "The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin." As I said on Bill Maher's program - I do not like the book, I am not comfortable with many of its sources, I find it reminiscent of a lot of the pseudo-journalism of books about Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and others. But I would not have put Mr. McGinnis on this list - or mentioned any of this - had he not written this in an online chat:
"FYI, both 'Morning Joe' and 'Keith Olbermann' had me booked for last week, but canceled when they saw which way the wind was blowing. I'd like people to know that about Olbermann. First, he attacked my book on Bill Maher without having read it. Then, when the publicity director of Crown Publishing said to his producer that she hoped he would read it before interviewing me on his own show, he canceled me."There were worse accusations against David Folkenflik of NPR about threats - supposedly to cut off the radio network's funding - which Folkenflik has denied in the strongest possible terms. And because sadly, it's what Mr. McGinniss wishes were true, not what is true.
As to what he wrote about me - firstly, if Mr. McGinniss thinks I act based on "which way the wind is blowing," he has just proved correct all my fears about his remaining ability to report.
Secondly, his construction of how he got canceled is also something from his own imagination. Guests are regularly booked on this program - as they are on all other news programs - without my knowledge and brought to me for later, final approval. And often I do not approve them.
I have the greatest possible respect for Mr. McGinniss's past work, but I found this book to be representative of the type of tactics usually used against me and against other critics of Sarah Palin by her supporters and her apologists. Her policies and professional conduct are enough of a disaster to provide a new version of the Comstock Lode every day, and Lord knows I do as much mining as I can.
But even for those we loathe, there are supposed to be areas that are off-limits, and I'm afraid the book spent far too much time there. Others can descend to Palin's level if they wish. I'm not going to. And I'm not, because Palin always does it for us.
After I wrote all that - late news that she's threatening to sue McGinniss and the book company for quote, "Knowingly publishing false statements." Just when people were finding themselves grudgingly on her side, she thinks she smells money. That woman is an idiot.
The runner-up, Voldemort himself - Florida Governor Rick Scott. If you're wondering what next atrocity conservatives would stand up and applaud would be, the Governor and the Jacobeans at the CPAC conference in Florida to whom he spoke provided it.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SCOTT: In Florida, unemployment rate's gone from 12 percent down to 10.7. We're still above the national average, but we've generated 87,200 private sector jobs - private sector! And we have 15,000 less government jobs in the state of Florida. Government doesn't create jobs.
OLBERMANN: No, brainiac, if government fires people, you're right, government doesn't create jobs. These jackwagons were applauding 15,000 more unemployed people in Florida. Because they weren't the ones who got unemployed. Seriously, Florida, how did you elect this gargoyle?
But our winner, Mike Rowland, the police chief of Bay Minette, Alabama. Chief Rowland has concocted a brilliant new scheme called ROC - Restore Our Community. As of next week, the city judge of the hamlet - who we believe, by the way, is named Bayless E. Biles - will have a new sentencing option.
Those found guilty of a misdemeanor can serve their sentences in jail and pay a fine or go to church for a year every Sunday. That's right, go to church or go to jail. Chief Rowland thinks the program does not violate separation of church and state because the offender gets to choose his option and which kind of denominational service he wants to attend. Even though there are no mosques in the program because there aren't any in the area, or synagogues. So you Jews and Muslims and Atheists, you all can just go to jail or convert.
But Chief Rowland - who back where I come from, we'd call a rube - he ups the ante a little more by saying, "You show me somebody who falls in love with Jesus, and I'll show you a person who won't be a problem to society."
You need the list of people for whom that's not true? Alphabetical or chronological? One more thing, Chief Rowland, you do realize that in setting this scheme up, you have declared that having to go to church for a year is the equivalent of going to jail for a misdemeanor? You do realize you've declared that going to church is a punishment? At least it is in Bay Minette, Alabama.
Police Chief Mike Rowland of that city, today's "Worst Person in the World."
OLBERMANN: Originating with legitimate concerns about the well-being of the nation and its citizens, a political movement mutates in a kind of irrational, religious-related zealotry. Before its influence is fully measured, it dominates nearly every state government, and is beginning to infiltrate the House, the Senate, the presidential race. Its ire is directed at immigrants, city dwellers, the users of recreational drugs. It wants to rewrite laws, dictate what the government spends and how. And, it wants a constitutional amendment.
In our number one story, The tea party? No, the Anti-Saloon League, The Women's Christian Temperance Union, the prohibitionists. They seem like an antique brought down from the high shelf of history, until you watch Ken Burns' new documentary on them premiering Sunday on PBS. Ken, in a moment. The clip first.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #1: We therefore declare for alcohol's national annihilation by an amendment to the federal constitution, which shall forever prohibit throughout the territory of the United States the manufacture and sale, and the importation, exportation and transportation of intoxicating liquor to be used as a beverage.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN #2: Here were all these evangelical Christians - familiar figures today - who decided to pass a law that . . . would imprison Jesus if he turned water into wine. They'd say "there he goes - Lock him up."
OLBERMANN: A pleasure to be joined here for the first time by documentary filmmaker and "Countdown" contributor for "History and Stuff," Ken Burns. Hello, my friend. How are you?
KEN BURNS: I'm well, how are you? Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Our pleasure. I - holding up on the zealot trail pretty well?
BURNS: The grueling trail.
OLBERMANN: A premise - this is actually about today's history, and you just sort of covered it with yesterday's history. True or false?
BURNS: You know, everything I think we've ever done has been about today's history. You know, the Civil War was about a new imperial presidency and weapons of mass destruction, about women's liberation, shoddy government contract work - all the things.
And when we stepped into this pile of stuff called Prohibition, we couldn't believe that it was just echoing with everything of today - single-issue campaigns that metastasize, demonization of immigrants, a whole group of people who feel like they've lost control of their country and want to take it back - tell me to stop.
OLBERMANN: But - there's something else, too. The - apart from those parallels, there's also this idea that there was this slow buildup to a process that people just saw at the last moment - which you could argue was the conservative movement for the last, you know 45 years in America that sort of - the final version of which was the tea party. And, prohibition I - frankly, I think I know my American history pretty well. I thought Prohibition was something that started about 1885 or so.
BURNS: Yeah, no. It goes way, way back, it's a long time brewing. And, what's so interesting is that it's - lots of different people want it. They think it's the magic bullet. The panacea of it is going to cure society of all the ills. It has been hijacked by the Anti-Saloon League - that is the single most effective lobbying organization in the history of the United States, it makes the NRA look like they're in short pants - but, it's embraced by progressives as well as conservatives. By Democrats as well as Republicans, by the NAACP, and the Ku Klux Klan, by the Wobblies, the industrial workers of the world, the radical labor union, who think that - you know, that alcohol must be a capitalist plot to destroy the working man. And Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, who think that alcohol, you know, cuts into productivity. So, everybody is buying it.
Then, they wake up to the biggest hangover ever. Because it's prohibition for somebody else - Mark Twain says "Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits."
OLBERMANN: And, there really is - just when you think you've had the entire story of this extraordinary build up and the 120 years before it happened, and the 13 years of its existence - suddenly comes this story of its collapse.
OLBERMANN: Is there a lesson? The end of Prohibition does that contain a lesson to any one-party group - the tea party is an easy example to use, but any one one-issue group.
OLBERMANN: About - whether or not you moderate your position or you become the French Revolution. Everybody is not pure enough to survive, and there is nobody left to fight your side of the ball.
BURNS: That's right. There's lots of lessons here. I mean, we have unintended consequences, which we know - organized crime, female alcoholism, it didn't work. It wasn't the magic bullet.
You know, Billy Sunday said "A hell will forever be for rent." Well, there was Standing Room Only to get into hell after they passed the amendment. But, yes, we - it's a cautionary tale. We don't jump into - when somebody says 'I've got this blankety blank amendment which will fix everything.' And, we don't jump into it that way, because we've been chastened. And, Prohibition is that long, simmering memory that tells us be careful.
OLBERMANN: And it's Pete Hamill - I think - who says "This is the first time the constitution went out of its way to narrow freedom rather than expand it," right?
BURNS: Exactly right. And, this is the only amendment - to our credit - that's been repealed. We thought this would work. It didn't work, and we got rid of it faster than it came in. I mean, the actual ratification took almost no time - surprise, the dries who were sure. 'We gave them 84 months, they'll never be able to ratify in 84 months.' They did it in 13. Well, this thing disappeared even shorter, because we realized it had been such a ridiculous, hypocritical folly.
OLBERMANN: The event - it's almost three weeks ago that we were at - where you shared the stage with Terry Winter, and the folks from HBO on "Boardwalk Empire." Overlapping in time, and in an extraordinary thing, I'm sure for both of you - Mr. Winter and yourself. You both struck gold with the same character. And he was - I could tell how trepidatious he was that he'd gotten something wrong. But, you both seemed to have hit him perfectly. Tell - tell - explain who I'm talking about.
BURNS: Well, a guy named George Remus. I mean, we finished our film. We locked the film just about the time "Boardwalk Empire" premiered its first year. So, I've got my - you know, accounting firm here. They'll tell you we had no idea. But, we came across this guy George Remus, who talked about himself in the third person, was this unbelievable bootlegger, with a story built for Hollywood. And, we just kept saying as we were making it "Somebody should make this as a film." And, he's now a lead character, in this, the second season of "Boardwalk Empire." And, when we were at this thing, we both shared, you know, coincidentally, clips on George Remus.
BURNS: We have Paul Giamatti reading him off camera, and he's just as funny in documentary as he is in a feature film.
OLBERMANN: And, to give away nothing of what it is - when you watch this, and I hope you will, because it's really one of Ken's best pieces - when you watch this documentary, whatever you think you're hearing Mr. Remus say, you have no idea what the context is, and that is all revealed at the end. And, it's worth waiting - do not scoot forward.
BURNS: No, no, no. I keep trying.
OLBERMANN: Enjoy it.
BURNS: I sit on my hands, I do not give away the second half of the story. Suffice to say he's one of the greatest bootleggers ever. And then -
OLBERMANN: - there's something else.
BURNS: - The rest of the story.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, Paul. Lastly, about allegories and additional stories. Terry Winter saw - from "Boardwalk Empire" - said he saw Prohibition as an allegory relating to the criminalization of marijuana. I mean, there's another - there's even another angle to take on this.
BURNS: I think there is a kind of obvious conversation to have about this. But, we've been drinking since there've been people. Drugs, marijuana, other things pop up in sub-cultural moments. And, you can't make a direct correlation. If you do, you'll end up with the same unintended consequences. Because, you may be able to tax it - it's our largest cash crop. But, you may not cut down on the violence, which you hope would take place without inviting in cocaine and heroin.
BURNS: Are we ready to do that? Probably not.
OLBERMANN: "Prohibition," the documentary film by Ken Burns, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of next week on PBS, right? And it is great work, and you also, on top of everything else get to find out about the actual origin of phrases like "teetotaler," and "Skid Row." Or "Skid Road," I think might be the origin.
BURNS: "Skid Road."
OLBERMANN: Always a pleasure, and -
BURNS: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: - my condolences about the Red Sox.
BURNS: Oh, I knew you'd bring that up.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown," for this, the 57th day since the Republican's debt ceiling blackmail worked. Speaker Boehner, where are the jobs, where's our credit rating? By the way, I'm rooting for the Red Sox. All of my friends work for the Red Sox.
BURNS: I hope so.
OLBERMANN: And of course, the good friends who own the Braves. I'm a mess. It's the Yankees I'm not rooting for.
I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.