'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Friday, October 28th, 2011
#ShowPlug 1: Mayor @JeanQuan fails: #OccupyOakland asked to leave plaza overnight; Organizers will not let her speak; she posts online
#ShowPlug 2: @MMFlint Michael Moore speaks in Oakland; #ScottOlsen improves. Guest: his roomate @glennbeckisevil Keith Shannon
#ShowPlug 3: NYPD, NYFD pull generators out of #OccupyWallStreet, spread stories of "Ghetto" in Zuccotti. @ErrolLouis NY1 joins me
#ShowPlug 4: Nice trick on #OccupyNashville: change the rules yesterday, raid overnight. Our guest: teacher arrested in front of his student
#ShowPlug 5: What does the President know & when will he know it? POTUS hangs back. @7im Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone joins me
#ShowPlug 6: Plus, Glenn Beck insults, mocks Sgt. Shamar Thomas - why does Beck hate the troops?
#ShowPlug 7: Worst Halloween Costumes ever -- the WW2 Evacuees Boys & Girls outfits you've seen? There's a back story.
#ShowPlug Last: & greatest political quote ever: "You bitches! Don't you (effing) know? I'm blank (effing) blank, the mayor of this city"
watch whole playlist
#5 Breaking news on Scott Olsen, Keith Shannon
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
#4 'Wall Street Freeze Out', Errol Louis
#3 'Occupy Nashville', Adam Knight
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
# Time Marches On!
#2 Worst Persons: Glenn Beck, Wonderland Party, Rob Ford
#1 'Otherwise Occupied', Tim Dickinson
printable PDF transcript
Categories: Show Transcripts
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
No sale. Occupy Oakland refuses to let Mayor Jean Quan apologize to its general assembly. So, she posts herself online.
(Excerpt from video clip) JEAN QUAN: What I wanted to say to you tonight is how deeply saddened I am about the outcome on Tuesday.
OLBERMANN: And then she tells Occupy Oakland it cannot stay in Ogawa Plaza overnight. The protester, his skull fractured by police - Scott Olsen, improves again.
(Excerpt from video clip) DOCTOR: Huge neurological improvement over what he was when he got here, but he's still having trouble articulating words. I anticipate that that will improve.
OLBERMANN: Wall Street - now we know why Bloomberg thought the cold weather would clean out the protest. Today, the cops took away the generators.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Our first two concerns are First Amendment and safety, and this was safety.
OLBERMANN: The smear resumes - anonymous police sources say there are parts of Zuccotti Park too dangerous for them to go into, called "The Ghetto." It's twenty-six thousand square feet. This isn't downtown Calcutta.
More midnight raids. Nashville - Change the rules yesterday, run the protesters last night.
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER #1: It was way overkill for them to come in for us, you know. Eighty people in the plaza and they had over a hundred officers, just in the front lines.
OLBERMANN: San Diego - 50 arrested in that midnight sweep.
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER #2: These are your own people! Why are you here? These are your people!
OLBERMANN: And you can't stop the stupid. Nobody can stop the stupid.
(Excerpt from video clip) REPORTER: Mr. Cain is there anything else you would say to the Wall Street protesters?
(Excerpt from video clip) HERMAN CAIN: Yeah, go home and get a job and get a life.
OLBERMANN: Funny, isn't that what his fake campaign is for? To get him a life and get him a job in the political whorehouse that is Fox News? What does the President know and when will he start knowing it? Occupy and the White House.
(Excerpt from video clip) JAY CARNEY: The president has said that he understands people's frustrations.
OLBERMANN: Uh-huh. Occupy Day 42. With Scott Olsen's roommate Keith Shannon. With NY1's Errol Louis. And with witnesses to the events in Oakland, in Nashville, in San Diego. And with this idiot mocking Sgt. Shamar Thomas.
(Excerpt from video clip) GLENN BECK: The video shows this Marine yelling at the police, "Stop brutalizing, we're unarmed!"
OLBERMANN: And, you've probably seen on them online, and your jaw has probably dropped accordingly. The story behind - Worst. Costumes. Ever. All that and more now on "Countdown."
(Excerpt from video clip) ADAM SANDLER: Give me some candy!
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York, this is Friday, October 28th, 375 days until the 2012 presidential election. Physicians are reporting tonight that the Marine Iraq veteran whose skull was fractured, apparently by an Oakland police gas canister, has incurred mild brain damage. However, they expect he will likely make a full recovery.
The fifth story on the "Countdown" - police repression continuing to work for Occupy, not against it. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has apologized for the police violence that drove Occupy from Frank Ogawa Plaza, even as she may have prepared the ground for another confrontation with its protesters.
But first, the Scott Olsen story. The Occupy protesters in Oakland and other cities held vigils for Mr. Olsen last night. The blow to his forehead that fractured Mr. Olsen's skull above his brain's speech center - though Dr. Alden Harken, the chief surgeon of Oakland's Highland Hospital - says that, while Olsen can't speak at this time:
(Excerpt from video clip) ALDEN HARKIN: He actually can communicate. He can make signs. He can write. He clearly understands what we're saying. Huge neurological improvement over what he was when he got here, but he's still having trouble articulating words. I anticipate that that will improve.
OLBERMANN: We'll get the latest in a few moments from Keith Shannon, Scott's roommate and - like Scott - a former Marine who served in Iraq.
While Scott Olsen's prognosis is improving, Oakland Mayor Quan's relations with Occupy protesters seemed unlikely to do the same. The mayor was booed relentlessly last night when she tried to address Occupy Oakland's general assembly. After fleeing back to her office, the mayor recorded a statement posted to her Facebook page apologizing for Tuesday's attack.
(Excerpt from video clip) QUAN: What I wanted to say to you tonight is how deeply saddened I am about the outcome on Tuesday. It's not what anyone hoped for. I understand it's my responsibility, and I wanted to apologize to everyone about what happened.
OLBERMANN: The mayor also had four requests for Occupy Oakland - 1) Communicate with city officials. 2) Maintain healthy and safe conditions in the plaza. 3) Provide access for public-safety employees in case of emergency. But 4) ...
(Excerpt from video clip) QUAN: We're asking you, again, not to camp overnight. Frank Ogawa Plaza is open for free-speech activities between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM.
OLBERMANN: That condition, of course, is what triggered Tuesday's police action, in which more than 100 were arrested and Scott Olsen was badly hurt. Though Quan's office now says that protesters who stay past 10 were more likely to be cited than arrested.
In Frank Ogawa Plaza, Occupy protesters seemed unimpressed by the mayor's offers and the police violence that briefly expelled them.
(Excerpt from video clip) VICTORIA HELENA: All it did was galvanize the public. Just more fuel for fire for the people.
OLBERMANN: And reinforcements have arrived. Film maker and activist Michael Moore has arrived in Oakland and rallied protesters in Frank Ogawa Plaza.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL MOORE: This movement has killed apathy! People have got up off the sofa! They turned off "Dancing with the Stars" and they're out in the streets. This is a victory!
OLBERMANN: Elsewhere in the Occupy movement - in Nashville, 29 protesters were arrested early this morning at Legislative Plaza after the Tennessee Department of Public Safety rewrote state policy on Thursday and closed the area from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. Tonight, the protesters are back and claiming victory. More on Occupy Nashville a little later in the program.
In San Diego, at least fifty arrests at the Civic Center Plaza after the protest was declared an unlawful assembly.
In Atlanta, protesters expelled from Woodruff Park made a temporary camp last night at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site near King's historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Occupy Atlanta left the King Historic Site this morning, returned briefly to Woodruff Park and now seems divided on where to go next.
The movement did get support today from one of its inspirations, along with the criticism of a clown.
Egyptian activists marched from Tahrir Square in Cairo to the U.S. Embassy in that city to show solidarity with Occupy protesters here. While GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain showed the opposite in a Arkansas campaign appearance:
(Excerpt from video clip) CAIN: Go home and get a job and get a life.
OLBERMANN: If only Mr. Cain realized his party had made sure there were no jobs to get, and if only he had received the report released today by the Bertelsmann Foundation which showed the U.S. ranks 27th out of 31 nations in Bertelsmann's social-justice index. Which measures, among other things, the ability to improve your situation by getting a better job, or any job at all. The country's ranking below the U.S. - Greece, Chile, Mexico and Turkey.
Let's go to Occupy Oakland, or the environs, at least - and for the latest on Scott Olsen, I'm joined again by his roommate - fellow Marine veteran and activist in Iraq Veterans Against the War Keith Shannon. Keith, thanks for your time tonight.
KEITH SHANNON: Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Were you in the hospital today?
SHANNON: I was this morning and then I had to go to work all day.
OLBERMANN: Did you get to see him?
SHANNON: No, unfortunately, the doctors are not letting me in, even though Scott and his parents have asked them to let me.
OLBERMANN: What you are hearing about - we heard the clip from the doctor before - what are you hearing about his communication skills and the doctor's hopes for his recovery?
SHANNON: They have high hopes for it. I talked to his dad right before I came over here, and a speech therapist was on his way in to start working with Scott on that.
OLBERMANN: So, it's a - it's a rebuild process as opposed to something that's - that is going to require surgery? Has surgery been ruled out yet?
SHANNON: I don't believe it's been ruled out, although I believe it's not as likely as it was before.
OLBERMANN: Good. How - you mentioned his parents - how are they holding up?
SHANNON: They seem to be doing well. I haven't talked to them much, because they're not allowed to be on the cell phone in the room with him, so they have to go outside in order to talk to me. But they seem to be doing pretty well. They're obviously still worried, but happy that he's doing better. His sister has also arrived today and is in there with him.
OLBERMANN: Do you know, was he awake - was he up from the sedation already yesterday when the Mayor Quan came to the hospital to apologize?
SHANNON: I didn't get the chance to ask about them about that yet. So, I'm still wanting to get details on that, as well.
OLBERMANN: Do you know - is he aware of the vigils and other support around the country?
SHANNON: I told his parents about it last night. I'm sure they passed it on to him. I don't know if he knows the extent of it, but I'm sure he knows about them.
OLBERMANN: Now, have you been back to Frank Ogawa Plaza?
SHANNON: I went there yesterday for the vigil. I was one of the people that talked along with other Iraq Veterans Against the War members - at his vigil.
OLBERMANN: So, what do you think is next for the protest movement, after the, sort of, farce that it turned into last night - not the protest, but Mayor Quan's attempt to go and talk to - to Occupy Oakland?
SHANNON: I think that it's just going to keep growing. You can't put business hours on free speech, or your right to protest. So, I think more and more people are going to show up and the more they try to shut it down, the bigger it's gonna get.
OLBERMANN: And the idea of not being able to be there overnight - is this being taken seriously?
SHANNON: No, they already had tents set up. I don't think anybody's going to leave.
OLBERMANN: Keith Shannon, Scott Olsen's roommate, fellow Marine veteran and activist in Iraq Veterans Against the War. Many thanks for coming on the program.
SHANNON: Thanks again.
OLBERMANN: In New York, it's not cracked skulls, but smears spread and generators seized. The subtler - but no less mean-spirited - attempts to shut down Occupy Wall Street. Next, on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: He prophesied that Occupy Wall Street might not last past the first frost. This morning, he and his city tried to hurry that up by seizing the protesters' generators. Other cities also do the right thing for Occupy, by doing the wrong thing public relations-wise. How Nashville, Tennessee, changed the rules on the Occupiers yesterday, then raided them last night. We'll meet an 8th-grade teacher arrested as one of his students watched.
His press secretary says the president "fully understands" the frustration of those in Occupy. Does he? Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone with an assessment.
And it will go down as one of the great quotes, from any politician, in any country, in any century. "Don't you effing know? I'm Rob effing Ford, the mayor of this city!" Context coming up on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: The mayor of the city of New York had predicted that Occupy Wall Street would eventually peter out, in large part because of the oncoming autumn and winter weather. In our fourth story in the "Countdown" - as the temperatures dropped into the 40s, the city decided to give mother nature a little help, by confiscating the groups' generators and by spreading rumors that parts of Zuccotti Park were so dangerous, even police couldn't go there. Zuccotti Park covers only about three-fifths of one acre. OWS with twin marches this afternoon to five different banks, several hundred participants, no arrests.
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTERS: You broke the law, now go to jail! Our country is too big to fail.
OLBERMANN: One man dressed as a pirate - perhaps representing the spirit of the financial industry, or just getting ready for Halloween Monday.
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER: For far, far, far too long, the banks have been playing an unfair game and so, we're here to ask the bankers to actually pay their fair share. Because otherwise, they're gonna have to walk the plank.
OLBERMANN: Any metaphoric planks were walked in the morning when the New York Fire Department and the police department removed several generators and fuel from Zuccotti Park.
(Excerpt from video clip) BLOOMBERG: Our first two concerns are the First Amendment and safety.
OLBERMANN: Not everyone was buying that explanation, however.
(Excerpt from video clip) PROTESTER: This wasn't about public safety. This was pretty obvious that they're just trying to hit us where it hurts.
OLBERMANN: Another dubious assertion came in a New York Daily News story, in which an anonymous police source claimed that there is fighting in the park in a section the protesters call "the ghetto." Other anonymous police sources said they'd been warned about mysterious, dangerous instruments concealed in cardboard tubing - possibly an oboe.
Joined now by Errol Louis, the political anchor for NY1 News, co-editor of "Deadline Artists" and host of NY1's "Inside City Hall." Thanks for coming down again, sir.
ERROL LOUIS: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: All right, removing the generators - it sounds like a plausible enough act, that it might be some fire hazard or something like that. But it occurred to me - aren't there a dozen outdoor, outfitted tents and walkways and such for shows, and beauty things, and sports pageants and everything else - every day in the autumn and the winter in this city?
LOUIS: Fashion week, the red carpets at movie openings - on and on and on it goes. On the other hand, I have heard that there's some kind of a standard - around 20 feet - around a propane heater to make sure that it's safe and so forth. So, it was at least plausible. Of course there've been conflicting reports. Some protesters have tweeted and talked about, on camera, that they had - vegetable oil was being used to fuel it, not propane - no gasoline or anything like. So, unclear what the heck was going on.
OLBERMANN: You think the mayor would have been happy because of the low-fat content of the oil being used. That's one of his pet peeves. If there's no salt in the thing, he might come down and give somebody a medal.
Does it seem to you that - every step that the mayor takes or the police department or even fire department takes - that the protesters seem to have game-planned this a little bit better than what we're used to in these environments? Because, what I'm understanding is - they are talking about bringing in bicycle - bicycle-run generators and, of course, that would heat - also issue - address the heat problem for the individuals who are on the bicycles. They've really got it thought through.
LOUIS: That's true. That's true. It is, in fact - they're very resourceful, let's put it that way. The generators, by the way, don't appear to have been used for heat. This was the very first day the temperature really dropped below 40 degrees. And, apparently, up until now it's really been used to power their very impressive communication set up. So, now they've got an issue more about communication than around personal comfort.
Look, the reality is the mayor, and the city and a lot of scornful onlookers have just assumed that, "Oh, they'll all go away when the cold weather... " You know, they don't know why they started, they don't know why they're there. I don't think they can make any intelligent predictions about why they might leave - or when.
OLBERMANN: Michael Moore suggested, last night, that there was some sort - there were no ordinances about ice sculpting in the city, and therefore igloos were a distinct possibility. And there was an ice company that had, apparently, volunteered to provide the ice for igloos. That's how prepared they might be at this point.
The tent issue - the mayor says they can keep them up, unless the company that owns - or controls - the spot wants them to be taken down. Is that a win for the protesters, or is that just another passed buck?
LOUIS: It sounds like a passed buck, frankly - but this is the same reason the mayor deferred when it came to the question of clearing them all out for, allegedly, sanitation reasons. The sanitation ordinances and standards were public but, again, this is a private park.
And so, the mayor said "Well, we'll defer to whatever it is," - Brookfield Properties, they own the space - "whatever it is they want to do." And it's caused a lot of rage, by the way, on the right where they say, "Look, he's giving in, he's passing the buck, could you imagine Mayor Giuliani taking a back seat to some private company," and so forth. And frankly, it is a little bit unclear as to who's calling the shots here. It seems though that the mayor is, in fact, deferring to the private owner.
OLBERMANN: In the area to which he does not defer to them, he said New York police do not use tear gas the way they did in Oakland. Is that a promise? Is New York - is it a suggestion that New York learned something from what happened in Oakland?
LOUIS: It sounds more like a coincidence, frankly. I'm trying to think - in fact, over the last 20, 30 years, I've been watching New York politics fairly closely - I don't think they use tear gas. I think it's really just a reality of New York. We've got 8 million people in 323 square miles. You can't use something like tear gas without affecting a whole lot of people.
OLBERMANN: Wind changes, it's running up Broadway and hitting 72nd Street. And then you hear complaints.
LOUIS: Unless you, for some reason, wanted to subdue everybody in Yankee Stadium, I can't foresee a scenario where you would ever use tear gas in New York.
OLBERMANN: One of the descriptions of how the police behaved the other night - when the protesters actually got on to the streets for the first time without permits - was - it was Shamar Thomas who told me this - that it was as not, as it might have appeared, the police backing off, but the police actually being - failing, in terms of tactics, actually being out-maneuvered on the street. And at one point, the protesters managed to go against traffic, so there was no way to put up the netting to stop them, they would have been interfering with the traffic.
Is it your sense that the police have not calmed down at all, but just have not succeeded in doing the way - approaching this the way - they approached it on September 18 and September 25 and all the other key dates?
LOUIS: You and I have talked about how demonstrations in New York City tend to be somewhat choreographed - somewhat staged. The organizers and the police sort of collaborate and agree in advance where the arrests will take place, how many will be arrested, which streets will be off limits, on limits, who will be on the sidewalk, who will be on the street.
These folks are not doing that kind of choreography. They're going in all kinds of other places. Tactically, for the police, it's a very, very - difficult kind of situation. And when people do the unexpected, or do things that are unannounced, or split into two marches that the police have not anticipated - it becomes very hard for them to perform the way they normally do, basically without incident. The fact that there were no arrests today was a sign that everybody's kind of giving a little and adjusting to what seems to be a new style of protest in the city.
OLBERMANN: Or the splitting of the march seems to have been, perhaps, something taken from the playbook of Robert E. Lee and they're not used to it in the New York Police Department.
The last point - the anonymous police sources who told the Daily News that the dangerous "ghetto" in Zuccotti Park and the mysterious weapons inside the cardboard tubes - as I said, this place is three-fifths of an acre. This is not some vast Central Park-like area. People think "Oh, Zuccotti Park ..." You get down there, you can see it all - stand up on your toes, you can see the whole thing.
LOUIS: You can see the whole thing.
OLBERMANN: Where - there's a ghetto? Is there - is there a subway? Are there two subway stops that travel from one end to the other? What in the hell is that story, Errol?
LOUIS: I don't know. And the notion that there are different, you know, sort of sectors within - again, what you say - a very, very small area. You can walk the whole length of it in under a minute.
LOUIS: It's not the kind of place - I think there's a reason that certain sources remain anonymous, because other information wouldn't really stand up to any kind of serious scrutiny. This might be one of those times.
OLBERMANN: I've been to baseball card shows in basements in this city that were, like, six times the size of this.
LOUIS: Errol Louis of NY1, co-editor of "Deadline Artists." Much thanks, and have a great weekend.
LOUIS: Good to see you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir.
The "ultimate raid" that OWS has feared since September 17, already hit Occupy San Diego and Occupy Nashville last night. One of the Nashville protesters, an 8th -grade teacher, joins me next.
OLBERMANN: Every time it looks like municipalities and police forces will calm down, think big picture, and let the Occupy movement either level off or grow of its own accord, they instead play right into the protest's publicity hands.
In our third story - 29 occupiers were arrested in Nashville overnight - doesn't sound like anything different. Even though the arrests themselves were relatively peaceful, the justification for the arrests has been severely called into question.
9:00 A.M. Thursday, the Office of the General Council of the Department of General Services informed the members of Occupy Nashville that a new curfew had been enacted for the park during the hours of 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. And eviction of the park could begin at 8:00 PM.
8:00 PM came and went without incident. But, at 3:00 AM, an announcement came from a police bullhorn that in ten minutes the police would be entering the park and any remaining occupiers would be arrested. Around two dozen protesters left without incident, another 29 remained. After ten minutes, 75 state troopers began arresting the remaining Occupiers. The Occupiers linked arms in an attempt to peacefully resist, but they were eventually pulled apart anyway and arrested, brought to Davidson County Jail. Once there, Night Court Commissioner Tom Nelson refused to sign the warrants, citing a lack of probable cause.
(Excerpt from video clip) TOM NELSON: I am not criticizing the highway patrol. But, you have no lawful basis to arrest or charge those people. For three weeks they've sat up there and protested under no admonition whatsoever that they're violating state policy in regard to camping out on Legislative Plaza, or that they're committing a crime. When the state issued its memorandum today imposing a curfew and changing the rules, right in the middle of a protest - they can do that. But they have to give them adequate opportunity to comply with those rules.
OLBERMANN: Let's here it for Mr. Nelson and the Constitution. Instead of being released, the protesters were moved to the Sheriff's Office, where they were issued misdemeanor citations for criminal trespass. That is a Class C misdemeanor. They were released at 9:00 this morning, 24 hours after they were first informed of that new curfew.
Joining me now is one of the Occupy Nashville members arrested last night, eighth-grade teacher Adam Knight. Mr. Knight, thanks for your time tonight.
ADAM KNIGHT: Hey, thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Were you surprised the police moved in. Did you think at least they'd give you 24 hours, or some time to adjust to this new curfew setup?
KNIGHT: Honestly, I was surprised that they didn't move in earlier. They said they were going give us until tomorrow - that was their language. So, tomorrow to me was 12:00 midnight, so I presumed that they would move in at 12:01 and take us out, but they waited until 3:00.
OLBERMANN: The response that we just played - at the office of the Night Court Commissioner - what was - has that been the highlight of this experience for you, to hear him say that?
KNIGHT: I mean, it's good to see that we have that - that legal backing. I mean - you know, he claimed that there was no legal basis for them to arrest or detain us. After he made that decision, they held us for another four hours in holding cells, and then they moved us into a parking garage. You know, so we were held there.
OLBERMANN: I said this, at the beginning of the segment. Every time it looks like the municipalities and the police, - no matter where we're talking about, whether it's Nashville or Oakland - every time it looks like they're settling down and appreciating what it is you're doing, what it is you're trying to do for them, in particular - that somebody gets the bright idea that this thing can be stopped by force, or midnight raids or whatever you have.
Is that your sense, too - that every step that somebody takes in government against you, in fact, works, not just to galvanize those who are involved in the protest, but also really bring it to the public's attention that the wrong end of the equation here is the government's end of it?
KNIGHT: Yeah, I think so. I mean - I think galvanize is a good word. You know the poll in The Tennessean yesterday, asking whether people believe that Occupy Nashville should be evicted from Legislative Plaza - you know, it was overwhelmingly against eviction. Eighty-four percent of people voting, you know, claimed that we should be allowed to stay there. So yeah, it does - it galvanizes and it brings - it brings more people in, because when governments start attacking the Constitution, you know, that's always going to bring people.
OLBERMANN: Isn't it shocking, to realize how many people think that the Constitution is meant to be interpreted as it is written for things, like, say - protests - and how many people don't realize that there's been any kind of erosion about this. And we're not just talking about liberals or members of Occupy, but just anybody in the political equation who just sort of hangs around the edges is suddenly discovering - "Guess what's happened to your rights in the last 30 years."
KNIGHT: Oh right - it's been beautiful just to - just to even have that conversation started again and to have people really willing to stand up and come out. You know, we had people come out last night that hadn't been out before, you know, and we welcome them with open arms. They found out what they were about, and they're there to stand for something. And you know, just like I saw Michael Moore say earlier - in the clip that you played - they are not looking at "Dancing with the Stars" anymore. They see that - you know, democracy has to be fought for and you have to stand up for your Constitutional rights and people are finally willing to wake up to that fact again.
OLBERMANN: I understand one of your own students was present last night during that arrest. How have your students and their parents reacted to your involvement in Occupy Nashville and the movement?
KNIGHT: I mean - well, it's been heart warming to me. I told my students, before I went out there Thursday, that there was a good chance that I would be arrested, and I didn't want them to think I was doing something wrong if they heard that Mr. Knight has been arrested, you know.
And so, my student came out, and his parents were there and his father told me "Thank you for teaching my son to stand up for that what's right." That was fantastic to me. They stayed there right until the bitter end, you know. As we were sitting down, locking arms, the police started to come to get us - I see all three of them as they're walking away saying, "Thank you." And that's beautiful.
I went - after I got out this morning - I went to school, and I saw my kids, you know, they were watching me on LiveStream last night - a little too late, at 10:30, I told them "You need to be in bed and doing your homework" - but, you know, I was met - it was beautiful today. It was really fantastic to see those kids. Because - I try tell them all the time - that, in four years, they're going to be 18 and in this world. So, they kind of have to start realizing what's going on and they're not teaching that on the "Jersey Shore."
OLBERMANN: What - what happens next to Occupy Nashville, relative to Legislative Plaza and the rest of the protest?
KNIGHT: Well, you know - we're going to move forward, we're going to stay at Legislative Plaza. When we got released today, we marched right back up to the Legislative Plaza. And that's where we intend to stay. You know, Governor Bill Haslam has said that he will send out state troopers again tonight. And if he does that, we're prepared to be there.
OLBERMANN: Adam Knight, the 8th-grade teacher, member of Occupy Nashville. Indeed, teaching his students in a way that most teachers don't get a chance to, but perhaps should. Great thanks for your time, and for what you did. Take care.
KNIGHT: Hey, it's my pleasure Keith, thank you.
OLBERMANN: The Occupiers are, of course, comic to some on the right. How one of conservatism's most notorious fools has dismissed Sgt. Shamar Thomas - ahead here on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: "Countdown" - the longest continuously running 8:00 PM program on cable news. Unless you think Fox is news. We're live weeknights at 8:00 PM Eastern, 5:00 Pacific. Our primary replays at 11:00 PM - 11:00 PM Eastern and Pacific. We call it "our little PowerPoint presentation."
The mayor of the 5th largest city on this continent calls 911 and swears at the dispatcher because a satirical TV news reporter in a big red ballroom gown managed to stake him out, outside his house, eh. Coming up.
First, the "Sanity Break." And on this date in 1886, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York Harbor, and opened to the public for the first time. Well, the first time there - the arm and torch had been in the country for a decade, while a disinterested government and public failed to pull enough money together to put it anywhere, except - for six years - in the middle of New York's Madison Square Park, where it was sometimes mistaken for an advertisement for a torch factory.
"Time Marches On!"
We begin with the age-old question, why did the chicken cross the road? Or rather, how did the chicken cross the road? The answer - on the back of a tortoise. Because if you're looking to get somewhere quickly, why not travel on the back of one of the slowest animals known to man? As far as that whole "Which came first, the chicken or the egg" thing, let's just say the egg was traveling via hare.
To the Internets, this stunt biker is showing off his cool wheelie trick. Pretty cool moves, and I'm sure the many fans gathered around watching agree. The only time this guy runs into his problem is when he has to ride his bike like a normal person. And, boom goes the dynamite - uh, that fence was like that when I got here, right?
Finally, we end - as we always did - do - with a giant arachnid made entirely out of balloons. This time-lapse video shows the construction of world-renowned balloon artist Adam Lee's latest creation. Made of nearly three thousand balloons, the world-record-setting art piece measures over 44 feet wide. If the balloons used to make the spider were stretched out end-to-end for some reason, it would measure nearly two and a half miles long. But really, who has the time to line up so many balloons, and what would the point be? When the piece was all finished, Mr. Lee attached it to his house, and he floated away, along with a Boy Scout and a talking dog.
"Time Marches On!"
It's a remake of "The Wild West." Speaking of boys in uniforms - you've seen this, right? World War II Evacuee costume? Bet you've wondered what everybody else has wondered - what the hell? We have procured an explanation. It is coming up in "Worst Persons."
OLBERMANN: Once again, the White House insists the President "fully understands" the frustration of the Occupy protesters. And yet his support has been tepid. And his willingness to even use the political energy it could give him, reluctant at best. Trick or - what the - yes, you're right, these are the worst Halloween costumes ever. Turns out there is a slight mitigation factor to the back story. It can be yours in "Worst Persons," next.
OLBERMANN: Occupy Wall Street - is any of it actually sinking in, at the White House? Next.
First - because sinking is all these next folks do - here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
Our bronze - to disgraced ex-TV host "Lonesome Rhodes" Beck. He's still on the radio, but his tone-deaf inhumanity has finally been shunted off to a subscription service, a switch that has cost him 90 percent of his viewers. Here's why. Beck decided to mock Shamar Thomas, the man in this famous Occupy Wall Street video, calling out the consciences of NYPD officers who were treating a peaceful protest like a terrorist attack. Who's wrong here? In Beck's drug-addled brain - of course it's Shamar Thomas.
(Excerpt from video clip) BECK: The guy who was like "There's no honor in this, these people are unarmed, there's no honor in this," and I'm watching that and I couldn't take it anymore, because the video shows this Marine yelling at the police "You gotta stop brutalizing, we're unarmed!" And the cops have their hands in their pockets. Hands in their pockets - they're like, "We know, we're standing here."
OLBERMANN: Just remember, 'cause you quit using drugs doesn't mean the brain goes back to what it was before you started using drugs.
To Mr. Beck, it does not matter that Shamar Thomas served this country in the Marines, in Iraq - as his father and mother and step-father and grandfather served this country - Shamar Thomas is a Marine, who's honorably discharged. He's actually seen brutality, not just opined about it from a basement studio. And to Glenn Beck, he's "a guy." So, to raise an old question - why does this fop, Glenn Beck, hate the troops?
Our runners-up? Wonderland Party, which makes Halloween costumes which are sold in England via Amazon UK.
Now, to be fair, British parents recently received a note that their young children need to be taught to empathize with other kids in different times in England's past, and the teachers thought that the best way for a five or six year old to empathize is to dress up as those kids. So, the schools have been holding days in which everybody dresses up as a London child during the Roman era - well, that's a sheet - or as a Victorian British kid, or as a World War II evacuee - when London and other major cities sent their kids to the countryside or even abroad during the German Blitz. Nevertheless - Worst. Halloween. Costume. Ever! And the price is 15 pounds! Oh wait, one more. Now again, to be fair, this is meant to be London 1940. Not occupied Poland 1939. But still. And the Velcro shoes completely ruin the historical effect.
But for our winner, we go international - Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto, the Canadian one.
The new Conservative executive has had a rough start, but never was it rougher than Monday.
There's a CBC Television comedy show called "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" and it featured a character played by actress Mary Walsh, called "Marg Delahunty." And, in the simpler, fewer-guns-drawn land to the north, "Marg" was able to come out of her retirement to ambush-interview the Mayor outside his house.
(Excerpt from video clip) MARY WALSH: Mayor Ford! It's me, Marg Delahunty! You know, I gave up all the old princess warrior stuff -
(Excerpt from video clip) ROB FORD: Can I go to my car please? May I go to my car please?
(Excerpt from video clip) WALSH: I came up to give you a hand, honey. Because I gave up the princess-warrior stuff, but when I saw what was happening to you -
(Excerpt from video clip) FORD: Whoa, can I get in my car?
(Excerpt from video clip) WALSH: Oh, Mayor Ford, please - I came all the way from Newfoundland to talk to yo, honey. One good thing about being stubborn though, Mayor Ford, is you always know what your gonna be thinking the next day. God love ya! Take care of yourself now. Didn't go that good, did it?
OLBERMANN: Well, a little crass, a little Stuttering John-ish, but what the hell.
When Mayor Ford got inside his house he called 911 and swore at the dispatcher because the police were not getting there fast enough - the police!
With a classic "If I offended anybody, I apologize" non-apology apology, Ford has released this statement, "When I made the 911 call, I was concerned and upset. I was repeatedly told police were arriving soon. In another call, I expressed frustration with the delay and said that I had to leave to go to City Hall. I did use the f-word at some point as I expressed my frustration with the situation. After being attacked in my driveway, I hope I can be excused for saying the f-word. I never called anyone any names. I apologize for expressing my frustration inappropriately." Concerned and upset by a fake news reporter in a red ballroom gown.
That, of course, is his version - it's bad and panicky and stupid enough. But CBC's very good news department quoted sources that indicate the Mayor's actual comment to the dispatcher was - well, the quote may actually be worse than this - but it appears he said at least the following, "Don't you effing know? I'm Rob effing Ford, the mayor of this city!"
Toronto's Rob Effing Ford, the mayor of this effing city - today's effing "Worst Person in the Effing World."
OLBERMANN: Tens thousands of Americans now raising their voices in protest, but it's still not clear how much anybody at the White House is listening to them.
In our number-one story in the "Countdown" - even as the administration sticks to its position that the president "hears the frustrations of the Occupy protesters," President Obama still giving no indication he actually supports them. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today even avoided giving a substantive response to reports of police brutality against protesters.
(Excerpt from video clip) JAY CARNEY: With regard to the situation in Oakland, this is a local law enforcement issue. I would note that the police are investigating that incident, so I didn't really have much more to say about that in particular.
OLBERMANN: Wow. Take a stance. Carney following that non-answer with another non-answer, saying - predictably - that the president understands Americans' frustrations and then claiming those frustrations are directed towards Congress.
(Excerpt from video clip) CARNEY: The frustration that is felt by the - demonstrated by - the people who are out there is something the president fully understands, and it goes to the heart of what we've been discussing today and what we've been discussing frequently here - about persistently high unemployment, about growth that's too slow and about the dysfunctionality of Congress - the fact that Congress won't take action.
OLBERMANN: The president has, of course, had trouble getting Congress to even look at the jobs plan, in seriousness. And this week he signed a series of jobs-related executive orders, including one to relieve student-loan debt. Those orders do seem to be in line with many of the protester's demands. But, in making these moves, the president made absolutely no mention of that when he signed them.
The only time the president has actually spoken about the Occupy movement was in an interview with ABC News 10 days ago when he said, no surprise, that he understands people's frustration, and - showing how little he, perhaps, actually understands it - he compared the movement to the tea party.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: What I've said is - is that I understand the frustrations that are being expressed in those protests. In some ways, they're not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the tea party.
OLBERMANN: Joining me now - Tim Dickinson, national political correspondent for Rolling Stone. Tim, thanks for your time tonight.
TIM DICKINSON: Good to be with you.
OLBERMANN: The president seems hesitant to indicate even the smallest amount of support for what seems to be something right in his wheelhouse - even politically. Is there an explanation for that - is there some sense that it's going to come at some point in the future?
DICKINSON: Well, I think that the Occupy Wall Street movement must have surprised the White House to some degree. Because, after all, this was the president who built his own movement and was elected on the back of it. He's put it on the shelf for several years and I think wanted to bring off the - bring it back into action to fight for his jobs bill - but people took to the streets on their own with a much more ambitious agenda, and don't seem to be that interested in his sort of worthy-but-insufficient jobs bill. They want jailed bankers, they want real government action.
And so - I think the White House is playing this cautiously, in part, because they don't quite know what to make of it yet. I don't think any of us really do know how large it's going to get, whether - where this thing brooks. But I think, in part, it's interesting. I think the initial response you heard there from the president - "This is a little like the tea party" - is, sort of, more-characteristic Obama on the one hand, on the other hand, "I'm going to play to the center."
But, this week we've really seen the president, sort of, move into the political space that this movement is - is starting to create. We're not talking about the deficit nearly as much, and we're actually talking about student debt and some issues that are important - housing crisis - the administration has far fumbled. So ...
OLBERMANN: Funny, though, that it's not - wasn't the president who moved us into that space. It was several tens of thousands of protesters. I want to reread the Jay Carney quote for a second, about Oakland:
"This is a local law-enforcement issue. I would note that the police are investigating the incident, so I don't really have much more to say about that in particular."
I flashed back, this afternoon, to two years ago and the Henry Lewis Gates story - the Harvard professor caught breaking into his own home. Now, you've got political protest with widespread public report - or support - of it and they're tossing it off - they can't say anything because it's a "local law-enforcement issue?" I mean - this has been going on for six weeks, the first violence was about five and a half weeks in and this is still something they think is radioactive politically?
DICKINSON: It's troubling and puzzling that the president can have such moral clarity about the protest in Tahrir Square - and their right of peaceful assembly - but, when it comes to people being tear-gassed in wheelchairs and shot in the head with tear-gas canisters and people gathering around a wounded woman to tend to her injuries getting flash-bang grenade - grenaded - that the president can't seem to, sort of, muster any moral outrage there.
So, I - it's puzzling. The president is obviously, I think, snakebit just by that Henry Lewis Gates' incident where he - I don't think he's going to want to have the entire OPD over for a beer summit.
OLBERMANN: But again, there is - there was something of a ratio there. He had waited six days before commenting on that - you know, they probably could have gotten all the information in place and done it in a much-more-diplomatic fashion then, clearly, he did. He's waited six weeks on this. The other part of it I don't understand, Tim, is - just for the political cover for the jobs bill - you would think he would throw these people a bone. Wouldn't he?
DICKINSON: Right? No, I think there's a danger that this movement splits off from Obama and doesn't back him. This is all - we're seeing all the strands of energy and excitement - all the anger and hope for change, apart from Obama. And I think in some ways it's a good thing the left is no longer domesticated as - as - it wasn't Henry Lewis Gates but another gentlemen said - so, I think there's a danger that they lose - they lose contact with this movement. And so, I think the president needs to follow them cautiously in a certain sense.
You know, this is too young a movement to get too far out in front of. There's some fringe elements involved. And he could end up looking silly. But I think he needs to be cautious not to lose contact with this movement.
OLBERMANN: As of tomorrow, they have a six-week lead on them. He's not going to get out in front of them. So what - ultimately, what will it take to get the president off his ass on Occupy?
DICKINSON: You know, honestly, I think it's going to take something like - one of these policemen taking off their helmet and putting down the tear-gas canister and getting on the other side of the barricade. I think that's when we're gonna start to see real change and movement on this - on this front. And, once this becomes a more broad-based and popular - not-so-readily-identified as a left movement, but a more mainstream movement.
OLBERMANN: Well, all right - but the likelihood that it gets more mainstream as opposed to going in the other direction seems to me to be small. So, is the conclusion here to be drawn that the president and the White House are just going to stand on the sidelines about this until the 2012 elections?
DICKINSON: You know I think - I don't think so. I think as the people lead, the president will follow. And I think we've seen some of that this week, even with these cautious steps in terms of his executive orders.
OLBERMANN: Was I living in another country, when it used to be the other way around? With the president - The president leading off, and the - or is that just, like, a pipe dream of mine?
DICKINSON: I think that may be a pipe dream - especially with this president. I think we know him well enough now that he's not the leader of a mass movement. He's a cautious centrist who wants to cater to mainstream, down-the-middle America.
OLBERMANN: Who was that guy who always used to rally his base? What was that guy's name - Bush. Oh, that's right. Tim Dickinson of Rolling Stone Magazine. Thanks as ever Tim, have a good weekend.
DICKINSON: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: That's Countdown for this, the 297th day since the Republicans took control of the House - 297 days without them having passed one jobs bill of any kind. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.