'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
The Komen controversy
via YouTube, ht cathyferkleheimer
#ShowPlug 1: My Special Comment: Karen Handel out, but Komen's collaboration in witch-hunt against @PPact Planned Parenthood.
#ShowPlug 2: Another court rules against Prop 8 and for Marriage Equality. So when exactly does Marriage Equality start in this country?
#ShowPlug 3: Can you defend ethics by suspending them? POTUS switch to acquiesce to Super-Pacs w/ @jdub31 Politico's Joe Williams
#ShowPlug 4: The latest battlefront in the "Culture War": Attacking @TheEllenShow; Take Ms. DeGeneres with or without the points
#ShowPlugLast: And he went on Fox News, attacked their nonstop assault on POTUS, and lived to tell about it. @JerrySpringer joins me.
watch whole playlist
#5 'Komen Controversy', Becky Bond
#5 Special Comment: The Komen controversy
#4 'California Love', Michael Cole-Schwartz
# Time Marches On!
#3 'Following The Money', Joe Williams
#2 Worst Persons: Rick Berman, Tim Wildmon, Rachel Burgin (R-FL)
#1 'Faux News', Jerry Springer
YouTube, Current.com (excerpt)
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Jerry Springer, Joe Williams, Michael Cole-Schwartz, Becky Bond
KEITH OLBERMANN: Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?
Karen Handel is gone, but the Komen scandal continues. And Handel, in resigning, insists she's the victim.
(Excerpt from video clip) KAREN HANDEL: The only group here who has made this issue political has been Planned Parenthood.
OLBERMANN: Timing is everything. Guess who just endorsed what Komen did to Planned Parenthood?
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Should Susan G. Komen Plan for the Cure, in your view, continue to fund, in any way, Planned Parenthood?
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: I don't think so. I also feel that the government should cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.
OLBERMANN: Tonight, a special comment on Susan G. Komen For the Cure and its collaboration with the witch hunt against Planned Parenthood.
Another victory against California's Prop 8.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Today is a great day for all loving couples.
OLBERMANN: But still, there are still no same-sex marriages in California. What a court ruling really means.
The Obama campaign reversal on super PACs. Its principled stand erased by the reality of the super PACs aligned against it.
(Excerpt from video clip) BARACK OBAMA: Let's challenge every elected official who benefits from these ads to defend this practice, or join us in stopping it.
(Excerpt from video clip) DAVID AXELROD: We have to live in the world as it is, not as we want it to be.
OLBERMANN: The dilemma of principles, in the fight against those without principles, and without any limit on how much money they can spend.
And the fight against Fox, with a man who went into the belly of the beast and survived to tell.
(Excerpt from video clip) ERIC BOLLING: So are they playing around with the numbers?
(Excerpt from video clip) STEVE DOOCY: Are you saying they're cooking the books?
(Excerpt from video clip) GRETCHEN CARLSON: I don't think anyone should surprised that in an election year -
OLBERMANN: My guest, Jerry Springer.
(Excerpt from video clip) JERRY SPRINGER: We're here on Fox News. Every single day - in fairness - you guys, every single day, bash President Obama.
OLBERMANN: All that and more, now on "Countdown."
OLBERMANN: Good evening, this is Tuesday, February 7th, 274 days until the 2012 presidential election.
The Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation, a warrior in the fight against breast cancer, trying to recover tonight from self-inflicted wounds caused by blows it struck on behalf of right-wing organizations in their drive to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
Fifth story in the "Countdown" - the resignation today of Karen Handel, Komen's senior vice president for policy. Her denials that Komen's plans to cut nearly $700,000 in funds from Planned Parenthood started with her, and my special comment on her resignation and Komen's ongoing corruption and collaboration in a kind of modern McCarthyism.
And - in case Komen thought the controversy had ended with Handel's resignation - in last Friday's announcement, it would continue Planned Parenthood's current grant, these protesters in Dallas say otherwise.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: We want them to recognize that women were angry by their decision, and that we want them to be reminded - we're still out here, watching.
OLBERMANN: Good thing, because - despite the great work Susan G. Komen For the Cure has done, raising and investing nearly $2 billion to fight breast cancer in the last 30 years - the organization seems to be having a struggle with the truth, both its founder and CEO Nancy Brinker, and now its former Vice Present Miss Handel, a failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate who posted on her campaign website in 2010, "Let me be clear, since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood." That seems to be putting it mildly.
Last Tuesday the Komen foundation announced, which Handel joined just last April, announced it would cut those $700,000 worth of grants to 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates. The reason? Newly-developed criteria for grants that would rule out organizations under investigation by government authorities at any level, including an investigation into Planned Parenthood's use of federal funds, the brainchild of one congressman, GOP conservative Representative Cliff Stearns.
Komen's founder and CEO Brinker, saying the organization had not caved to political pressure from anti-abortion groups and the religious right, and that changing the criteria that lead to cutting a Planned Parenthood's funds started with her:
(Excerpt from video clip) NANCY BRINKER: Starting in 2010, I initiated a comprehensive review of our grants and standards. This isn't unusual. We're always looking at our policies and procedures.
OLBERMANN: However, an anonymous Komen insider was telling the Huffington Post, at the same time, "Karen Handel was the prime instigator of this effort, and she personally came up with investigation criteria. She said, 'If we just say it's about investigations, we can de-fund Planned Parenthood and no one can blame us for being political.'" Huffington Post saying it has internal Komen emails to support that reporting.
Karen Handel, saying in an interview today otherwise:
(Excerpt from video clip) HANDEL: I was involved in the process, but to suggest that I had the sole authority is just absurd. The process was vetted. The policies were vetted at all of the appropriate levels in the organization.
OLBERMANN: That, putting Miss Brinker under the bus. Handel also taking the opportunity to attack the group she apparently tried to de-fund.
(Excerpt from video clip) HANDEL: The last time I checked, private non-profit organizations have a right, and a responsibility, to be able to set the highest standards and criteria on their own without interference, let alone the level of vicious attacks and coercion that has occurred by Planned Parenthood.
OLBERMANN: Handel also describing her role as a "facilitator" rather than "instigator."
(Excerpt from video clip) HANDEL: The congressional investigation, along with the various state investigations, those were a factor in the decision. If you have a grantee where there is this type controversy surrounding it - Komen was doing its level best to move to neutral ground. And I will say, I was asked to look at options for doing that, some alternatives to do that. I was asked to do that, I looked at it.
OLBERMANN: As for Planned Parenthood today, the organization did not comment on Karen Handel's resignation by name. It instead released a statement which read in part, "We are pleased and thankful that the Komen Foundation clarified their grant-making criteria. We have always felt welcomed and appreciated as a valued colleague organization in the breast-cancer fight."
My special comment ahead. First Becky Bond, political director with CREDO Action, Planned Parenthood's largest corporate donor, who joins us now from San Francisco. Thanks for your time tonight.
BECKY BOND: Great to be here.
OLBERMANN: Does Karen Handel's resignation change anything? Is CREDO satisfied?
BOND: Well, I would say that it is a very good thing that Karen Handel is no longer in her job. The Susan G. Komen foundation is the global leader in breast-cancer research and we absolutely cannot have a tea party politician, who puts her personal politics over women's health, making decisions about who gets grants for breast-cancer screenings.
OLBERMANN: Has the Komen organization, to your knowledge, yet settled on one explanation for what's happened in the last week? Because first, it was the investigation, then it was not the investigation. And then it was about donors, and then it was not about donors. Now it was Handel's idea, and no, Handel said it wasn't Handel's idea.
Have you gotten, in your mind, straight what this story actually was?
BOND: Well, we know Karen Handel, you know, wasn't able to do this alone. And either the board was - the board's complicit in any way. They either wanted to do this to de-fund Planned Parenthood, or they let it happen.
And what we do know is - there's 140 Komen chapters across the country, that's run by great men and women who volunteer their hours, who run The Race For the Cure, who raise the money, who care deeply about breast-cancer research. And, let me tell you what, they are going to clean house and we are going to stand by and keep watching and make sure that Susan G. Komen is able to get back to fighting breast cancer and stop playing tea party politics.
OLBERMANN: So, do you think that Miss Handel came in and caused this problem? Or had there been prior indications in your community that Komen might be susceptible to pressure from the right?
BOND: You know, we - along with Planned Parenthood - were very surprised by the decision to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
But let me just say this - that Planned Parenthood is under attack every day for almost every position. Whether it's in Congress or whether it's through this foundation, and so we're not surprised to see them attacked. And that's why we have to be vigilant and we have to stand up every time they're attacked. You know, they are attacked in Congress every day and people, you know, they take the tea party congressmen seriously when they go after Planned Parenthood.
But when this happens on Main Street, when this happens out in communities that depend on these Planned Parenthood clinics, where you have breast-cancer survivors and people that love them, when they see this happening - you saw that on Main Street, out in the real world, that people aren't going to stand for this right-wing, you know, campaign to destroy women's health centers across the country. It's just not going to work.
OLBERMANN: And that's what this is about. This isn't about $700,000, or the specific relationship between two organizations, or one with Planned Parenthood. This is about the credibility behind the Susan G. Komen people and what they were lending to those who were attacking Planned Parenthood.
BOND: I mean, the people in the 140 Komen chapters - they're great people, they've been in touch with us since this whole controversy came up. They said, "Thanks for supporting us, we're working it out, this is great. Keep up the work."
And let me just say, I mean, if the - if the people that ran these chapters were represented on the board, this would have happened. And we're going to work to make sure that the board is reformed. It doesn't matter if they're Republicans or Democrats on the board, but we need people on the board whose number-one priority is fighting breast cancer, not some kind of, you know, tea party Republican politics, where they're acting out against Planned Parenthood because they've taken over this small governing board of this great organization that's done great work in the past and will do good work in the future.
OLBERMANN: You know more about this than I would - or people watching, I would think - would know. Were they, at any point in the last week, do you think they were thinking inside Komen, "We're endangering our tax status because we have stepped out into this political arena"?
BOND: Well, I think it's clear the organization is in turmoil. I mean, we had people that were quitting in principle over the board making decisions based on politics and not based on what's best for women's health.
So, I think that there's been lots of confusion and we're really hoping that if they can get a better governing board in place, if the great men and women who run the affiliates can get involved and if the millions of people who stood up when this happened and said, "No way, we're not going to let you do this to Planned Parenthood, we think the fight against breast cancer is too important," with all of us watching, you know, I think they have a real chance to get it back together and get back on track.
OLBERMANN: And, how does Planned Parenthood - and the attacks on Planned Parenthood, then their defense against them - come out at the end of this week?
BOND: Well, I think, you know, it's very good to see a fight where - you know, Planned Parenthood is attacked all the time and this time it was clear the people that were attacking Planned Parenthood - they were the political ideologues. Not Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood is just trying to serve women. And it would be a great day if the political attacks could stop and Planned Parenthood could just concentrate on serving the health need of women. That day's not here, and until then, they need millions of us - not just to help fund their health care, but also to help stand by them and make sure that they can't be shut down by a bunch of people that basically don't believe that birth control should be freely available.
OLBERMANN: The political director of CREDO Action, Becky Bond. Thanks for your time tonight.
BOND: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: And now, as promised, a brief Special Comment on the resignation of Karen Handel from Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
There is no avoiding the simple fact that a week had passed since Ms. Handel decided that the Komen organization should collaborate with the witch hunt that the nation's right wing has directed against Planned Parenthood. In the time until Ms. Handel's exit this morning, Komen's only real actions had been a mealymouthed partial reversal about a rule change it had first denied, a new-new policy to replace the new policy - a spineless convenience by which Komen has still not really committed to continuing its funding of Planned Parenthood and, perhaps more importantly, by which it has not committed to staying out of this dangerous, ideological game which will kill some freedoms and which could kill some women.
Komen could not do that by itself, of course.
If it never gave another dollar to Planned Parenthood, it would be doing the latter organization a fundraising favor, because it has raised the consciousness of many to whom the reality was not yet clear, that one of vote-getting machines in this country was zeroing in on Planned Parenthood as the scapegoat for all the evils which that vote-getting machine exaggerates - to whip up paranoia and political power among the easily led of this nation. Those who were thus awakened will find - or rather, fund - Planned Parenthood in ways Komen never has, and never could.
But the real issue here is the Komen organization's attempt to hide its new partnership with that most base of political advocacy groups - the guttersnipe purveyors of hate, and fear and revenge fantasies - by couching as apolitical the most intense kind of political involvement; the willingness to participate in guilt by association; to echo the infamous call of investigation; to shun affiliation with a group or an individual purely to amplify suspicion and doubt and paranoia about that group or individual.
All of the dark periods of American history have begun with acts like Komen's and excuses like Komen's.
Planned Parenthood's extraordinary services for men and women - 97 percent of which have had nothing to do with abortion - were to Komen's advantage, until one Florida congressman decided to try to get himself re-elected by launching a specious investigation of Planned Parenthood.
And recall what we're dealing with. Planned Parenthood's opponents will believe anything and say anything. Remember well that tragic, comical story from yesterday about the Louisiana congressman who posted to Facebook, with horrified comments accompanying it, the story of an $8 billion Planned Parenthood "Abortion-Plex" being built in Kansas, without ever noting - perhaps without even caring - that the story was, in fact, from the satirical website The Onion. These are the people with whom Susan G. Komen for the Cure got into bed.
Ms. Handel's resignation changes nothing of this. Komen's statement today continues to lie about its own motives, to insist its attack on Planned Parenthood was, "Not based on anyone's political beliefs or ideology," and to speak only of, "Mistakes in how we have handled recent decisions."
Komen - specifically its president, Susan Komen's own sister Nancy Brinker - has still not told the truth nor explained how she will again make this organization worthy of the donations from, and participation in and by, the women and men of this country who had put women's health and valuable organizations like Komen and Planned Parenthood above politics.
Mrs. Brinker has dishonored both her sister's memory and this essential cause. Until she acts, either by correcting what she acquiesced to, or by leaving the organization to somebody who truly cares, until she does one or the other - since are a thousand generous organizations which perform what Komen performs - Komen does not deserve a dollar in donations from a shocked public. Karen Handel is gone. Komen's corruption remains.
OLBERMANN: A judge rules California's Prop. 8 unconstitutional again. Is any victory a real victory unless it's issued by the Supreme Court?
President Obama spoke out against super PACs, his campaign vowed to dampen the influence of super PACs. Today that all changed. Cave-in, or practical necessity to defeat evil?
The latest high-value target in the culture wars. The far right goes after Ellen. Take Ellen, with or without the points.
And, as Fox continues to imply the president of the United States is cooking the unemployment statistics in order to get himself re-elected, the man who went on their air and called them on it. Jerry Springer joins me.
OLBERMANN: Remarkably, the latest ruling on California's infamous Prop. 8 comes down to the actual word "marriage."
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - a federal appeals court ruled today that California's Prop. 8, voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage violates the Constitution. A panel of judges voted two-to-one that the state could not revoke the rights of a minority group without a legitimate reason.
Writing for the majority opinion was Judge Stephen Reinhardt, "Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially re-classify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for 'laws of this sort.'"
On the significance of the word "marriage," Reinhardt went on to write, "We are excited to see someone ask, 'Will you marry me?' whether on bended knee in a restaurant or in text splashed across a stadium Jumbotron. Certainly, it would not have the same effect to see 'Will you enter into a registered domestic partnership with me?'"
Same-sex couples won't be able to marry in the state yet, as the court will likely stay its own decision pending appeal from supporters of Prop. 8, who, of course, responded forcefully today.
Brian Raum, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, spent all his buzzwords except "Pelosi."
"We are not surprised," he said, "that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage, tried in San Francisco, turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court."
Fans and foes of marriage equality say they are ready to take the decision all the way to the Supreme Court. That's not likely to actually happen until 2013, maybe the year after. But the court will probably have to address it eventually. Other cases challenging the Federal Defense of Marriage Act are already making their way through lower courts and gay-marriage measures are moving forward in Washington and Maryland and New Jersey.
I'm joined now by Michael Cole-Schwartz, communications director for the Human Rights Campaign. Mr. Schwartz, thanks for your time tonight.
(Excerpt from video clip) MICHAEL COLE-SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Clarify the practicality here. Did anything actually change today?
COLE-SCHWARTZ: Well, nothing is different today than it was yesterday for same-sex couples. They are still currently not able to marry in California. But what this ruling does is, it says that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. That you cannot single out one group of people for different treatment from others. And we look forward to the day when gay and lesbian couples who are loving and committed as everyone else are able to enter into the institution of marriage in California.
OLBERMANN: Is it disappointing? Is it a problem, in any way, that the judges were focusing mostly on that point, rather than the specific right for these marriages to occur? Or is that an academic debate?
COLE-SCHWARTZ: Well, certainly, we believe that there is a fundamental right to marry the person that you love. It's a fundamental freedom that we should all value and all be able to take part in. So, we would love to see a broad ruling at some point, but it is still positive that for gay and lesbian couples in California, who want the same protections as everyone else, that this is a step forward in saying that they are going to be able to have those rights.
OLBERMANN: As positive as the court rulings have been, almost since this passed in 2008, and as much as you have the demographics - the changing demographics of the nature - on your side, do you sense that your community is getting frustrated to this point, that there has not been a decisive moment yet? Do you think that we're headed towards a tipping out at which a large part of the political mainstream will, you know, keep the finger to the wind and say, "Okay, it's now safe. We can all afford to back this now."
COLE-SCHWARTZ: Well, I think - certainly, for any community that's been denied their rights - the gay and lesbian community, people who would like to get married, would like to see that day come sooner rather than later, certainly. But this is a marathon, not a sprint. This is a process of educating the American public, going through state legislatures and the court of public opinion, certainly.
But we're seeing a major shift. You know, just in the past decade you've seen, now, six states and the District of Columbia with marriage equality. Hopefully, California joining that list soon. So, this is - the tide of history is on our side here.
OLBERMANN: From the other side of the tide, in more ways than one, there was a tweet from Newt Gingrich today: "Court of Appeals overturning California's Prop. 8, another example of an out-of-control judiciary. Let's end judicial supremacy."
Practically speaking, is this ruling today more of a benefit to the LGBT community or to the Republicans who are still running on homophobia?
COLE-SCHWARTZ: Well, this ruling today is a benefit for all fair-minded Americans. I think, you know, you're going to have some politicians out there who want to score some cheap political points, but they're certainly not playing the long game.
You know, what might be beneficial to them in a Republican primary with right-wing voters certainly isn't going to play well in the general election, when you have a majority of Americans who support equality for same-sex couples - support marriage - and they're just going to be marginalized and obviously on the wrong side of history.
OLBERMANN: Michael Cole-Schwartz, communications director of the Human Rights Campaign, thanks again for your time.
COLE-SCHWARTZ: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: When it comes to super PACs, should the president stand on principle, or will standing on principle hand the White House or the Senate to the Republicans? Or is that, itself, just an excuse not to stand on principle? Coming up.
OLBERMANN: The President's switch on super PACs.
But first the "Sanity Break," and on this date exactly 200 years ago, the singular novelist Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth in England.
I'll spare you the story of the father's bankruptcy and the secret girlfriend and how he survived the great Staplehurst rail crash. Suffice to say, he had a Dickensian childhood.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Will Ferrell's Super Bowl ad for North Platte, Nebraska.
Still taking about the Super Bowl. We begin with the best of commercials. And, of course, that means Will Ferrell's ad for Old Milwaukee beer. What's that, you say, you didn't remember that spot? Maybe you were drunk.
No, actually it means you do not live in North Platte, Nebraska.
Continuing my professional friend's inexplicable series of commercials aimed at just the one market, the ad ran only in Nebraska, the second-smallest TV market in the country.
So look out Glendive, Montana, you're the only market smaller - Glendive. Will Ferrell might be heading your way next.
VIDEO: "Super" fan can't tell the quarterbacks of New York football teams apart, even at Super Bowl victory parade.
From Super Bowl commercials to Super Bowl parades.
And this morning, the New York Giants took to the Canyon of Heroes for their victory parade up Broadway. Fans came out in droves to see all their favorite players, whether those players are on the Giants or not.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: Who would you like to see? Which player would you like to see?
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN #2: Sanchez!
OLBERMANN: Yeah, apparently she doesn't know that Mark Sanchez is the quarterback for the New York Jets and not the New York Giants. Well, it'll be academic anyway after the Jets sign Peyton Manning.
VIDEO: North Korean music students play a-ha's "Take on Me" on accordions.
Finally, we end - as we always do - with North Koreans covering popular 80's hits on the accordion.
One of our only glimpses inside North Carolina - er, North Korea and we find the students of Pyongyang's Kum Song School of Music doing this.
Now available on iTunes.
If you think that's good, you should see them perform it with the pencil-sketch animation as well. And great, now they'll be playing that version of it 42 times a day during Toronto Blue Jays Spring training.
"Time Marches On!"
The next major battle in the so-called culture wars - the attempt to take down Ellen DeGeneres. Huge mistake. Huge mistake right there.
OLBERMANN: Dumont's "Court of Current Issues" will not be seen tonight, so we can instead bring you "Countdown," the longest continuously-running 8:00 p.m. news hour on cable, unless you consider Fox - news. We're live each night at 8:00 Eastern, with the primary replay at 8:00 Pacific.
It is the age-old conundrum - do you violate your own ethics so you have a chance to defeat opponents who do not have those ethics, so you can stay in office and hope to restore those ethics? Today, this became central to President Obama's re-election campaign.
In our third story in the "Countdown" - the Obama campaign says it will now participate in events to aid a pro-Obama super PAC, a notable shift for a president who has harshly criticized the Supreme Court Citizens United ruling, which led to the creation of super PACs, of this magnitude anyway, in the first place.
On the president's re-election website last night, campaign manager Jim Messina wrote, "Our campaign has to face the reality of the law as it currently stands. With so much at stake, we can't allow for two sets of rules in this election whereby the Republican nominee is the beneficiary of unlimited spending and Democrats unilaterally disarm. Senior adviser David Axelrod defended that decision this morning.
(Excerpt from video clip) AXELROD: The bottom line here is that the Citizens United decision was a bad decision from our perspective. It did open the floodgates, but now, the rules are what the rules are. We have to live in the world as it is, not as we want it to be.
OLBERMANN: To put it in perspective, last year two super PACs formed by the Republican strategist Karl Rove raised a total of $51 million to support the congressional and presidential races. Pro-candidate groups in the GOP presidential race brought in roughly $40 million more. The four major Democratic groups raised only $19 million. Still, the president's formal re-election campaign raised nearly $140 million last year, more than twice the amount raised by the Mitt Romney campaign.
Obama's campaign says the president, vice president and their wives will not attend fundraising events, nor solicit donations for the super PAC "Priorities USA Action," which is run by two former White House aides.
But former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, a key supporter of strict campaign finance law, is calling the Obama team's decision a "dumb approach." He told The Huffington Post, "It guts the President's message and the Democratic party's message. I think that people will see it as phony that Democrats start playing by Republican rules. People will see us as weak and not being a true alternative and just being the same as the other guy. This is dancing with the devil."
Speaking of dancing with the devil, the race for the GOP presidential nomination continued today with non-binding caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, and a non-binding primary in Missouri. Thus, even though no delegates are at stake, the contest in Missouri will still cost taxpayers there an estimated $7 million. Not to mention all the wasted TV coverage.
And while the Romney campaign does not appear to be particularly worried about these contests, it is clearly worried about a new general-election poll we told you of yesterday, showing the president leading Romney 51-45 among registered voters, 52-43 overall.
Trotting out the new GOP meme for 2012 - the theory that all numbers they don't like are cooked somehow - Romney's campaign says The Washington Post/ABC News poll is "flawed" and used "tainted methodology." The director of polling for The Washington Post says the results are consistent with other surveys.
More polling today from Reuters, Romney's support from GOP voters nationwide is down a point from last month. Ron Paul's up by five, which moves him into second place and bumps Gingrich down to third. Santorum also up five, still in fourth. The gaps among those three latter candidates, though, are within the poll's margin of error.
Let's bring in Politico's White House reporter to review all this, Joe Williams. Joe, thanks for your time tonight.
JOE WILLIAMS: Hi, good to be here.
OLBERMANN: Is the White House having genuine conscience attacks about super PACs, do we know?
WILLIAMS: Well, if they are having conscience attacks, then they didn't last for very long. And they didn't last long because of two words and three statistics.
The two words are Sheldon Adelson, the guys who is keeping Newt Gingrich's campaign afloat almost single-handedly and dropped $10 million on him and now allowing him to compete in South Carolina and in Florida.
The three statistics are $15 million, the amount that Newt - that Mitt Romney, beg your pardon - spent basically vaporizing Newt Gingrich in Florida. Twenty-five is the swing, 10-point - eight-point lead for Gingrich going into Florida, followed by a 15-point defeat at the hands of Romney after the basic carpet bombing. And, $51 million - the statistic you just claimed - American Crossroads - Crossroads GPS - raising that kind of dough in one year to defeat President Obama.
OLBERMANN: Is it coincidence that the president just endorsed the idea that Senator Bernie Sanders had first gotten behind - the constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United? And, maybe more to the point, why has - it seemed like the White House really undersold that, especially in light of the decision relative to the super PACs?
WILLIAMS: Well, exactly. I mean, but you've got a bit of cognitive dissonance going here. You think that the president actually does believe this. He has spoken out against super PACs. Remember he very famously smacked the Supreme Court justices, almost to their faces, during the State of the Union speech a couple of years ago. So, he does believe this in his heart.
That being said, this denunciation of the super PACs and joining them, basically - if you can't lick them, you got to join them - is creating a bit of - a bit of abrasiveness between his supporters and the people who think that he's doing the right thing by going whole hog here.
So, it's a little bit of trying to have both feet in either fences. I think that he does believe this, and I think that it's not necessarily a coincidence, but it just is really awkward timing.
OLBERMANN: With the premise that you should not bring a knife to a gun fight, this decision to go ahead and acquiesce to their own super PAC, is there blowback inside the Democratic party in the base, or is it more theoretical at this point?
WILLIAMS: Well, it's more theoretical. I mean, there are people who, obviously, have a lot of agita about the situation - Russ Feingold being one of them, some other people on the further to the left, the good-government types - they don't like this situation and, basically, there's good reason. Because we saw the mud get slung in Florida, it's going to be all-out warfare and a lot of slime is going to get thrown in 2012 when the nominees really get decided. So, that is not very contusive to good government and good, legitimate debate about where we take our nation.
On the other hand, it is exactly as you said. It reminds me a lot of, maybe, comparing the "people's mic" at Occupy Wall Street protests - a very people-oriented, low-tech thing - to amps that go up to 11. If you're going to get that message out, you can't possibly hope to compete with amps that go up to 11, mostly because it's going to drown out your message and they can throw some mudslinging and it doesn't necessarily even have to be true.
OLBERMANN: The other political issues of the day - the Romney campaign attacking the ABC/Washington Post poll, "flawed methodology." Is working the refs a good idea? I mean, this is not the Fly-By-Night Polling Company doing this. And you only have so many times you can work the refs without people simply dismissing you as a guy who only works the refs.
WILLIAMS: Exactly. Well, on the one hand - yes, you can get into trouble working the refs. But on the other hand, we are talking about the Republicans' view of the media. It doesn't matter who it is. You are members of the elite media, you are cooking something against the Republicans. You are a liberal, by definition, because you're a journalistic newspaper. It doesn't really matter. It doesn't hurt him with the base all that much, which is who he's trying to play to since the primary is still going on. General election, same thing. The people he's trying to win over love this message.
OLBERMANN: It will be interesting to see because, of course, the general election is actually covered by the media that they're trying to alienate.
Joe Williams, White House reporter for Politico. Great thanks, Joe.
WILLIAMS: My pleasure.
OLBERMANN: Speaking of working the refs, the national distributor of working the refs faces a guest who calls them on it. Jerry Springer on taking it to The Man, coming up.
OLBERMANN: After his battle with "Fox & Friends," Jerry Springer on the latest Fox rationalization - that the president is faking the unemployment numbers to make himself more re-electable.
Speaking of faking it, the Florida legislator taking one of those one-size-fits-all bits of Koch Brothers "ALEC" legislation and introducing it into her own statehouse, unfortunately, she forgot one very important thing first. Details next, in "Worst Persons."
OLBERMANN: Going on to Fox News to complain about how Fox News treats the president of the United States, Jerry Springer lives to tell the tale. Next, on "Countdown."
First, because this is the spot where we make similar pushbacks against the helots, here are "Countdown's" top three nominees for today's "Worst Persons in the World."
The bronze? To Rick Berman, an Astroturfing lobbyist and notorious legend among his peers.
During the Super Bowl, an anti-union commercial ran in the local broadcast of the game in Washington D.C. Paid for by an organization called The Center For Union Facts, it was the usual three-card monte game of trying to convince people who would benefit most from collective bargaining that it is their enemy. Such is life in the post-Citizens United America.
But check something out. This is a picture of Mr. Berman, who turns out to have made the commercial. He has made a lot of money doing stuff like this. (Still photograph of lobbyist Richard Berman shown.) He owns a house valued at three million, three hundred thousand dollars, for instance.
This is a guy portraying a disgruntled union mechanic in the commercial. (Screencap from anti-union Super Bowl commercial shown.) Does he look familiar to you under that ill-fitting cap? That's right. It's Mr. Berman, who saved a little money by portraying the disgruntled union member. Washington's top hit man on behalf of corporations, pretending to be a union grunt.
His rationale for that? "I worked as a mechanic at my father's garage all through high school and college."
I have a Berman story that explains how you can beat somebody that self-rationalizing. Back when "Countdown" was supposed to be a right-wing, pro-Bush propaganda program, run by a former executive from Fox News, they booked Berman to be my guest on the topic of government efforts to impose fat restrictions on fast foods. Mr. Berman insisted that there was no connection between obesity and weight-related illness, and fast foods. He said it was a matter of personal willpower and intelligence. He was being paid by the fast-food industry to say this.
This got me a little angry. I pointed out that for generations, my family - myself included - had struggled with weight issues and that, while it was fair to debate how much biology and heredity influenced weight, that there clearly was a connection.
Mr. Berman scoffed, which is when I asked him if he remembered that - as late as the 1960's - doctors insisted that wearing hats too often led to hair loss, like his hair loss. That heredity had nothing to do with, you know, baldness. That's when he yanked the earpiece out and ran away. So, no wonder he's wearing that cap in the commercial.
The runner-up? Tim Wildmon, the head of a group calling itself the American Family Association.
These are the yokels who responded to the shootings at Virginia Tech five years ago by releasing a video in which God explained that it, and Columbine, had happened because we'd "kicked God out of the schools."
The AFA's newest target is Ellen DeGeneres. That's right, Ellen.
The organization first demanded that the JCPenney Company fire DeGeneres as its spokesman because she's gay. When JCPenney told them to take a hike, the AFA switched to telling its drones to contact - not the corporation - but the managers of individual stores and telling them they should "remain neutral in the culture war." By firing a gay person.
Penney's has gotten a lot of crap over the years, but they're doing the right thing here. So, this is a good time to go in and give them some business. And tell them Ellen sent you.
But our winner tonight? Rachel Burgin, a Republican state representative in Florida.
We all know about ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the right-wing group that concocts patterns for state laws that push the agendas of corporations and the one percent. ALEC produces these templates, and individual lawmakers around the country alter them slightly and introduce them as their own bills. Like Representative Burgin.
Unfortunately, sometimes, being a vessel through which billionaires do their dirty work does not require great intelligence. Like Representative Burgin.
Her bill - H-M685 - would reduce taxes on corporations in Florida. Except, Representative Burgin apparently forgot about that part about "alter them slightly and introduce them as your own." Her bill read, "Whereas, it is the mission of the American Legislative Exchange Council to advance Jeffersonian principles of -" Blah, blah, blah, blah.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. The main defense of democracy lies not in guns, nor in protest, nor in vigilance. But rather in the stupidity of those who would destroy democracy. Like Rachel Burgin, state representative from the 56th district of Florida - not too bright - today's "Worst Person In The World."
OLBERMANN: They've questioned his heritage, birthplace, religion, citizenship, Social Security number, academic eligibility, grade-point average, income, state elections, senate election, presidential election. They've debated his middle name, his first name, his wife's hairstyle, his wife's height, his dog, his basketball skills, which sports teams he likes, how often he goes on vacation, when he goes on vacation, if he plays too much golf on vacation, his cabinet members, his childhood friends, his acquaintances, his uncles, aunts, pastors, his ability to throw a baseball. Now, whether or not he's faking unemployment numbers.
And - perhaps most extraordinarily - they've complained about him reading off a teleprompter, while reading those complaints off their own teleprompter.
But in our number-one story - when someone calls out the political whorehouse that is Fox News on any of that, as our guest Jerry Springer did, they claim you must not be watching their show and that they are, in fact, "fair and balanced."
Two weeks ago, Mr. Springer ventured onto "Fox & Friends" to discuss an article attacking President Obama's critics. During that discussion, he brought up the fact that Fox has been leading an offensive against the president since Day One. On cue, the hosts feigned outrage.
(Excerpt from video clip) SPRINGER: We're here on Fox News. Every single day - in fairness - you guys, every single day, bash President Obama. Every day.
(Excerpt from video clip) CARLSON: I'm going to take you to task on that - I'm going to take you to task on that, because on this panel right here, we have a fair and balanced panel right here. And I'm the independent.
(Excerpt from video clip) SPRINGER: That's this panel. What's the rest of the show? The rest of the show, every single morning, you guys are slamming Obama, you know you are. I'm not saying you don't have a right to, but every single conversation is something bad about Obama.
(Excerpt from video clip) CARLSON: By the way, Jerry, you obviously don't watch our show. Because you do not understand that there's a reason - I'll speak for myself, I sit in the middle as the independent of the panel - and, quite frankly, we present both sides of the story and we leave it up to our viewers to decide where they fall.
OLBERMANN: Gretchen Carlson thinks she's an independent. An independent. She can't spell "independent."
So, let's see what they were letting their audience decide on today.
(Excerpt from video clip) CARLSON: "Do you cling to your guns and your religion?" Remember the president said that once? And it's because you're "bitter."
(Excerpt from video clip) TODD STARNES: And I think the reason people cling to their guns and they cling to their religion is they're afraid President Obama is going to take them away from them.
(Excerpt from video clip) CARLSON: That's one way to look at it.
(Excerpt from video clip) STARNES: There is no doubt, in my mind, that this administration has declared all-out war on people of the religious faith, specifically Christians.
(Excerpt from video clip) DOOCY: The president talks about, "Yeah, that 'hope and change' thing, I had it in my heart but the founding fathers set up a crazy system."
(Excerpt from video clip) ERIC BOLLING: He's frustrated with Congress, but not with China and Russia for blocking the slaughter of innocent people in the United Nations.
OLBERMANN: In fact, in the three-hour program this morning, there was not one positive mention of the president.
But attacks are not their only means of undermining the president, as we found out yesterday. When Fox is forced to report positive news about the president or his policies such as - you know, improving unemployment numbers - they don't believe they are true and cry conspiracy.
(Excerpt from video clip) BOLLING: Are they playing around with the numbers? Look, it's the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it's supposed to be nonpartisan, but that's the Department of Labor. Hilda Solis heads the Department of Labor. Hilda Solis works directly for Obama.
(Excerpt from video clip) DOOCY: Are you saying they're cooking the books?
(Excerpt from video clip) BOLLING: I'm saying there's room for error, there's room -
(Excerpt from video clip) CARLSON: I don't think anyone should be surprised in an election year -
OLBERMANN: Joining me now, as promised - former politician, host of "The Jerry Springer Show," Jerry Springer. Good to see you, sir. Thanks for coming in.
JERRY SPRINGER: It's great. Thanks for having me.
OLBERMANN: Have you recovered from your appearance on Fox News?
SPRINGER: Yeah, I walked right into it and I wasn't there to be confrontational. We were talking about the cover of Newsweek magazine several weeks ago, and it had the cover with Obama on it. The article was by Andrew Sullivan, conservative writer, and clearly it was a provocative headline, and it was tilted towards being for Obama. In fact, in the first paragraph on his article, he even says "I have a bias toward Obama."
So, they asked me, "What do you think about this? Here's Newsweek magazine, they are being biased." And I said "Yeah, probably a little bit to the left. But," I said, "we're sitting here on Fox News and you bash Bush every single day," excuse me, they bash Obama, every single day."
Now, I shouldn't win a Pulitzer Prize for that observation. I mean, the world understands that, and I'm not saying they don't have a right to be right wing. They are, and just admit it. MSNBC tends to be pro-liberal. So, it's okay, but don't deny that you're doing that, because then you are not credible.
OLBERMANN: Do you have any insight - we know why the people in charge of this do that and why they also must maintain this fiction that if is not - that Gretchen Carlson actually thinks she's an independent - is a litmus test for the entire equation. You can throw everything else out and just go to that. That tells me why the bosses are doing it. But why does Gretchen Carlson do it? Why do these people who work there do it?
My theory has always been - and you and I have had long and varied television careers, we have all encountered people on television who must be on television, who will do and say anything to be on television, especially in a prominent role - and I'm wondering, are they taking advantage of the people who have to be on TV? Like the Gretchen Carlsons and the guy - the Brian guy in the morning - as well? What do you think? Why are the people doing it, just as human beings?
SPRINGER: Well, I think what happens is you become part of the culture. And everyone around you is espousing that point of view, day in and day out, and - after awhile - you start believing your own sentences. And you forget that there was a strategy that, "Wait, we're going to create Fox News, Fox News is going to go after a certain demographic of, particularly, very conservative men," and that was the goal - and that's the demographic they went after.
But, they don't have those meetings every day among the reporters, but they hire reporters that have that point of view to begin with. And the whole culture there is that.
But, it was interesting, When I finished, the camera guys came up to me and apologized. So, it was like - is there a separate - you know, so I don't think they're bad people. They happen to be conservatives, that's okay. But just admit it, because that would make it so much more credible.
You know, you don't go around saying, "No, I'm not liberal." You say, "Hey, this is what I believe." And you're authentic and people will agree with you. I love what you said there. There are people that don't like what you say.
SPRINGER: But that's - I got their names. And - but that's it. And that's why I think they're ruining it. Just be honest.
OLBERMANN: It is still worth it, trying to call them out? I mean, personally, did you gain something?
SPRINGER: That wasn't my agenda.
OLBERMANN: No, of course not. I'm not saying it was. But was it worth it? Did it make - did you feel like it was even a drop in the bucket?
SPRINGER: Well, I think the more that there is a discussion about the fact that the media has biases in both directions, then I think people start to - with a grain of salt - take what they hear on television. And I think, frankly, that's going on.
It's certainly going on with commercials. I mean, most people today really don't believe everything that these political commercials say. They have some influence, but not totally anymore. So, I think, after awhile, people are becoming pretty sophisticated.
I think what we have to remember is the press - the media - has always, in American history, been biased, except - the only period it wasn't - I mean - with Jefferson and Adams in 1800, with the Spanish-American War.
OLBERMANN: Good grief, yes.
SPRINGER: Absolutely, the media has always taken positions. It was just that - after World War II when we started to have the three networks, first two, and then three networks - since that, all of a sudden, was the first national news we ever had - because newspapers were always local - the first national news we ever had. Because of that, they felt a responsibility - since there were only three stations - "We've got to try to be objective." And so we had Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley, et cetera. But, other than that blip -
OLBERMANN: And something called the Fairness Doctrine.
SPRINGER: And the Fairness Doctrine. Exactly.
OLBERMANN: Which is something that is deeply opposed by the people at Fox who portray themselves as "fair and balanced," but would not want a Fairness Doctrine to actually make a balance in any kind of partial portion of broadcast.
SPRINGER: Well, the whole "fair and balanced" - everyone understands, is tongue-in-cheek.
OLBERMANN: You and I understand that. But the people on the air there at least sell it like they believe it and, certainly, the people who watch this absolutely believe it.
SPRINGER: I - I - I hope you are wrong. I've got to think that -
OLBERMANN: Well, they're not watching that stuff because there aren't any good cartoons on at seven o'clock in the morning anymore.
SPRINGER: Oh, I - well, I think that people like to listen to what - to things that agree with what they already believe. And I think there was a constituency out there of - I'm probably labeling it wrong, but was called "the Angry White Men." It's the same people that go to talk radio. And that constituency was perhaps not being met in the national media. And so, Roger Ailes, brilliantly, says -
SPRINGER: Says, "Hey, here's a market. Let's go after them."
OLBERMANN: Mephistopheles was brilliant too.
The host of the "Jerry Springer Show," Jerry Springer. Always a pleasure to see you, sir, and thanks for coming in.
SPRINGER: You're great.
OLBERMANN: Glad for standing up - thank you for standing up when that circumstance prevailed.
All right, that's it. Three hundred and ninety-eight days since John Boehner and the Republicans took the house. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night, and good luck.