'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
#ShowPlug 1: On the Big Show tonight, Romney says Santorum is to his left; Santorum calls him a Socialist. This is increasingly hilarious.
#ShowPlug 2: AL/MS results; the wins against Voter ID laws; Rebekah Brooks arrested again, now PM David Cameron touched by MurdochGate
#ShowPlug 3: What Limbaugh's Limbo on local commercials means + my note on the continuing Limbaugh nonsense that "everybody does it."
Breaking News: Romney today in Missouri: "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that." Videotape, now, on Countdown
#5 Romney and Planned Parenthood, David Catanese
#5 Romney and Planned Parenthood, Ryan Grim
#4 Texas voter ID, Heather McGhee
# Time Marches On!
#3 Murdochgate, David Folkenflik
#2 Limbaugh's limbo, Irin Carmon
#1 Primary news, Sam Seder
printable PDF transcript
On the show: Heather McGhee, David Folkenflik, Irin Carmon, David Catanese, Ryan Grim, Sam Seder
KEITH OLBERMANN: News breaking at this hour of an extraordinary quote from the campaign trail today in Missouri: "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that."
It is on tape. It was not qualified, and it was said by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The videotape, now on "Countdown."
Now, on "Countdown" -
And now they're calling each other liberals and socialists.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEIL CAVUTO: Rick Santorum is not a person who is an economic conservative to my right.
(Excerpt from video clip) RICK SANTORUM: This is the imaginary world of Mitt Romney's, you know, ideology. It's sad.
(Excerpt from audio clip) SANTORUM: When Mitt Romney's solution to our healthcare problem is to take over one-sixth of the economy, you can't call yourself a "conservative." You can call yourself a "socialist."
OLBERMANN: Mississippi and Alabama and the non-Romneys have almost double the support of the Romney. But the Romney could easily win both tonight.
If only one would drop out.
(Excerpt from video clip) NEWT GINGRICH: I will not leave the field.
(Excerpt from video clip) MITT ROMNEY: Look, if we go all the way to a convention, we would be - we would be signaling our doom in terms of replacing President Obama.
OLBERMANN: Oh, and now some of them are running against religion - Romney's religion.
The governor of Alabama:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROBERT BENTLEY: I think that's a very subtle issue that probably - may be a problem in many states, not just in Alabama.
OLBERMANN: On the other hand, we've restored the vote. Voter I.D. law in Wisconsin? Gone. Voter I.D. law in Texas? Gone.
Limbaugh, bailing water. His bosses suspend all national advertising on his show for two weeks. Fortunately, he's using that time to try to make it up to women:
(Excerpt from video clip) RUSH LIMBAUGH: The National Organization of Women - the N.O.W. gang - we affectionately call them "the nags."
OLBERMANN: Also tonight, my note about the increasingly shrill effort to defend Limbaugh by saying, "Everybody does it."
And - down goes Rebekah Brooks! Among six more arrested in the Murdoch scandal, phone-hacking division. The British didn't arrest this many people for the Great Train Robbery.
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: I wanted the money.
OLBERMANN: Good evening. This Tuesday, is March 13, 239 days until the 2012 presidential election. Primary day for Republican voters in Alabama and Mississippi and GOP caucuses also set for Hawaii and American Samoa. And Rick Santorum has called Mitt Romney a socialist.
But the fifth story on the "Countdown" - breaking news that pushes those primaries and caucuses aside for the moment. It is uncertain - he may have just mistakenly not been clear enough, might have intended to say "subsidies for Planned Parenthood" - but at Kirkwood, Missouri today, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney listed a series of federal programs he would cut, and said directly, "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that."
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: What are some of the specifics of the plan to lower the trillions of dollars' deficit? What programs would you want to cut or drastically reduce?
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: My test is pretty simple. Is the program so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? On that basis, of course, you get rid of Obamacare. That's the easy one. But, there are others. Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I would eliminate that, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities.
OLBERMANN: And that interview, of course, conducted by KSDK television in St. Louis.
And again, the question was about deficit reduction and programs that Romney would cut or reduce as president. But as you heard, in the same answers, Romney specifically referred to a subsidy for Amtrak. He did not say, "Amtrak, we'll get rid of that." He did not add such a qualifier to Planned Parenthood.
So, for now at least, Mitt Romney is on record and on tape going where he has not gone before, calling - not for the elimination of the very limited governmental funding for Planned Parenthood - but, to quote him again, fully and directly, "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that."
We'll get reaction from our guests and continue to cover that statement throughout this news hour.
The other headlines, of course - the polls have just closed in the Southern states.
Alabama with 47 delegates, 21 allocated proportionately by congressional district to candidates winning at least 20 percent tonight, or winner-take-all, if a candidate wins a district majority. Twenty-six more elected at large - again proportionately - unless a candidate wins a majority, plus three Republican National Committee members who will not be bound to the winner when the evening is over.
The Mississippi primary - 37 bound delegates, 12 allocated proportionately by congressional district to candidates receiving at least 15 percent of the vote. Twenty-five more elected at large, again awarded proportionately with a 15 percent threshold. Add three R.N.C. members to that, bound to the statewide winner.
And then there's Hawaii's caucus, which will select 17 delegates today, state party leaders making up three super delegates.
American Samoa's caucus selecting six more, with three super delegates picked by the party. And that caucus should be a party. The Huffington Post reporting the American Samoan GOP caucus takes place tonight in the Toa Bar and Grill.
Back on the states' mainland, Mitt Romney campaigning in Missouri and saying something else - making promises he hopes to keep.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: If I become president of the United States, my job is going to be to make sure that you get great jobs.
OLBERMANN: And while vice president of the United States is one job Romney hopes to hand out, the former Massachusetts governor eliminating one of his rivals as a possible V.P., when asked if he wanted someone to his right on the ticket.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: That would preclude, of course, Rick Santorum, because, I mean - look at his record. I find it interesting that he continues to describe himself as the real conservative. Rick Santorum is not a person who is an economic conservative to my right.
OLBERMANN: Santorum not buying that:
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: I'm too liberal to be Mitt Romney's running mate? Oh, my goodness. Well, I mean, that just tells you how desperate he is.
OLBERMANN: Santorum also getting two gifts today from Alabama's governor, Robert Bentley - Bentley's vote in the primary and a wave of the religion card.
Bentley, bringing up Romney's Mormon faith in a region dominated by conservative evangelicals:
(Excerpt from video clip) BENTLEY: I think that's a very subtle issue that probably may be a problem in many states, not just in Alabama.
OLBERMANN: Santorum's "Red White and Blue" super PAC not so subtle, but spending nearly half a million dollars on ads in Alabama and Mississippi, including this next one:
(Excerpt from video clip) MAN: Mitt created Romneycare, the blueprint for Obamacare. And just like Obama, Romney left Massachusetts one billion dollars in debt. Who can win? Rick Santorum.
OLBERMANN: Romney apparently not liking what he saw:
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: I'm afraid his conclusions are exactly wrong, but you know, Senator Santorum is at the desperate end of his campaign, and is trying, in some way, to boost his prospects and, frankly, misrepresenting the truth is not a good way of doing that.
OLBERMANN: Misrepresenting the truth becoming a pattern in the rivalry between these two particular candidates. Santorum using the worst epithet in the Republican lexicon to describe Romney's signature health plan:
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: When his solution to a healthcare problem is to take over one-sixth of the economy, you can't call yourself a "conservative." You can call yourself a "socialist," but you can't call yourself a "conservative."
OLBERMANN: Mitt Romney, socialist, versus Rick Santorum, economic moderate. No wonder Newt Gingrich seems to think he still has a chance.
(Excerpt from video clip) GINGRICH: I will not leave the field.
OLBERMANN: Gingrich and Santorum, both seeming eager for a primary season that will end without a winner, which would force a brokered convention, and Romney rejecting that outcome.
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: Look, if we go all the way to a convention, we would be - we would be signaling our doom in terms of replacing President Obama. We need to select someone to become our nominee, get that person nominated -
OLBERMANN: Santorum is not impressed.
(Excerpt from video clip) SANTORUM: Maybe he should start making the case for why he should be elected, as opposed to playing all these math and convention games.
OLBERMANN: For the latest on the busy day and the primaries and the news out of Mitt Romney in Kirkwood, Missouri, let's go to David Catanese, national political reporter with Politico. David, good evening.
DAVID CATANESE: Hey, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Romney quote, again, "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that," full of a statement - part of a statement - full of things he plans to cut to save money. These are the things that he's not going to spend money, or borrow money from the Chinese to fund. But he's very specific about using the term "fund" when it comes to Amtrak and the other things that he mentioned. He didn't use the term "fund" and, obviously, he's talked about de-funding - to the degree that it could be - Planned Parenthood before. What was this quote all about?
CATANESE: I mean, this was a slip up. I think you're going to see him roll that back.
I don't know how he could get rid of Planned Parenthood. While they are dependent on federal funding - and also state funding, in a lot of states - you know, they're a private entity.
And I don't think he could "get rid of," in quotes, Planned Parenthood, but - as you noted - he has said he's wanted to de-fund Planned Parenthood before. Just a month ago, he was on conservative radio, he said that.
Keep in mind that, in 1994, his wife Anne gave money to Planned Parenthood. And, at that time, Mitt Romney said that was her donation and not his - this is when he was pro-choice, you might say. So, definitely an evolution on this. I think that will continue to highlight this issue.
From the broader point, similar talking point for the Democrats to use, as far as the argument they're putting forth on the war on women that they've been trotting out in recent weeks with the contraception debate.
OLBERMANN: I'm not going to play this thing 35 times in the next hour, but I think it's worth hearing with the complete context once again. Then, I have a second question to ask you about it.
Here is Romney again, talking to KSDK in St. Louis this afternoon:
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: What are some of the specifics of the plan to lower the trillions of dollars' deficit? What programs would you want to cut or drastically reduce?
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: My test is pretty simple. Is the program so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? On that basis, of course, you get rid of Obamacare. That's the easy one. But there are others. Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I would eliminate that, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities.
OLBERMANN: As he pushes to go further and further to the right, is it plausible that this is a mistake - if it is, indeed, a mistake - that that he does not want to correct, that that's a good dog whistle even if it is impossible to practically go out and eliminate Planned Parenthood?
CATANESE: It's always possible, especially when you're in the middle of a heated primary in two southern states where evangelicals care about the issue of abortion. But again, you know, this was an interview, he's talking quick. I don't know how he has a plan to get rid of Planned Parenthood. I still would think that, if you follow up with the Romney campaign - maybe tomorrow - they'd put out a statement saying he's talking about funding, because that is something he said repeatedly. Again, I don't know the mechanism that he would have as president to get rid of Planned Parenthood.
OLBERMANN: Does he walk into his own buzz saw just correcting that, though? Then suddenly, Santorum could throw something at him and say, "Well, why don't you want to get rid of Planned Parenthood?"
CATANESE: Absolutely, and that could be the most interesting part - how the Romney campaign responds to this. Do they clean it up? Do they leave it as is? And then, what do Santorum and Newt Gingrich say, because Santorum might have, you know, a different approach to this, and it might be an issue wedge for him to say "Look, here's another example why Mitt Romney is not conservative enough."
OLBERMANN: David Catanese, national political reporter with Politico, rolling with the breaking news for us on this primary night, where nothing has come in yet on the primary, so it's just as well to have spent that time on it. Thanks for your time, and thanks for your insight on this, David.
CATANESE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: For more on the primaries and the remarkable ugliness among the GOP candidates that obtained before that sound bite was recorded, I'm joined by Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief of The Huffington Post. Ryan, good evening.
RYAN GRIM: Good evening, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Just - I'll get one thought from you, where we were picking it up with Dave Catanese just there. Is this - no matter what Romney intended to say here - going to be a headline story tomorrow as he either pulls back or doesn't pull back that and the other, the more conservative of his rivals goes after him for pulling back?
GRIM: Yeah, it will be, and what this shows you is that the Republicans are really playing with fire in this, you know, so-called "war on women," because they're pushing it right up to the very, very, very edge of what they think is something that they can get away with, mainstream.
And you know, two years ago, you wouldn't have thought that even saying that you wanted to de-fund Planned Parenthood was something that you would get away with, because it's something that, you know, an insanely high number of women have benefited from throughout their lives. And more women than men vote. They seem to forget that.
So now, they've gotten to the place where it's okay for them to say that they want to de-fund it, so that puts them on the very edge, where - if they go a little bit further over to the right - then they fall off that edge.
And Romney kind of got too close to the cliff, and because he's not comfortable out there, you know, this is unfamiliar terrain for him - he's much more comfortable, you know, in a boardroom, and leaving the rest of the stuff to the Rick Santorums of the world - so, he gets over to that edge, and he just slips and falls right off. How he cleans this up is going to be interesting to watch, the next couple days.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, and it's one of those edges - one of those cliffs - that has a cliff on both sides, because he's going to fall off in both directions simultaneously.
GRIM: Yeah, and Romney doesn't have the best balance, as we've seen in the last few days.
OLBERMANN: All right, before this happened, Romney calling Santorum too far to the left, economically, to be his vice presidential candidate, and Santorum calling back and saying that Romney's plans were socialist. Is that, by itself, an Obama campaign dream come true?
GRIM: It's definitely a dream come true to see these guys still slugging at each other, and Gingrich today saying, you know, "Buckle up, we're going through June." You know, the Obama campaign couldn't have gotten better news than that.
So, I mean, they're loving that.
This bizarre thing where they're accusing each other of being communists, you know, I don't know exactly how that ends. Because, you know, once this primary campaign ends, both, you know - Romney and Santorum or whoever wins - they're going to break their neck moving back to the middle, no matter what they've said the last six months. So, maybe they'll look back and love being called a socialist, so that they can balance that out with the idea that they're going to take some kind of iron fist to Planned Parenthood and snuff it out.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, on the other hand, I think somebody's probably going to KSDK right now and buying that one piece of tape for the Obama campaign, just in case that's necessary.
GRIM: No doubt.
OLBERMANN: One thing conclusive about tonight, perhaps. In each of these states - in Alabama and Mississippi, not to shortchange Hawaii and the more Pacific caucuses - Romney could easily finish with roughly half - a little bit more than that - of the combined Gingrich-Santorum vote, and he could still win each of these primaries.
Are we seeing tonight, distilled before our eyes, the reality that - unless Gingrich and Santorum combine soon under one banner - that they are going to cancel each other out and they're going to hand Romney the nomination, if not sooner then later?
GRIM: Yeah, that's really well said. And Rick Santorum can see that coming.
And it feels like Santorum, while he would love to win one or both of these contests - or one of these contests - in some ways, the best outcome for him instead is for Romney to win them both. So - because if Newt Gingrich wins one of those, then he has kind of a driving reason to continue in the campaign. But, if Newt loses both, after making his case that he is the Southern candidate, then that gives him - that gives Rick Santorum - that much more ammunition to say "Look, you've got to go, Newt. It's time for us to combine" - like you said - "combine the opposition and beat Romney going forward."
OLBERMANN: Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief of The Huffington Post. Great thanks for your time tonight and for the kind word there, I appreciate it.
GRIM: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you, sir.
One last time on the quote: "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that."
Mitt Romney today, at Kirkwood, Missouri, asked about what some of the specifics of his plan was to lower trillions - cut trillions out of the deficit, "Which programs would you cut or drastically reduce?" Only, he did not say he would de-fund, as he has previously, Planned Parenthood. He simply said, "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that."
We'll hear more on this story as it develops.
Also, the I.D.s that new Texas voter I.D. law required. The state's own data indicated that Hispanic voters there were as much as 120 times less likely to have them than were non-Hispanics. That law, and another in Wisconsin, are off the books - in a huge week for voter's rights. Next.
OLBERMANN: There are no results yet from Alabama or Mississippi, but there are early exit polls.
These are CNN's numbers: Alabama has Santorum, 34. Romney, 29. Gingrich, 28.
Mississippi - again, an exit poll from CNN - Romney, 35. Gingrich, 30. Santorum, 29.
So - Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, in Alabama, but Romney, Gingrich, Santorum in Mississippi - they couldn't be more - or less alike, rather.
Limbaugh advertising limbo - his bosses have suspended all national commercials on his show.
This, while he contends everything's great on his show.
And another six arrests in the Murdoch media scandal, including his favorite newspaper editor Rebekah Brooks, and her husband, the friend of the prime minister. Is Murdoch's scandal suddenly threatening the British government? Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Texas and Wisconsin blocked from enforcing laws requiring Americans to show government-issued I.D.s before they get to vote.
In our fourth story on the "Countdown" - the federal government intervenes in Texas. A judge does in Wisconsin. Voter I.D. laws, hatched by Republicans to keep poor and minority voters away from the polls, themselves get voted off the island.
Judge Richard Niess ruled the Wisconsin law, forcing voters to show a government-issued identity card, violates the inherent and constitutional right of every American citizen to vote. Governor Scott Walker had signed the measure last May, alleging cases of voter fraud and offering no evidence of it.
Yesterday, Justice Niess issued a permanent injunction, saying, "Voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression. Indeed, they are two heads on the same monster."
The Justice Department blocked a similar law in Texas. It says, "Texas's own data showed that Hispanic voters in that state are at least 47 percent - and as much as 120 percent - more likely to not have that valid I.D. than are white voters." That's an estimated 600,000 registered voters now with that impediment.
In Texas, a handgun permit is considered a valid form of I.D. A student or university I.D. is not.
In a statement, Governor Rick Perry brushing off claims that he had gone invisible, and also that Republicans manufacture allegations of voter fraud to prevent minorities - who are more likely to favor Democrats - from voting at all.
"The D.O.J.," he says, "has no valid reason for rejecting this important law, which requires nothing more extensive than the type of photo identification necessary to receive a library card or board an airplane. Their denial is yet another example of the Obama Administration's continuing and pervasive federal overreach."
In December, the Justice Department had blocked a similar measure in South Carolina.
Texas and South Carolina are among 16 states with a history of voting-rights violations. Both are thus forced, by law, to obtain permission from the Justice Department before they change any election procedures.
Let's go more in depth on this with Heather McGhee, Washington director of Demos, and "Countdown" contributor, of course. Heather, good to talk to you.
HEATHER McGHEE: Nice to talk to you, too, Keith.
OLBERMANN: How big a day - how big a week - has this been for voting rights in this country?
McGHEE: You know, it's really kind of a psychological win for the hundreds of thousands of activists who have been working on this issue across the country. Unfortunately, we can't say that, you know, we can really breathe a sigh of relief because these decisions aren't permanent and we're still going to have to fight this - not only in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Virginia - but sort of anywhere where the ALEC-funded, conservative, you know, sort of juggernaut of laws is going to try to be taking place.
OLBERMANN: Read the relative permanence - you said they're not permanent - of these two decisions in Texas and in Wisconsin.
McGHEE: So in Wisconsin, I think, actually, the prospects look pretty good, because it's really based on the Wisconsin - the Wisconsin state's - own constitution, which basically is saying that you have a right to vote, and that the legislature can't put restrictions beyond what the Constitution says. So I think, even though the state is going to appeal to the state court in Wisconsin, I think we've got a pretty good chance there.
In Texas, I think we've also got a pretty good chance there, because it is a Voting Rights Act-protected state. The Department of Justice - in a really, sort of, muscular move by the Obama administration - said, "These do not pass muster, these are discriminatory laws."
Texas is going to be able go to a three-judge federal panel. But, it's - I would be cautiously optimistic that the panel would agree with Attorney General Holder.
OLBERMANN: We heard the statistic about the decreased likelihood that Hispanic voters in Texas have this acceptable form of I.D., up to 120 times less likely. There's another number, which is - in many cases - it's a 175-mile round trip to the nearest place to get that I.D. if you don't have it.
What are the actual numbers on voter fraud - people voting illegally in this country - that these laws were contrived to supposedly stop?
McGHEE: You know, looking just at Texas - the Texas A.G., you know, sort of bragged about the fact that there had been 50 cases of election fraud of any kind, including some that didn't have anything to do with photo I.D., or could have been fixed by photo I.D. Fifty cases over the past decade.
Compare that to the fact that, of the rolls today in Texas, nearly 800,000 eligible, registered voters don't have the I.D., and so would be knocked out of their ability to vote. So, 50 cases of fraud over a decade and - for that - you're going to kick 800,000 people out of your democracy in your state? That's crazy.
OLBERMANN: Yeah. Now - then multiply that by how much gas they're going to use driving the up to 175 miles to get the I.D., if they want to prevent that from happening.
Obviously, as you said, this is never over as long as there is ALEC, and as long as there are groups that are trying to stay in office against the demographic tide of reality. How are the voter restrictions going to play out in Pennsylvania and Virginia, do you think?
McGHEE: Right. So, in Virginia - Virginia is another former Jim Crow state that also has to go to the Department of Justice before it restricts its voting rights in the state. Unfortunately - or fortunately, if it stays - the Virginia law is actually not quite as onerous as some of the other laws. You are allowed to bring in a paycheck, you're allowed to bring in a utility bill, not just an expensive photo I.D.
But there are some other parts of the bill that make it a lot more difficult and, frankly, just as unnecessary and just as expensive. You know, the big headlines right now in Virginia are about the budget deficit, and this bill is going to cost the amount of money that it would actually take to give a thousand young Virginia children health care. That's what they're going to do with this photo I.D. law.
OLBERMANN: Extraordinary. Well, it's a good - the one good vestige of what happened in the '60s, in terms of dealing with Jim Crow, is that we have these restrictions on these states, in particular. At least there's a foothold against all this money being thrown at it.
Heather McGhee, Washington D.C. director of Demos, "Countdown" contributor - as always, thank you for being with us.
McGHEE: Thank you, Keith.
OLBERMANN: The Rupert Murdoch scandal - six more arrests, including his former favorite editor, again. And now also involved? Her husband, his friend, the prime minister, and a horse. Coming up.
OLBERMANN: Rupert Murdoch's favorite editor Rebekah Brooks, arrested in the hacking scandal - twice. And Rush Limbaugh's bosses suspend all national commercials on his show. A big day in media.
First the "Sanity Break," and on this day two years ago, my father, Ted Olbermann, passed away, after his long - and I hope you'll remember - his brave battle against complications following a colonectomy.
I mention this just to thank all of you who have tweeted and written and remembered him today.
And may I suggest that if you still have the opportunity to do so, treat your father today. I hate to be so blunt about this, but treat him as if he just came back from the dead. Not only will he appreciate it, but you'll appreciate it later, as will, certainly, those of us who do not have that chance.
"Time Marches On!"
VIDEO: Radish the dog plays solo volleyball, without a net.
Oh, thank goodness for the TMO Adorable Clip of the Day. It's Radish, the ball-bouncing dog. Only a sucker needs somebody to throw a ball to them. Radish can do it all by himself.
Radish used to play for the U.S. National Soccer Team.
Not sure how he can use this talent - maybe a career in volleyball? Bump, set, stay?
VIDEO: Houston, Texas grill serves up a heart attack on a plate - or, at least, heartburn on a plate.
From the adorable to the disgusting - the Houston, Texas's Hubcap Grill, where they're serving the quadruple heart-clogger. Hope you have a big appetite and a series of cardiologists.
This - I guess you can call it a burger - consists of a beef patty, a hot dog split in half, crispy bacon and, of course, they top it all off with some spicy chili.
I know what you're thinking, and yes, you can super size it. Might as well eat a hubcap.
VIDEO: Bo, the Obama's dog, videobombs a Univision promo in front of the White House.
Finally, let's check in with the White House, where Univision reporter Adriana Arevalo is shooting a TV promo.
And the Obama's dog Bo decides he wants to be in a Univision promo as well.
"Maybe if I just run through in the background, nobody will notice."
Reached for comment afterwards, the first dog said, "Bo knows how to get on camera."
"Time Marches On!"
Will all those former Rupert Murdoch media moguls not under arrest please take one step forward? Not so fast, Rebekah Brooks. Next.
OLBERMANN: While British Prime Minister David Cameron was boarding Air Force One for an improbable field trip to an NCAA tournament basketball game in Ohio today, on the other side of the pond, the probe into possible criminality at Rupert Murdoch's media empire continued to intensify.
In our third story on the "Countdown" - Rebekah Brooks, the flame-haired former editor of Murdoch-owned Sun and News of the World newspapers has been arrested again today, along with five others, for allegedly - conspiring, rather, to pervert the course of justice as part of the larger phone-hacking investigation.
Also taken into custody was Brooks' husband, Charlie, a race-horse trainer and close friend of the prime minister.
Mr. Cameron came under fire earlier this month, following revelations that a Metropolitan police horse had been lent to Rebekah Brooks, which Cameron rode during visits to the Brooks' estate. The episode, dubbed "horse-gate" exemplifies a kind of incestuous relationship among News International and Cameron's government.
That, according to Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, who says, "Cameron cannot even manage to be straight about riding a horse loaned to him by a News International executive. The horse story may seem ridiculous. It is. But it is also becoming the symbol of how leading politicians get too close to powerful media players."
So, now this involves Murdoch, and the British prime minister and the horse he rode in on!
Also among the six arrested today - News International's Security Director Mark Hanna, for allegedly attempting to pervert justice. That charge is extraordinarily serious. It involves deliberately misleading or destroying evidence and it carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Joining me now is David Folkenflik, the media correspondent for NPR News. Good to see you again, David.
DAVID FOLKENFLIK: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Rebekah Brooks in a moment, but first her husband. Charlie Brooks has been a friend of the prime minister for 30 years. He never had anything to do with the Murdochs. Is this suddenly now the Murdoch/David Cameron/British Conservative Party/coalition with the liberals conspiracy or scandal?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, this is the grand unification theory of all things that are happening in the U.K.
You mentioned, quite rightly, that the nexus of politicians and the press, particularly as it inhabited News International, the British newspaper arm of Mr. Murdoch's News Corp. But also, don't forget the police, as well.
You mentioned the horse. The horse was actually a gift from Scotland Yard to Mrs. Brooks, a retired service horse, and there were questions about whether it seemed that violated police policy. As you suggest, a very minor episode, but suggestive of the intersections and the ways this goes. The fact that the prime minister rode that very horse on the Brooks' grounds seems to be only too-vivid an illustration of that coziness.
OLBERMANN: British prime ministers can last for a decade, or they can last intermittently for 30 years. I was just watching the Disraeli drama from the BBC from 30 years ago with my friend Ian McShane, who is Disraeli - which is excellent, by the way, but that's beside the point - they can last forever -
FOLKENFLIK: Good plot, right?
OLBERMANN: It's a great four-parter.
They can last forever like that, or a stiff breeze can knock them out forever. Is David Cameron actually experiencing a stiff breeze here? Is it that serious? Or is this just going to do some damage to him?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, there is certainly some question - if you think back to last summer, when this really erupted, in early July - over whether this could fracture, in some way, the coalition. After all, David Cameron formed a government in partnership with the liberal Democrats, a third party, as a way of establishing a working majority in Parliament. That could peel off over any issue.
This is a reminder of the embarrassment of the politicians being in bed with the Murdoch tabloid press in the U.K. But also, particularly, the personal ties of Mr. Cameron, who - after all, his director of communications had to resign. He had, too, been earlier arrested in this very scandal.
OLBERMANN: Yeah, Andy Coulson. The interchange - they're like basketball coaches and football coaches becoming announcers.
Back to Rebekah Brooks. What are the implications of her second arrest, other than that she takes the lead on that score board?
FOLKENFLIK: I think the legal term "not good" applies here. You know, as you suggested, the allegations here rested on suspicion of perversion of justice, still to this day has not been formally criminally charged. The British system works a little differently than we do.
FOLKENFLIK: The suggestion is she's interfered with this investigation. In fact, there have been allegations, as you may know, that hundreds of thousands of emails that might pertain to this investigation have been either hidden or destroyed. Attempts to revive those have come up with some damning evidence that internal investigators for News Corp. had been forced to turn over.
This arrest was not based on anything News Corp. turned over itself. This was developed by the Scotland Yard investigators themselves.
OLBERMANN: As the old Python joke goes, even the police began to sit up and take notice.
So, you've got Rebekah Brooks arrested for a second time, the prime minister and the horse are now involved in this as well. How much further could this go? Is it no longer a stretch to say we might see a James Murdoch perp walk or a Rupert Murdoch perp walk?
FOLKENFLIK: Well, you hate to speculate. Certainly, a lot of attention has focused on James Murdoch. Members of Parliament have been openly skeptical, you could even say disdainful, of his performance before Parliament. Time and again, he's had to go forth and acknowledge that subsequent evidence has disproven some of the assertions he's made.
And depending on, you know, what they're trying to nail Mrs. Brooks for in this, in terms of obstruction of justice, depending on what the email trail shows - in which his subordinates show that they had informed him of some things several years ago he had sworn to Parliament that he had not known of - it could look very tough for James Murdoch, indeed, but we don't know where that's going to go.
OLBERMANN: The horse will always give you away. Talk about cleaning the stables.
David Folkenflik, the media correspondent for NPR. A great pleasure to see you again, sir.
FOLKENFLIK: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: Thank you.
And then there's Rush Limbaugh and the women and the advertisers and the bizarre thing his bosses did to his show today. Next.
OLBERMANN: Limbaugh declares victory in the Sandra Fluke fallout while his bosses suspend all national advertising barter deals related to his show.
Sam Seder joins me as we get early indicators out of Alabama and Mississippi. In Mississippi, an exit poll, per The New York Times, has Romney up by two points on Santorum and three on Gingrich. In fact, Romney had led in the first set of exit polls in the state of Mississippi by four points. It could be very, very close. Details ahead.
OLBERMANN: If you didn't think womanhood in this country was under attack by the right, Mitt Romney seemingly cinched it today in Kirkwood, Missouri - "Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that" - not saying he was going to get rid of the limited government funding towards it, but the whole thing. He'll have to do something about that statement tomorrow.
And then there was Rush Limbaugh. Since he tried to shame Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, over 140 advertisers have pulled their ads, forcing his show's breaks to be filled almost exclusively by free public service announcements donated by the AdCouncil.
But now, in our number two story - he may have larger problems even than advertisers. His own syndication company has suspended some of the national advertising related to his show.
Limbaugh returned to the air today as news that Premiere Networks, which syndicates the program, had stopped its so-called "barter spots" for two weeks.Barter spots are the ad space that local stations give to Premiere in exchange for being able to broadcast Limbaugh on their station. In addition to paying for it, it is the key way that Premiere makes its additional money on this.
All of this is on top of the 140 outside advertisers who have pulled their ads from the Limbaugh broadcast, per se.
The exodus, however, apparently seems to have had little effect on Mr. Limbaugh's choices of topic.
(Excerpt from video clip) LIMBAUGH: The nag convention was over the weekend somewhere in New Orleans - The National Association of Gals. Wait, you don't think I'm going to get in trouble for that, do you? The National Organization of Women - the N.O.W. gang - we affectionately call them "the nags."
OLBERMANN: But, while Limbaugh continues to be the ringleader, the rest of the conservative commentator circus continues to follow his lead.
Dana Loesch, an analyst for CNN, has decided to take the personal attacks against Sandra Fluke to the next level, not only standing - stalking her in terms of location, but - once again - misleading about what Sandra Fluke talked about and testified about. Not her own experiences with paying for birth control, but those of her fellow students.
Loesch said "maybe Fluke's boyfriend, the son of entrenched Democrat William Mutterperl, can pay for her contraception. I hear his father donates heavily to Democrat candidates. The couple is currently enjoying spring break in California, which poses the question of how Fluke can afford a trip across the country when she can't afford birth control pills."
That's not what she said.
Joining me now - staff writer for Salon.com, Irin Carmon. Good to see you again.
IRIN CARMON: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: I think I know what his employer suspending these barter spots - which would be spots that their advertisers get on the local stations at other times during the show - I think I know what it means. They don't have the spots anymore. There are no advertisers who want that time associated with the Limbaugh show. What are the implications of something like that?
CARMON: Yeah, I think my favorite joke on this was that dead air was suspending its support of Rush Limbaugh. Even dead air does not want to be affiliated with Rush Limbaugh.
OLBERMANN: I guess.
CARMON: You have a situation where, in fact, all of these mainstream advertisers have been happy to be alongside Rush Limbaugh during some of his more heinous comments even before this. But now the jig is up, because people are paying attention and they no longer want to be associated with this, which is just as well. Public pressure works.
OLBERMANN: We always hear advertisers will go - get away. They don't want to be involved in controversial commentary, which is exactly the opposite of what's true. They want to be involved in controversial commentary until a stampede occurs. This is the old line from "It's a Wonderful Life" - "I've never seen a run on the banks before, but this has all the earmarks of it."
CARMON: Right, I mean - I think, again, this has to do with a particular moment in time where this connects to an overall Republican attack on women.
Rush Limbaugh has been doing his thing for a long time and he's been getting the fealty of Republican leaders for a long time. But sudden - and you know, frankly, the war on women has been going on for a long time. It's been going on since 1976.
So, you have a situation where now people are saying, "Okay, here's this guy who's just saying out loud what everyone's really thinking."
OLBERMANN: This Dana Loesch who, along with Bill O' Reilly, decided to smear Sandra Fluke all over again by saying where she was going, who her boyfriend is and - again - this nonsense about, you know, whether or not she personally pays for her own contraception, which wasn't what she testified about in the first place.
O'Reilly, meanwhile - and I'm almost quoting him literally on this - says, "This is a conspiracy against Republicans," that she was brought front and center by Democrats to create this kind of firestorm. Why are people betting their careers on Limbaugh at this point?
CARMON: They're betting their careers on Limbaugh, and they're also betting their careers on the fact that trashing this individual woman who made a policy argument and told the story of other people is somehow going to get them credence. They're backing up Limbaugh and saying that any woman who uses birth control and wants insurance to cover for it is a slut.
So, I think they're betting that misogynists are still a major part of the Republican party base. We'll have to see if that's true.
OLBERMANN: As you probably know already, there was a representative in Arizona - a state rep, Debbie Lesko - who's introduced a bill that will permit employers to ask employees why they're use birth control, to actually see the prescription.
Her quote was, "I believe we live in America. We don't live in the Soviet Union."
An ironic quote. So, government should not be telling employers to do something against their moral beliefs.
I get that sort of, you know, crusade-like, "burn the witches" quality to this. But, give me the - I'm missing something of the big picture. The entire right-wing-wide movement against women - there's usually a profit motive involved in everything the right does. Who's - you know, who's got the tasty? Who's having their beak moistened? Who's making, other than Rush Limbaugh, who's making cash off this? Why are they so gung ho about this?
CARMON: Well, it's more expensive for insurance companies. It's not insurance companies. Unplanned pregnancies -
CARMON: - are a bad public cost, because they either end in abortions or they end in pregnancies, which are more expensive than contraception.
I think it goes deeper than that. I think what happens is that women gaining a foothold and having independence and controlling their fertility and having independent lives that challenge the values of the Republican Party is terrifying.
It's too bad there are women getting on board with it, but, you know, they're going to turn around and see that they're also going to be called sluts and they're also going to have their right and their access to birth control taken away.
Irin Camon of Salon, who's tonight being honored as one of the "Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Media." Congratulations on that.
CARMON: Thank you so much.
OLBERMANN: Thanks for your time.
And more about the women who are going along with this, collaborating with this thing.
One additional note on it - this misdirection from the right and from the anti-choice crowd, like the Catholic Church, continues to be false equivalence - that Limbaugh attacking a private citizen, for days on end, who made one appearance in front of a Congressional committee, is the same as any commentator who has ever criticized a female public figure.
This misdirection has now been reduced to flat-out dishonesty.
In a column for The Washington Post, syndicated to other papers, Melinda Henneberger completely twisted what I said here when I suspended the "Worst Persons" segment last week, in hopes of improving the discourse.
"He" - me - "explained why his attacks on Rush and Rush's are yes, apples to oranges."
I said, "Mrs. Malkin was animated by -" blah, blah, blah, blah.
Ms. Henneberger proceeds to quote the background that I gave about a TV comedy catchphrase I once used to describe twelve National Football League players, and, separately, Michelle Malkin. But that quote had nothing to do with my contention that comparing what Limbaugh said, and what everybody else said, is "apples to oranges."
What I actually said was, "Firstly, there is an overall quality of apples to oranges here. Both of those people were veterans of this country's political dialogue, about whom I made one comment each. They were not private citizens, intending a brief dipping of the toe into the cultural pool, only to find themselves dragged in to the deep end, by day after day of searing, deliberate, personal, and indefensible attacks by Rush Limbaugh."
Ten paragraphs later, I brought up Ms. Malkin, ten paragraphs which Ms. Henneberg edited out without giving her readers any indication she had done so. It is absolute journalistic dishonesty, and it is typical of the desperate effort to defend Limbaugh by claiming, "Everybody does this."
It should not be that great a surprise that Ms. Henneberg has been a columnist for the Catholic publication Commonweal, that she once wrote a column called "Why Pro-Choice Is a Bad Choice for Democrats," and that the premise of this piece was that it was the Democrats who were responsible for the present war on women's rights.
And she will no doubt view what I have said tonight was misogynistic, and thus the equivalent about what Limbaugh said about Sandra Fluke.
OLBERMANN: Romney, Santorum, Gingrich and Paul battling for delegates in primaries in Alabama and Mississippi today, and caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa tonight.
Two late exit polls out of CNN in Mississippi - Santorum 34, Gingrich 34 - we've got this wrong. Let me skip it, because we've got Santorum listed twice. I'll get back to it.
In our number one story - the GOP battle reaching new levels of intra-party ugliness tonight, with something extra for Americans who support family planning, women's rights and women's health.
Rick Santorum accusing former venture capitalist and corporate raider Mitt Romney of being a socialist, Romney insisting Santorum is not enough of an economic conservative to be his vice presidential candidate - if he gets that far - and Romney also saying in an interview today that, if he gets elected, he will get rid of Planned Parenthood if he becomes president.
Not entirely clear from the interview whether Romney meant to say he would urge Congress to cut that limited federal subsidy for Planned Parenthood, or he was simply delivering a dog whistle, hoping that hardcore conservatives would wag their tails and vote for him.
(Excerpt from video clip) WOMAN: What are some of the specifics of the plan to lower the trillions of dollars deficit? What programs would you want to cut or drastically reduce?
(Excerpt from video clip) ROMNEY: My test is pretty simple - is the program so critical it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? On that basis, of course, you get rid of Obamacare. That's the easy one. But there are others. Planned Parenthood, we're going to get rid of that. The subsidy for Amtrak, I would eliminate that - the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities.
OLBERMANN: Joining me for analysis of that and tonight's GOP primaries is Sam Seder, radio host of "Ring of Fire," and "The Majority Report." Hello, Sam.
SAM SEDER: Hello, Keith.
OLBERMANN: Whichever - which way Mitt Romney turns after that, whether he says, "Well, you know, I just meant funding."
OLBERMANN: Then the other - then Gingrich and Santorum - could go "Well, why don't you want to eliminate Planned Parenthood? So you like Planned Parenthood?" And if he doesn't correct it, he's going to lose any female support he had.
SEDER: I mean, he will lose it, certainly in the general. I mean, that's the problem - I mean, that clip is really sort of amazing, because, not only is the things that he listed there - would equal, I think probably 0.000 percent of -
SEDER: - the deficit. But, on top of that, he's also lying about how much money we borrow from China. Most of our debt is actually to ourselves, in many respects. So, he's going for a twofer there. And yes, he is - once again - painting himself into a box. And this whole story of this primary, the main narrative really, is - how much is Mitt Romney going to have to damage himself for the general election? And he's continuing to do it.
OLBERMANN: And he's not just damaging himself, relative to the general vote, but he's also - I've used this analogy before - he is Sideshow Bob on a field full of rakes. And every week, he steps on one of these rakes and hits himself in the forehead for no good reason. There's no reason that that would have been any less powerful a meaningless statement if he had been clear to say, you know, "We're going to reduce or eliminate the federal funding for Planned Parenthood." There would have been no controversy, there wouldn't have been a story - wouldn't have been a local story - if he'd just stuck to the script, right?
SEDER: Well, I mean, that's - part of the problem is that he can't - there's something that seems to be working against him. And so, you know, again, the other thing that I think we've learned about Mitt Romney through this process in not only just how far to the right he has to tack, but just how bad of a candidate he is.
SEDER: And I think, you know, every time he does that, I think it's going to have less impact in the general, the fact that he makes these gaffes. But he's not going to make any less gaffes in the general. There's no reason why he would.
OLBERMANN: Is this, and I asked this earlier in the hour, but as we look at these three races that are apparently, you know - three guys within four points from top to bottom in both Mississippi and Alabama, according to the exit polls, according to all the details in the exit polls - is this the week in which somebody in Gingrich-Santorum land says, "You know, if we squish these two campaigns together, we might actually stop Romney and get somebody else nominated, one of us."
Is it possible one of them has the presence of mind to fall on their sword for the other, for the supposed cause?
SEDER: There's my short answer, is that I think, actually, you know - listen, Gingrich is there because of a billionaire, Sheldon Adelson. And Sheldon Adelson is also aligned, in some respects, with Mitt Romney. And so, Sheldon Adelson gets his - his spokesperson, Newt Gingrich, to go out there and trump a lot of Islamaphobia, which is Sheldon Adelson's, sort of, favorite topic to talk about. And, he also protects Romney. So, you know, I think if Gingrich has no incentive to leave. Why would he? He's going around, he's not working terribly hard.
SEDER: He's enjoying himself, he's selling books, and there's no pressure for him to get out because of what you've just said - that if he does get out, he'd actually increase Santorum's chances of knocking off Romney, and the establishment wants Romney. So, in some ways, I think there's every reason to believe that Newt Gingrich will stay in there as long as Santorum is there.
OLBERMANN: Newt Gingrich, sock puppet.
OLBERMANN: So, we got him, he's a sock puppet and of course, Romney is a socialist, and Santorum is way too much of an economic moderate. It's been a great day, Sam.
Sam Seder, of the "Ring of Fire," and "The Majority Report." Thanks for coming in.
SEDER: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: That's "Countdown." Congratulations on getting through another day of this crap. I'm Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.