Patterico's Pontifications


“Leave The Gun, But Take the Cannoli” — Olbermann Sends “Fredo” Milbank Out To Catch Some Fish

Filed under: General — WLS @ 2:41 pm

Posted by WLS

Yeah, I know I mashed-up the scenes.  But this is classic.

Yesterday the left-wingnutroots shot one of their own when Keith Olbermann banned Dana Milbank from appearing on Countdown in the future, and just for good measure publicly impugned his journalistic integrity in the process.   On Kaily Dos yesterday, Olbermann posted this:

      Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, who notified us today that after four years appearing with us, he had accepted another television offer.

      This saved your crack Countdown staff an increasingly difficult decision. 

      For nearly a week we’d been waiting for him to offer a correction or an explanation for his column from last week in which he apparently reported an Obama quote without a full context turned the meaning of the quote inside-out.  

      Then he called criticisms of his column “whines” even though the dispute was over whether Obama said the self-deprecating: “It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign — that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions” — or only the part about “I have just become a symbol…” 

      We had decided not to have Dana on this news-hour again until this was cleared up, and, sadly after some very happy years, he’s apparently chosen to make that cloud permanent.

The cause of the divorce was this much-talked about piece on July 30 by Milbank calling the Obama campaign out on its increasingly presumptuous conduct and tone.  I thought the piece was an early warning shot meant to benefit the Obama campaign by calling their attention to a building meme in the press on the subject.  Milbank quoted several examples of reporting being done by other journalists where that impression was being conveyed.  The hook for the piece might have been the exclusion of  New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza from the Obama press plane going to Europe, after the New Yorker cover which caused so much consternation.  There was lots of murmurring on the press blogs that Lizza was getting a taste of Chicago-style political payback.

The passage that Olbermann and his followers (the whole basement full of them) complained about was the one where Obama was quoted by an attendee at a Congrressional breifing of having made reference to himself as being a “symbol” in Europe of the opportunity for America to return to its “best traditions.”  The context for the quote was contested the day it appeared in print by others present who said it was really a self-deprecating comment wherein Obama was talking about the fact that the crowds in Europe were about American and a hope for a better relationship with Europe in the future, and the Obama campaign is just a symbol of that hope – or something like that.

Olbermann never addressed the column on Countdown, and Milbank never appeared after it ran.  But Olbermann’s alterego Rachel Maddow led the pushback against the column and the “arrogance” charge on other MSNBC shows.  From Olbermann’s post on Daily Kos is now seems clear that Olbermann was demanding a correction by Milbank before he would be allowed back on the show.  Milbank told him to go pound sand.

Now Olbermann has MIlbank sleeping with the fishes — which leaves Olbermann’s producers able to count on one hand the number of real journalists who will actually agree to appear on screen with him.    

My two cents:   While Milbank is certainly a lefty in the MSM, and while he has certainly not been friendly to the Bush/Cheney adminstration, I suspect he is one of those political reporters who enjoyed a good relationship with McCain going back to 2000, and probably still likes the guy for his willingness to talk to the press and answer questions.  He probably had no use for a return of the Clintonistas, so while Obama was slaying that beast he was an Obama fan — hence a regular at MSNBC, especially on Countdown.   But the Obama campaign has never been press-friendly, and Obama’s unwillingness to sit down with the press for unscripted on the record sessions is well-reported — and resented.

Now that the race has shifted to McCain v. Obama, there seems to have been a concern on the part of the Obama-chorus — like Olbermann — that Milbank couldn’t be counted on to stay on the reservation, hence this other comment from the link above:

Anybody who would come on television to talk about the Dick Cheney shoot-up, wearing an orange safety vest and a hunter’s cap automatically gets my benefit of the doubt. But even that had a shelf-life, which was nearing, when he took any further decision-making out of our hands. It was quite a surprise conclusion, obviously, and I’ll take it (before anybody tries to take it back).

Isn’t that a concession by Olbermann that he could no longer give Milbank the presumption that he would faithfully preach the Countdown gospel which is that only good flows from the Obamesiah, and all Republicans are the spawn of the AntiChrist?  I’m going to see if I can find examples in recent Countdown appearances by Milbank where he refused to go “all in” on behalf of the Obamesiah and against McCain.

Update:  Now we’ve got some sniper fire this morning from each side.  Milbank’s versiongiven to TVNewser:

Milbank, who, because of a partnership between his paper and the NBC cable news channel, has been a part of MSNBC’s programming since at least the 2000 election.  So where did Milbank end up last night? On CNN, opposite Olbermann. And what does Milbank say about this? 

As for his MSNBC departure and arrival on CNN, Milbank tells TVNewser: “It predated the column and nothing occurred along the lines Keith described.” A week ago tonight, Milbank appeared on Countdown and was identified as “MSNBC political analyst.” An insider tell us Milbank’s contract with MSNBC expired earlier this year.

Here’s Oblermann’s response to that claim today:

Dana appeared with us the night before his column appeared with the truncated Obama quote — and did so under the terms of his contract which both he and MSNBC obviously considered still in force. After the column, he contacted us, joking he was glad I hadn’t put him on the “Worst Persons” list, and then discussing with the producers coming on to clarify or explain what he wrote. Out of appreciation for his work for us, I had delayed a permanent decision on whether he should again appear on Countdown. Dana used this time to make another deal, which he told us about the day before he appeared on another network.

But Milbank’s not going to take that lying down from Olbermann:

Milbank also respondedto FishbowlDC’s Patrick Gavin, and seems to take a swipe at Olbermann: “The CNN contract was negotiated long before the Obama column. It’s just that CNN’s a better fit for me and my philosophy of holding all parties to account.”

There is danger here for Olbermann with the serious journalism community.  I remember listening to a long interview done by Hugh Hewitt with Mark Halperin, who was at that time the Political Director for ABC, and famously started The Note.  

In talking about whether there was a liberal bias in the press, Halperin defended some of his collegues who he knew to be politically liberal on the basis that they made great efforts to keep their biases out of their reporting — but admitted they weren’t always successful.  When Hewitt mentioned Olbermann and Countdown, and the journalists that appeared there, Halperin was critical and said he knew of several prominent journalists who would not appear because they didn’t think Olbermann was a serious journalist, and he never had anyone on the show who didn’t agree with him. 

So, that is out there.  Now Olbermann has publicly banned a prominent columnist for the Washington Post rather than quietly allow him to move on to another network — and called him out by impugning his journalism at the same time.

I suspect Milbank has more friends in the press corp than does Olbermann.  Before long Countdown may resemble nothing more than a political leftwing-gasbag version of Regis&Kelly, starring Olbermann and Maddow.

UPDATE NO. 2 — I’ve eliminated the misspellings of Olbermann’s name based on Cyrus’ comment  below, which I think makes a good point.  Don’t think for a minute, however, that juvenile humor is beneath me. 

But the censorship by Olbermann of lefties who don’t toe the party line in his opinion should be an important issue in the blogosphere, no matter what his rationalizations for it are.

40 Responses to ““Leave The Gun, But Take the Cannoli” — Olbermann Sends “Fredo” Milbank Out To Catch Some Fish”

  1. “Banned from Countdown.” Ouch.

    Cicero (8db983)

  2. The repeated DOLTERMAN DOLTERMAN DOLTERMAN name calling makes this post a bit difficult to read for the 13+ crowd (the ‘Bushilter’ kind of crap is also just stupid for the same reason… I don’t want the read the right’s version of Democratic Underground)…

    It’s otherwise a great post and makes an excellent point about how Olberman has been and always will carry water in a ridiculously partisan manner. He’s not like Bill O’Reilly, who is a gasbag too by all means.

    They will eat their own for not giving Obama a free ride. Essentially any actual critical comment on Obama will be treated as a horrible violation of human rights. People will be kicked off shows for having a contrary opinion. All quotes have context, but you’d be a moron if you thought the context completely flipped this quote’s meaning around.

    I flip over to MSNBC occasionally, and recently Pat Buchanan was the ‘right wing’ voice. He spent every one of his comments attacking the “idiots” in the GOP who “never get anything right”. That’s the balance MSNBC gives its viewers. Every panelist on this segment agreed that drilling for more oil offshore would take an entire “generation” to reduce the price of gas. Obviously that is a lie, they all know it, and it’s a bit irrelevant if we will need energy in a generation. I like the idea of a partisan network, especially if it’s obvious. But that network would have to try hard to be intellectually honest, clearly explain the other point of view, and then explain the editorial position against it. MSNBC spends all day and night fighting a strawman democratic party.

    Juan (4cdfb7)

  3. I’ve still never met anyone who’s even heard of Olby, much less watched anything on MSNBC. And this being the North Side of Chicago, there aren’t any folks from the right side of the ledger to begin with – so the question remains: who the hell watches that show?

    Dmac (c859cf)

  4. Do you have any idea how much less value two pennies have compared to when the term “my two-cents worth” was, uh, coined?
    Dana Milbank has the best job in America, and he’s the best person for it.
    Olbermann’s job is fast becoming the best one in America, and he’s best for it. Every time you put it as “Dolterman” you lessen yourself. But, hey, see my devaluation of value explained above. Cleverness is not formulaic.
    This dustup will pass. I predict Milbank and Olbermann will be bosom buddies again, given that they have a lot more in common than Olbermann had with Laura Ingraham that one time they went out on a date-slash-reconnaissance-mission. And Milbank will start reading blogs — he says now that he doesn’t. That would be at his peril. At least as far as the substantive ones are concerned.

    Alan Greenspan (d11f9a)

  5. “Before long Countdown may resemble nothing more than a political leftwing-gasbag version of Regis&Kelly, starring Doltermann and Maddow.”

    – WLS

    Read: “Degenerated to the level of right-wing talk radio.”

    Leviticus (682f25)

  6. Olberdouche is apparently intolerant of opposing viewpoints.



    JD (5f0e11)

  7. There appears to be a job opportunity for Levi and Peter.

    JD (5f0e11)

  8. As what, bathroom attendants?

    Dmac (c859cf)

  9. By using Doltermann, you shift this post from being useful criticism to being partisan hackery. If I were Patterico, I would ask you to edit the piece. It isn’t funny and it only helps those who disagree with you dismiss your point.

    Christian Lindke (6f6601)

  10. “Degenerated to the level of right-wing talk radio.”

    But without all that bother of huge ad revenues and nation – wide recognition.

    Dmac (c859cf)

  11. I was shocked and pleased to hear NBC Sunday Night Football play-by-play legend Al Michaels’ voice among the pre-recorded congratulatory messages to Rush Limbaugh on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Rush’s show. There was nothing ambiguous about Michaels’ praise, either — he’s a diehard Dittohead.

    I wonder if Blowhardmann knew Michaels was such a fan. Knowing that Brief Keith is probably pissed about it makes me smile.

    L.N. Smithee (e1f2bf)

  12. I’d like to defend myself by saying: “You can’t handle the truth.”

    Paris (d11f9a)

  13. Hilarious, given how much name calling Olbermann and his guests do, that people think calling out WLS for the name insult is a criticism.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  14. This dustup will pass. I predict Milbank and Olbermann will be bosom buddies again, given that they have a lot more in common than Olbermann had with Laura Ingraham that one time they went out on a date-slash-reconnaissance-mission.

    I don’t know who your sources are, but I listen to Laura faithfully (her month-long suspension was torturous for me) and it has always seemed to me that while she often rightfully bashes Olbermann (as she did this morning about K.O.’s failing to fact-check Bob Herbert’s phall-acious assertion that McCain’s “Celeb” commercial features footage of the Leaning Tower of Pisa), she tempers it with some schoolgirlish daydreaming. She has on more than one occasion said, “Is there any way we could make him a conservative?”

    Ingraham also seems to be on friendly terms with Joe Scarborough despite a vicious 2006 video bit Joe produced on the old Scarborough’s America show. Laura blasted Joe for a stunt intended to prove his assertion that Mel Gibson was lying about alcohol being the reason for his anti-Semitic rant; Joe got a staffer drunk on the air to show that just being drunk wouldn’t make you say a racist thing you didn’t mean. After hearing of Ingraham thrashing him on her show, he petulantly responded by pretending to flush archived videotapes of her short-lived MSNBC show down a toilet as Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” played in the background (“Take a look at my girlfriend…”)

    L.N. Smithee (d1de1b)

  15. The use of the “Doltermann” references are simply a juvenile attempt at humor, or the effort of a terribly insecure individual to call attention to himself — or both.

    I vote for both.

    WLS (26b1e5)

  16. WLS has to be the clubhouse leader for worst person in the world today.

    JD (5f0e11)

  17. KO is slowly sinking to his level – sort of a reverse “Peter Principle”.
    He failed as a local sports anchor, he’s failed as a national sports anchor, and his tenure as a political commentator is under-whelming.
    What are his daily numbers anyway?
    Does he get as many eyes as PP?

    Another Drew (ab2eae)

  18. I liked Olbermann on ESPN and thought his sports commentary was clever. Now that his subject is politics, he comes across as bitter and you know how unattractive bitter, clingy people are.

    DRJ (9d1be2)

  19. You mean like Arianna?

    Another Drew (ab2eae)

  20. Olbermann did not fail as a national sportscaster — at least not in terms of his Sportscenter gig. As far as that goes, he is one of the all-time greatest.

    WLS (26b1e5)

  21. Agreed, together with Patrick they made more fun of the pomposity and fatuousness that pervades sports (and ESPN) today. He’s become a caricature of those he used to mock, unfortunately.

    Dmac (c859cf)

  22. Maybe Olbermann can get Larry O’Donnell on full time.

    daleyrocks (d9ec17)

  23. Call Olbermann by his real name. This is actually a post on a very worthwhile subject that loses all credibility by the idiotic name-calling.

    Dana Milbank is the current gold standard in cutting political sketch-writing. He is an enemy of duplicity and hackery on both sides–compare his screamingly funny piece on Obama, the subject of this post, with his equally funny report on the Congressional testimony of David Addison & John Yoo. The man plays no favorites when it comes to funny.

    Olbermann’s petulance–I was so about to dump him!–oozes from every word of Olbermann’s post. You don’t need to attach dumb nicknames to conduct this obvious. Also, isn’t it better to use Keith Olbermann’s real name to increase the search ranking when people search for commentary on this matter?

    Cyrus Sanai (4df861)

  24. Are the above “WLS” comments authentic?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  25. SPQR — absolutely — I take myself a lot less seriously than Olbermann takes himself. You want me to edit your’s to prove it?

    But, Cyrus does have a good point in terms of increasing the links in cyberspace by people searching out info on Olbermann — kind of hard for them to find this work of art if I misspell his name everywhere.

    WLS (26b1e5)

  26. WLS, no, I just didn’t know whether to find your comments hilarious or denounce someone for ID theft.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  27. FWIW, I googled Doltermann and got 39 hits, some linking to Patterico’s Pontifications.

    Googling Dobermann on msnbc got 29 hits
    and my favorite keith olberdouche on msnbc came in with 443 hits. So I imagine many people do think of the cretin as a douche bag.

    madmax333 (0c6cfc)

  28. she tempers it with some schoolgirlish daydreaming.

    Well, given that he *is* the biggest prick around, it stands to reason that he *has*–


    M. Scott Eiland (a16843)

  29. With all these Godfather references, I should point out that Olbermann is the Joey Zasa of the punditocracy.

    Abu Al-Poopypants (1dbcfe)

  30. Godfather III does not count.

    WLS (26b1e5)

  31. I find many of the comments here pithy.
    Problem is, just about everyone here speaks with a lisp.

    Paris' mom (d11f9a)

  32. the censorship by Olbermann of lefties who don’t toe the party line in his opinion should be an important issue in the blogosphere

    Someone should ask Markos whether they’re allowed to discuss that subject. And they should ask anonymously!

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  33. I find many of the comments here pithy.
    Problem is, just about everyone here speaks with a lisp.

    Pith off, Hecuba.

    Drumwaster (5ccf59)

  34. The line that comes to mind, which I think Henry Kissinger coined; re the Iran/Iraq war, “it’s a pity they both can’t loose”. Herr Olbermann’s rants are briefly amusing, like Howard Beale on LSD; then one quickly realizes this is who NBC choses as one of it’s cable presences at the Prime Time Hour. I used to think Dan Abrams was the sane one in the network (then again, if he had any sense, why would he have taken the job at MSNBC. Air America TV has this disturbing quality about it; kind of like some one trolling through the only sane judge on the 9th Circuit to fulfill some childish grudge, huh, Cyrus. Dana has picked up on the “Emperor’s New Clothes pretention to coronation” and they didn’t like how it sounded.

    narciso (d671ab)

  35. Abu Al Poopy — LMAO.

    WLS (26b1e5)

  36. “Kaily Dos” – Oddly amusing.

    Icy Truth (4beca1)

  37. IT — “Kaily Dos” was an accidental misspelling. But I chuckled when I saw it so I left it.

    wls (4ab682)

  38. I find many of the comments here pithy.
    Problem is, just about everyone here speaks with a lisp.

    They’re not the ones who took to the Daily Kos to gossip about the cheerleader who got kicked out of the squad.

    Jim Treacher (592cb4)

  39. Good analysis of Olbermann’s problems with those in the press who try to maintain at least a modicum of fairness. Olbermann is just a shrill partisan hack, a red-meat-for-the-lefties true believer. (Or should that be tofu?)

    Hooray for Milbank!

    Bradley J. Fikes (0ea407)

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