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Olbermann on O'Reilly, FOX, and flying monkeys

Reported by Chrish - March 12, 2006

”(Rupert Murdoch's) covey of flying monkeys do something journalistically atrocious every hour of the day.”

OK, it's two years old but it still applies and it's still hilarious. Olbermann was interviewed by Brian Lamb on CSPAN's Q&A today and had this to say about FOX and Bill O'Reilly:

LAMB: Quote, Keith Olbermann: ”I loathe FOX.”

OLBERMANN: I do. I worked there. I had an idea before I worked there what they were doing to the news business and how cynical they were about television, but I really had no idea until after I had worked within that company just how bad it was.

LAMB: Let me run a clip, Roger Ailes appeared on this program at the end of the year before last. Let’s watch what he had to say.


ROGER AILES, CHAIRMAN/CEO, FOX NEWS: I think FOX News has come on the scene and identified itself as fair and balanced. We try to do that every day. I think others, instead of trying to get more fair and balanced, probably are offended by that or worried about it.

You know, we get attacked and we get copied, usually at the same time by the same people. And basically it’s fear that we are doing something they are not doing. And they try to pretend that we are doing something political that they are not doing, but that’s nonsense.

We have been around eight years. We are not retracting stories. We don’t have a former attorney general looking into us to try to determine how we screwed it up. We are just doing the news every day.


OLBERMANN: Contained in that, and you could analyze -- we could play it several times again and I could stop it at moments like the Zapruder film and say, well now, here, this -- what he just said there means -- if you noticed, there is no way for him to describe FOX and FOX News without taking a shot at somebody else.

He has got references to CBS and the Dan Rather memo story from 2004. He has got shots at other broadcast networks, the other cable operations, political parties, political interests, it is from the point of view of they are all against you and we are the only ones telling you the truth.

That’s the fundamental -- it’s the inspiration of fear in people, that they are being mislead. I have been in broadcasting for 30 years, your greatest danger from watching television is from watching somebody who is tired and says something wrong. The ability to -- the necessary structure to manipulate a message, liberal or conservative, is very hard to maintain.

They have done a fairly good job at maintaining it. Occasionally they wander off into -- you know, away from their preferred political points of view, but the idea that there are vast structures designed to foment liberal causes, I mean, no one in 1998, no one accused me of being a liberal in 1998 because I was covering the Clinton-Lewinsky story.

And whatever I had to do about it, I tried to be fair and honest and as accurate and as informed as possible, and allow my viewer to be the same way. And nowadays it’s the same thing. And now all of a sudden I’m a screaming liberal.

Comment: Boy can I relate. Without changing any of my opinions or views, in the past five years I've somehow gone from a moderate with liberal leanings to an "off the charts left" bomb thrower. And this is just priceless: " I think FOX News has come on the scene and identified itself as fair and balanced." I hearby identify myself as the best in the biz. Ooh, and rich.

LAMB: We have got some other quotes about FOX from you: ”Fortunately for the free world, News Corp.,” which owns FOX, ”is very aggressive but ultimately not very bright.”

OLBERMANN: Yes, they are somewhat self-destructive. And that’s the best hope for mankind, relative to them. In other words, you know, Bill O’Reilly, who has an audience at 8:00 that even with recent programming gains on the part of my show, the total audience that he has is still, what, six, seven times what we are doing.

Even -- as FOX and News Corp. put it, the ”money demo,” the 25 to 54-year-old news viewers who don’t watch news, even there they are still about double what we are doing. When I attack Bill O’Reilly or criticize him for something that he said on the air, some ludicrous suggestion like, you know, we should let al Qaeda go in and blow up San Francisco because he doesn’t like San Francisco, I mean, just lunatic things, if I punch upwards at FOX News, the clever response, the cynical and brilliant response is to just ignore.

Like, well, why do we have to worry, they have one-seventh of our audience? They attack. Bill O’Reilly’s agent calls the head of NBC week after week saying, you have got to get Olbermann to stop this, as if for some reason there are rules here.

We have -- these are the people who have suspended the rules and they want the referee to step in protect them against my little pinky.

Free speech is fine by FOX as long as they're the ones doing the talking.

LAMB: More quotes. This is about Rupert Murdoch: ”His covey of flying monkeys do something journalistically atrocious every hour of the day.”

OLBERMANN: Yes. I think that’s probably true. I think -- well, sometimes they miss. They are sometimes -- there are a few hours in a row where there might not be a flying monkey appearing, devastating society.

I'm trying to think of consecutive hours where that's true. So far no luck.
Later he spoke of O'Reilly:

LAMB: You have made Bill O’Reilly the Worst Person of the Week …

OLBERMANN: Worst Person in the World.

LAMB: Worst Person in the World 15 times.


LAMB: I mean, is it fair to say you hate the man, or is this just an act?

OLBERMANN: Somebody asked me the other day if he was - you know, if it seemed to me that he was going to retire soon, or leave this - leave the air, and I replied (ph), ”I hope not,” because he provides me with so much material. I can’t hate him. He’s so extraordinarily obvious and the antithesis of what I think broadcasters should do and what journalists should do and what people should do that he’s necessary, in some way. I would be lost without him, in some respects. But, what he does on the air, everything is a simplification. It goes back to what we were talking about earlier, about inspiring fear in people, both in terms of what the world is going to be like, and also what the rest of the media is like. And I don’t hate him. I’m entertained, to some degree, by him. I wouldn’t watch him with a gun pointed to my head because I - people watch and actually think they’re hearing the truth.

LAMB: You ever met him?

OLBERMANN: Not really. We were both at a charity dinner. It was a wonderful thing. My friend, Joe Torre, I used to work with years ago in Los Angeles. He’s the manager of the Yankees now. And he had a charity dinner, and I was really looking forward to this, I guess last December. Walk into the table to get the little identity plaque or little nametag. One of us ”celebrities,” and obviously there were a lot of tables, per table, you know. So, they even had people like me there as a celebrity. Well, of course, what do I see right below me under - you know, reading upside-down on this table, here’s Keith Olbermann. The next one’s Bill O’Reilly. I went, ”This is going to be entertaining.”

And sure enough, he showed up, and he was - he’s a little taller than I am, so most of the people, if you notice, he picks fights with Al Franken and people like that who are significantly shorter, Janeane Garofalo, people like that. I didn’t really anticipate that there’d be trouble, but we were, like, 20 feet apart at all times. There was - as if, to use the term, ”global positioning satellite,” it was as if we knew at all times where the other one was, and we were, like, just staring daggers at each other from the corners of our eyes. But, I used to - I think I did used to hate him, but it’s - this segment has become so useful to me, and allows me to express that hatred in a positive, ratings-growing way.

Comment: LOL Keith. You're doing a public service.

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