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OLBERMANNíS RECOUNTDOWN ('Olbermannís fixation on the vote-count story' to get liberal viewers)
NY Observer ^ | 11/29 issue | Joe Hagan

Posted on 11/24/2004 12:08:33 PM PST by Cableguy

When Senator John Kerry finally came out of hiding on Friday, Nov. 19, and posted a new message on his Presidential campaign Web site, who was holding their breath?

An army of barefoot, pajama-wearing bloggers—and their general, the host of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

"Regardless of the outcome of this election," intoned Mr. Kerry in a video clip linked to the site, "once all the votes are counted—and they will be counted—we will continue to challenge this administration."

"It looks like an M.C. Escher drawing," Mr. Olbermann said in an interview the following Monday. "Is it past or future tense? Is he recounting or not?"

The bespectacled newsman has dedicated numerous broadcasts and copious blogging hours to "voting irregularities" since Nov. 8—every scrap of evidence or even feeble insinuation was kindling for a burning obsession that has largely been dismissed elsewhere in TV-land. Nowadays, Countdown is Recountdown.

When pressed, even Mr. Kerry’s legal counsel in Ohio, Daniel Hoffheimer, quickly deflated the fantasy that a ragtag group of voting irregularities—or their ragtag army of chroniclers on the Web—could reverse Ohio from red to blue.

"We don’t expect the recount to change what the official count will be," he said. "I don’t foresee any big story there."

But long odds make big payoffs—except when they don’t—and Mr. Olbermann is a betting man.

Nineteen months into his latest TV incarnation—having gone from disgruntled ESPN guy to disgruntled NBC News guy to disgruntled Fox Sports guy and back to NBC—the 45-year-old Mr. Olbermann is going Watergate on the Ohio recount, making his show a major-media beachhead for dozens of lefty quasi-conspiracy theorists who clearly wanted to one-up the guys who hog-tied Dan Rather over the summer.

These bloggers, said Mr. Olbermann, were his allies: They "can go places I can’t go. They are my minions—like an unpaid research staff."

A former sportscaster with a Letterman-era sense of irony—a suppressed smarty-pants smirk that hasn’t exactly captured the imagination of the masses—Mr. Olbermann shares with these folks a baseball-card collector’s penchant for obscure data and a sometimes tedious if highly principled interest in below-the-radar minutiae.

"Purely as a story, this could be as trivial as hypothetical irregularities in the Baseball Hall of Fame voting and it would still pique my interest," said Mr. Olbermann. "Because at the bottom line, something atypical happened here, and that, I believe, is at the heart of news."

Mr. Olbermann’s fixation on the vote-count story was stoked again on Monday evening, when the Ohio Democratic Party announced that it would join with the Green and Libertarian parties in pursuing a recount in the state of Ohio, offering the remote possibility of a reversal in the outcome of the 2004 Presidential election. At 7:12 p.m. that day, Mr. Olbermann e-mailed to say, "I think it kinda just went mainstream."

But it kinda just didn’t. Newsweek political correspondent Howard Fineman came on to the show and acted as Mr. Olbermann’s enabler: "They [the Kerry campaign] keep saying these little things designed to make clear, at least to their supporters and the whole blogosphere out there, that they take the possibility [of a Kerry victory] and the need for a recount seriously."

Mr. Olbermann’s pull as a broadcaster appears to have peaked at just short of 600,000 viewers a night, on average—a quarter that of Fox News star Bill O’Reilly, his declared nemesis, to whom he now refers as "my loofah-wielding friend." On Friday, Nov. 19, Mr. Olbermann sat at a corner booth at Osteria del Circo on West 55th Street, his lovely publicist by his side, enjoying the waning hours of his week-long vacation—one in which he’d blogged 6,000 words on the vote-counting story on his own Web log, Bloggermann.

Off-camera, Mr. Olbermann looked a bit like Don Johnson’s seedy stunt double on lunch break: tan sports jacket (no tie), rimless glasses perched on his nose, and a shadow of salt-and-pepper stubble across his face.

"I have no overwhelming loyalty to anything other than: get out a flag and wave it back and forth—the truth," he said. "The election story involves newspapers, radio, television, magazines, investigative reporters of all kinds being so comfortable in the rut they have created for themselves that they cannot recognize a great story when they see it.

"I think it’s intellectual laziness and journalistic laziness," he explained, carving his way through a tuna steak. "There are a lot of people who are working on this, and it’s interesting that the Net has kind of taken over what used to be the built-in function of newspapers and, to some degree, television and radio—the investigatory ‘Huh?’ factor. You know: ‘Is this real? Let me just look into this for a couple of hours.’"

But both The New York Times and The Washington Post had already shot down multiple Web rumors around "Votergate 2004," as the bloggers have called it, and concluded that even if all the irregular votes were tipped to Mr. Kerry, it wouldn’t change the outcome.

"Ultimately, none of the most popular theories holds up to close scrutiny," wrote The Post. "And the people who most stand to benefit from the conspiracy theories—the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee—are not biting."

It was enough to keep Mr. Olbermann chomping at it harder than he had since he reminded his blog readers on Nov. 7 that Mr. Kerry’s concession speech was not legally binding. And at the very least, he figured, his show was bringing attention to the rotting underbelly of the American democratic process.

In his view, the media’s inattention was a failure of the imagination—a failure to conceive of the election being reversed by new facts on the ground. In his blog, he was moved to "envision the far-fetched scenario of some dramatic, conclusive new result from Ohio turning up around, say, January 4th. What congressman or senator in his right mind would vote to seat the candidate who lost the popular vote in Ohio?"

For inspiration, Mr. Olbermann thinks of Archibald Cox, the beleaguered Nixon-appointed Watergate prosecutor, who once received bags of telegrams encouraging him to "Hang in there."

And so, however far-fetched his project, Mr. Olbermann—a Watergate buff—dug in his heels. One out of every 20 e-mails he has received "literally says, ‘Hang in there. Keep doing it.’ And it’s been very moving and very eye-opening."

And so down the wormhole he went.

It didn’t bother Mr. Olbermann that most of his cheerleaders were Web-based Democrats. He said he read a number of blogs, including the left-wing Daily Kos and the right-wing National Debate. But his online support has persisted among the true believers, left-wing sites like Common Dreams and Consortium News. Responses from detractors tended to be belligerently uninformative. "I have seen most of the responses from partisan Republicans, and they mostly consist of: ‘Shut up,’ ‘Get a life,’ ‘You’re hurting our troops,’ ‘You should go back to ESPN,’ ‘What does a sportscaster know about it anyway?’, ‘Red states rule,’" he said. "All I know is the Democratic ones seem to be a lot more reasonable and offer a lot more evidence that is against their interest."

For his part, he’s invited vote-fraud pooh-poohers on the air and let them have their say—fair and balanced. And if Mr. Olbermann was angry, he didn’t show it. But he did say that if he’d stayed at NBC in the late 1990’s instead of departing for Fox Sports, he would now have the same ratings as Mr. O’Reilly—over 2 million a night, or close to it. "If I hadn’t left," he said, "we’d be doing about as well as O’Reilly is now."

That may have been Mr. Olbermann’s nuttiest theory yet. But it didn’t matter, because he did leave, after growing famously dissatisfied and bored with the Bill Clinton–Monica Lewinsky scandal that ate up the TV set. "We did 228 consecutive shows that were entirely or nearly entirely about it," he said. "It was like forecasting the weather in Los Angeles."

Phil Griffin, the vice president for prime-time programming at MSNBC, who has known Mr. Olbermann since the early 1980’s, said that Mr. Olbermann was in the process of finally breaking through—and it wasn’t because he was a partisan.

"I don’t think there’s an agenda other than, it’s Keith," he said. "All the stars are aligned for Keith right now. He’s perfect for this new age of journalism."

"It’s the most egotistical thing I could say, so I know you’ll use it, but it’s true," said Mr. Olbermann. "Sometimes we sit there at the end of the show and go, ‘It’s too bad more people didn’t see this. See what they missed?’"


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: consripacytheory; delusions; desperatedems; dncmsnbc; du; keitholbermann; kerrydefeat; kkoks; lunaticfringe; msnbc; olbermann; recount; tinfoilhat

1 posted on 11/24/2004 12:08:35 PM PST by Cableguy
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To: Cableguy
These bloggers, said Mr. Olbermann, were his allies: They "can go places I can’t go

Actually, they can both go to the same place, as far as I'm concerned...

2 posted on 11/24/2004 12:15:53 PM PST by bigbob (2)
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To: Cableguy

Keith Olbermann studies Captain Queeg for ideas of how to present his thoughts on the Ohio vote

3 posted on 11/24/2004 12:17:13 PM PST by BigEdLB (BigEd)
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To: Cableguy

What is this 'Olbermann' you speak of?


4 posted on 11/24/2004 12:18:36 PM PST by MarineBrat (SELECT * FROM liberals WHERE clue > 0...... - Zero rows returned!)
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To: Cableguy

"Countdown with Keith Olbermann"....otherwise known as "The Tinfoil Hat Hour."


5 posted on 11/24/2004 12:18:51 PM PST by My2Cents ("Well...there you go again.")
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To: Cableguy

Idiot + 1 hour + microphone = Olbermann


6 posted on 11/24/2004 12:24:02 PM PST by GOPRaleigh (Bush won - the media lost!)
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To: MarineBrat
In 1986, I worked as an intern in the sports department for Scott St. James, a local sports guy in Los Angeles. During that time, the big sports guys in L.A. were Fred Rogan and Jim Hill. Olbermann was just starting out doing sports on a local station, KTLA channel 5. It was universally understood amongst all the other sports guys and people working in sports that Olbermann was the biggest jerk in L.A. sports. Everyone hated the guy, his reputation amongst people who worked with him, around him, etc. was that he was a colossal a-hole.


Things don't change.
7 posted on 11/24/2004 12:25:03 PM PST by RWRbestbyfar
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To: RWRbestbyfar
Is it true, I read it here before, that Olbermann left a job during the height of the Lewinsky-Impeachment period because he just hated reporting such negative stuff against his beloved Clinton?
8 posted on 11/24/2004 12:34:29 PM PST by gop_gene
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To: Cableguy

Good Lord, if Keith Olbermann could give himself oral pleasure he'd probably stop dating. This guy is totally in love with himself. My wife thinks he looks like a horse. LOL!


9 posted on 11/24/2004 12:36:14 PM PST by Trippin
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To: Cableguy
All the stars are aligned for Keith right now. He’s perfect for this new age of journalism."

Yeah, he can take over for Dan Rather, and make the Fake News at CBS more hip like John Stewart.
10 posted on 11/24/2004 12:37:24 PM PST by counterpunch (The CouNTeRPuNcH Collection - www.counterpunch.us)
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To: Cableguy

>>>>Regardless of the outcome of this election," intoned Mr. Kerry in a video clip linked to the site, "once all the votes are counted—and they will be counted—we will continue to challenge this administration." <<<<<

This says it all . What does it mean? It means they will fight this Bush administration tooth and nail and be as partisan as they can be all the while accusing Mr, Bush of not trying to bring the parties together in a Non-Partisan way.


11 posted on 11/24/2004 12:37:58 PM PST by sgtbono2002
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To: Trippin

Please do NOT compare me with Mr. Olbermann. It is very insulting.

Sincerely,

Horses


12 posted on 11/24/2004 12:37:59 PM PST by GOPRaleigh (Bush won - the media lost!)
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To: Cableguy

I think Olberman is doing GREAT work!! HE IS ON TO SOMETHING!!! And, it is just out of reach!! If only Kerry would free up all his $45 million to pay for recounts in key battleground states I know that me and my main man Keith working with other minions all over would do something that would surprise many people! C'mon Keuth, join us in urging Kerry to help get himself elected, "KERRY - UNLEASH THE WARCHEST, DON'T RUN AWAY FROM THIS BATTLE, TOO!!!


13 posted on 11/24/2004 12:39:01 PM PST by Tacis (Kerry - You Can't Make A Silk Purse Out Of A Lazy, Lying, Elitist Scumbag!)
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To: Cableguy
Olbermann, the dolt who insinuated a direct link between Rove and Buckhead in setting up Rather. That dream has now been replaced by the rigged election. Waiting breathlessly for his next hallucination.
14 posted on 11/24/2004 12:44:12 PM PST by CaptainK
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To: Cableguy
"Sometimes we sit there at the end of the show and go, ‘It’s too bad more people didn’t see this. See what they missed?’"

But the fact remains, they didn't see it, which should tell him something.

15 posted on 11/24/2004 12:46:36 PM PST by Freemyland
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To: bigbob

This guy's got it all wrong. WE wear the pajamas ... THEY wear tin foil suits.


16 posted on 11/24/2004 12:53:07 PM PST by bootless (Never Forget - And Never Again)
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To: Cableguy

Run Forrest Olbermann run. Work it to death. It's helpful to the Democrat cause. No really, it is.

har har


17 posted on 11/24/2004 12:56:24 PM PST by kinghorse
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To: Cableguy
On Friday, Nov. 19, Mr. Olbermann sat at a corner booth at Osteria del Circo on West 55th Street, his lovely publicist by his side...

Can anybody be sure Olbermann's "lovely publicist" isn't a 12 year-old boy in drag?

18 posted on 11/24/2004 12:57:41 PM PST by F16Fighter
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To: RWRbestbyfar

As a native Angeleno, I had to endure too many sportscasts with this guy pontificating about some player or manager. He always knew better. I couldn't understand how anyone could like him. He couldn't report the sports news, he had an opinion about every team and star, and he thought that the audience cared about his opinion.


19 posted on 11/24/2004 1:00:31 PM PST by Cousin Eddie
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To: Cableguy

someone should tell him to remove the coat hanger before he puts on the jacket.


20 posted on 11/24/2004 1:03:44 PM PST by SeaBiscuit (Crush the MSM, Liberals, sKerry and anything Clinton, they are a threat to America.)
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To: Cousin Eddie

What was even worse about Olbermann when he was doing sports in our fine city was that he thought he was so damn witty and funny - and his jokes and schtick were just completely lame. He was intolerable. Still is.


21 posted on 11/24/2004 1:04:06 PM PST by RWRbestbyfar
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To: Cableguy
Keith who?

His viewing audience is outnumbered by red headed,left handed, cross eyed, 6 toed Eskimos who live in Madagascar.

22 posted on 11/24/2004 1:09:05 PM PST by NewLand (God Bless America and God Bless President Bush!)
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To: RWRbestbyfar

I was so happy when he left...I could go back to turning on any local newscast without worrying about hearing his obnoxious voice.


23 posted on 11/24/2004 2:16:30 PM PST by Cousin Eddie
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To: bigbob

Olbermann is a great ratings tool for MSNBC and light for the sheep to flock to.


24 posted on 11/24/2004 2:20:21 PM PST by Tempest (Click on my name for a long list of press contacts)
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To: RWRbestbyfar

Ah yes!...the World of Wide Sports...and those silly bangs he used to have....who can forget?


25 posted on 11/24/2004 2:25:24 PM PST by GSWarrior
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