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Daily Howler: Why did KO run that segment? Long ago, Wolff clued us in
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THE ANSWER LIES IN THE WORLD OF BILL WOLFF! Why did KO run that segment? Long ago, Wolff clued us in: // link // print // previous // next //

Maureen Dowd remembers: Let’s give her credit. In the second half of today’s column, Maureen Dowd makes an actual argument about Dick Cheney’s overall insight. Although she never quite addresses the subject of his recent debates.

But we were struck by the way she began. Quickly, she was remembering what occurred when Al Gore offered a critical warning:

DOWD (5/13/09): In 2002, when Bush Junior was ramping up to his war against Saddam, Al Gore made a speech trying to slow down that war resolution, pointing out that pivoting from Osama to Saddam for no reason, initiating “pre-emptive” war, and blowing off our allies would undermine the war on terror.

Charles Krauthammer called Gore’s speech “a disgrace.” Michael Kelly, his fellow Washington Post columnist, called it “vile” and “contemptible.” Newt Gingrich said that the former vice president asserting that W. was making America less safe was “well outside the mark of an appropriate debate.”

“I think the president should be doing what he thinks is best as commander in chief,” Gingrich said flatly. Now, however, Gingrich backs Dick Cheney when he asserts that President Obama has made America less safe.

As usual, Dowd is novelizing a bit when it comes to Gingrich, although his statement made little sense (text below). But this is designed to establish the sine qua non of all such columns. The Republicans are hypocrites, Dowd is saying. They said one thing in 2002, a different thing today.

Presumably, that’s largely true. On the other hand, Dowd never quite establishes her own belief about such matters. Are people like Gore and Cheney permitted to speak? We would plainly say that they are. Dowd is a bit less clear.

But this opening led us to wonder. Dowd almost seems to be shaking her head about the rough things that were said about Gore—even by the inexcusable Kelly, her crackpot childhood friend. But what did the lady say in real time? Incomparably, we decided to check.

What did Lady Dowd say in real time? Predictably enough, she said nothing. Gore delivered his much-maligned speech on September 23, 2002. This was Dowd’s only reference to Gore right through to the end of the year:

DOWD (10/2/02): The arena is full of powerful men in touch with their powerless inner women. And yet, surrounded by famous men puddling under pressure, American girls are still doubtful about the prospects of a woman becoming president. According to a poll in yesterday's USA Today, 40 percent said they would not see one within 10 years and a grim 14 percent "not in my lifetime."

Are those 14 percent unaware of the Clintonian relentlessness of the junior senator from New York?

In the latest sign that she is running for president in 2008, Candidate Clinton is staying away from Al Gore's kumbayah corner.

Whatever doubts she may have privately about war, she is not articulating her angst as loudly as some of her Democratic colleagues.

We’re not sure what that “kumbaya” comment meant. But Dowd said nothing about the trashing she seems to roll eyes at today.

By the way, it wasn’t just Krauthammer, Kelly and other conservatives. Dowd’s clueless colleague, the Viscount Frank Rich, also made a fool of himself in the wake of Gore’s speech. That November, Rich wrote a column in which he baldly misdescribed a Gore appearance on the Today show, making it seem that Gore wouldn’t say what he thought about Iraq. And the Viscount told us why Gore had allegedly ducked. Plainly, this is one of the dumbest paragraphs of the past political era:

RICH (11/23/02): People don't change. Mr. Gore doesn't let the chips fall where they may; you can still spot him counting each one before doling them out. And of course he is still running for president. Polls of Democratic voters and politicians alike show that he remains the first choice of a plurality of them, and besides, what else does the guy, a political lifer, have to do with himself?

What a buffoon. What else did the guy have to do with himself? Even as Rich dictated this column to his valet, the “political lifer” was developing the environmental work which would bring him Nobel Peace Prize! But Rich just knew that Gore was running for president—that this explained the refusal to speak he had so vastly misdescribed.

No, Gore didn’t run for president in 04. But it took Rich a very long time to abandon his war against this “Clintonesque” fellow. When Gore’s film appeared in 2006, he wrote an equally ludicrous column. Gore just seems to be running for president, the Viscount dictated—again.

Dowd could have challenged Rich in 2002, along with Kelly, and Krauthammer, and many others. But no—she failed to speak.

This morning, the lady seems to roll her eyes about the assault aimed at Gore in 02. The lady speaks seven year too late. In real time, she sat this war out.

What Gingrich said: What Gingrich said about Gore was inane—but Dowd had to massage it a bit to fit this morning’s high purpose. Gingrich spoke to Chris Bury on Nightline, two days after Gore gave his speech:

BURY (9/25/02): Speaker Gingrich, there was a famous memo which leaked out in June from a White House political operative which urged Republican candidates to focus on war because it was a strength of the Republican party. Putting on your tactician's hat, shouldn't the president be doing exactly that in strategic terms?

GINGRICH (9/25/02): Well, I think the president should be doing what he thinks is best as commander-in-chief. He was asked by many members of the House and Senate, Democrat and Republican, to go to the United Nations and make a speech and ask for the UN to act. He did what he was asked to do. He was told throughout August he had to come to the Congress to ask for support. That's what he's now doing.

But I want to draw a distinction. In the middle of the impeachment process, I worked with President Clinton. I public supported him on striking at Saddam Hussein because I thought that national security outweighed any partisan issue. And that was an election year and was an election year with a lot at stake. But I felt, as an Army brat, I'd grown up in a household where working with the commander-in-chief really mattered. And I thought that's why Vice President Gore's speech, in particular, was well outside the mark of an appropriate debate. But on the substance, on the basic questions, members ought to take a "yes" or "no" position based on their conscience, not on their polling.

According to Gingrich, it was OK to vote against the war resolution—it was just wrong to speak against it. The other side should shut their big yaps, Gingrich seemed to say, much as we liberals tend to do now.

What Gingrich said made little sense. But Dowd cut several corners in her description, making her theme work out a bit better. Did Gingrich gripe about Gore “asserting that W. was making America less safe?” (Our emphasis.) Put it this way: If you want today’s column to work out just right, that’s precisely what Gingrich did.

THE ANSWER DOES LIE IN THE WORLD OF BILL WOLFF: Amazing, ain’t it? Who you get to see at night on your cable TV machine thing-y?

Consider the case of Marion Barry, a major figure in American politics over the past forty-plus years.

Barry was once a major civil rights activist. Then, he became the mayor of Washington—a rather important American city. Sometimes for good, sometime less so, he has been a major player in our politics for many years.

Today, Barry sits on the D.C. city council. In that role, he recently entered this country’s ongoing debate about same-sex marriage. The city council had approved a bill to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Last Wednesday, Tim Craig reported Barry’s comments and actions, on the front page of the Washington Post:

CRAIG (5/6/09): The D.C. Council overwhelmingly approved a bill yesterday to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, in a vote that followed a sharp exchange between an openly gay member and a civil rights champion and set off shouts of reproach from local ministers.

The council passed the measure by a vote of 12 to 1. During the debate, council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) accused Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who cast the dissenting vote, of having taken a "bigoted" position.

After the vote, enraged African American ministers stormed the hallway outside the council chambers and vowed that they will work to oust the members who supported the bill, which was sponsored by Phil Mendelson (D-At Large). They caused such an uproar that security officers and D.C. police were called in to clear the hallway.

Yesterday's action could be a precursor to a debate later this year over whether to legalize same-sex marriage in the city. "There is no turning back," said Catania, who plans to introduce a broader gay marriage bill in a few months.

Barry, who said he supports gay rights and civil unions, warned after the vote that the District could erupt if the council does not proceed slowly on same-sex marriage.

"All hell is going to break lose," Barry said. "We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this.”

Is Barry right about the views of “the black community?” We hope—and assume—that he isn’t. (Our assumption is based on the 12-1 vote within the city council.) That said, Barry’s comments produced spirited reaction in, and from, the Washington Post. Three days later, for example, the Post printed an editorial condemning Barry’s statements (click here). “Mr. Barry's Ugly Words,” the headline said. “The D.C. Council member chose politics over principle in a vote against recognizing same-sex marriages.”

Barry is a major American politician, in a major American city. He sits where the rubber meets the road—inside a political body which may consider a bill to legalize same-sex marriages. We weren’t offended by Barry’s “ugly words” ourselves—although we hope (and assume) he was wrong in his sweeping assessment of the views within DC’s black community.

But it’s funny, ain’t it? You haven’t heard squat about Barry’s “ugly words” on your “progressive” cable news channel! But last night, The Dumbest Person in the World devoted another lengthy segment to ridicule of Carrie Prejean, an insignificant 21-year-old who recently made the mistake of saying something about same-sex marriage which Olbermann has never even bothered describing. (For the record, her view on the matter seems to resemble that of Barack Obama. And that of Hillary Clinton. And John Kerry and Al Gore.) The big nut went on for almost seven minutes mocking Prejean—and her breast implants. But it’s funny, ain’t it? You’ve never heard a word on this program about the things Marion Barry said.

Of course, the reasons for that are obvious:

Olbermann doesn’t have videotape of Barry walking around in a two-piece swim suit. And Barry is an older man, not a younger woman. As Olbermann has made dumb-foundingly clear, he seems to live for the opportunity to ridicule young women. He never says boo about older man—perhaps understanding they could come to his studio and engage in conduct which might require him to obtain a sphincter implant.

Olbermann’s a woman-trasher—a genuine nut on this matter. And no, we hate to break the news: He doesn’t do “progressive” television. He seems to do work designed to capture the eyeballs of well-meaning young liberals. And for some ungodly reason, he does television which has long been devoted to the ridicule of women’s brains and bodies.

Marion Barry doesn’t count. An insignificant creation of Donald Trump quite incessantly does.

(Background: Trump owns the Miss USA contest. He now engineers a dispute every year, hoping to bring his product parity with the more famous Miss America pageant.)

For sheer stupidity, we strongly recommend last night’s buffoonish segment, devoted to the eternal dumbness of Miss California. (To watch the segment, click this.) Olbermann plays you every way but blue, citing those breast implants two separate times (including in his opening paragraph) and failing to tell you why Prejean might be upset about the way she’s been treated. (He always forgets to explain this.) You see, in the world of “progressive cable,” calling a young woman a “c*nt” and a b*itch” isn’t worthy of comment—if she fails to hold pseudo-progressive views, that is. “Where are the feminists?” Laura Ingraham inquired. We would broaden her limited framework: Where are the progressives?

Oh, we forgot! They’re dragging their knuckles and sucking their thumbs, watching a 50-year-old nutcase get his eternal jollies. And drive his rating among the demo, putting millions of bucks in his pants.

In this world, Barry doesn’t exist. You see, Barry is both black and male, and Keith doesn’t plan to enter such realms. For years, he has pimped you trash about women’s dumbness, while progressives have sat there and stared.

Prejean is a thoroughly insignificant figure—an invention of Trump’s latest pseudo-controversy. By way of contrast, Barry is a major player in one of our most important cities—a city known all over the world, even in Secaucus. But so what? On your “progressive” TV machine, you hear about one—but not the other. And yes, the answer to this conundrum lies in the corporate world of Bill Wolff—a world we’ll now have to wait to explore until next Monday morning. Except for what follows, of course:

This just in from the world of Bill Wolff: Wolff became king of MSNBC prime-time programs in September 2005. Soon, he was appearing in the “humor” spot on the Tucker Carlson vehicle, Tucker, guesting for fresh-faced Willie Geist when Geist was “on assignment.” (Cable-speak for “jury duty.”) Wolff’s background lies in All Things Inane, which made him perfect for this network. And sure enough! Below, we see him two years ago, pimping the profit-centered joys of that year’s Trump-engineered gong-show.

As you may recall, that year’s perfect trumped-up piffle involved Miss USA, Tara Conner, someone else whose crown the lordly Trump was willing to save in the end. In the exchange which follows, Wolff delivered what’s known as a “gaffe.” A gaffe is what happens when a corporate soul goes rogue and tells us the truth. Background: Tara Connor was very hot in a swimsuit:

CARLSON (3/23/07): We`ve been here 55 minutes and I will confess, we have not covered all the news today. And so for that, we go now to a man who misses no news, ever. The vice president of MSNBC, Bill Wolff!

WOLFF: Tucker, under six metric tons of pancake makeup, I’m blushing.

Tonight, sir, we will witness the peaceful transition of power that makes this republic the shining beacon of hope it has been for more than 200 years. Yes, the reigning Miss USA, Tara Conner, will hand over her tiara to a new representative of this country. No military coups, no juntas, no guillotines. Not here. Just a tearful passing of the sash.

Miss Conner, of course, was found to have been partying hardy, illegally and publicly and dabbling in adventurous sexual experimentation during her reign. In other words, living in New York City, before entering rehab in December.

Well, she’s out. She’s clean. She’s happy. And today may mark the last semi-legitimate excuse we have to run this arresting video clip that has become so very famous, Tucker. We have much to be thankful for on this day, and part of what we have to be thankful for here in the cable news business is Tara Conner. Because not only did she give us this video, Tucker, but you will recall that the highly-rated spat between Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump began over this very video.

CARLSON: Oh, so there is a new hook...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! But yes: That’s why progressive cable has focused on the insignificant person, Prejean, rather than on someone more important. MSNBC has focused on Prejean so Wolff can run endless swimsuit tape, thereby letting Olbermann muse about those breast implants.

Why did Olbermann mention those breast implants twice? Rubes! Because that was the actual topic!

That, and the fact that Olbermann has a remarkable, long-time jones about trashing young women.

Bottom line: Wolff and his sick pal are corporate men. They play their tapes to drive their ratings, thus putting large bundles of cash in their pants. (Olbermann is paid $5 million to grab you with this nonsense.) We’ll tell you more about Wolff next week—about the answers which emerge from his world. But let’s start with this: He should have stayed in the Meaningless Realms from which he was plucked by this channel.

About that brilliant new segment: Let’s not bury the real news here. Last night’s seven-minute gong-show marked the debut of a thrilling new segment. In this clip, a big block of cheese explained his latest inspiration:

OLBERMANN (5/12/09): Now, as promised, the premiere of a new regular segment here in our number-one story tonight: “WTF moment.”

It is not that she is wrong on the issue, though she is. One thing all sides can agree on, there are many wrong on the issue of gay marriage. Also, there is one fact that has completely vanished from the Carrie Prejean experience. She was asked. She didn’t just stand up there at the Miss USA pageant and cut off Perez Hilton in the middle of a question about breast implants or nuclear fission, and start shouting, “I only believe in opposite marriage.” She was asked...

Things slid downhill quickly from there. But you’ll note how quickly this skillful player found his way to those breast implants. And there was a reason for that, of course. Check Wolff’s gaffe from 2007! To state what should be blindingly obvious: That’s what the segment was about!

But big excitement! We’ll enjoy a new regular segment on Countdown—a regular “WTF moment.” Presumably, this means that Olbermann’s show will now proceed like this:

Fifth story: The latest in torture, with our own Richard Wolffe.
Fourth story: The latest in torture, with Jonathan Turley.
Third story: Some random sort of bull-sh*t or other.
Second story: What did O’Reilly sort of say?
First story: Some ludicrous “WTF moment.”

On the “issues” front, you’ll hear about torture—and nothing else. From there, you’ll go straight to the bullsh*t.

WTF means “what the f*ck.” Years ago, that was our own reaction when we watched Olbermann, night after night, ridiculing a string of young women. Young male athletes were doing lots of weird things at the time. Funny—they never got mentioned.

The toss to Rachel: We were struck again last night by the inappropriateness of staging a seven-minute trashing like this, then tossing to a woman, Rachel Maddow. The last time this happened, we thought Maddow dealt somewhat poorly with the exchange, letting a bit of discomfort show. Last night, she seemed a bit better prepared. Yes, her smile struck us as somewhat forced. But this is what she actually said, as best we could transcribe it (it’s close to perfectly accurate). These opening remarks don’t appear in the Nexis transcript:

MADDOW (5/13/09): Good evening, Keith. Thank you.

And thank you in particular for playing those clips of Miss California. I wasn’t able to watch it today. But now, thanks to Countdown, I know what happened.

I wasn’t able to watch it today! We know—you assume she was being ironic. We’ll have to voice our judgment—she wasn’t. Whatever one thinks of the merits of Maddow’s program, certain people will do and say anything on the road to wealth and success. Whatever you think of her program’s merits (it’s vastly better than Countdown), Maddow often strikes us as one of those types.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at her latest ridiculous segment with Lawrence Wilkerson, who once sat at the right hand of God. (To watch the segment, click here.) And at her very worthwhile segment with Eliot Spitzer (click this). Omigod! We involuntarily thought of the world of Bill Wolff, hearing some things Spitzer said!