Media Alert: Rachel Maddow and Olbermann’s Countdown


Tonight, a bit after 6 p.m. EST, I will be on Rachel Maddow’s Air America show talking about terrorism in Mumbai as well as Barack Obama’s national security team unveiled today.
Then, later this evening, I’ll be chatting about Obama’s big foreign policy hires on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown.
And for those who want more on the dangerous escalation between India and Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terror drama, my New America Foundation colleague and New Yorker staff writer Steve Coll will be on the Charlie Rose Show tonight.
— Steve Clemons


16 comments on “Media Alert: Rachel Maddow and Olbermann’s Countdown

  1. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, there might not be much difference between Fox and MSNBC, as both seem to push ideological extremes from their respective sides of the aisle.
    But I certainly prefer Olberman and Maddow’s wit, humor, and basic message far above and beyond Hannity’s blatant right wing propaganda, or O’Reilly’s flip-flopping knee jerk horseshit.
    Maddow strikes me as someone who will eventually get herself in hot water with her employers, as I doubt she can rein in that obvious intellect with any success. Sooner or later she’s gonna point those amazing tilting lips in the wrong direction, and chuckle at the wrong crook’s expense, and they’ll dump her. Regardless, she’s definitely got a fan in PissedOffAmerican. We seem to think alot, alike, often.
    And besides, its wonderful seeing someone in the gay community enjoying such success. Prop 8 notwithstanding, it shows we’ve come a long ways to accepting gays into mainstream America.
    As for Olberman, he always takes it right to the edge, then backpeddles, or lets it drop. Like Harry Reid, he’s enjoying a reputation he didn’t really earn. Both of them tittilate by almost getting to the grist, then backing off and moving on to the next scandal or crime they ALMOST expose. Its irritating that they get credit for jumping canyons that they really just walked around.


  2. WigWag says:

    During the bail-out discussions for AIG and the investment banks last month, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews all expressed outrage that taxpayer money might be used for a bailout without strict limits on executive compensation.
    Without a bailout of GE Capital through the TARF program, General Electric, the parent company of NBC and MSNBC would have faced extraordinary financial pressures and might have become insolvent. It’s funny; none of the NBC/MSNBC talking heads had anything to say about executive compensation limits when it came to the GE bailout by the taxpayer. In fact, their silence was deafening.
    Here’s what the clowns make:
    Brian Williams: $10 million per year
    Keith Olbermann: $7.5 million per year
    Chris Mathews: $5 million per year
    Rachel Maddow: $1 million per year (includes salary from Air America Radio)
    It’s funny that they think that investment bankers, insurance executives and hedge fund managers should have to adhere to strict compensation limits when their companies are bailed out, but that entertainers like themselves are entitled to make whatever the market will bear.
    Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler has it exactly right, MSNBC and Fox News are precisely the same and neither has anything to do with journalism. They’re all about entertainment. Think World Wrestling Federation for those too squeamish to stand the sight of blood. Viewers of MSNBC aren’t any smarter or more clear thinking than viewers of Fox News. They’re flip sides of the same coin. Or as Somerby calls them, they’re Rubes.
    In fact, to paraphrase Keith Olbermann, MSNBC and Fox News are both the worst networks in the world!


  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And, uh, speaking of Maddow and Olberman….
    December 5, 2008
    A Loud Silence
    That’s the response from the “antiwar” wing of the Democratic party to Obama’s Iraq sellout
    by Justin Raimondo
    Is it really possible that President-elect Barack Obama intends to break his campaign promise to “end the war” in Iraq, and keep US troops in that country well beyond the sixteen month timetable for withdrawal he advocated during the campaign?
    The answer, according to the New York Times, is a fairly certain yes:
    “On the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama offered a pledge that electrified and motivated his liberal base, vowing to “end the war” in Iraq.
    “But as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months.
    “‘I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary — likely to be necessary — to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq,’ Mr. Obama said this week as he introduced his national security team.”
    Tens of thousands – a prime target for terrorists, a “residual force” that, in any other context, would be seen as an army of occupation, and a reminder to the Iraqis that they still aren’t free of us, nor we of them. That “residual” force, we are told, could number as high as 70,000 troops “for a substantial time even beyond 2011.” At a cost of billions, to be sure.
    This is not “ending” the war.
    The retention of Gates, the appointment of Hillary the Hawk, the “team of rivals” gambit that is supposed to inoculate Obama against criticism from the pro-war right – this pre-inaugural political drama is a dress rehearsal for betrayal. Antiwar voters, who put Obama in office, are about to get screwed – and their alleged spokespersons, at least amongst the left-wing punditariat, are bending over with alacrity. Somebody please tell Rachel Maddow to drop the “quackitude,” and reorient her own attitude – because she soon won’t have George W. Bush to kick around anymore. The ball is in her court – and in Keith Olbermann’s, if he can only remember to take his meds.
    My guess, however, is that they’ll miss the basket by a mile. After all, it looks like GE Capital – a division of General Electric, corporate parent of MSNBC – has got their bailout to the tune of untold billions. Unlike the blue-collar types, like General Motors and the UAW, they didn’t have to come crawling to Congress, hat in hand, with a plan to show what they’re going to do with the money. It was payment for services rendered: thanks for your business, and please come again.
    There’s no accountability from this crowd. Forget the pretentious rhetoric about “inclusion,” and the alleged sanctity of the “democratic process.” The only kind of populism these folks understand is the kind that’s packaged and sold by Madison Avenue, for the benefit of Wall Street.
    From all the formerly outraged “antiwar” personalities in the media and politics, we hear nothing in response to Obama’s preemptive betrayal – carried out before he even takes office – except a very loud and embarrassing silence.
    Where is the ever-voluble Arianna Huffington? Busy choosing her wardrobe for the Inaugural Ball. And Rachel’s so focused on getting Susan into the inaugural after-party at the White House that such mundane matters as the continuing occupation of Iraq shrink into well-deserved insignificance. As for Keith Olbermann, I hear he’s demanding GE Capital’s bailout check be made out directly to him. After all, he’s earned it – they’ve all earned it.
    It’s been remarked before that Team Obama is a re-run of the Clinton administration, as far as appointments are concerned, but there’s been less attention paid to what this actually means, stylistically: the return of the old Clintonian trick of redefining words to fit the circumstances. Get ready for more lectures on what the true meaning of the word “is” is. They’re going to redefine us out of Iraq, whilst leaving the occupation intact, by re-labeling military personnel and “changing the mission.” Since the mission is being reduced to specific tasks, like force protection, these will no longer be “combat troops.” They’ll be something else – but not, technically, an occupying force. Or, at least, that is what MSNBC will no doubt be reporting as fact.
    The moral slackness, the complete lack of perspective, and of course the boundless arrogance – it’s all coming back to Washington. So when did it ever leave? Well, then, expect a ratcheting up, at the very least, of all the worst aspects of the old Clinton administration, especially in the foreign policy realm. These people have forgotten where they’ve come from so quick that, in a few months, they’ll be acting just like their predecessors: warlike, imperious, and ready to rumble. As far as the future of American foreign policy is concerned, I have only three words to say: watch out, Pakistan!
    So where is the left, anyway?
    Glenn Greenwald, among the best of the liberals, is AWOL on Obama’s foreign policy sellout. Sure, torture is bad, and it’s very noble to be against it, I’m sure, but what about the endless war that gives it a conceptual framework and legitimizes it in the name of “national security”?
    Where are the “antiwar” liberals? They’re on their way to the Inauguration, and you’ll have to pardon them if they slam the door of the limousine in our faces.
    Okay, so what about the commies? As obnoxious and outright crazy as they can be, surely they are sufficiently sincere and consistent in their opposition to US imperialism to resist the lure of Obama-mania.
    Well, not exactly … because, you see, unfortunately, they don’t make commies like they used to. Take, for example, the softcore Communist party types who lord it over the main antiwar “coalition,” United for Peace and Justice. These are old-style CPUSA types, whose subservience to the Democratic party is a matter of longstanding doctrine, and whose hopes for “Popular Front” with the incoming administration fit in quite well with the Obama-as-Roosevelt narrative the left is playing in their heads.
    The war in Iraq? As they say in the Big Apple, fuggeddaboutit! The Communist Party of Iraq supports the American occupation, and has from the beginning. The endless “withdrawal” from Iraq can be glossed over in the name of getting out “responsibly.”
    The war in Afghanistan? One hardly expects much sympathy, in these quarters, for a people that defeated the Soviet Union and arguably brought about its downfall. As for Obama, in a statement on his election victory they take credit for his success:
    “For more than six years, United For Peace and Justice and the antiwar movement have stood firm in our opposition to the war in Iraq. Our consistent work played a major role in turning public sentiment against the war, and that sentiment helped lay the foundation for the Obama campaign’s success.”
    You’ll note that there’s no mention of Afghanistan, until much later, and then only in an ambiguous context. After all, these people consider themselves part of the team – Obama’s team:
    “Obama has put forth the challenge and United For Peace and Justice is ready to meet that challenge as we work to change our nation’s path from militarism and greed to peace and justice.”
    The real challenge these leftist appendages of the Obama administration face is explaining to their own supporters how and why we’re still going to be in Iraq at the end of Obama’s first term. In the meantime, however, they can gush over their multiculti messiah and even take credit for his election – and forget about all those tiresome antiwar demonstrations. I see they’re holding a “National Assembly” soon, which is going to discuss their new strategic orientation: their last such document professed to “stay alert” to the threat of an expanded war in Afghanistan, as well as reiterating UFPJ’s opposition to the occupation of Iraq. But actions speak louder than words: where are the relatively large demonstrations of the Bush era?
    I see no indication of any such action anywhere, not even from the Marcyites, who made a profession out of mounting these marches. However, they seem to have split into two factions, the most active of which is preoccupied with calling for a government “bailout” for “workers”, freeing Mumia, and calling for a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving – a public relations triumph in Bizarro World, from what I hear.
    This loud silence from the ostensibly antiwar Left is all the more inexplicable given the fact that they’re right: Obama does owe his election in large part to their efforts, which helped turn public opinion against the crazed foreign policy of the Bush White House. From a raucous crowd that wouldn’t shut up, to a mobilization of Trappists – that’s the current and very curious trajectory of the “official” antiwar movement in America.
    The irony of this strange paralysis is that there never was a better time for them to get out the old placards, unfurl the banners, and take to the streets with their demands – after all, this is a President who listens to them, presumably. I never understood the logic of demonstrating in front of the Bush White House: after all, that’s the last place anybody would be sympathetic. This, however, is a White House of a different color, so to speak. Having taken credit for electing Obama, what’s to stop antiwar demonstrators from asking for a little something in return? They can do it respectfully: like Russian peasants supplicating the Czar.
    Sooner or later, the antiwar movement will have to respond, as the Afghan front takes center stage in our perpetual “war on terrorism,” and the War Party digs its spurs into the hindquarters of the national security bureaucracy, which actually administers and implements American foreign policy. The quick extension of the conflict into Pakistan by the Obama administration is another development we have to look forward to, complete with an Indo-American alliance and the ratcheting up of regional tensions. China, Russia, and Iran all have legitimate cause for concern.
    We are entering a very dangerous time, as everyone’s attention is diverted away from the field of foreign affairs while the economy melts down. However, war is often seen as the “solution” to our economic problems. The popular myth that war is good for the economy has been concretized by the doctrine of “military Keynesianism.” After all, if government spending of any sort is the best way to kick-start the economy, then why not more military spending to create government-guaranteed jobs and keep the bubble expanding?
    I note that the UFPJ statement comes out strongly against “militarism.” I have news for them: they haven’t seen anything yet.
    Another enemy, another crusade, another “necessary” war that requires the production of arms and the militarization of labor – just like the “good war” did. If Obama is indeed a post-racial version of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as the lefties hope, then it becomes ever more important to keep a very close watch on his foreign policy. After all, Clare Booth Luce was dead on right when she said of FDR: “He lied us into war.” Whether it was for our own good, as historians like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., aver, is an issue the Rachel Maddows and Keith Olbermanns of this world will have to face in the very near future. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m certain I know which side they’ll come out on….
    ~ Justin Raimondo


  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its a good time, considering the above comments, for this link….
    And while I’m thinking about it, Its interesting to me that Klein’s recent book, “Shock Doctrine” isn’t on Steve’s booklist. Perhaps Klein’s amazing ability to unmask the monsters is not a popular skill among the Washington insider club.
    But regardless, there can be no doubt that a huge portion of the motive behind the obscene assault on the Iraqi people, society, and infrastructure was to privatize its assets, open it up to be looted by companies and corporations closely aligned with the neo-con movement, and profit these fuckers that enrich themselves with the blood of other human beings. The idea that these people give a rat’s ass whether or not the Iraqi people live in a democracy is ludicrous to the extreme. Hell, judging by Bush and Cheney’s actions these last eight years, these bastards don’t even care if WE live in a democracy.


  5. Sweetness says:

    Steve…I think the Friedman/free market capitalism and democracy
    goals are inextricably linked. In this view, you can’t have
    democracy without capitalism and (China to the contrary) you can’t
    have capitalism without democracy. I’d say the neocons see these
    two goals as intertwined, but the neocons tend to be politically
    oriented, not so much economically oriented, so that’s what comes
    out when they talk.


  6. rich says:

    Can’t both be true?
    That several neocons used “‘spreading democracy’ by force” — an egregious contradiction in terms if ever there was one — as a rationalization or ideological talking point . . in no way implies that removing national control of Iraqi resources and industries to wasn’t at the top of the neocon/Bremer agenda. There are plenty of articles detailing how those Iraq assets were auctioned off in the global marketplace.
    It’s not an either/or question, and Orwellian branding like “spreading democracy by force” will take its place alongside “we had to bomb the village to save it.”
    Further, given that Bush/Bremer fired Gen. Jay Garner for trying to hold national elections in Iraq as soon as the war was over, it’s highly doubtful that “spreading democracy” was at the top of the neocon/Kissingerian agenda. They had some ethnic cleansing to do first. This not about think tank white papers, it’s a matter of policy.
    In a related vein, globalization—unchecked resource extraction without any responsible management frameworks—led directly to the rapid expansion of Somali piracy.
    Foreign fishing trawlers wiped out Somali fisheries, and with them, Somali livelihoods.
    “Boyah said that the piracy began because traditional coastal fishing became difficult after foreign fishing trawlers depleted local fish stocks. Traditional fishermen started attacking the trawlers until the trawler crews fought back with heavy weapons. The fishermen then turned to softer targets.”
    No way to stop us, pirate leader says
    Think about that: Unsustainable extraction of national fisheries, in the context of Somali famine and the international drive to play ‘the great game’ for control of oil resources in the region (Sudan) and resulting conflicts—led directly to Somali piracy.
    Somalis are just taking their cue from bigger players: Iraq’s not that far away, and they’ve just chosen a differnt form of piracy. Fairly reminiscent of American privateers.
    Just another reason why it pays to listen to Americans who DO advocate democaracy. I.e., not necons. Those of us who say sustainable fisheries managment is important–looks like we had a stronger point than ideologues bent on globalization at any cost. It’s clear that addressing desertification, climate change, and famine is necessary for military as well as economic reasons. It won’t be the last instance, and without a Manhattan project to accelerate ecological restoration, things won’t get any easier.


  7. liz says:

    Hey Steve, I’ve noticed that ” real people” cannot even get their viewpoints , ideas or news stories to Rachel and or Keith. Next time you speak with them, how about mention that to them.
    I’ve been trying to reach either or both of them for the past several months.
    I might as well try smoke signals……


  8. Linda says:

    Neocons are a lot more Leo Strauss and Albert Wohlstetter than Milton Friedman–just all happened to be at University of Chicago. But whether it’s national security or the economy, none of these three have much to offer for 21st century or our current problems.


  9. MarkL says:

    I have to agree with Mam, at least when it comes to Bremer. Do you recall what Bremer considered his most notable achievement while in Iraq? It was the imposition of the flat tax—the conservative financial wet dream.
    The central problem with the invasion of Iraq, of course, was that there was no central goal: some, like Bremer, wanted to spread capitalism; some, like Wolfowitz, were stupid, ill-informed idealists; some, like Cheney, were empired builders and oil pirates. Without a central, clearly articulated goal, of course there could be no quick draw down of troops.
    All this is water and blood under the collapsed bridges and broken roads of Iraq now, but Mam is correct about Bremer.


  10. Steve Clemons says:

    mam – thanks for your note. I don’t agree with your framing. Yes,
    there were some that were out to spread Friedmanesque market
    ideology — but a number of neocons used the notion of
    “spreading democracy” by force as it were as the foundation of
    their agenda. I think it was wrongheaded, reckless, and self-
    destructive to American interests, but many neocons were far more
    intoxicated with easily topping regimes abroad for the utopian
    notion of establishing Western style democracies than they were
    with the spread of free market fundamentalism. I do understand
    your view and appreciate the note — but we don’t see this the
    same way.
    best regards,
    Steve Clemons


  11. Steve Clemons says:

    POA — no, different general I’m afraid. best, steve


  12. mam says:

    Dear Mr. Clemons,
    I have to take issue with your comments on Keith Olbermann’s show this evening, specifically that neoconservatives were engaged in the “spread of democracy by force.” It is very evident, especially by the actions of L. Paul Bremer when he was viceroy of our occupation, that what these acolytes of Milton Friedman sought to spread was not democracy, but so-called “free market” fundamentalist capitalism. Repeating the corporatist frame that Iraq had anything to do with freedom or democracy is a disservice to the truth.


  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Steve, was the “ISI General” you spoke to in 2002 Mahmud Ahmed? And if so, did you know you were talking to someone who had shipped money to Mohammed Atta?
    And question number two is why you think these Bush criminals never pursued Ahmed, in spite of all their bullshit hype about this effin’ joke known as the “GWOT”?


  14. Jay Ballou says:

    Sounds like typical black & white parlance to me.
    Hardly. As Clinton said, we will seek to have more friends and fewer enemies, and the statement you quoted is consistent with that.


  15. Jay Ballou says:

    Nice job on Countdown, Steve; it led me here. It would be interesting to see an expansion on “we got lucky with Armitage” — especially in light of his being signatory to the 1998 PNAC letter to Clinton. (And then there was that little Plame thing — was he as innocent of intent as has been said?)


  16. Paul Norheim says:

    Interesting comments at Air America, Steve.
    Especially re. Mumbay and the tense situation right now.
    So, you think Obamas national security team will move from the
    black & white of the last eight years to shades of grey?
    Obama today: “We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our
    enemies and support our friends,” Mr. Obama said in Chicago. “We
    will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships.”
    Sounds like typical black & white parlance to me.
    But let`s hope you`re right.


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