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Olbermann Likens White House to Clinton's "White House in Crisis" --10/21/2005


1. Olbermann Likens White House to Clinton's "White House in Crisis"
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann led Countdown again Thursday with what he's whittled down to the simple heading as "The Leak," and soon forwarded the notion that the Bush White House is in a "crisis" similar to that which enveloped the Clinton White House after the Monica Lewinsky revelation. Interviewing former Clinton Chief-of-Staff Leon Panetta, Olbermann pointed out how "the rundown for tonight's show was given a title by our producer that shook me. The title simply was, 'White House in Crisis.' I already hosted a news show on this network that had that title some years ago. Is it applicable now? Is in fact in your opinion this White House in crisis?" Panetta agreed.

2. Canoeing Kosinski Swears Deeper Waters Weren't Well-Lit Enough
This week's New York Observer updated last Friday's Michelle Kosinski Today show nightmare, in which she reported from a canoe in a flooded New Jersey neighborhood, presumably because the water was too deep to stand in, only to have two guys walk by in front of her and thus reveal her canoe was floating in barely ankle-deep waters. NBC's staged event occurred minutes before the show ran a story critical of how the Bush White House "staged" a satellite interview with soldiers in Iraq. The October 19 New York Observer relayed: "'It's kind of painful,' she [Kosinski] said, 'because you want to explain yourself. The most important point for me to get across is: Yeah, it looked really stupid, but there was never any attempt to make it look like it was worse of a storm than it really was.'" The article ended with "her one lingering concern: 'That it might have looked to some people like we were trying to put something over on viewers,' she said. 'That would just be idiotic.'"


Olbermann Likens White House to Clinton's
"White House in Crisis"

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann led Countdown again Thursday with what he's whittled down to the simple heading as "The Leak," and soon forwarded the notion that the Bush White House is in a "crisis" similar to that which enveloped the Clinton White House after the Monica Lewinsky revelation. Interviewing former Clinton Chief-of-Staff Leon Panetta, Olbermann pointed out how "the rundown for tonight's show was given a title by our producer that shook me. The title simply was, 'White House in Crisis.' I already hosted a news show on this network that had that title some years ago. Is it applicable now? Is in fact in your opinion this White House in crisis?" Panetta agreed.

Olbermann's 8pm EDT show back in 1998-99 was titled The Big Show, but the MRC's Tim Graham recalls that for a while after Lewinsky broke the program carried an on-screen tag of "White House in Crisis." And on that program, of whatever name, in the summer of 1998, Olbermann infamously ruminated about how "it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses." Olbermann also wondered, "would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?"

[This item was posted Thursday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your thoughts, by posting a "comment," go to: newsbusters.org ]

In 1999, Olbermann earned a runner-up spot for the "I'm a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award (for media hatred of conservatives)" at the MRC's "DisHonors Awards for the Decade's Most Outrageous Liberal Bias." On the August 18, 1998 Big Show on MSNBC, shortly after (probably a day or so after) President Clinton's speech following his grand jury appearance, Olbermann asked then-Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief James Warren:
"Can Ken Starr ignore the apparent breadth of the sympathetic response to the President's speech? Facially, it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses. If he now pursues the President of the United States, who, however flawed his apology was, came out and invoked God, family, his daughter, a political conspiracy and everything but the kitchen sink, would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?"

Check this MRC page for a RealPlayer clip of that question. (Given it was done with 1998 technology and at a bit rate for dial-up playback, it's very small and blurry): www.mediaresearch.org

Fast forward to Thursday night, October 20, Olbermann asked Leon Panetta, who appeared from the offices of the Panetta Institute (presumably in California, but Olbermann didn't say):
"This question may sound a little bit inside baseball-ish, but I think it returns to the mainstream as it goes along. Every item in a news broadcast has its own page in the computer rundown. And we think, unintentionally, this page in the rundown for tonight's show was given a title by our producer that shook me. The title simply was, 'White House in Crisis.' I already hosted a news show on this network that had that title some years ago. Is it applicable now? Is in fact in your opinion this White House in crisis?"
Panetta: "Well I don't think there's any question that you know, just look at the issues that they're confronting with a war that's bogged down in Iraq, with the problems that they face with Katrina, the collapse there, with the problems of energy prices going through the roof, with the nomination for the Supreme Court in trouble and then if you add on top of that a scandal involving the highest aides to the President in the White House, you've got a White House in crisis."
Olbermann: "Well, if and when we get nostalgic for the simplicity of 1998, I'm going out for a drink. Leon Panetta, former Chief-of-Staff for President Clinton, now at the Panetta Institute. Great, thanks for your perspective and your time sir."

Canoeing Kosinski Swears Deeper Waters
Weren't Well-Lit Enough

This week's New York Observer updated last Friday's Michelle Kosinski Today show nightmare, in which she reported from a canoe in a flooded New Jersey neighborhood, presumably because the water was too deep to stand in, only to have two guys walk by in front of her and thus reveal her canoe was floating in barely ankle-deep waters. NBC's staged event occurred minutes before the show ran a story critical of how the Bush White House "staged" a satellite interview with soldiers in Iraq. The October 19 New York Observer relayed: "'It's kind of painful,' she [Kosinski] said, 'because you want to explain yourself. The most important point for me to get across is: Yeah, it looked really stupid, but there was never any attempt to make it look like it was worse of a storm than it really was.'" The article ended with "her one lingering concern: 'That it might have looked to some people like we were trying to put something over on viewers,' she said. 'That would just be idiotic.'"

[This item was posted Thursday afternoon, by the MRC's Tim Graham, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To add a comment, go to: newsbusters.org ]

New York Observer writer Rebecca Dana explained the gritty details were all about production values:
"This, in more innocent form, is the idea that flashed through a Today show producer's mind on Thursday night. Streets were flooded. Residents and rescue workers were riding around in boats. It made perfect sense. They bought a boat and had it delivered the following morning. Ms. Kosinski arrived early to practice paddling around. She had been in a canoe before, she said, but never by herself, and never in waters any rougher than a slow-moving stream. They tried to set up the shot at an intersection where the water was waist-high and the current was strong, but 'they couldn't light it,' Ms. Kosinski said. 'The microphone was wireless and it wasn't working, and with all the equipment, they couldn't wade out into the deep water.' So producers asked Ms. Kosinski to paddle to where the water was shallower. She did. She wasn't happy about it. But she did. 'Even though I wanted to show deeper water, in the end I said O.K. I didn't really think it was inappropriate,' she said."

For the New York Observer article, "Lovely Canoe-Gate Girl Tells All!", go to: www.observer.com

For video of "canoegate" on the October 14 Today, in both RealPlayer and Windows Media formats rendered by the MRC's Michelle Humphrey, and a description of how Katie Couric and Matt Lauer reacted, check this NewsBusters.org posting by Mark Finkelstein: newsbusters.org

Minutes after the canoe embarrassment, NBC's Today made the Bush exchange with soldiers in Iraq its story of the day as Katie Couric announced: "On Close-Up this morning, is the Bush administration using staged events to sell the war in Iraq?" See the October 17 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org



# NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell is scheduled to appear tonight (Friday) on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

-- Brent Baker