Discussing Sarah Palin’s resignation last night on Countdown, Olbermann spat, “One question still reverberates across the land: What the Hell was that about!?” He spent the first segment feigning confusion about why Palin resigned and insisting she gave no “compelling” reason. He then tried his best to bait Todd Purdum, author of an unsourced hit piece in Vanity Fair about Palin, to say anonymous criticism had something to do with her resignation.
Perhaps Olbermann was in makeup, or a bottle of Scotch, when Hardball began. As one of its four viewers last night, I can attest its first segment fills the mainstream media’s quota for accurate coverage of a conservative this year.
Lawrence O’Donnell, sitting in for Chris Matthews (a former White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter), interviewed NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Time magazine’s Jay Newton-Small. The two were remarkably straightforward: Palin quit because the Democratic Party put politics above the state’s good and resorted to their standard politics of personal destruction.
Mitchell acknowledged, “the Democrats, who had been her allies before because she was beating up on Republicans, had, of course, abandoned her after the very tough presidential campaign.” (Note well the “of course.”) Newton-Small stated the “do-nothing” Democrats blocked 11 of the 12 bills Palin introduced in the past year. Their stonewalling got so bad Mitchell stated Palin “couldn’t even get a cabinet nominee confirmed, which was unprecedented.” (Apparently cabinet nominees are the Alaskan equivalent of federal judges.)
Then there was the little matter of the party’s attempted personal destruction of the entire Palin family. Palin has spent half-a-million dollars defending herself from legislative leftists’ ethics complaints; Mitchell noted 15 of 16 had been tossed out, and the 16th should soon follow. (Notable, as Hardball has proven if it can turn a pseudo-scandal into a smear, it will.) But Newton-Small knew, of course, this would not be the end: “if you keep the same pace up,” Palin would owe “another million dollars” by the end of her term.
A government paralyzed by Democratic intransigence and $1.5 million in family indebtedness? Sounds “compelling.”
As though his body were rejecting the decency, O’Donnell twice exhorted his guests, “Well, keep digging, Andrea and Jay!”
Rather than keep digging, Olbermann kept regurgitating. Keith stigmatized Palin family attorney Thomas Van Flein for warning media outlets not to repeat as fact a story popularized by blogger Shannyn Moore that Palin left office over an investigation into the real Palin scandal soon to break. (Moore showed her objectivity by stating David Letterman “actually took the high road” with Palin.)
Again, Hardball covered this. O’Donnell himself noted a the FBI made a “very unusual” statement batting down such speculation. Olbermann’s lead-in stated, “they usually do not comment on possible pending investigations, but they did say there was absolutely no truth to those rumors that we’re investigating her or getting ready to indict her, Special Agent Eric Gonzalez said in a phone interview Saturday.”
Nonetheless, Olbermann played a clip of Shannyn whining, “The First Amendment was designed to protect people like me from people like her.” Libel and defamation are not protected speech under the First Amendment. Lawsuits were designed to protect people like Sarah from people like Shannyn.
True, lawsuits are frequently used to stifle free speech. Those who pursued Obama’s ties to Tony Rezko received threatening letters from a British law firm, taking advantage of England’s lax libel laws (best exemplified by the persecution of FrontPage Magazine columnist Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld). The Obama campaign threatened to “punish” TV stations that aired an ad noting Obama’s ties to William Ayers, the Weather Underground bomber/terrorist; tried to silence Senate Republicans who criticized the voter-registration fraud factory ACORN before election day; and declined to rebut Stanley Kurtz on WGN Radio, instead flooding the station with snarling phone calls on multiple occasions.
Unfortunately, this comparison made neither Countdown nor Hardball.