Politics & Policy

Mr. Civility

The worst peacemaker in the world

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann announced Saturday that all Americans must abandon rhetoric with violent imagery, saying that “the [political] rhetoric has devolved and descended, past the ugly and past the threatening and past the fantastic and into the imminently murderous.” Urging every politician and politically engaged American to promise to do so, Olbermann said, “I apologize for and repudiate any act or any thing in my past that may have even inadvertently encouraged violence.”

There’s a lot for Olbermann to regret. He explicitly acknowledged and apologized for a rather mild (by Olbermann standards) reference to then-candidate Hillary Clinton, in which he’d proposed that a male Democratic delegate go into a room with Clinton “and only he comes out.”

Maybe he regretted that one only because it involved a fellow Democrat? Over the years, he’s told opponents they have “blood on their hands,” should “go to hell,” are equivalent to al-Qaeda, and are responsible for creating terrorism.

In 2007, Olbermann called rival network Fox News “worse than al-Qaeda . . . for our society” and said the channel was “as dangerous as the Ku Klux Klan ever was.” He referred to Gen. David Petraeus as “betray us.”

The following year, Olbermann said that the terms the president had applied to Iraqi terrorists applied to his administration. “Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created includes ‘cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives’?” demanded Olbermann. “They are those in, or formerly in, your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.” In 2009, his rage naturally extended to former vice president Dick Cheney, whom he called “as dishonest, as insane as any terrorist.” He also railed against Cheney for his support of the war in Iraq, stating, “You were negligent before 9/11. Your response to your complicity by omission on 9/11 was panic and shame and insanity, and lying this country into a war that did nothing but kill 4,299 more of us.”

In 2009, he said that deprived of “the total mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk, fascistic hatred,” Michelle Malkin would be “a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.” Then, Olbermann shared this hateful message with those participants in Glenn Beck’s 9/12 movement: “In short, Glenn, 9-12ers, if you are invoking 9/11 just to oppose health-care reform, go to hell!” Last April, Rush Limbaugh argued that Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was motivated not by talk radio, but by how the federal government handled Waco. Olbermann reacted by talking about Limbaugh’s “hate radio” and said that “frankly, Rush, you have that blood on your hands now and you have had it for 15 years.”

During the 2010 special Senate election in Massachusetts, Olbermann infamously said, “In Scott Brown we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex–nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees.”

This dismal record makes it clear that if Olbermann is faithful to his pledge, he’s going to have a difficult time finding enough things to say to fill up five hours of air time every week.

— Katrina Trinko is a staff reporter for National Review Online.

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...


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