It’s not often that two of the journalism’s biggest stars discuss defense contractors, liberal bias, and the 1971 Baltimore Orioles in the same interview. But that’s just what happened on PBS’ Bill Moyer’s Journal Friday, when the host sat down with anchor Keith Olbermann for a wide-ranging interview.
Moyers was interested in Olbermann’s “Special Comments,” which the MSNBC Countdown host says “became necessary” after former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld equated war opponents with Nazi appeasers.
“I [read] this ridiculous remark and I waited to see somebody respond to it,” he said. “And no one did. I’m thinking, well, you know, somebody with a platform ought to be talking about this. Somebody with a– with an avenue to respond should be– oh, yeah, I have a platform.”
Now, Olbermann’s Special Comments have become one of the most popular segments of the show. But originally, he was nervous about the public’s reception.
“I didn’t know what their reaction was going to be. I didn’t know if I was going to be gunned down as I came out of the building or put in a black car or, you know, or lauded or whatever,” he said. “People, for the most part, were ecstatic about this. And our ratings went up immediately.”
Moyers pointed out that General Electric, one of the top defense contractors in the world, owns MSNBC. But Olbermann said the network did not censor him in the least.
“The one advantage to it is the people who own television, commercial television will do whatever makes them money,” he responded. “And I make GE money.”
The esteemed journalists also talked about the motivation behind a new feature on Countdown, “a list of the top three Bush administration scandals you may have forgotten about because of the latest Bush administration scandals.”
“It occurred to me that this had been bothering me for some time, that we had had so many scandals, so much scandal fatigue that literally people were going, ‘What was the name of that attorney general who was– who was– who was– what was– didn’t he get fired? Did he fire somebody? What was his name? What– I can’t remember. Who was it? Was it Ashcroft? But after Ashcroft? Who was it?’ I said, ‘Well, look, this is– this is– this is literally a problem.’ I began to ask friends and people that I work with: How many scandals have we covered in this administration?”
“Amnesia sets in immediately,” Moyers added, and Olbermann quickly agreed.
The following video is from PBS’s Bill Moyers’ Journal, broadcast on December 14, 2007