Olbermann highlights RAW exchange with Perino
David Edwards and Chris Tackett
Published: Friday March 21, 2008

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Discussing Sen. John McCain's much-publicized Iran/al-Qaeda "gaffe," MSNBC Countdown host Keith Olbermann referenced an exchange Thursday between RAW STORY reporter Eric Brewer and White House spokesperson Dana Perino.

Olbermann characterized the exchange as evidence of a "growing gap" between McCain and President George W. Bush, and "reality."

The back-and-forth with Brewer and Perino, which Brewer describes here, came after Brewer asked for White House comment on President Bush's earlier statement that "an emboldened al-Qaeda with access to Iraq's oil resources could pursue its ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction to attack America and other free nations."

Said Olbermann, "Mr. Bush's implication of Iranian/al-Qaeda cause -- right in step with McCain's myth-making referenced earlier and ... despite McCain's claim that he misspoke ... is also disproved not just because he's repeated it four times as documented here yesterday, but because it turns out today that in an even earlier iteration, he directly refers to Iran's differences with al-Qaeda and claimed they worked together anyway."

Olbermann continued, "The Washington Post today pointing out that a McCain fact sheet quoting [Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno] apparently supporting the Iran/al-Qaeda lie conveniently omits this key phrase: 'We don't see any evidence - significant evidence - that shows that the [Iranian] groups are funding and providing arms to Shi'a extremists are directly related to al-Qaeda.'"

MSNBC political analyst Rachel Maddow also appeared in the segment and said, "Bad enough that a presidential nominee might not know the difference between Sunni al-Qaeda and Shi'a Iran, but how much worse is it to think that he might be inspired by his own mistake to now try and make it seem true, or, even worse, that that he might actively be trying to conflate Iran and al-Qaeda in cahoots with the White House, much the way they tried to conflate Iraq and al-Qaeda, so that we'd all be hoodwinked into believing that attacking Iraq would be revenge for 9/11."

Responded Olbermann, "So, is it official that McCain's claim that he simply misspoke when he did this ... was a lie to cover the earlier set of lies? And if that is the case, what is Lieberman doing trying to correct him?"

Maddow answered, "Well, [the McCain campaign] has to figure out if they are going to play the doddering old man line or the 'I was right all along line.'"

When Olbermann asked where the media was in calling McCain out on these misstatements, Maddow said, "I'm waiting on the media to call him out on anything. There are three AirBus lobbyists working on his campaign and he is intervening to help out AirBus. He's named as his spiritual guide a man that says the United States should aim to destroy the religion of Islam. They don't seem to be alarmed by the fact that John McCain is either doddering or incoherent on this issue of Al Qaeda and Iran. I'm waiting for them to give him the kind of press coverage he deserves."