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Keith Olbermann: not necessarily the news

I dunno, maybe actual NBC reporters don't want to come on Keith Olbermann's show since he took to bellowing insults at them on the air while anchoring the network's coverage of the Republican convention last year. Whatever the reason, he's now apparently resorted to faking stories. The media-news site Gawker has been reporting for two days that the video of waterboarding you can see up above was faked. And, Gawker adds (though, it should be noted, without attribution), Olbermann knew it.

This is not altogether surprising, since the supposed object of the waterboarding was Erich "Mancow" Muller, a Chicago shock-jock who regularly does silly stunts on the air. Nothing wrong with that on a morning-zoo radio show, but it's a little dicey when you're presenting yourself as a news operation. The idea was that Mancow would undergo waterboarding to test the contention of former Bush administration officials that it doesn't really amount to torture.

But Gawker reprints a series of emails between Muller's publicists and promoters prior to the waterboarding that reveal plans to fake the whole thing. "It is going to have to look "real" but of course would be simulated with Mancow acting like he is drowning," says one. "It will be a hoax but have to look real." The military veteran who supposedly administered the waterboarding later admitted he's never performed the procedure, been trained in it, or even know anything about it. "I didn't know what I was doing," he told Gawker.

Personally, I think the whole debate over the semantics of waterboarding is amazingly stupid -- whether it fits a technical legal description of "torture," it's obviously abusive and hideously unpleasant and not something any sane person would want installed in the routine interrogation arsenal of either law enforcement or the military. The question is -- or ought to be -- are we willing to allow it in the case of captured high-level terrorists? There are reasonable arguments on both sides. But presenting shock-jock publicity gags as news does nothing to illuminate them, though of course even on a good day Olbermann's show provides illumination only to the extent that you put your TV set in a dark room and turn up the brightness control to maximum.

Postscript: If I understood correctly the exchange between Olbermann and Mancow early in the segment, it sounds as if MSNBC paid $10,000 for Mancow's appearance. The fact that the money went to Mancow's favorite charity doesn't make it any less of a case of paying for news, which on real news shows is frowned upon.

Update, 3 p.m.: Gawker now reports that an MSNBC spokeswoman has acknowledged Olbermann's producers knew the score on the "waterboarding" video and used it anyway:

MSNBC is standing by its flackery for Muller's hoax. An MSNBC spokeswoman acknowledged that Olbermann's producers had been made aware prior to airing the Muller interview that his publicist had described it as a hoax, saying, "We asked the publicist and were assured by her that she just used a poor choice of words." But when asked if MSNBC still believes that publicist, in light of the fact that Muller's waterboarder had no idea what he was doing, she declined to comment. She also confirmed that the network made no effort to reach South prior to airing the interview.

Gawker also has some choice words on the credibility of a newscast that would accept anything on the Mancow show at face value:

Muller is a shock jock. He calls himself Mancow! He's been making ludicrous, insane comments for a living and pranking people for years. He's claimed that Obama is a Muslim and that HIllary Clinton was sitting on a secret tape of Michelle Obama making a racist tirade. Nothing he says should be taken at face value. For Olbermann to do so sort of undercuts the self-righteous, sanctimonious, posturing that has made him an icon in his own mind...


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The $10,000 was not a payment for the interview but in lieu of payment to Sean Hannity's charity of choice. Weeks ago, Hannity swore he would be waterboarded to make it clear the practice is not torture. Olbermann vowed to pay $10,000 to charity for each second Hannity could withstand the torment. Hannity has yet to submit to waterboarding, and it is beginning to seem he will not. Given this apparent cowardice, Olbermann contributed $10,000 to Muller's charity for Muller's willingness to suffer. Muller was not obliged to appear on Olbermann's program, just as Hannity would not have been.


What are you talking about you obviously have no idea most if not all of your facts are off.


You are an idiot Garvin.....learn the facts before writing such an article.


Gawker knew? I seriously doubt that if they had this info for 2 days, it is hitting msm now. Pallleeeeze, you people are pathetic.


So, a right wing radio jock faked his own water-boarding, and then deemed it was torture? Uh, if he was faking it why didn't he prove himself right since he initially claimed it wasn't torture? Your piece fails to explain this. I'm sure he didn't do it for charity.


Way to go! You just accused KO of intentionally paying for a faked story when those clearly aren't the facts, and KO had nothing to do with the DJ's decision to have himself waterboarded to begin with, all based on a gossip sites reporting. Pathetic!


you are dumb and have completely misrepresented the story.

Robert Arvai

Olbermann is a reject sportscaster from LA who has been fired from every job he has had. I wonder how he is going to explain this one?


Maybe the author of this article should be waterboarded, then maybe you will understand the issue.


Is Gawker for perverts?

M Hastings

You actually get payed to write for the Miami Herald? With such slanting and poor fact checking, you could get a job with Fox news.


Wow. A right wing blowhard claims waterboarding is torture and fakes a stunt to disprove himself. Brilliant reporting. This is ridiculous.


Arvai-you are a desperate idiot if you think a hair on olbermanns head will be ruffled by this fake story.


This article is wrong...wrong on the facts...wrong to be written.

It's simply another bit of trash writing that is incorrect and just adds "drama, rumor and gossip" to the basics of the story. First, torture is illegal...was there lying to cover it up. Second, Hannity was shooting off his mouth and ended up putting both feet in it, saying he would be waterboarded.


You said,

"The idea was that Mancow would undergo waterboarding to test the contention of former Bush administration officials that it doesn't really amount to torture."

Where did you get this fact? Are you a journalist?
This is not what he said. Did you see the whole segment, because everything you said in your piece is not correct or what I saw.
Mancow wanted to prove that it was NOT torture as he thought it was not torture. Not because former officials said it, but because he said it was torture. He proved himself wrong and definitely said it was torture. I think that they thought it would be a joke, but it backfired on them as he could only take 6 seconds of water poured up his nose. 6 SECONDS.

MSNBC did not pay the charity. Keith Olberman paid it, as he said he would. Not for a news story, but to make a point that Hannity was a coward and wouldn't do it. He was right.

America does not torture, PERIOD you idiot.


This story is a poor attempt right wing damage control.. But if water boarding isn't torture I'm sure the Author will be man enough to stand by his claims and try it out and discredit Mancow.

Personally when I accuse people of things I'm willing to backup my claims. So Glenn when can we set up an appointment to have You waterboarded ?


Fake or not, Maybe you should undergo having water poured in your open mouth... then you can come back and try writing this article again. YOu just may have a better perspective.




glenn garvin... trash


Is this what you went to journalism school for? Your parents must be proud.


Indeed, you have no grasp of reality and have completely twisted what happened. Mancow believed waterboarding to NOT be torture, until he did it. Keith has been trying for years to inform people about the technique, that it is torture. He is simply allowing a former waterboarding supporter to state the facts after he learned firsthand that it is torture. It was not "faked", you moron. Why don't you get in touch with Jesse Ventura and let him show you how "faked" it is. You wouldn't last as long as Mancow.


Glen, how long did you work at Weekly World News before you started this blog? I don't suppose you had anything to do with the 'Bat Face Boy' article, did you?


OK, Garvin, the only way for you to defend your self-tarnished honor now is for you to submit to public waterboarding. You know that, right?

John Griswell

This article is pure trash. Did you even watch the video?

How you you fake pour water down a mans nose?


I agree YOU should be tortured...oh I mean waterboarded!



Known friend of FOX News commentator Sean Hannity "fakes" being waterboarded, then asserts that it's "most definitely torture"... countering FOX News commentator's submission that it isn't torture.

Why that makes all the sense in the world! Maybe next we can have Dick Cheney's friend Rumsfeld go on Olbermann and "claim there were never WMD's", so that he can... um... Okay. So that Cheney could... um... Wait. That doesn't quite make sense either.

What kind of dumbass would write this garbage?


You've taken a few facts, added a lot of speculation, and assumption, and then spit out this masterpiece of sophistry.

You should be embarrassed of yourself. No wait, first you should take another look at your faulty logic, then feel embarrassed.

Greg Allen

How was it faked? Looks real to me.

I can easily accept that a radio DJ _would_ fake torture but I don't understand how this is a fake.

Is that some stunt double? Is real "waterboarding" done differently with tubes or something?

Mr. Gavin, if you declare something is a fake, please explain it!


OK. Let's dissect this ... Mancow and Olbermann conspired together so that Mancow could get 10 grand for his charity and Olbermann could prove an ideological point on the back of a conservative. 1) Mancow, an avowed conservative who had been, like most conservatives, ridiculing the notion that waterboarding was torture only "pretended" to be waterboarded so that he could jump up within 6 seconds and say that everything he'd believed about waterboarding was ... UNTRUE. That makes no sense whatsoever. 2) The veteran who performed it had no idea what he was doing, but Mancow jumps up within 6 seconds. Suggesting that had he done it properly Mancow would have lasted much longer. Again, that makes no sense. 3) Mancow faked the whole thing and somehow Olbermann was involved. Olbermann said that he talked to Mancows publicist prior to the waterboarding and agreed to donate to Mancow's charity if he underwent the waterboarding. If Mancow faked it, and theres no reason to believe that he did (if anyone remembers, Cristopher Hitchens got waterboarded months ago on camera and the reactions looked similar), how does that have ANYTHING to do with Olbermann? Other than Olbermann got screwed out of his PERSONAL money, not MSNBC's? Again this article insinuates that these guys were in cahoots but offers no proof of it, or logical premise to substantiate it. This article is stupid. Sorry for being crass, but this type of thing is just dumb. This dude has an axe to grind with Olberman and is just lashing out at anything


This blog is quite moronic, but then what do you expect from a moron? Let me see...a conservative talk show host fakes a story to prove that waterboarding IS torture? Wouldn't he want to prove the opposite?


You, Sir, are a moron. You have managed to get all the events completely mixed up. Mancow is a right wing talk jock on WLS radio in Chicago. WLS is the same channel that carries Limbaugh and Hannity. Mancow has been a strong proponent of waterboarding for KSM and other Gitmo detainees and has maintained waterboarding is NOT torture. To prove his point he underwent waterboarding. It was meant to be a "joke" because he really did not expect it to be a "real waterboarding", just some military guy "preferably dressed in fatigue" pouring water down his throat. His point was to show that he could do it. But it turned out even this FAKE waterboarding was too much for him. So if anything, this shows even "fake" waterboarding is quite unbearable. Get your facts right before you write.


Gavin shouldn't be commenting on others when he obviously can't or doesn't want to get the facts right himself.

Jeff from PA

It doesn't matter if Mancow was faking it. There have been tens of thousands of Americans that have been water boarded and I am yet to hear a single one come out and say it is not torture. On the contrary, every single on that I have seen has said it is absolutely torture.

Besides, "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" (Torture), got us the false information about Iraq being connected to Al Qaeda.

So, let's see, even if torture save a few American lives (which I doubt), It cost us over 4,000 soldiers, maimed at least 30,000, killed at minimum a few hundred thousand Iraqi civilians, helped recruit an enormous amount of terrorists (as the 9-11 commission showed), and lost us total respect in the world.

Hmmm.. Doesn't seem worth it to me.

Besides if we have to act like a terrorist in order to stop terrorists, then how are we any better than they? You may say that terrorists do this to civilians, while we do it to terrorists, but that assumption is saying that everyone in Gitmo and other places are guilty, which is factually wrong.

Many people in Gittmo and other military prisons have been proven innocent. Many are women and kids. 100's have died in our prisons because of the Enhanced Techniques (See the Documentary "Taxi Cab to the Dark Side" for one high profile example).

So, if we are torturing hundreds of innocent men, women and kids, are we any better than the terrorists? Just because we wrap it in our flag does not make it okay.


"If I understood correctly the exchange between Olbermann and Mancow early in the segment, it sounds as if MSNBC paid $10,000 for Mancow's appearance."

Good lordy, that is so very off the mark. I don't know if the word "misunderstanding" can even begin to cover this level of inept reporting of events. The segment was very clear about the charity donation and it's conception with Sean Hannity (for weeks it has been a nightly feature for cryin out loud).

Did you by chance have the volume turned off when watching the segment?
Wait a second, is this all a prank? Are you pulling a fast one on the Miami Herold? Do you even own a TV? You sly fella, you almost got away with the whole "I am a television critic" scam. I salute your effort.

Derrick McBride

You quote Gawker, a celebrity gossip site that has a feud with Olbermann, as a credible source?

Also, do you have a problem with people donating to charity?

Should the charity give the money back?

Weak, man.


Glenn: You actually have a job at an actual Newspaper? OK, it's a blog, but still.... The "paying for news" slander is pathetic. If the right-winger Mancow faked his own waterboarding (which was designed to REFUTE the notion that waterboarding is torture) in order to pretend waterboarding (or whatever he underwent) IS IN FACT torture, then Mancow must also be part of that conspiracy that is forcing only Republican Chrysler dealerships to close, and possibly Sean Hannity's gay lover as well. Are you suggesting that Jesse Ventura is also in on this deal, and his SEAL training was also a stunt? Learn how to use Google a little better. Gawker, I'm sure, appreciates the publicity.


Please go back to telling me about how great and "realistic" 24 is. Otherwise leave the investigative journalism to the big boys.

If it was a stunt it makes no sense. Mancow is a conservative radio host who has regularly claimed that waterboarding is acceptable and not torture. Whether or not it was correctly done is immaterial. The man had water poured down his mouth and nose and after less than 6 seconds he waved it off and said without hesitation that it was torture. What does he stand to gain? A $10,000 donation to his favorite veteran's charity seems like a steep price to pay considering he completely trashed his credibility and reputation. Even if it was fake it gave Olberman and the left-wing pundits exactly what they wanted: a right-wing pro-torture pundit suddenly and dramatically changing his tune and calling waterboarding torture and admitting he could not be sure if it could be an effective means of getting reliable information from terroritsts.

Greg Allen

>>Personally, I think the whole debate over the semantics of waterboarding is amazingly stupid

If waterboarding fits the legal definition of torture, then it's a war crime and we have a legal and moral obligation to investigate and prosecute.

That's not stupid.

(And certainly not "amazingly" stupid! Semantical deception such as calling something "enhanced" or "extraordinary" "unpleasant" or "harsh" does not remove your legal liability, no matter how much you want it to.)


He's obviously a Rush Limbaugh fan, I mean look at him... hehehe.

I doubt the author of this "news story" even believes his own story. I seriously think he's catering to the idiots who would LOVE to believe something like this.

Jay Martin

Garvin: beyond weak, probably libel. I hope KO and NBC sue you into oblivion where you belong.


Is anyone here surprised by this brainless commentary? Not surprisingly, it came from a writer whom has risen to the ultra-high rank of BLOGGER. Conservatives are a joke, and every time I read something like this it makes me relish the fact the GOP has completely imploded.

Miss Precious Perfect

You cite a self-proclaimed gossip blog as your source and expect anything you "write" to be taken seriously? STFU.


Glenn, is this your attempt at 15 minutes?

Or just a cry for help?

As a solid Bush/Cheney defender whenever he gets a chance to wander thus in your inflated television critiques, your efforts to be viewed as an authentic journalist are actually rather mendacious.

Here's to hoping you meet the Newspaper Layoff God soon.

Free Glenn Garvin!




You're spending the night with...
Glenn Garvin, GOP prostitute.


Keith Olbermann is closer to John Steward than an actual reporter. And I am not sure Garvin's blog can be blamed for the "downfall" of newspapers everywhere. I do suspect, however, that he is personally responsible for the situation in North Korea.


Anyone who watched this supposed waterboardng knows that they used an actor stunt double to fake that it was toture. You can see that it isn't Mancow lying down but the stunt double. They edited the footage and spliced the video to show Mancow sitting up. I'm a trained film editor and spotted this right away. Plus the fact that Olbermann and Mancow were seen a week before this staged event at a NYC bar with Olbermann passing Mancow an envelop under the table proves that the whole thing was a hoax. Mancow and Olbermann have been close friends for years and have even vacationed alone together several times. In real lif Olbermann is a Conservative and Mancow is a Liberal and they have been putting one over on all of us for years.


This Gawker article is so full of holes, any stupid person would've read it through. Keith would never put his journalistic reputation on the line on important issues, particuarly on waterboarding if facts does not fit. If Mancow's waterboarding is actually a stunt, then he would some explaining to his listeners to Keith and America Garvin, you need to get your facts straight before write any article.


This makes no sense. Mankow is a right wing talk jock. If it was fake, why didn't he say, it wasn't bad. It wasn't torture. I don't think you know what you are talking about.


And the Swiftboating of Mancow has begun. The Republicans offer us buffoons like Joe the Plumber as people to be taken seriously, a guy with a fake name, a fake profession, a fake income, etc. And when one of their own (Mancow) has the guts to put his money where his mouth is and tell the truth, we watch the Republicans eat their own, yet again. You will will ridicule people like Erich Muller at your own peril, and suffer the results.

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