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Truth and Consequences: Special Comments on the Bush Administration's War on American Values 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1400066766
ISBN-10: 140006676X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In just two years, MSNBC host Olbermann (The Worst Person in the World) has become one of the most recognized critics of the George W. Bush administration. This book explains how and why Olbermann's televised special comments began, then reprints them from September 2005 through July 2007, with postcomment explanations. Before becoming a Bush administration critic, Olbermann had achieved fame as a sports commentator on the ESPN cable network. The genesis of commentator Olbermann as political celebrity makes it difficult to determine if he ought to be considered a fact-based journalist, but however Olbermann should be labeled journalistically, the commentary collected here demonstrates that he is a first-rate writer unafraid of expressing criticisms of most Republican decision makers and, on occasion, Democrats. Understanding from the start that Bush defenders would label the special comments unpatriotic, Olbermann decided to wear this label as a badge of honor and makes a persuasive argument that he is the upholder of traditional American values, while Bush and his colleagues are the transgressors. Olbermann's editorials are bound to stimulate and incite arguments as election season ratchets up. (Jan. 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Keith Olbermann is the host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. A veteran broadcaster, he was the co-anchor (with Dan Patrick) of ESPN’s SportsCenter from 1992 to 1997 and helped to launch ESPN2 and ESPN Radio Network. Olbermann is the recipient of numerous awards in radio and television broadcasting, including the Edward R. Murrow Award for his coverage of the events of 9/11. He has hosted prime-time news programs, moderated a debate between Democratic presidential candidates, anchored the World Series broadcast, and written for dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, and Sports Illustrated. He co-hosts MSNBC’s election night coverage and NBC’s Football Night America.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140006676X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066766
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,826,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on December 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In the marketplace of ideas in a free society, compelling voices will ultimately be heard. This dynamic helps explain how a former ESPN commentator, known for tongue-in-cheek delivery, has become heir to the mantle of Murrow and Severeid as well as the often outraged defender of the right to dissent. Citing the comic team of Bob and Ray as inspiration while quoting Murrow's advice that we not confuse dissent with disloyalty, Keith Olberman explains that he wrote his first "Special Comment" because he saw no one else expressing indignation at statements made by then Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

Diving into deep waters with some trepidation, Olbermann followed this initial video editorial with a series of comments over the last 3 years which are collected in this book. When read on the air, the pieces are more impacting than on the written page. However, they still are literate and hard-hitting. Olbermann speaks eloquently of the need for freedom of expression to slow the the descent into fear and unreason. He derides the assumption of absolute certainty and the absence of nuance in the statements of public officials, although sometimes accused of the former himself.

He is obviously not a fan of this administration. He asks of Donald Rumsfeld: "With what country has he confused the United tates of America?" He says Vice-President Cheney spreads "darkness, like some contagion of fear." His most pointed remarks, however, are reserved for the President. Negative characterizations by the author aside (and there are many of them), his most telling comments about the President concern the latter's lack of understanding of the need to protect the freedom of citizens to observe, judge and dissent from the government.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those unfamiliar with author, Keith Olbermann, he has a highly successful television news program called "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on MSNBC. What keeps many people tuned in to the show is that he will deliver his "Special Comments" about some event that took place that day or recently. These special comments occur only on occasion, which places his loyal fans on a variable response reinforcement schedule. We keep tuning in wondering if this will be the night.

So Olbermann has done us the favor compiling twenty-four of these comments in book form. What sets them apart from other editorials is style and duration. He delivers them in the second person as though the subject of his wrath is no more than three feet away. His comments are puncuated with, "You, sir...." These verbal thrashings usually are at least five minutes in length. His style can be described as intense, with a touch of wit, and strangely polite while being blunt and emphatic. (To use the cliché that he pulls no punches would be an understatement).

What makes these comments even more popular is that they are profound, incisive, and perceptive. Olbermann has the knack of seeing through hypocrisy, and he displays a memory for facts and events that zeros in on his subject's contradictions e.g. "Mr. Bush claimed, `One hundred seventy-seven of the opposition party said, You know, we don't think we ought to be listening to conversations of terrorists.' The hell they did. One hundred seventy-seven Democrats opposed the president's seizure of another part of the Constitution."

You can imagine what it is like reading one hundred seventy-two pages of irreverence and cynicism.
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This book is, in essence, a compilation of the "Special Comments" portion of the program he hosts on television. In addition, however, he has added an introduction to each comment so the reader will know what inspired him to write and deliver the comment in the first place. Some of the introductions are very short, while some span several pages and contain a fair amount of information. This would be a wonderful read even without the introductions; however, with them it is fantastic.

The book is well written; Olbermann has an obvious gift for words and the writing is partly amusing, partly sarcastic and always deadly serious. I suppose the comments would be better if they were spoken, however there are some of us who do not get his television station (in my case because the cable company chose that station alone as the only news channel to be made a "premium channel") and these are comments that should be preserved and read again and again.

I doubt Olbermann's critics will take the time to read the book, which is a pity. This book will cause you to think, and whether or not you agree with the author, you will definitely look at the current political situation in a different light.
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Format: Hardcover
Keith Olbermann's first Special Comment (although it was not called such at the first broadcast) was a scathing critique of the failure of the Bush administration to "save its citizens from a biological weapon called standing water" in the state of Louisiana. The more well-known inaugural Special Comment came a year later, when the anchor launched into a six-minute diatribe that began "The man who see absolutes where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning is either a prophet or a quack. Donald Rumsfield is not a prophet." Olbermann concluded that broadcast with the words of his hero, Edward R. Murrow: "And so good night, and good luck." Truth or Consequences collects two dozen of Olbermann's Special Comments, which are intensely organic by nature. When his management encouraged him to develop the Special Comments, the anchor refused to do so on any schedule, insisting that by their very nature, Special Comments are only warranted by the instantaneous political climate.

The author insisted that his broadcasts be reprinted in the book as they were stated on the air, including any of "the sort of little grammatical infelicities that my copy editor tried to weed out." Each Special Comment is introduced by the author, bringing greater context (and fun stuff like a behind-the-scenes look at the off-camera character of President Clinton) to the impact of his message. Reading the twenty-four chapters over the span of a few days, I was struck by how well-constructed Olbermann's analysis is. He repeatedly exposes logical fallacies and inconsistencies in the message of the Bush administration, and he delights in taking Bush's ill-formed historical analogies to task.
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