MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann Biased on Covering Embryonic Stem Cell Research Veto
by Brad Wilmouth
July 24, 2006
LifeNews.com Note: Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst for the Media Research Center and a graduate of the University of Virginia.
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann characterized President Bush’s veto of a bill to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research as a "hard stance" and a "setback for stem cell research" as the President was "honking off" and "turning his back on" federal funding proponents "despite pleas from his own party."
He also portrayed Bush’s decision as "forget science, forget patients."
Before the words "Appeasing the Base" were displayed on the monitor behind him, Olbermann employed a standard liberal attack accusing the "radical right" of inconsistency for being both anti-abortion and pro-death penalty, charging that "there are no straight lines in the radical right’s attitude towards life." The Countdown host also sympathetically declared that Democrats were "confounded by" Bush’s "scientific double speak," while he mocked Bush as "confounded by exactly which rights are endowed by the Creator in the Declaration of Independence."
After mentioning the segment in the opening teaser, Olbermann gave four additional plugs, during which he used such loaded language as "despite pleas from his own party," as he called the veto a "hard stance" and "a setback for stem cell research." In one plug, he portrayed Bush as ignoring "science" and "patients" while "turning his back on members of his own party."
Olbermann: "Forget scientists, forget patients. President Bush turns his back on members of his own party, vetoing more federal funds for stem cell research. Could there be lasting political damage from that decision?"
Olbermann began the segment by mocking the logic of the "radical right" being both anti-abortion and pro-death penalty. The Countdown host, who neglected to mention that conservatives support federal funding of research that uses adult stem cells, shook his head in disapproval after he relayed the refusal of many conservatives to change their minds on embryonic stem cells in spite of Ronald Reagan’s illness: "If the shortest distance between two points is still a straight line, and we only have the scientists’ word for that, there are no straight lines in the radical right’s attitude towards life. Anti-abortion, pro-death penalty, against converting stem cells that would otherwise be thrown away that might have been used to alleviate the suffering of one of their political patron saints, Ronald Reagan."
Accusing conservatives of "waving the democracy banner," the Countdown host cited unspecified polls that "suggest support as high as 72 percent for that which President Bush vetoed today."
Before showing clips of President Bush and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer discussing the veto, while the words "Political Science" were displayed at the bottom of the screen, Olbermann sympathetically portrayed Democrats as "confounded" by Bush’s "scientific double speak," and mocked Bush as "confounded" in his understanding of the Declaration of Independence: "Democrats confounded by the scientific double speak. Mr. Bush appearing to be confounded by exactly which rights are endowed by the Creator in the Declaration of Independence."
After bringing aboard Dana Milbank of the Washington Post to further discuss the issue, Olbermann’s first question portrayed Bush as "honking off" Republicans who support the expansion of federal funding: "What’s the benefit here for the President? If stem cell research is not even really a wedge issue, if three-quarters or more of the American public is supporting research like this, Nancy Reagan supports it, Senator Orrin Hatch supports it, 50 House Republicans, what’s the upside of honking all of them off?"
Olbermann also painted other bills that were signed by the President, such as one that "banned aborting an implanted embryo just to get the stem cells," as "bordering not merely on firing up the base, but almost on hysteria."
Olbermann: "Could they make some mileage out of the two things that the President did sign today? One of these bills banned aborting an implanted embryo just to get the stem cells, which is something apparently no scientist is talking about doing. I mean, there might be a few murderers and ghouls out there, but those things seem to be bordering not merely on firing up the base, but almost on hysteria."
Milbank contended that the other bills were a "smokescreen," and, in discussing the political implications of embryonic stem cell policy for the midterm elections, Milbank declared the issue "a sleeper issue" that is "the same thing that gay marriage really was for the Republicans."