On the October 12 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann announced a "five-way tie" for "Worst Person in the World," declaring that the award would be shared by "[Media Research Center president] Brent Bozell, [Fox News host] Sean Hannity, [nationally syndicated radio host] Laura Ingraham, [Boston University professor and former ABC News reporter] Bob Zelnick and whatever's left of [Fox News host] Bill O'Reilly." The five conservative commentators were given the award for distorting media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner's explanation for why he "had a problem" with President Bush's statement that "you're with us or you're against us," in the context of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as noted by Media Matters for America.
From the October 12 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
OLBERMANN: Tonight, instead of the usual pitch for the book, in which I mention how Amazon has just reordered from the publisher and stuff -- I come to you with unprecedented news. We have a five-way tie tonight for the "Worst Person in the World." See, it's because my old boss, Ted Turner, was asked a question at the National Press Club.
TURNER [video clip]: "Either you're with us or you're against us." And I had a problem with that, because I really hadn't made my mind up yet. You know, what if you haven't made your mind up? You know, what if you're thinking about it, doing some studying, and doing some reading? Because it's an important decision to go to war, whether or not to go to war. I mean, "You're either with us or against us" -- that's pretty black and white.
OLBERMANN: The reaction on Fox from our five schmucks of the night? Sean Hannity says Turner was "admitting that he had a hard time choosing sides" in the war on terror.
Brent Bozell: "I think it's time for Democrats to speak up. Either they support this man or they should condemn him."
Bill-O says, "Why do you hate America, Ted?"
Bill-O's mailing it in, huh?
Laura Ingraham said, "If you say as an American citizen that you haven't been able -- you weren't able to choose sides."
Former ABC News correspondent Bob Zelnick: "I find it hard to believe that even a delusional American would say something as crass as not being able to choose between the terrorists and his own country."
Well, Bob Zelnick's reportorial instincts are not completely dead. Turner never said a thing about not being able to choose between terrorists and his own country. He wasn't asked about terrorists, though Fox manicured the sound bite of Ted Turner to make it sound that way. In fact, the question he was asked was what he thought about people's patriotism being questioned when they criticize the Iraq war.
UNIDENTIFIED QUESTIONER [video clip]: What do you think of the fact that -- well, not you, but other people have been -- when they've criticized the Iraq war or criticized the U.S. government conduct of it, their patriotism has been questioned?
OLBERMANN: Turner wasn't talking about the war against terror, he wasn't talking about the war in Iraq. He was talking about the selling of the war in Iraq as "either you're with us or you're against us."
When that tiny little detail, that brief flash of intellectual honesty was raised to Brent Bozell, Bozo replied, "It doesn't matter what the question was."
Well, there's an honest man.
Brent Bozell, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Bob Zelnick and whatever's left of Bill O'Reilly, today's "Worst Persons in the World."