Olbermann named Kondracke "Worst Person" "winner" for waterboarding comments; Gibson "runner-up"

Video ››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann named Roll Call's Mort Kondracke the "winner" of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for asserting on Fox News' Special Report: "I'm sure [waterboarding] feels like torture, you know, it doesn't result in any lasting damage, but it feels like torture." Olbermann also named Fox News' John Gibson the "runner-up" for criticizing an "NBC news anchor" for offering Sen. Barack Obama advice on what he "needs to say" about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton -- one day after Gibson himself had offered Obama advice.

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On the October 31 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann named Roll Call executive editor Morton M. Kondracke the "winner" of his nightly "Worst Person in the World" segment for asserting on the October 29 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, in reference to the interrogation technique known as waterboarding: "I'm sure it feels like torture, you know, it doesn't result in any lasting damage, but it feels like torture," as Media Matters for America documented.

During the show, Olbermann stated that a "top" physician "at the famous Bellevue Hospital testified to the Senate that when it's done right, waterboarding can produce panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other kinds of lasting damage." As Media Matters noted, Dr. Allen S. Keller, director of the Bellevue Hospital Center/New York University Program for Survivors of Torture, wrote in Senate testimony about the "long-term health consequences" of waterboarding. In written testimony dated September 25 to a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on interrogation techniques, Keller stated, "To think that abusive methods, including the enhanced interrogation techniques [in which Keller included waterboarding], are harmless psychological ploys is contradictory to well established medical knowledge and clinical experience. These methods are intended to break the prisoners down, to terrify them and cause harm to their psyche, and in so doing result in lasting harmful health consequences." He said of waterboarding specifically, "Long term effects include panic attacks, depression and PTSD [post traumatic stress disorder]," and noted that it poses a "real risk of death from actually drowning or suffering a heart attack or damage to the lungs from inhalation of water."

Responding to Kondracke's comments, Olbermann stated: "But here's the thing, Mort -- here's the thing you need to be thinking about late at night when it's real quiet: What happens if one of our guys doing the waterboarding does it wrong? What if he produces not a panic attack but a heart attack? What if he pours too much water over the detainee and actually suffocates him? This is what you nitwits keep thinking about torture, and forgetting about enhanced interrogation or I-can't-believe-it's-not-torture or whatever phrase you're using to fool yourselves this week: What if we kill a guy? Would you view that as lasting damage?"

Also on the October 31 Countdown, Olbermann named Fox News host John Gibson the "runner-up" in his "Worst Person" segment for criticizing an "NBC news anchor" on the October 30 edition of Fox News' The Big Story for offering Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) advice on what he "needs to say" about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) -- one day after Gibson himself had offered Obama advice, telling him that he needed "a new attack" if he was going to "close the gap with Hillary," as Media Matters also documented.

From the October 31 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

OLBERMANN: First, time for Countdown's Worst Persons in the World.

The bronze to Major League Baseball, which, as The New York Times and Mike Schmidt revealed today, is probably tipping off its players about supposedly surprise testing for steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. The drug testing units are told to contact the home team a day or more before going to the ballpark to get passes to park at and enter the stadium. This would tend to eliminate the surprise part of the surprise tests. And, yes, there are drugs that can mask the presence of steroids, and they can be effective in 24 hours or less.

The runner-up, John Gibson of Fox Noise. Honestly, is anybody down the block here paying attention? Yesterday on his show he hosts - I'm sorry, show he now co-hosts, he rips Chris Matthews for saying on Hardball what he would tell Senator Obama to say at the debate to try to overtake Senator Clinton. Gibbie says, "Is it legitimate for one news anchor to publicly advise one candidate on how to defeat another and still try to pretend he's objective and neutral in his news presentations. My friends, fair and balanced that is not."

That was yesterday. On Monday, Gibson publicly advised one candidate on how to defeat another. "You'd think Obama could be tougher than that," he advised. "That's attacking Hillary? Obama better wake up. That isn't even throwing an elbow." Monday he does it. Tuesday he criticizes somebody else for doing it. Somebody better inform [inaudible].

But our winner: Morton Kondracke, also, of course, of "Fixed News," explaining that waterboarding not only isn't illegal, it doesn't even really affect the waterboardee: "I'm sure it feels like torture, you know. It doesn't result in any lasting damage, but it feels like torture." OK, two things, Dr. Kondracke: A month ago, one of the top shrinks at the famous Bellevue Hospital testified to the Senate that when it's done right, waterboarding can produce panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other kinds of lasting damage.

But here's the thing, Mort -- here's the thing you need to be thinking about late at night when it's real quiet: What happens if one of our guys doing the waterboarding does it wrong? What if he produces not a panic attack but a heart attack? What if he pours too much water over the detainee and actually suffocates him? This is what you nitwits keep thinking about torture, and forgetting about enhanced interrogation or I-can't-believe-it's-not-torture or whatever phrase you're using to fool yourselves this week: What if we kill a guy? Would you view that as lasting damage? Plus, you don't even get the secrets he's making up to get you to stop making him feel just like he is being tortured because he's dead. Morton Kondracke of "Fox Noise," today's Worst Person in the World.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Mort Kondracke, John Gibson, Keith Olbermann
Show/Publication
Countdown with Keith Olbermann
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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