After a self-imposed weekend suspension (an emerging MO), Countdown host Keith Olbermann returned to Twitter this morning to engage the controversy surrounding his dismissive treatment of rape allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Given the time to compose a calm, reasoned response, Olbermann elected to use a single random tweet to tar the #MooreAndMe protest as violent, accuse its members of financial coercion, attack #MooreAndMe creator Sady Doyle for smoking cigarettes, and finally, to ignore the central issues in this brouhaha.
Someone should gently suggest to Olbermann that when you’re already in a hole, stop digging.
Olbermann’s responses today, via Twitter. He begins by referring to the former “frenzy” as a “spectacle”:
Then, he resorts to the straw man that the protest is about Julian Assange’s guilt or innocence, or the political nature of the extradition effort, and not whether he stands accused of simply having his condom break. Via Twitlonger:
I endorse, sympathize with, and empathize with, the rape consciousness goals of#mooreandme, and have already apologized accordingly. But I cannot defend and will not accept their tactics which mirror so many of the attitudes and threats they fight. I do not know of what Julian Assange is guilty, if anything, and neither does anybody else. But given the extraordinary efforts by Sweden to extradite him, to say he is benefiting from some form of rape apologism is not fact-based. It is also unfair to condemn as anti-feminist those who merely address the juxtaposition of this prosecution to the fact that Assange threatens the secret and nefarious activities of dozens of governments. And I will not engage those who suggest that those who do not prioritize one issue to the exclusion of all others should succumb to forced financial contributions, or should ‘kill themselves’ (examples of each will be retweeted shortly, along with my previous apology). The #mooreandme attacks do not help those who fight against rape, they hurt them. And indeed they feature something larger than anti-feminist. This is, to use a clunky phrase, anti-personism.
Olbermann then retweets a just-created Twitter account with 10 followers to show that, indeed, he is the victim in all of this:
As one of our commenters pointed out, Olbermann’s manufactured outrage is deadened somewhat by the fact that he responded to an email troll, several years ago, with the admonition “Kill yourself.” The tweet that Olbermann highlights, then, might well be a reference to that correspondence, for which Olbermann later apologized.
To underscore his victimhood, he buttresses his case that those frenzied #MooreAndMe protesters are just trying to coerce money out of him with two re-tweets on the subject:
Of course, Olbermann himself isn’t above a little bit of charity shaming, as one tweeter pointed out. He responded:
This is a reference to Olbermann’s offer to donate $1000 to charity for every second that Fox News host Sean Hannity agreed to undergo waterboarding. Olbermann also made a big show of donating money to the Special Olympics, chiefly to shame then-Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, after making fun of the learning disabled earlier in the same show.
Olbermann then clarifies the reason for his Twitter absence, taking another shot at his critics in the process:
He then blocked the Twitter feed of the University of Pittsburgh’s Campus Women’s Organization for demanding a retraction:
He then took a weird ad hominem jab at #MooreAndMe creator Sady Doyle’s Twitter avatar:
It could’ve been worse. At least he didn’t follow that up by saying “Looks like you haven’t come a long way, baby!”
He did follow it up by blocking her again.
Perhaps the assumption that Keith Olbermann wants this “frenzy” to die down is faulty. If he genuinely sees himself as the victim here, which seems to be the case, then this type of engagement arguably helps him. It certainly hasn’t hurt his Twitter follower count. Even with the copious blocking he has been doing, he’s up over a thousand followers since this thing began.
This post was updated to include Keith Olbermann’s prior use of the phrase “Kill yourself.”
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