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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Dana Milbank And Unhappy Endings

by Keith Olbermann

Since I was a little less than proactive about this issue last week on television (for reasons which I think will become readily apparent), I thought I'd offer a little preview of an item on tonight's Countdown.

The headline: Dana Milbank won't be on the news hour any more.

Keith Olbermann's diary :: ::

Timing is indeed everything.

In fact, that's how we're "hanging" this as a brief item in tonight's show:

Best Timing:
Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, who notified us today that after four years appearing with us, he had accepted another television offer.
This saved your crack Countdown staff an increasingly difficult decision.
For nearly a week we'd been waiting for him to offer a correction or an explanation for his column from last week in which he apparently reported an Obama quote without a full context turned the meaning of the quote inside-out.
Then he called criticisms of his column "whines" even though the dispute was over whether Obama said the self-deprecating: "It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign -- that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions" -- or only the part about "I have just become a symbol..."
We had decided not to have Dana on this news-hour again until this was cleared up, and, sadly after some very happy years, he's apparently chosen to make that cloud permanent.
Good luck, Dana.

Anybody who would come on television to talk about the Dick Cheney shoot-up, wearing an orange safety vest and a hunter's cap automatically gets my benefit of the doubt. But even that had a shelf-life, which was nearing, when he took any further decision-making out of our hands. It was quite a surprise conclusion, obviously, and I'll take it (before anybody tries to take it back).

I'm sure that wasn't his intention, but often one's best work is inadvertent. I'm just as sure his version of the provenance of the original version of the quote the Post's source provided was accurate. What happened thereafter was the problem.

And there's nothing facetious in the good luck wish there. I liked working with Dana, and he once even brought his Mom with him to the New York studio. So we put this not in the Worst Persons In The World segment, but in "Bests," in a spirit of... something.

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