Watch CBSN Live

Olbermann Overstates?

Keith Olbermann has developed a reputation – he's earned media capital, if you will — by raising serious questions about the political climate in America. But last night, he squandered a bit of that account in a 16-minute segment in which he attempted to make the case that the JFK terror plot was little more than a cleverly-timed political ploy by the Bush administration.

The segment went through chapter and verse of how curious the timing has been of many Bush terror alert announcements and arrests – how they frequently seem to follow, and swallow, news that isn't friendly to the White House. There has been rampant discussion of the consistencies of these coincidences in the media over the years.

It's a concern. But Olbermann stretched that concern to a very thin and tenuous extent last night.

His point? That Saturday's press conference announcing the JFK terror plot occurred the day before the Democratic debate to take away from its impact. Also, that the arrests were announced by a Bush-appointed US Attorney amid the current scandal surrounding the apparently politically-motivated firings of US Attorneys. And – hold on to your seats – also present was the New York City Chief of Police … the father of a Fox News Correspondent!

He closed out the segment sternly:

If merely a reasonable case can be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than coincidences, if that case can be made on this, the very day that a military judge at Guantanamo Bay dismissed all terror charges that have kept Salim Hamdan jailed there for five years, it underscores the need for questions to be asked, and asked continually in this country – questions about what is prudence and what is just fear-mongering.
So his point is that if any of them are true – even if, ahem, last night's seemed a bit far-fetched — that we need to ask questions. Amen to that, Keith. But aren't we already asking questions? Aren't you? And if the Hamdan decision was of such import, why didn't you devote 16 minutes to the case of the legal environment at Guantanamo Bay?

Hammering away at things that aren't there – or barely there – is a surefire way to dilute your message. Though he likes to point out this political tendency whenever possible, Keith Olbermann is beginning to make the same mistake.