Keith Olbermann, Michael Moore, Julian Assange, and rape: Fun with 'frenzy'

keith-olbermannImage Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty ImagesOn Countdown with Keith Olbermann on Tuesday, Michael Moore mischaracterized the rape accusations facing Julian Assange. People criticized both him and Olbermann, and now the MSNBC host has quit Twitter in a huff, thanks to what he described as a “frenzy.” Yep, it’s almost like misrepresenting and minimizing rape accusations can get people upset. Feminists — we’re impossible to please.

Moore, who posted $20,000 towards Assange’s bail, described the inquiry as “stink[ing] to the high heavens.” Moore suggested that governments and corporations are going after Assange with “smears,” and then said that the “charge is that his condom broke during consensual sex.” Check out the clip below and scroll to the 13:10 mark for Moore’s remarks.

This is not true. It’s just not. From The Guardian:

The first complainant, a Miss A, said she was the victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. The court heard Assange was alleged to have “forcefully” held her arms and used his bodyweight to hold her down. The second charge alleged he “sexually molested” her by having sex without using a condom, when it was her “express wish” that one should be used.
A third charge claimed Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on 18 August.
A fourth charge, relating to a Miss W, alleged that on 17 August, he “improperly exploited” the fact she was asleep to have sex with her without a condom.

Michael Moore was wrong, and Keith Olbermann didn’t correct him, and now Keith Olbermann is mad that people are calling him out. The #MooreandMe tag starting blowing up on Twitter after Sady Doyle wrote a scathing reaction to Moore’s appearance (btw, if you’re not reading Tiger Beatdown on the regular, you’re missing out) — and then Keith Olbermann responded by blocking Doyle and others who agreed with her. He then posted a five-part Twitter non-apology apology, sent some angry @replies, and wrote “I’ll thus unblock all blocks, wish you all a Merry Christmas and I’ll suspend this account until/if this frenzy is stopped.” (He broke the moratorium a few hours later to tweet Larry King.)

Look, if we’re going to talk about Twitter and feminism, we should turn to one of the Internet’s great treasures, Feminist Hulk, whose sage wisdom on such matters is always welcome. ( A classic: “HULK TRY TO BE MINDFUL WHEN COMPLICIT IN SYSTEMS OF PRIVILEGE. SMASH HEGEMONY, WHETHER IT “BENEFIT” HULK OR OPPRESS HIM!”) And on this front, he’s got it exactly right: “AS SURVIVOR, HULK DISTURBED BY ASSANGE COVERAGE. HULK GLAD WIKILEAKS EXIST. HULK SMASH RAPE SHAME. AT SAME TIME.”

Dead on as usual, Feminist Hulk.

I’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby, but I still think drugging and raping a 13-year-old is wrong. I can believe that a radically honest and open government is better for everyone, and I can still think that people who hold women down and forceably have sex with them against their will should go to prison. And you can even be a bleeding heart, pro-union pinko liberal like me and still know that Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore got this really, really wrong.

For more on the differences between Swedish and U.S. laws regarding sexual assault, read this Salon article. For another breakdown of the Olbermann timeline, read this Washington Post story. For more about why “talking about Julian Assange has become utterly terrible,” read this Jezebel post.

Comments (64 total) Add your comment
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  • Huh

    I didn’t give a rat’s ass about WikiLeaks until they devulged information about US sites that are most vulrerable to terrorism. That kind of information doesn’t do anyone any good, and it’s clear that Assange isn’t interested in open and free information, but chaos and the destruction and annhilation of the United States.

    This should not be politicized right and left. But that’s what Michael Moore has done. This guy is a bozo, and his increasingly bizarre claims and actions (Cuba has better health care! Captilism = evil, Communism = good! Assange is a patroit!) only help to invalidate his earlier work.

    • Kat

      Gotta agree.

    • Andre

      Thank you!

    • lilian

      Sorry to break your bubble, but Cuba does have better health care. Do you know how many people in the States have health care without having to pay for it? That’s right, none.

      • Jon

        I think you’re right Lilian- that’s why you constantly see Americans fleeing Miami Beach for Cuba in bathtubs and on make-shift rafts.

      • lilian

        I’m not saying the Cuban regime is faultless, but I know citizens of other countries – far from communist – that go to Cuba to have eye surgery. That much I know.

      • lilian

        I would never live in a country where a major illness like cancer can bankrupt you and cause your family to live in the streets.

      • trey

        Gee Lilian it’s not like a lot of people have that choice. Most folks can’t afford to hop countries just because they want to and unlike the US most countries have much stricter immigration requirements. So good for you. I’m so happy that you apparently have lots of money and can meet those rigorous immigration requirements…..

      • lilian

        Ha? Who said anything about immigration?

      • Ned

        I am a disabled U. S. veteran. I, like hundreds of thousands of others, get health care in the states without paying for it, and it s great. You don’t know what you are talking about.

      • Elysia

        The healthcare situation in the US is deplorable, and anyone who denies that is…well, in denial. We need to stop arguing about whether there is a problem (for the vast, vast majority there is), and start thinking together about how to solve it. This should not be a partisan issue! Our people are at stake, and the rest of the world is laughing at us! (I say sitting in another corner of the world where I’m constantly forced to defend “American capitalism” and the poverty it leaves behind.)

    • jimmy

      actually that list was a joke. It only exposed how out of touch the diplomatic core is because it had sites listed that don’t even exist anymore. Again, remember that these are not top secret documents.

      I’m not making any assumptions about you in particular but people should read more than one news source… preferably with more than one bias (they all have one) before making an opinion.

    • LOL

      The GOP fears Olbermann and Moore.

    • David Johnston

      It’s interesting the views people take on wikileaks disclosures. Accusing wikileaks of creating chaos and destruction is like accusing the CIA of only planting flowers. How does the world view USA foreign policy? Like an open free and intelligent process, or a bullying secretive destructive and manipulative effort? Wake up, smell the real world.

  • xgirl

    wow. these 2 dou$hbags are really just a couple of….dou$hbags. shocker. does anyone even watch this show (much less pay attention to what these two morons have to say??)?

    • Irish

      You just did.

      • xgirl

        oh wow. thanks for putting me in my place. you are awesome!!!

  • Matthew

    This article is amazing. Glad to see EW take a stand against rape apologism!

  • Kaelyn

    There has been a huge amount of mis-information about the rape charges. I also read on Huffington post that the charge was just that a condom broke during sex, and he is being charged with “sex by surprise” whatever that is. Not surprising that the male dominated media has gotten this completely wrong.

    • DGH

      A woman wrote this article but I guess a woman in a male dominated media has no voice of their own?

      • BP

        you’re dumb. did you even read what Kaelyn wrote?

  • JustTheFacts

    Sick right wing propaganda of the worst kind. The only problem is right winger Margaret Lyons can get away with this. I can guarantee she won’t print a retraction when proven wrong. This EW rag is getting as bad and political as Rush Limbaugh or FoxNews.

    • Kat

      Um, she identified herself as a liberal, you know. As she said, you can be on the same political team as someone and still think they’re behaved horribly when they try to excuse rape. On the other hand, I do see your point about EW getting political – but I do tend to think it’s a valid topic for them when it involves someone like Olbermann and Moore, who are entertainment figures.

    • whatevs

      Um, I don’t know of a single writer on this website who identifies themselves as a conservative. Being an idiot isn’t a liberal or conservative trait. It’s a human trait, which you managed to prove nicely.

    • Irwin Deutsch

      Those sex charges are a ruse for Assange to be sent back to Sweden, than extradited to the U.S. Like the leaks show, the U.S. is not above pressuring countries to get its way. If Assange is guilty of sex crimes, he should be punished, but why all this secrecy? The whole thing stinks to me.

      • Al

        Why couldn’t the U.S. have extradited him when he was in U.K. custody then? What is the point of waiting until he is in Sweden? The U.S./E.U. extradition treaty would apply equally in both cases.

      • Me

        Because Irwin is talking out his butt.

    • DGH

      You really have your “facts” wrong if you think is a right wing website you clearly need a brain scan!

    • Dude

      No one that works at has anything to do with the right wing. However, I do agree I wish they would save this crap for the Huffington Post and stick with actual entertainment.

  • Really?

    I didnt realize so many people read tabloid news when wanting to learn about real world events and problems. Haha… Just thought I’d stop in to see what was going on and found it rather amusing. Have a great day everyone.

    • DGH

      I am pretty sure Keith is about as tabloid as you can get.

  • Tessa

    Does it get…any…”UGLIER” than Mike Moore???? God…he makes my skin crawl….

  • stickittotheman

    Read an article today on a former Assange girl friend who released “creepy” texts and voicemails he sent her. Poetic justice, dude! Hope you like the nothing-is-confidential world you created.

  • A-K87

    It seems very,very conveient to me that Assange, the man responsible for leaking information which unequivocally shows the US leadership for their true worth is also a rapist. It’s even more surprising (note sarcastic tone) that these charges come to light when they did.

    Some of you Americans need to get off your patriotic high horse and (as you would say) “wake up and smell the coffee”

    P.s go and find your news from politically neutral organisations such as the BBC and come to your own conclusion rather than regurgitating the opinions represented as facts in various forms of north American “journalism”

    • Susanne

      It’s not convenient at all. The same lack of respect for boundaries that led to Wikileaks (a generally good thing) seems also to have lead him to not respect the personal boundaries and bodily autonomy of his alleged victims. How is that good?

      • A-K87

        Because you are accused of a crime doesn’t always mean that they committed it.

    • stickittotheman

      Yeah, let’s all follow England’s lead. You guys displayed such openess during the Bloody Sunday inquiry. Assange ain’t a hero. A hero does the right thing and returns stolen property to its rightful owner. Man, even Pepsi refuses to accept insider information from disgruntled Coke employees.

  • B

    Thank you for introducing me to Feminist Hulk.

  • MWeyer

    Michael Moore no more represents the majority of liberals than Sarah Palin represents the majority of conservatives. Moore is a hypocrite of the highest order, a man who takes private jets to Cannes and has an $8 million New York loft but still presents himself as “fighting for the common man.” Olbermann is no better than Bill O’Reilly with his blowhard attitude, belief he speaks for all sane Americans and that “worst person in the world” bit. Moore can claim patrotism all he wants but he’s driven by ego and a need for the spotlight and willing to overlook a man being a rapist because he’s doing “great work” revealing our nation’s secrets is low even for him. No wonder liberals are so easy to slam from the right when we have morons like him as our biggest voices.

    • Anne


    • mia

      I think I’m in love…

    • Lisar

      hella true

  • K

    I don’t like it when anyone dismisses charges against someone simply because they agree with the agenda that person puts forth. They can question the timing all they want, and that’s valid, but should also call for him to clear it up as soon as possible. They should agree that it is distracting to their agenda if he is having sex with random women, he set himself up.

    • stickittotheman

      So true! It was like the way people lined up for/against OJ along racial lines. Evidence sure took a back seat to emotions.

  • Nick Tammer

    I can’t believe people can still fall for the wikileaks “target list” First off the real critical targets (military secret bases, nuclear plants…) are not on that list. There are over 60 nuclear reactors in France, none is listed.
    Second, any idiot googling for 30 minutes would come up with a better list than that.
    Any terrorist group structured enough to plan an attack of that scale (on such big sites) already know better than that list. Finally, not even 10% of these supposedly secret targets are in the US. Even R.Gates himself “claims the consequences of the cables release will be fairly modest, but embarrassing and awkward”

  • Tanin

    They didn’t “mischaracterized” anything. There’s a difference between the act and the accusation. Falsely accusing someone of sexual misconducts is a very serious matter. Familiarize yourself with the subject before jumping on its bandwagon.

  • Terri

    see comments by Wendy Murphy on the Daily Beast:

    “As a former sex crimes prosecutor, I’m the last person you might expect to come to the defense of the unsavory WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. But the charges that now have him sitting in a British prison reek of opportunism and political expediency, and that does women around the world no good.”

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