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Keith Olbermann Suspends Twitter Account In Assange Controversy

Callie Schweitzer |
December 16, 2010 | 6:15 p.m. PST


Keith Olbermann's Twitter page
Keith Olbermann's Twitter page

Twitter got heated Thursday when MSNBC host Keith Olbermann said he is suspending his Twitter account after being attacked for his discussion of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's rape charges.

The "Countdown" host removed his photo from his Twitter profile and appears to have stopped tweeting as of about 2 p.m. EST.

"I've discovered that I am accused of being a rape apologist in part because I didn't remove the quotes from the word rape in a retweet," he tweeted, and immediately followed up with, "I'll thus unblock all blocks, wish you all a Merry Christmas and I'll suspend this account until/if this frenzy is stopped."

AOL reports, "On Tuesday, the MSNBC personality sparked controversy when he and film director Michael Moore, who recently offered $20,000 of his own money to bail out Assange, expressed a 'dismissive' attitude over the rape allegations against Assange."

But Moore's comments may have been taken out of context, Mediaite notes:

"Moore appeared to dismiss the accusations as 'hooey' (although he was actually referring to what he views as the use of the allegations as a pretext to silence Assange)...Jezebel’s headline highlights the “hooey” remark, but in context, Moore is clearly referring to Assange’s arrest, not the allegations themselves."

Tigerbeatdown.com launched an online campaign to get an apology from Moore for his "rape apologism," and shame both he and Olbermann for their actions.

Olbermann is also being criticized for retweeting a tweet from Assange supporter Bianca Jagger, downplaying the charges against Assange and "possibly reveal[ing] the identities of Assange's accuser."

On Wednesday, Olbermann responded in a series of five tweets:

(1/5) Rape has touched my family, directly and savagely, and if anybody thinks I have addressed it without full sensitivity, then that...

(2/5) ...assessment is the one that counts, and I apologize. But these accusations that I "revealed" an accuser's identity by retweeting

(3/5) Bianca Jagger’s link, or that I 'shamed' an accuser by asking a question about the prosecution of a man governments are

(4/5) trying to bury, or that I do not 'understand' charges that have yet to be presented in their final form, reflect exactly the

(5/5) the kind of rushing to judgment of which I'm accused, and merit the same kind of apology I have just given.

Olbermann spent much of Thursday responding to individual attacks.

Below are some of his tweets:

@N_Tanner excuse me. The quote marks were in Bianca Jagger's original tweet. I retweeted it as is, per Twitter etiquette

@accostherwilde I have already apologized. This has now descended into a frenzy in which I will not participate.

@weekdayblues Do you always put phrases in people's mouths, like "Big Lies," or is it just for this? I have never said anything like that

@amaditalks That response doesn't answer my question. You are assuming you know the truth. I am not assuming. Assange could easily be guilty

@thefremen When did I "release names" of rape victims, please?

@the_retelling "Out" them? The names have been on the internet for weeks - and we never mentioned them on the air.



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