The XX Factor

Keith Olbermann Responds to Twitter Campaign Against Him

After a few days hiatus, Keith Olbermann is back on Twitter . He left the microblogging service briefly last week because of the feminist protest, started by sometime- XX Factor blogger Sady Doyle , using the hashtag #mooreandme . Anti-rape activists have been tweeting that at Olbermann and Michael Moore for spreading misinformation about the women who accused Julian Assange of rape. You can read a full account of the fracas on Entertainment Weekly ‘s Pop Watch blog , but in short, Michael Moore went on Olbermann’s MSNBC show on the 14th to talk about why he was putting up bail money for Assange. During that interview, Moore said the allegation* against Assange is “that his condom broke during consensual sex.” This is incorrect.The New York Times lists the charges here -the allegations are actually that Assange tore one woman’s clothes off and “pinned her arms and legs to stop her from reaching for a condom,” and with a second woman he started having condomless sex with her while she was asleep.

Olbermann has still not amended Michael Moore’s misstatement. But he has offered this semi-apology to the #mooreandme crew:

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.

This is reasonably gracious, but it’s still missing the original point of the #mooreandme protest, which is that Michael Moore got something wrong on Olbermann’s show. I’m not sure what MSNBC’s policies are on running corrections, so maybe Olbermann is not allowed to unofficially address Michael Moore’s statements. But if their policies are lax, it would be fairly easy for Olbermann to admit via Twitter that one of his guests mischaracterized the allegations against Assange. It’s not at all clear what’s stopping him.

Photograph of Keith Olbermann by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

*Correction, Dec. 20, 2010: The original version of this post incorrectly used the term charges. Assange has not been charged.