Battle Between Hannity And Olbermann Gets Personal

NEW YORK – The debate over torture is getting personal for two of cable TV's prime-time hosts.

After Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity made a seemingly impromptu offer last week to undergo waterboarding as a benefit for charity, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann leapt at it. He offered $1,000 to the families of U.S. troops for every second Hannity withstood the technique.

Olbermann repeated the offer on Monday's show and said in an interview Tuesday that he's heard no response. He said he'll continue to pursue it.

"I don't think he has the courage to even respond to this — let alone do it," Olbermann said.

Fox News Channel representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

The two men are on opposite poles of a debate that has preoccupied the worlds of talk TV and radio. Hannity says waterboarding is a fair and necessary interrogation technique for suspected terrorists; Olbermann calls it torture, says it's ineffective and should not be done by Americans.

Charles Grodin was challenging Hannity on the issue on Fox last week, and asked whether he would consent to be waterboarded.

"Sure," Hannity said. "I'll do it for charity ... I'll do it for the troops' families."

It wasn't exactly clear how serious the conversation was, since Grodin joked, "Are you busy on Sunday?" and Hannity laughed.

"I'll let you do it," Hannity said.

"I wouldn't do it," Grodin said. "I'll hand you a towel when you come out of the shower."

Olbermann's offer was quick. Besides the $1,000 per second, Olbermann said he'd double it if Hannity acknowledges he feared for his life and admits that waterboarding is torture.

"The idea of putting somebody in a position they have volunteered for, for charity, to respond to their own unsupportable claims, is in many ways priceless," Olbermann said.

Olbermann, who hasn't missed any chance to criticize his ideological enemies at Fox, concedes TV competition plays a part in his offer. But he said it was sincere, because he believes Hannity has had a damaging role in the debate.

"If you expose people to reality, even with someone who is denying reality, that can have a powerful and important impact," he said.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by C on Jun 28, 2009 at 06:53 AM
    To David: It will never happen, but then again, it's not like they try to hide it ! To pee dee: Don't hold your breath waiting for Forest to respond. When you confront people like that with a cold, hard shot of reality such as yours..they tend to either change the subject or ignore you.
  • by David Location: Kinston on Jun 14, 2009 at 09:04 AM
    Olbermann and everyone from NBC and MSNBC need to publicly confess their undying love for Barack Obama.
  • by pee dee Location: jacksonville on May 12, 2009 at 05:23 AM
    Still waiting to hear from you "Forest for the Trees".
  • by pee dee Location: jacksonville on May 11, 2009 at 05:32 AM
    forest for the trees: I am waiting for a response.
  • by pee dee Location: jacksonville on May 10, 2009 at 04:26 AM
    forest for the trees: I never said anything bad about anyone that has posted here. I never singled out anyone, I was just posing a question. You or I will never know how good or bad we treated Japanese soldiers. A LOT of what happened in the Pacific was done without news reporters everywhere. I believe that Japanese soldiers WERE interogated and probably beat or KILLED for information. But if you want proof of our HONOR, just look at the hundreds of thousands of Japanese women and children that we dropped bombs on. Do you consider this a great HONOR?
  • by pee dee Location: jacksonville on May 9, 2009 at 03:06 PM
    Treated the Japanese with respect? We rounded up ALL American Japanese citizens and put them in camps with armed guards!How is that respect?
  • by pee dee Location: jacksonville on May 9, 2009 at 03:04 PM
    forest for the trees: so you say it is OK to kill unborn babies but not OK to waterboard terrorists?
  • by Forest for the trees? Location: Craven Co. on May 9, 2009 at 06:50 AM
    Billy Bob/pee dee/etc: It is you folks that are in error here. You have two vets on here standing up for American principle, and yet you "Super Patriots" (to steal DSV's line!) have little to stand-on (as DSV said, what have YOU done???) besides failed neo-con foreign policy that was led by the Chicken-Hawk-in-Chief Cheney? The Japanese committed terrible atrocities against us and our prisoners in WWII. They were far more brutal and killed more than what we face now, as crazy and dangerous as Taliban is. Yet, we Americans stood tall, kept our honor and treated their prisoners with tough American respect. Remember, we won that war too and this ushered in the golden age of America where we were the major world power respected throughout the world. This was directly DUE to our honor. Now, you neo-cons would have us "cut & run" from American honor at the 1st danger you have seen (9/11) and surrender our values to these low-lives. Disgraceful! We are better than you give us credit for.
  • by Billy Bob on May 8, 2009 at 12:30 PM
    No PeeDee, you are not the only one that see's something wrong with that. Don't bother trying to rationalize with them though, it's pointless. They just don't get it and never will. It will drive you crazy to try and figure them out. Know that there is at least one other person on this post that feels the same way as you do. No Hope for the Likes of Joe M or DSV.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on May 8, 2009 at 08:31 AM
    Pee Dee, I agree with your analogy since it is so true. If the dems go after Bush on this than they will take out Pelosi as well since she authorized it as well. Yep, the liar in charge, actually signed onto this then denied it. I guess when the CIA produced the actual paperwork she should have come clean and didn't. I still say waterboard her for the truth, then the other house members. Torture, now what McCain went through was torture, waterboarding doesn't brake bones, pretty sure about that one. According to the CIA the waterboarding worked and saved lives. Sorry, that is a fact. Why do so many think Gitmo residents have any rights. Terrorists are not soldiers, they are spies that should be shot. They gave up their rights when they came on US soil. May they never see light again.
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