Was Mancow’s Waterboarding Staged?

By Chris Ariens 

Gawker has an extensive look into the Erich “Mancow” Muller waterboarding that took place one week ago today.

Based on an email exchange forwarded by a source to Gawker, there are questions about whether Mancow’s waterboarding was the real thing.

Here is one of the emails sent by Muller’s publicist, Linda Shafran, as she searched for a replacement person to conduct the waterboarding:

It is going to have to look “real” but of course would be simulated with Mancow acting like he is drowning. It will be a hoax but have to look real. Would be great if they could dress in fatigues and bring whatever is needed. We will supply the water.

Shafran responded to Gawker via email last night with this comment:

It was NOT a hoax. Early on when we were looking for someone to waterboard, an email was sent out looking for someone to do it and I mistakenly said it would be staged. That was my mistake and a misunderstanding. But that was early and NOT TRUE AT ALL. It was not staged. NOT AT ALL. When it happened several days later, it was real, honest, actual, not staged. Any info you have was my mistake. THE WATERBOARDING OF MANCOW WAS REAL!!!!!!

What’s more, Gawker claims the staff at Countdown with Keith Olbermann knew of the email exchange prior to his booking on Countdown Tuesday night.

An MSNBC spokesperson tells TVNewser, “We were assured by the publicist that this was just a poor choice of words in her haste to find someone to do the waterboarding.”

> Update: Mancow responds to Gawker: “We went into this thinking it was going to be a joke. But it was not a joke — it was horrible. ‘Hoax’ is probably not the right word, but we did think it was going to be a joke.”

> Update 2: Gawker’s John Cook also talked with Klay South, the marine who performed the waterboarding: “I know nothing about waterboarding. I had never done it before, I have no formal training in it, and I’ve never had it done to me. The only thing I knew was what I saw on the internet. I went to waterboarding.org and looked it up. I just did what I was told-poured the water on his face and that was it. I’m probably the last person they should have had do it. I didn’t know what I was doing.

> Update 3: Mancow will be a guest on Countdown with Keith Olbermann tonight (Friday) to address the situation.

> Update 4: Tonight’s segment below:

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> Update 5: Gawker’s Cook gives a point-by-point rebuttal to Olbermann accusations/Mancow segment: “Olbermann is living in a fantasy world where malicious bloggers spread lies about him without doing any legwork. We did more reporting on Muller’s alleged waterboarding than he or his staff did.”