Keith Olbermann says: ‘Follow me.’ We watch, because we’re paid to

Ruth Graham Contributor
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Keith Olbermann has a nightly television show, a blog, and has written several books. If the man spent any more time churning out pearls of wisdom, he’d have to see a doctor. Well, call a medic, because last night, Keith Olbermann joined Twitter. His first Tweet reads thusly: “I give up. I was wrong. Young and foolish. Now my twitter-cot belongs to the ages. Behold: I tweet.” Only Keith Olbermann could compose a tweet that’s 5 sentences long.

Let’s take a look back at the week’s shows.

FRIDAY, APRIL 2: For the third time last week, Olbermann gushed about a new memoir by major league pitcher Dirk Hayhurst, again saying it has been compared to “The Catcher in the Rye” even though I’m pretty sure only Olbermann and Hayhurst have ever made the comparison. Hayhurst also became the second person Olbermann followed on Twitter, after a comely young tattooed woman who lives in Cape Cod and runs a jewelry Web site. (Yeah, I have no idea either.) Hayhurst and Olbermann have already exchanged several messages, including one in which Olbermann tweeted to the pitcher, “I am holding your glove hostage,” which sounds disgusting. Anyway, it seems they are friends. Next he’ll be plugging his mechanic’s self-published poetry on-air.

Speaking of literature, Olbermann ended the week by reading an 800-word short story by James Thurber on air. I’ve got no issues with Thurber, and the story itself was fine, funny, even touching. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a little lazy to eat up a good portion of an hour-long current-events show by reading a piece of short fiction first published in 1935. I happen to love P.G. Wodehouse, but you don’t see me pasting in long paragraphs of his (hilarious) novels to fill out this column.

Anyway, Olbermann introduced the story by saying, “I first read it out loud in 1979 in college, and a friend of mine said, ‘You should quit this broadcasting stuff and just read him aloud full time.'” Leave it to Olbermann to remember a 31-year-old offhand compliment verbatim. Hey, Keith, maybe his real point was that you should quit broadcasting, and he was just trying to deliver the advice gently.

MONDAY, APRIL 5: With his trademarked sense of impeccable proportion, Olbermann opened Monday’s show with a story about “the fate of Washington, D.C., this summer, our national discourse and potentially the outcome of the November elections.” And that was a segment — about the possible retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens — he deemed only the fifth-most important of the night. After that kind of windup for #5, I was expecting him to introduce the top story with something like this:

“My fellow Americans, tonight’s top story concerns the fate of the universe, this millennium, our intergalactic discourse, and potentially the outcome of the eternal battle between good and evil.”

Instead, the night’s top story was about Tiger Woods, and he introduced it by sniggering over the fact that Woods used the phrase “blew me away” during a press conference. Priorities, Keith!

In between those stories, some legitimate news was breaking: President Obama announced he would limit America’s use of nuclear arms. Caught off guard, Olbermann struggled to deal with the story as it unfurled. One highlight:

“The headline perhaps answers a lot of the questions that it itself creates. ‘Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms.'”

Perhaps. But does it? I don’t actually think it does.

Then he ended up just reading about 15% of the 1,592-word story verbatim on-air.

TUESDAY, APRIL 6: During today’s Comment, Keith intoned that “Nothing is sadder than watching a formerly prominent politician self-destruction in the bid to survive at any cost.” Substitute the phrase “television host” for “politician” there, and we get a glimpse into Keith’s fragile psyche.

By the way, after months of watching this show every single night, I still don’t know what makes a Comment different from a Special Comment. I also have to question how I’ve been spending my time over the last few months, but that’s a different story.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7: This week’s out-of-context quote from Keith Olbermann: “Depending on which Internet report you read, he hasn’t hit puberty yet or he’s 24 years old.”

THURSDAY, APRIL 8: Tonight, Olbermann accused Sarah Palin of “reducing [the nuclear issue] to terms she could understand: kids on a playground.” I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was insulting her intelligence, rather than suggesting that as a woman she can only understand child-related metaphors. The fact that he immediately came right out and said, “That woman is an idiot,” implies this a pretty safe assumption.

Then he schmoozed with a fellow Cornell grad guest, and told some more Tiger Woods jokes.

Finally, it was time for Keith to join Twitter. First he gave us an exhaustive history of the social-media tool itself, beginning with its founding in 2006 and including the time in 2008 when he joined but was afraid that everyone could see his address or something. He also revealed that he types with one finger. I’m not sure why this whole lead-up was necessary — it would be like my grandmother opening up an email account, but first explaining to me in detail what exactly email is.

We know what Twitter is, Grandpa Keith. And we can all follow you at This is going to be fun.

Previous columns:

Keith Olbermann, lather up

Keith Olbermann is back. Hallelujah!

We miss you Keith Olbermann, Dylan Ratigan makes no sense

Keith Olbermann, look out! Dylan Ratigan is on your tail

Keith Olbermann is not the worst person in the world

Keith Olbermann dislikes Dick Cheney

Keith Olbermann is a funny, funny man

Keith Olbermann is a serious journalist

Keith Olbermann understands important things

Keith Olbermann is incredibly smart