Keith Olbermann is highly literate: We watch, because we’re paid to

Ruth Graham Contributor
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Since joining Twitter last Thursday, Keith Olbermann has tweeted an astonishing 443 times and counting. The man even tweets during the commercial breaks of his own show. Seriously.

Meanwhile, baseball season kicked off this week, and Olbermann has attended at least a few games at the new Yankee Stadium, which we know because he’s takes pictures of himself with his phone and then immediately posts them on Twitter while he’s at the games. Come to think of it, between his constant tweeting, talking about tweeting, rambling about baseball and reading old short stories on-air, I’d say the portion of show devoted to news and commentary this week probably hovered around 20%.

Let’s review.

FRIDAY APRIL 9: Tonight, Olbermann and guest Jonathan Turley fretted that Obama’s pick to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court might be unacceptably conservative. Take it away, boys:

OLBERMANN: Does that necessarily mean the president‘s going to move a conservative court even further to the right?
TURLEY: I think it just might.

Well, you never know. Anyway, when it comes to wild speculation, they had nothing on guest — and frequent substitute host — Lawrence O’Donnell. When asked by Olbermann whether the president is considering any “true liberals” for the court, or if he has “internalized criticism from the right to the extent that it‘s now OK, in essence, to say, ‘We‘re going to discriminate against liberals and progressives?'” O’Donnell responded: “They‘re almost all Manchurian candidates now. They’ve lived the last couple of decades of their professional lives being very careful not to be caught leaning in overtly liberal directions. So President Obama‘s chore is going to be finding the liberal within the people who have had to pose this way for what is now decades. It‘s a tricky process. I think the president is probably very good at this.”

Let’s be clear, Lawrence. You’re saying the current prospective court candidates, including Solicitor General Elena Kagan, have been scheming for decades to masquerade as moderate, when in fact they’re screaming liberals? And that President Obama knows this, can hear their dog-whistle signals of extreme leftiness, and will choose accordingly? Be careful, Lawrence. You’re supposed to be on Keith’s side. Or maybe you’re trying to be reassuring?

Intriguing. But there wasn’t much time to sit around contemplating the implications of that accusation. For the last few weeks, Olbermann has been reading stories by mid-century humorist James Thurber on-air. Tonight, he made time to read two of them.

As Thurber himself put it, “Sixty minutes of thinking of any kind is bound to lead to confusion and unhappiness.”

MONDAY APRIL 12: Today the news broke that Conan O’Brien would move to TBS. Olbermann was weirdly gleeful, I suppose because Fox was widely expected to scoop up the former “Tonight Show” host. But Olbermann seemed to hold some sort of grudge against TBS, too. “It is the basic cable channel that brings you appointment television, provided your appointment was for seven years ago. TBS: reruns of ‘The King of Queens’ and ‘Family Guy,’ along with heavily advertised, so far low-yield sitcoms and talk shows.” He also displayed a strange obsession with impressionist comedian Frank Caliendo, whose long-canceled TBS show he mentioned three separate times during Monday’s show. Is that because Caliendo now does some football pregame coverage for Fox? Your guess is as good as mine.

In case you’re curious, TBS averaged more than 2 million viewers a night last week.

As James Thurber once wrote, “All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.”

TUESDAY APRIL 13: Keith Olbermann is a master of smug. So let’s talk about the two smuggest words in the English language, which, unsurprisingly, he employs frequently. Can you spot them in this farewell to Tuesday guest Paul Krugman?

“Paul Krugman, columnist of the New York Times; also, of course, at Princeton … we thank you kindly for your time.”

Of course. Princeton, of course. Of course, Olbermann is saying, I know Paul Krugman is a Princeton professor. YOU know Paul Krugman is a Princeton professor. I barely need to explain it. But I am going to explain it, but not without bragging about the fact that it’s, like, so totally obvious that I shouldn’t even need to say it. Of course.

The next day, he introduces “John Dean, author of ‘Worse than Watergate’ and ‘Conservatives Without Conscience’ and, of course, a columnist at” Of course.

Keith Olbermann, host of “Countdown,” and, of course, an insufferable know-it-all.

As James Thurber once wrote, “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14: Tonight Olbermann devoted some time to reporting on the large flume of volcanic ash that had begun to waft over Europe, pandering to his audience’s obvious interest in huge quantities of hot air.

Then he spent much of the rest of the show fawning over the creators of the 1990s cable comedy “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” mentioning several times that he had written a positive article about the show in 1990. If you need to ask whether he quoted himself, you don’t know Keith Olbermann.

THURSDAY, APRIL 15: Tax Day, and also the day of the major rally in Washington, D.C., that was the culmination of the Tea Party’s tour of America.

You know, the Tea Party whose racial politics Keith has been relentlessly focused on for weeks now? The Tea Party’s he accused Wednesday of being “a con game”? This is sure to be a big day for “Countdown,” right?

Unfortunately for Keith’s viewers, however, it was also a beautiful day in New York and there was a ballgame at Yankee Stadium. So he took the night off, relentlessly tweeting his way through the game.

As James Thurber wrote, “It is better to have loafed and lost, than never to have loafed at all.”

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