Keith Olbermann’s sugar-eating grin: We watch, because we’re paid to

Ruth Graham Contributor
Font Size:

Another week in Olbermann-land, another step downward in my steady descent into Olbermann-induced madness.

: Another Friday, another “Fridays With Thurber” segment on “Countdown,” in which, like a douchebag version of Alistair Cooke, Keith takes off his glasses and suit jacket, reclines in a leather armchair, and pompously reads long passages of Literature.

Keith, here’s an interesting fact about hosting a television show: Just because you enjoy something in your private time — say, reading the work of James Thurber — does not mean you have to do the same thing on the air every single week.

Next week: Keith Olbermann makes a tasty batch of pancakes on Saturday morning; announces “Countdown’s” permanent new “Mondays With Pancakes” segment. Coming soon: Tuesdays With Bubble Baths, Wednesdays With Screaming at My Housekeeper and Thursdays With Crying Myself to Sleep.

MONDAY, MAY 3: Once in a while, Olbermann forces his guests to indulge his interest in pop culture arcana. Tonight’s victim was Chris Hayes, the Washington editor of The Nation, ostensibly making an appearance to discuss the political implications of the BP oil spill. Get a load of this painful interchange:

OLBERMANN (eagerly): Remember the old Judge Reinhold movie, “Home Office”?
HAYES (bluffing):  Yeah.
OLBERMANN (oblivious): Rick Moranis was the executive. All he did was pick up the phone and say “It‘s not my fault, I‘ll call you back. It‘s not my fault. It‘s not fault.”
HAYES (faking it to get this over with): That’s right.
OLBERMANN (giddy): He would make $1 million a day in this business!
HAYES (desperate): He‘d be perfect.

Olbermann also played a few clips of President Obama’s speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Obama made jokes about Fox and MSNBC:

“A few weeks ago, I was able to throw out the first pitch at the Nationals game.  And I don‘t know if you saw it, but I threw it a little high, a little outside.  This is how Fox News covered it: ‘President panders to extreme left wing of batter’s box.’ On the other hand, MSNBC had a different take: ‘President pitches no-hitter.'”

Then Obama played an embarrassing clip of CNN’s Rick Sanchez and quipped, “I guess that’s why they’re the most trusted name in news.”

Poor out-of-touch Keith didn’t think anyone understood these jokes. “He gutted CNN and it just went right past people!” he squealed. Uh, no it didn’t. CNN’s slogan is “The Most Trusted Name in News.” We got it. So did the roomful of professional journalists who could be heard on the tape laughing uproariously.

Maybe Olbermann misread the moment because he skipped the dinner. Do you know why? Hint: It’s the same reason he so frequently skips his own show, has so few friends, and will never be happy. The award for Least-Surprising Reason Keith Olbermann Chose to Stay Home and Pout goes to … Holding a Grudge! In Olbermann’s own words, “I won‘t go because there‘s some people I won‘t be in the room with anymore.” I’m sure they were crushed.

[flashvideo file= /]

TUESDAY, MAY 4: Ooh, Keith opened tonight’s show by announcing a Special Comment! A Special Comment is like Christmas morning for Olbermann buffs and/or Olbermann loathers who have nonetheless been watching him every night for months and months and months and months. Tonight’s Comment was a short but thrillingly self-righteous rant about Senator McCain’s objection to the mirandizing of terror suspect Faisal Shahzad. He whipped himself into a quite a frenzy: “You shame yourself in the eyes of American patriots and in the eyes of your fellow veterans who sacrificed, and the honored dead who gave their lives to protect the freedoms and the laws you have today suggested should be optional.”

Now THAT is the kind of pomposity I expect every night on “Countdown.” More, please! Olbermann had to keep the Comment short tonight, though. There were more important matters to attend to.

Now, in the past few weeks, Olbermann has conducted lengthy fawning interviews with the stars of the 1990s cult TV comedy Mystery Science Theater 3000, and with the sketch comedian Dave Foley. I’m starting to wonder why it’s taped in MSNBC’s multimillion-dollar studios and viewed by millions — or at least thousands — of homes all over the United States, instead of being taped in Keith’s mom’s basement and viewed by dozens of people who flip to late-night cable-access TV when stoned.

Tonight Olbermann’s last guest was Twitter “star” Justin Halpern, now author of a new book of wacky quotes from his dad. The book is called “Shit My Dad Says.” Are you scandalized? Are you titillated? Keith is. Look how many times he called attention to the book’s title:

  • “The Twitter sensation ‘Spit My Dad Says'”
  • “We‘ll introduce you to the man behind ‘Stuff My Dad Says,’ only it‘s not ‘stuff,’ next.”
  • “He started a Twitter page called ‘Stuff My Dad Says.’ Only ‘Stuff’ is actually a word that rhymes with spit.”
  • “The No. 1 story, ‘Junk My Dad Says’ is a runaway hit”
  • “For the uninitiated, ‘Schmutz My Dad Says’ went live last August.”
  • “Joining me now from Los Angeles is the Tweeter and now author of ‘Sugar My Dad Says,’ Justin Halpern.”
  • “Just throwing this out from one Tweet guy to another: ‘Shatner My Dad Says.'”
  • “‘Things My Dad Says’ — it is not really ‘Things'”


WEDNESDAY, MAY 5: Your out-of-context Keith Olbermann quote of the week: “The bear was taken to a nearby forest to reunite with his other bear family members. He thought he‘d have a good story to tell them, until he was reminded of his brother‘s last trip to the circus.”

THURSDAY, MAY 6: You don’t often see an ad for a television show during the commercial break for that very show, but a new TV ad for “Countdown” has made its debut this week and has been airing during “Countdown” itself. I guess the brass is trying to tell viewers, “We know THIS episode is terrible, but maybe we can convince you to tune in another time?”

The ad has Olbermann justifying the fact that he never has a guest on the show who disagrees with him. “The premise of the guests is misunderstood as political reinforcement,” Ad Keith insists. “I ask questions to find out if I’m wildly incorrect.” Huh? This doesn’t make any sense, and only makes him seem more priggish and loathsome than usual.

Keith, I’ll put this in terms you might appreciate: Wipe that sugar-eating grin off your face, you smug piece of schmutz. Sorry, was that too harsh? Well, tough spit.

More Olbermann:

Keith Olbermann has a mean streak

Keith Olbermann is a giant baby

Keith Olbermann is highly literate

Keith Olbermann says, ‘Follow me’

Keith Olbermann, lather up

Keith Olbermann is back. Hallelujah!

We miss you Keith Olbermann, Dylan Ratigan makes no sense