Keith Olbermann, we salute you: We watch, because we’re paid to

Ruth Graham Contributor
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Oh, hello there, Keith Olbermann! How are you doing? We here at hope you’re having a really excellent day. If you’re not, however, please feel free to email Tucker Carlson at, and he’ll be happy to assist you.

In the meantime, let’s review the week in Keith Olbermann.

FRIDAY, JULY 9: Tonight, Olbermann bragged about being, according to one metric, the most-viewed cable news TV website. Great job, Keith! MSNBC’s decision to hire you to be a website designer is finally paying off. Your work here is done. And I must say, does look fantastic.

MONDAY, JULY 12: Tonight, Olbermann lamented that he’s not in the NAACP. He said it jokingly, but the NAACP does have white members. You should join, Keith! While you’re at it, my neighborhood block association is also looking for a treasurer. This is all part of my campaign to make Olbermann so busy he no longer has time to host “Countdown.” Hey, a girl can dream.

TUESDAY, JULY 13: Longtime Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died on Tuesday, causing Keith Olbermann to ruminate fondly and at great length about Keith Olbermann. After teasing the segment on “my 37 years with George Steinbrenner,” he played clips of himself interviewing Steinbrenner in 1982, and recounted the great long list of ways that Steinbrenner had loved him:

“He wrote fan letters to my bosses about me, inquired after my mother‘s health for the five years after she was hit by that throw at Yankee Stadium, tried to hire me once, and once spent several minutes telling a guest of his, reviewing each occasion over the 30 years in which he and I had interacted, as I stood there in astonishment. That guest was President Clinton.”

Keith, I don’t mean to interrupt, but you seem to have dropped some names. Nice Paul Harvey-esque ending, though.

But did you also catch that bit in the middle in which Olbermann claims that Steinbrenner tried to hire him? You know, it was only a few weeks ago that Olbermann bragged that Larry King tried to convince his bosses to hire Olbermann. “Larry King is a lovely and generous man, who repeatedly tried to convince his bosses to hire me to precede him at CNN,” he intoned. Sure he did. Tune in on Christmas Day to watch Olbermann reminisce about the time Santa Claus tried to hire him.

Later, another old clip, which Olbermann expanded on thusly:

“What you could not see during that was, during the commercial, in the moments before he received that last of his World Series trophies, was George Steinbrenner weeping on to my shoulder while he asked if my mom happened to be in the stands.”

GOOD GOD, MAN. How did you get this way? You’re 51 years old, and you’re bragging on television about the time 10 years ago that Steinbrenner touched you, and you’re also sort of implying — right after his death — that you were more important to him than the World Series? Is this really how you operate in the world?

There was more. So much more. Olbermann described former Yankees manager Joe Torre as “my friend since 1981,” and told another long-winded story about talking with Steinbrenner in his box in 1999 (Steinbrenner called him “Keith”!). Then he posted an elegiac 800-word personal essay about Steinbrenner on his blog, Baseball Nerd (“I had known him since I was 14 …”), and another one the next day. Steinbrenner is probably looking down at Keith right now and wishing he’d slapped him upside the head when he had the chance.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 14: Tonight, Rush Limbaugh was declared the Worst Person in the World. Also, the sun rose in the East, the Pope continued to be Catholic and somewhere, a bear “hosted ‘Countdown’” in the woods.

Now, the logic of tonight’s award gets a little hazy, but stick with me. Limbaugh has been banging the drum about the New Black Panthers, a fringe leftist group. Olbermann is defending the left’s lack of alarm about the group by saying “If we‘re supposed to report on every impotent idiot who says hateful, racist things, all news broadcasts everywhere would be entirely about Rush Limbaugh.”

Good point! In fact, as a person who writes a column about Keith Olbermann every week, this causes me a twinge of self-recognition! Maybe we should ignore all the “impotent idiots” and they’ll go away. The angry, the smug, the braggarts, the people whose heads look like huge orange basketballs … maybe if we stop giving them oxygen by paying attention to them, they’ll disappear! Maybe every time we talk about them, we only give them more power by legitimizing them as worthy of engagement. What an idea!

But before I finish that thought, let’s flash back in tonight’s show by, oh, 45 seconds, to see who won the silver for Worst Person in the World. Olbermann gave that award to someone who really deserved it: A woman who made a bad YouTube video touting Glenn Beck for president. Ever the gentleman, Olbermann introduced the clip by saying “I have to warn you, she doesn’t know much about video, makeup, eyebrows or how close to get to the camera.” He later compared her appearance to Senor Wences. (Have I mentioned Keith Olbermann’s woman problem lately?)

So, let’s review. Fringe leftist groups: not worth discussing. Fringe groups on the right: Worthy of personal insults, “Worst Person” awards, and provide 80 percent of “Countdown’s” content. Got it.

THURSDAY, JULY 15:  Rounding out a week he had begun by bragging about website viewers, tonight Olbermann bragged on-air about his recent Emmy nomination for news writing. He treated the wholly unnecessary announcement with a strange imitation of humility, thanking the academy (seriously) and soberly intoning that it “did me the great honor” of a nomination. To put this in some perspective, Olbermann is nominated for a “News and Documentary Emmy Award,” which is all well and good, but not the same as the Primetime Emmy awards that will be broadcast this fall. You might say the News and Documentary Emmys are to the Primetime Emmys what Cornell’s ag school is to Cornell.

That said, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and in Keith Olbermann’s world, that itself might be something to celebrate.