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Keith Olbermann has a strange obsession with laughing at humiliated female models: We watch, because we’re paid to

Ruth Graham Contributor

This week in “Countdown” taught us that Keith Olbermann is brilliant and everyone else — women, religious people, Rupert Murdoch — is vile and/or stupid.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 24: Tonight’s “Countdown” count: Dozens of extravagant suck-ups to Stephen Colbert, two references to Cornell, and one video of a model falling down on the runway. Keith has returned to this hilarious theme over and over. Care to psychoanalyze a grown man who enjoys watching beautiful young women be humiliated?

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 27: Tonight, the #1 segment was about Ken Burns’ new PBS documentary on baseball, which just happens to feature one Mr. Keith Olbermann, who also played a clip of himself in the documentary at the top of the hour. The segment itself began with the words “In September 1994, the Montreal Expos…” If that doesn’t make you flip off your television set, press your Life Alert button and be rest assured that help is on the way.

Tonight also saw the birth of a rival show on MSNBC. “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell now airs at 10 p.m. EST, which used to be a slot reserved for a rerun of “Countdown,” which will now be bumped back to 11 p.m. Poor Keith didn’t just lose a time slot; he also lost a right-hand man. O’Donnell has been Olbermann’s go-to guest host on nights when he is on vacation, in a bad mood, or would rather go to a baseball game.

Olbermann appeared on the first “Last Word” as an in-studio guest, though he didn’t look happy to be doing it. Maybe his bad attitude was justified: The show beat “Countdown” in the ratings.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28: Tonight’s top guest slot went to comedian David Cross, who spent his time making fun of religious people based on the results of the Pew Forum’s Religious Knowledge survey, which found that atheists know more about religion than Christians do. This is somehow surprising and hilarious to Olbermann and the ironically named Cross, despite the fact that, as Steve Thorngate pointed out over at the Christian Century, “Atheists/agnostics and Jews didn’t actually do better on the Christianity questions than Christians did, just nearly as well—and considerably better on all the others. This is perfectly intuitive: minority groups know more about the majority than vice versa, because majority culture tends to define what counts as general knowledge.” Of course, making that very sensible observation is not nearly as fun as laughing at the stupids.

In related news, tonight’s “Oddball” segment featured a clip of Mariah Carey falling down, women participating in a relay race wearing high heels, and the final episode of the Australian version of “America’s Next Top Model” in which the host accidentally announced the wrong winner and a model was humiliated. Ha. Ha. Ha.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29: Tonight Olbermann named writer Dinesh D’Souza the runner-up for Worst Person in the world. The host tossed out the snide aside, “D’Souza has a book. They alllll have a book,” which is funny, because recently Keith has been relentlessly promoting his own upcoming book, flashing it constantly on “Countdown” and also when he made his appearance on “The Last Word.” In response, I will refuse to name it or link to it here out of sheer spite.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30: Tonight, for a segment on a scuffle between New York Post reporter Fred Dicker and the Republican candidate for New York governor, Carl Paladino. Olbermann’s guest was Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall; Olbermann asked him the probing question “Is it that truth does not matter in pursuit of higher patriotism, or is it something else?” Keith Olbermann, interviewer of the year. Larry King is harder on his guests than this guy.

Anyway, this Dicker vs. Paladino conflict is a tricky needle to thread for Olbermann, since Fred Dicker is one of the most esteemed Albany reporters in the state — he’s no Murdoch shill, though he works for a Murdoch paper. Olbermann would probably dispute any characterization of himself as a shill for GE, but he seems to have trouble making this generous leap when it comes to others. So when a top-notch reporter working for Rupert Murdoch ends up in a fight with a Tea Party-backed Republican, the circuits in Keith’s robo-brain start to short out. “Tea Party bad. Rupert Murdoch bad. Fight between Tea Party and Rupert Murdoch does not compute. … Does not compute … Does not compute …”

But it got worse: Another segment covered Murdoch’s congressional testimony in favor of immigration reform. Keith dealt with this by slamming Fox News for not giving the hearing enough airtime. Thus even when Robo-Keith’s #1 enemy gives public testimony he agrees with, he can find a way to be unhappy with it.

It must be a confusing time for our Keith. But don’t worry, soon a religious person or a Republican will do something dumb again, or a beautiful woman will fall down somewhere, and all will be right with the world.