Well, it took Keith Olbermann exactly 4 minutes, 52 seconds to start talking politics again. According to the New York Times, Olbermann’s contract with ESPN forbids him talking about the stuff that drove his shows on MSNBC and Current TV, making him one of the most polarizing figures in broadcasting. If true, Olbermann juked that issue in tonight’s debut like Barry Sanders in the open field.
OK, it was totally sports related, but one was quite clear on where Olbermann stands ideologically when he said, while blinking and grinning ironically: “Governor Chris Christie is … is … right!” (That moment below, thanks to the vivacious Cork Gaines):
Olbermann is back at the WWL after 16 years, kicking off his new show, “Olbermann Live” on ESPN2, with these words:
“As I was saying” Keith Olbermann’s first words on his new ESPN2 show tonight. On right now
— Josh Krulewitz (@jksports) August 27, 2013
He then performed a lengthy lobotomy on Manish Mehta’s New York Daily News story on Rex Ryan (headline: ‘Rex Ryan’s decision to play Mark Sanchez in fourth could cost him job’).
“Who decided this could cost him his job?” asked an incredulous Olbermann. “Who are his sources? Are we witnessing the end of journalism? He is just making stuff up!”
He lambasted the Daily News for creating a story out of thin air, and then reporting on their own non-story. It was a pointed, Daily Show-esque moment, possessing a level of insight and skill that the Worldwide Leader desperately needs.
Although one has to assume that ESPN bigwigs were fidgeting rather nervously throughout, considering how closely the story resembled what their own network did with the Ron Jaworski-Colin Kaepernick story this past Friday.
It won’t be the first time, one assumes, that Olbermann will be cutting so closely to the bone of the hand that feeds him. And that will be a compelling reason to tune in.
And “Olbermann” is also an example of how ESPN is still miles and years ahead of Fox Sports 1. Regis Philbin and “The Crowd Goes Wild” vs. Keith Olbermann? Is that a joke?
Other Olbermann debut notes:
First guest? Jason Whitlock, who somehow came off even more worldly and intelligent than he does in his columns. Key mentions: Deadspin (twice), which must have made ESPN even more nervous; gratuitous mention by Whitlock of “The Wire”; Mark Cuban, breaking down why the MLB is a mess; and the term “Welcome to the end of our careers.”
If the first show is any indication, welcome to the beginning of my interest and admiration for ESPN.