Olbermann's Political Football

When it comes to unabashed political vitriol, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, host of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” is without peer.

In the past few months alone, he referred to Sarah Palin as “a clear and present danger to the safety and security of this nation,” said Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly “voluntarily [associates] himself with and [encourages]” people who kill abortion providers, accused former Vice President Dick Cheney of doing “the primary job of a terrorist” by criticizing President Obama, and called Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) a “bald faced liar” when Thune pointed out the dangers of Obamacare.

Ironically, Olbermann has not admitted that he has been doing “the primary job of a terrorist” although he spent 2008 criticizing President George W. Bush for allegedly “allowing the 9/11 attacks to occur” and accused Bush of using “murderous deceit” to justify sending “4,000 Americans to their death [in the Iraq War] for nothing!”

Because such duplicitous and hysterical attacks are the norm for Olbermann, whose MSNBC show includes segments with classy titles like “WTF?” and “Worst Person in the World,” it’s hard to grasp why NBC Sports is keeping him on board for a third season as host of “Football Night in America.”

Have they overlooked the fact that we’re watching football to see tackles and touchdowns, not to hear spontaneous insults launched against politicians Olbermann doesn’t like?

To answer this question, I contacted the National Football League and within the hour received a call back from NFL Spokesman Greg Aiello, who is also Vice President of their public relations department. When I told him that we, at HUMAN EVENTS, were somewhat surprised that a man who says the kind of things Olbermann does can be allowed to host an NFL game, Aiello cordially responded that he was not aware of a time when Olbermann had interjected his politics into his football commentary.

When I indicated that Olbermann had done so during a Buffalo Bills game in the 2008 season by mocking Republican V.P. candidate Sarah Palin’s tongue and cheek “I can see Russia from my house [in Alaska]” statement, Aiello simply said: “Our goal at the NFL is to stay out of politics and to keep the focus on football. If viewers are offended by choices NBC makes in their programming, then they should contact NBC.”

For the record, Palin’s reason for making that statement was to show that she was more fit for our highest executive office than Barack Obama, because she, unlike Obama, knew what it was like to hold a state-level executive office while living close to a threat. Olbermann’s reason for belittling her during an NFL football game was probably based on nothing more than the fact that she’s a conservative who refuses to sit down and keep her mouth shut.

After talking to Aiello, I took his advice and contacted NBC but did not receive a response from them. Yet in the end this didn’t matter because I came across a July 2008 New York Times interview with Olbermann’s “Football Night in America” co-host Dan Patrick, in which Patrick pointed out the political realities of having Olbermann on the show. Patrick said: “I will do the highlights for the red states, Keith [Olbermann] will do them for the blue states.”

Of course Patrick’s words are really just a confirmation of what everyone familiar with Olbermann’s outbursts already suspected: namely, that Olbermann would have trouble holding a microphone and restraining his political bile at the same time.

The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman made this very point on September 6, 2008, when he criticized Olbermann’s role in Sunday Night Football by saying: “No matter how anyone cuts it, Olbermann is paid to be a provocateur, an instigator.”

While Olbermann might disagree Raissman’s assertion, his jab at Palin during the 2008 Buffalo game paints him into a corner. It also calls into question certain aspects of his 2007 Sports Illustrated interview, in which he indicated he would keep his football commentary apolitical after news broke that he’d been hired to host “Football Night in America.”

Ever since Chris Matthews’ leg began to tingle, NBC has been shilling for Obama instead of reporting the news. The only area this bias-on-steroids left alone was sports broadcasts. With Olbermann on Sunday Night Football, even that is infected.