Green Room

Kurtz: America’s sports fans need … Olbermann

posted at 8:32 am on March 7, 2013 by

Do they?  Do they really?  And … is that even the question at hand? Howard Kurtz says that ESPN should find room for Keith Olbermann to return to his roots as a sports broadcaster, but offers a pretty slender justification:

Now it would be easy to torpedo that idea by noting that Olbermann has burned bridges everywhere he has worked and could inflame things back at ESPN.

But I won’t. Instead, I’m going to lead a chant: Let’s Go Keith!!

It would be great fun to see him holding forth again on sporting matters. Is the guy supposed to stay sidelined for the rest of his life, just because he’s got a bit of a temper? Don’t the fans of America deserve better?

The New York Times reports that Olbermann recently had dinner with ESPN’s president, John Skipper, who says they had a fine time. But they weren’t just shooting the breeze: “Clearly he was looking to see if there was an entry point to come back,” Skipper said. Olbermann, in turn, praised Skipper’s “vision and charm.” …

“There was no real appropriate place for Keith to come back, nor did I feel like I was prepared to bring him back,” Skipper told the Times.

Wrong answer.

Says who? Full disclosure: I am a previous winner of both the Best and Worst Person in the World awards from Olbermann during his tenure at MSNBC, within a ten-week period.  I was also a fan of Olbermann’s snarky sports commentary during his ESPN gig, at least for a while, until his self-regard grew so obvious and tiresome that it negated some of his better iconoclastic impulses.  That was long before his political rants made him entirely unwatchable.

Howard seems to predicate this call on some type of entitlement for Olbermann to have access to broadcast media, and the notion that he’s been exiled as a punishment for something.  Neither is true.  Olbermann isn’t “sidelined” except by his perceived lack of overall value at ESPN and other broadcasters, thanks to his track record and behavior.  That’s not a punishment — it’s simply a realistic market assessment.  ESPN doesn’t owe him a job, and neither does anyone else.

If Olbermann wants to comment on sports, he can create his own opportunities to do so — either by offering his commentary on line or starting his own cable channel.  He has more resources than most to do either, thanks to the lucrative contracts he received during his career. If Olbermann can convince a broadcast entity that he brings added value for the costs he carries — monetary and otherwise — they’ll hire him.  If that happens, or if he creates his own outlet, I hope he returns to his early ESPN style and sticks with it.   If he does, I’m sure he’ll find some success, and Howard can follow along.

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I agree that he isn’t owed anything. However, if we absolutely must listen to his voice, I would rather him expound on relativley worthless matters like sports than hearing his ridiculous worldview in the political realm.

Bitter Clinger on March 7, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Al-jaCurrent TV might take him!

KS Rex on March 7, 2013 at 8:59 AM

Olbermann was a brilliant sportscaster, and I think could be again, but I think he’s shown he’s too much of a jerk to get a high-profile job anywhere these days. Too bad, he’s got a lot of talent.

(Not trying to excuse his political views!)

grahampowell on March 7, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Isn’t Olbermann just a little too gay (and a lot too whiny and irritating) to be a ‘sports broadcaster’?

Pork-Chop on March 7, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Don’t the fans of America deserve better?

Heck, Al Qaeda deserves better than Keith Olbermann.

rbj on March 7, 2013 at 9:13 AM

It’s Keith’s prominence due to his liberal political commentary that makes Kurtz want ESPN to bring him back, Even though his personality annoyed his co-workers — including, no doubt, a few as liberal as Keith — Howard goes to bat for him because he took one for the team. Those who’ve worked with him in the past and might have to do so again are probably less enthralled with the idea.

jon1979 on March 7, 2013 at 9:18 AM

With Fox launching a new sports network, the timing to bring him back to ESPN would be perfect.

forest on March 7, 2013 at 9:35 AM

there are much cheaper and headache free ways to mediocre ratings.

carson53 on March 7, 2013 at 9:45 AM

If the fans “deserve” Olbermann (which I disagree with) what in the world did the people at ESPN do wrong to “deserve” a megalomaniac in their midst? Who in their right mind would want to work with or for him?

ButterflyDragon on March 7, 2013 at 9:53 AM

It would be great fun to see him holding forth again on sporting matters.

No, it wouldn’t.

Is the guy supposed to stay sidelined for the rest of his life, just because he’s got a bit of a temper?

No, let him try peddling his services as a Wal-Mart greeter.

Don’t the fans of America deserve better?

Yes, which is why he should not be a sports broadcaster.

rukiddingme on March 7, 2013 at 11:20 AM

I will not watch ESPN again if they bring Olbermann back. It’s barely watchable now and bringing that man back to the network isn’t going to help in that regard.

AScott on March 7, 2013 at 11:24 AM

“if we absolutely must listen to his voice”

Boy, talk about a false premise!!!

Tom Servo on March 7, 2013 at 11:27 AM

They’re. Not. Gonna. Get Him!

longfeet on March 7, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Olbermann is a shrieking, infantile narcissist with a sense of entitlement way out of proportion to his value. Any media outlet looks at him and says, “Is the number of asses he can put in seats worth poisoning the atmosphere and the morale around here for half a decade or more?” The answer, due entirely to Olbermann’s own actions, is “No”.

SurferDoc on March 7, 2013 at 11:53 AM

Keith should volunteer to cover sports for Oberlin College. Gotta stay relevant.

BHO Jonestown on March 7, 2013 at 11:56 AM


Why is the Hot Air logo over the submit button?

Fallon on March 7, 2013 at 12:10 PM

I had to trick it. I refreshed quickly, copy and pasted and hit the submit button before it fully loaded.

Fallon on March 7, 2013 at 12:12 PM

The only thing I want to read or hear about Olbermann is his obituary.

woodNfish on March 7, 2013 at 12:31 PM

The only thing I want to read or hear about Olbermann is his obituary.

woodNfish on March 7, 2013 at 12:31 PM

…..and when I do, I would like to read the following words in it:

“…….Mr. Olbermann then died, screaming…….”

williamg on March 7, 2013 at 12:42 PM

…sometimes Ed is too forgiving!

KOOLAID2 on March 7, 2013 at 12:48 PM

If ESPN wants to air programming that gets low ratings, wouldn’t it be cheaper to show more bowling than it would be to re-hire Olby?

BTW … don’t forget that Olby burned his ESPN bridge too.

OrbeaRider66 on March 7, 2013 at 12:49 PM

ESPN would be crazy to hire Olbermann because he seems to be very hard to get along with. Even his own lawsuit against Current TV makes him seem that way — let alone Current’s counterclaim against him, which obviously makes him look worse.

When he left Current TV, he said, “For more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally ….” His show had actually been on the network for less than a year, but he wasn’t misspeaking — his lawsuit against Current indicated that he had been clashing with the network even before his show premiered on the network.

J.S.K. on March 7, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Well, Keith could try the other “O” Network. Maybe Oprah want to start branching out into the lucrative sports broadcasting thing.

After all, it’s all about the “O”.

dissent555 on March 7, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Let’s go Keith!
Olbermann’s voice needs to be heard.
Young people today need his inside knowledge of the history of evil men in sport and politics.
He must have a platform…
Preferably on a streetcorner in NYC……
On a cold autumn day……..
Suckin’ on a 40…….

poteen on March 7, 2013 at 12:58 PM

I’m so sick of sportscasters implanting their liberal views, from their hatred of Tim Tebow, to Costas and the stupid gun thing, to Peter King’s blatant liberalism.

Just give me sports and leave the stupidity at the door.

If Oby wants a sports job, start a blog. Otherwise, don’t let the door hit you in the a$$ on the way out…..

itsspideyman on March 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM



Knott Buyinit on March 7, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Keith Olbermann’s bathtub was unavailable for comment.

ZK on March 7, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Glenn Beck started his own channel.
Maybe he can hire Keith Olbermann. /

22044 on March 7, 2013 at 4:00 PM

I say everyone deserves a second chance. Olberman blew all his second chances, though. And his third and fourth and…

I’ll bet there are thousands of college grads out there who would jump at the chance if ESPN is looking for someone.

scalleywag on March 7, 2013 at 5:21 PM

…like a hole in the head. Howie Kurtz must feel sorry for that loser. It’s obvious Olbermann has mental problems and does not appear to be medicating for them. Howie, do the world a favor and let it go. He will only embarrass you.

Philly on March 7, 2013 at 6:14 PM

In a strictly sh*ts and giggles sort of way, I actually miss Olby’s insane rantings. But I really don’t care to hear and/or see him going back to sportscasting. At least CBS doesn’t seem to want him (I hope) It’s hard enough being a Jets fan, Olby’s voice would only be rubbing salt in the wound :/

JetBoy on March 7, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Kurtz is unreliable. A liberal hack himself. So who cares what he says?

Travis1 on March 8, 2013 at 8:05 AM

I will not watch any program, sports or not,that A-Hole is part of.

kemojr on March 8, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Olbermann has a simple problem: his ego is more important than his subject matter. Even as a commentator, it was always about Keith. He commanded positions and money, but not because he was ever a fan favorite. If you wanted to listen to snarky comments, put Keith on. If you wanted insight, my puppy had more to say. Nobody who is stupid enough to hire Olbermann will find him acting as any kind of draw.

UnrepentantCurmudgeon on March 8, 2013 at 1:30 PM

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