Keith Olbermann debuts ESPN talk show “Olbermann”

By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer

Olbermann set
Coincidence that Keith Olbermann’s initials spell KO, like the winning “knock out” punch of a fighting match? I think not.

Have a problem? Speak. Simple as that. Well, at least that’s how it is for sports and political commentator Keith Olbermann. Notorious for his outspoken attitude and excessive backbone (that’s also, literally, true – Olbermann has six lumbar vertebrae instead of the usual five!), Olbermann has earned a reputation as one of sport’s harshest critics. After a few years away from the world of sports journalism, Olbermann debuted his ESPN2 talk show, “Olbermann,” this past Monday.

Mind you, this isn’t his first rodeo on ESPN. In 1992, Olbermann joined ESPN’s “SportsCenter” as a co-host. He was suspended in 1997 when he made an unauthorized appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and publicly trash-talked ESPN’s headquarters. This started a huge feud between Olbermann and ESPN, which wasn’t settled until he left the network later in the year.

As if that wasn’t enough drama, Olbermann joined Fox Sports in 1998 as an anchor, and was fired just 3 years later in 2001. Apparently, they fired Olbermann for reporting rumors about Rupert Murdoch selling the Dodgers. You know, Rupert Murdoch, the guy who owns Fox. Not a good idea. Olbermann, however, claimed he was fired for requesting less work hours. See what I mean about Olbermann having way too much backbone?! He later got back at Fox by saying, “Fox Sports was an infant trying to stand, but on the broadcast side there was no comparison – ESPN was the big leagues.” Ouch. Fox probably needed some cold water for that burn.

Keith Olbermann
Keith Olbermann on the set of his show, “Olbermann.”

Now, despite Olbermann’s bad history with ESPN, his rising star power over the past decade is hard to turn down. What I mean is, loads of people will tune in to Olbermann, and that means cash for ESPN. So, now he’s back in “Olbermann” to talk about the latest sports drama! On his first episode, he brought up the controversy involving the Jets football coach Rex Ryan and his decision to play quarterback Mark Sanchez in an exhibition match while injured. The story isn’t headline material, but Olbermann used the story to get a message across: journalism is dead. He specifically targeted Daily News reporter Manish Mehta for starting an onslaught of articles that claimed Ryan’s job was now in jeopardy because of his decision. Olbermann claimed the death of journalism was near, because reporters put too much personal opinion on articles that simply need facts.

He ended the show with a brief talk about his third-grade teacher, Mrs. Plant, who recently passed away. Mrs. Plant had stated in her obituary – a summary of someone’s life after they die – that she was proud of having taught Olbermann and took no credit for his successes. He replied by stating that taking no credit for his success was the only mistake Mrs. Plant had ever made.

While fans of Olbermann may have been expecting more, we have to remember that this is the first episode. He has plenty of opportunities to take jabs at ESPN and Fox. Okay, maybe he’s wizened up and doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds him. Either way, don’t forget to catch “Olbermann” on Monday, Thursday, and Friday at 11pm on ESPN2!

Images courtesy of Keith Olbermann and ESPN.