By ADAM BUCKMAN
NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2010 — Talk about glee! Keith Olbermann was clearly happy to be back on the air Tuesday night after an “indefinite” suspension that lasted only four days. But he was even more ecstatic – downright gleeful, you might say – about all the attention he received during his brief exile.
That was more than evident in the remarks he made about his experience, in the final segment of his MSNBC show, ‘Countdown,’ on Tuesday. That’s the show on which Keith “counts down” the five biggest stories of the day. And on this night, story Number One was the one about himself.
“I’d like to close tonight by discussing something that I’m sure has happened to you dozens of times in your own life,” Olbermann said, launching into one of the longest run-on sentences in the history of broadcasting. “You know, when there’s a petition supporting you and it winds up being signed by 300,000 people and you get 21,000 tweets in a 72-hour period and then you’re invited to be on television because you aren’t on television because they want you to be the lead story on ‘Good Morning America’ and ‘Larry King’ and ‘Letterman’ and you break the traffic record on the Huffington Post and you’re on the front page of the New York Times without being dead, or in jail or Charlie Sheen or something!” Whew!
“Well, maybe you’re used to it,” Keith went on, knowing full well we’re not used to it, that such things don’t happen to any of us mere mortals at home watching this champion of 72-hour tweets on TV. “But for me, it was kind of a surprise,” Keith said with a huge grin. “And all I can seriously say is I’m stunned and grateful and it still feels like a universal hug!” Awww.
He apologized to his viewers for “having subjected you to all this unnecessary drama.” And then he apologized, somewhat awkwardly, “for not having known by observation, since it’s not in my contract, that NBC had rules about getting permission for making political donations even though any rule like that in any company [is] probably not legal.” Come on now, Keith – everybody knows that ignorance of the law (or corporate rules) is no excuse!
He admitted to making the campaign contributions to three Democratic candidates a few days before Election Day that resulted in his suspension last Friday. He then played some videotape – very gleefully – of Jay Leno and Jon Stewart joking about him on ‘The Tonight Show’ and ‘The Daily Show,’ respectively. And he thanked the many thousands who reportedly “signed” an on-line petition for his reinstatement. “I’d like to thank all 300,000 signatories to that petition, but obviously I can’t,” he said, feigning humility and then adding this punchline: “And anyway, 99 percent of them were my relatives!” (For the record, that would mean Olbermann, a stickler for accuracy when he criticizes his rivals at Fox News Channel, is claiming 297,000 relatives – a pretty large family.)
The cleverest part of the whole show was the opening, in which Olbermann’s empty desk was shown on screen for such a long period of time (at least by TV standards) that you couldn’t help wondering if he was going to show up at all. Then he suddenly appeared, standing right before the camera, where he made his first remarks on the controversy.
“I need to address one thing right now,” he said. “I read in a couple of places that this has to have been a publicity stunt. This was not a publicity stunt!”
Well, if it wasn’t a real publicity stunt, for Olbermann it was the next best thing. Said he, “Of course, if I had known that all this would happen, I would have done this years ago!”
Did you watch the show? If so, what did you think of Keith’s return? Are you glad to have him back? Or more to the point, are you glad this whole suspension controversy is now over and done with?
Contact Adam Buckman: email@example.com