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Olbermann Explains Twitter Fight, ESPN Suspension On Letterman

In case Keith Olbermann wasn’t clear during his on-air apology last week, he’s extremely sorry that he sent some mean tweets and is actually a very charitable man. In fact, he told David Letterman that he’s made “like 200 donations” to St. Jude’s and Make-a-Wish in recent years on the late night host’s talk show Tuesday night.

Olbermann is back on the air and quieter than usual on Twitter, but it seems that the higher-ups at ESPN thought an explanation on Letterman’s show might be warranted. After all, it’s unlikely that very many people heard the apology that Olbermann made on his own show. Sticking to the same reasoning for vilifying Penn State on Twitter — which he blamed more on the social media platform than himself — Olbermann explained his suspension to Letterman.

“I got into a dispute with some folks on Twitter and it got personal because on Twitter, you don’t think of anyone else as an actual human being, just as somebody you have to bury or they’re going to bury you,” he said. “You subtract yourself from the human race and you just go after people and you can do some really stupid things.”

One such stupid thing, he explained, came when Olbermann responded to a tweet about THON 2015’s total reveal, which announced that the student-run philanthropy raised over $13 million for the Four Diamonds Fund this year.

“I just went back at somebody and they weren’t even throwing punches. I wound up sending out what read as a tweet that was somehow opposed to pediatric cancer research,” Olbermann said. “These are my causes. So my horror at this — when the folks at ESPN said, ‘Tell you what, just stay home a couple days. Let’s let it cool down,’ I went, ‘Thank you.'”

Olbermann said that he used his week off to reassess the social media platform before deciding that Twitter is the “first true sign that society is disintegrating.” He offered some tips to Twitter users and explained that the key is to read it, enjoy it, and use it to find funny things, but don’t read any tweets that have your name in it.

“Apart from the fact that you then don’t get into any fights with anybody, on top of that you suddenly have an extra hour and a half to three hours a day. I’m doing projects around the house,” he quipped.

There wasn’t anything groundbreaking that came out of the interview, but it’s interesting to see Olbermann elaborate on his “batting practice” analogy from his televised apology. In case you missed it, he likened Twitter wars to baseball practice, when a pitcher lobs up an easy one and the batter — Olbermann in this analogy — knocks the ball out of the park with ease. The more he speaks on the matter, the more it seems like Olbermann is apologizing for taking advantage of easy targets on Twitter, not for anything he actually said.

He can keep apologizing, but I’m not ready to forgive him just yet, nor should the Penn State community. I’m going to wait until Keith Olbermann takes the time to sit down, learn the facts, and offer an educated opinion on our university instead of throwing out vague, nonsensical, and ignorant insults. Because, in the end, isn’t it those ill-informed opinions — spread by talking head pundits on national television — that are the first true sign that society is disintegrating?

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About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.


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