According to an article in today’s Hollywood Reporter, if Keith Olbermann hopes to sign an extension of his existing, two-year contract with ESPN, he will have to agree to stop engaging in commentary on his ESPN2 program.
Olbermann has come under repeated fire for ill-informed and inflammatory comments, including a tirade earlier this year when he mocked both sides of the domestic dispute between NASCAR driver Kurt Busch and his former girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll; mistakenly identifying Kurt as his younger brother Kyle and referring to Driscoll as Busch’s wife, rather than his ex-girlfriend. Promptly called on the carpet by NASCAR fans, Olbermann characterized his mistakes as “typos,” urging NASCAR Nation to, “Settle the eff down and be happy something interesting happened in your simplest of sports.”
Days later, he named Jeff Gordon his “Second Worst Person in the World” after Gordon took part in an exhibition tricycle race at halftime of an NBA basketball game, to promote the upcoming Daytona 500.
Olbermann’s hair trigger and intolerance for opinions other than his own have consistently landed him in hot water with his employers. He has come under fire for comments aimed at the National Football League’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, and earlier this year, he served a four-day network suspension for a series of hateful tweets directed at Penn State University students.
As he often does, Olbermann immediately backtracked on his comments in an attempt to save his job, correctly categorizing his comments as “stupid and immature.”
Is it any wonder than ESPN wants Olbermann to stop swinging his verbal arms?
After all, this is the same Olbermann who was dismissed – okay, fired -- from MSNBC’s presidential election coverage in 2008, after donning a mask of rival Bill O'Reilly and delivering a Nazi salute at a television critics' convention.
This is the same Olbermann who was canned by Current TV in 2012 for what the network called “a failure to honor the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers.”
The same guy who castigated Jeff Gordon for “demeaning the sport” in an effort to promote the Daytona 500, despite appearing no less than 10 times on Hollywood Squares over the years, to promote himself and his show.
Olbermann's current contract expires in August. Short of handing him his walking papers, ESPN would do well to muzzle any future “commentaries” and force him to simply report the news, rather than trying to be the news.