The New Yorker profiled MSNBC editorializer Keith Olbermann and the Post, as the designated attack dog of Olbermann enemy News Corp. excerpted only the most damaging bits. But it still left out plenty of juicy scraps of information about the many coworkers the MSNBC Countdown host has insulted and alienated over the years, and about the arguably insulting things even supportive NBC executives said about him. A quick roundup, starting with Olbermann's insults, including the co-host he moved to tears:
- As a 23-year-old sportscaster, told a father of the instant reply he "didn't know anything about television sports," as the New Yorker puts it.
- Told his UPI supervisors, "God damn it, this is the minor leagues here, and it's things like this that are keeping us the minor leagues." Olbermann was fired that afternoon.
- Fought a "continuing pitched battle," as he described it, at CNN.
- At ESPN, caused his co-anchor to "lock herself in the bathroom and cry."
- Another ESPN colleague said, "he didn't burn bridges here — he napalmed them."
And some of the unflattering things said about Olbermann:
- A CNN colleague of Olbermann nearly torpedoed his MSNBC gig by revealing CNN focus groups did not like Olbermann.
- NBC News colleague Tim Russert distanced himself from Russert just before his passing, telling the magazine, "What cable emphasizes, more and more, is opinion, or even advocacy. Whether it's Bill O'Reilly or Keith Olbermann or Lou Dobbs, that's what that particular platform or venue does. It's not what I do."
- Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw: "It's a strain... [MSNBC host Chris Matthews' statement about Hillary Clinton owing her political career to her husband's cheating] was completely out of line. And Keith took it to another level" with a commentary telling President Bush to "shut the hell up."
- MSNBC chief Phil Griffin is supportive of Olbemann in the profile, but said the following about the reaction of Hillary Clinton supporters and former Countdown viewers to Olbermann's primary coverage of Clinton: "It was, like, you meet a guy and you fall in love with him, and he's funny and he's clever and he's witty, and he's all these great things, and then you commit yourself to him, and he turns out to be a jerk and difficult and brutal."
For all the insults and ups and downs of his career, Olbermann is having the last laugh, because NBC News covets the ratings he brings to third-place cable news network MSNBC — and it's precisely Olbermann's difficult, coarse personality that helped boost those ratings. His viewership rose 75 percent after he started doing his "special comment" editorials. "I think we're on to something" said Olbermann's boss' boss, NBC News president Steve Capus.