Q&A: Keith Olbermann
Posted: Wednesday April 25, 2007 1:17PM; Updated: Wednesday April 25, 2007 5:11PM
Last week SI writer Richard Deitsch interviewed MSNBC host Keith Olbermann for the magazine's Q&A. The broadcaster is joining NBC's Football Night in America this fall. Here are additional excerpts from their conversation:
SI: Has anyone from the sports world let you know that their politics are aligned with your Countdown show?
Olbermann: [Nationals third base coach] Tim Tolman came up to me at Shea Stadium this month and told me he and Manny Acta were arguing about me. Manny is a liberal. Tim is a conservative, and a lovely guy. Manny eventually came up to me and we shook hands. Then he put me on the phone with his wife. That was how big a fan he was.
SI: Will you be apolitical on Football Night in America?
Olbermann: Am I going to launch a political diatribe in the middle of sportscast? That sounds like bad programming. You will see exactly as much pure politics in Football Night in America as you did last year.
SI: Have you been formally asked by NBC Sports officials not to discuss politics on the show?
Olbermann: I have not been told that, but the best employers I have ever worked for had the presence of mind to say: This guy knows what he is doing and knows when to do it and when not to do it. Nobody said you cannot go off into a lengthy criticism of the President in the middle of the Election Night coverage on MSNBC. But I did not do that either because that is not the right place to do it. I'm certainly not going to go and take advantage of a situation in which someone has said to me, 'Hey, we know what your doing. We have no fear of trusting you on this.' But in terms of specific instructions, nothing has come my way.
SI: Is outsized ego and acid tone, as New York Magazine recently dubbed you in an otherwise flattering piece, a fair characterization?
Olbermann: I have always tried to understand outsized ego. The acid reference is supposedly inevitable. I think the outsized ego is a reputation kind of forged by saying I think he can do this. If you are confident in your ability to do a lot of different things, people tend to think, 'Look at that cocky son of bitch.' I don't see an outsized ego. I see an ego befitting a man who is 6-foot-4 and about 250 pounds.
SI: How would you characterize your knowledge of football?
Olbermann: My knowledge would probably be best described as sleeping beauty. It's waiting to be awakened fully and it will be. I don't know if there is a lot of point in cramming to find out everything in every position and prospect in advance of the draft. It's probably slightly better than a good fan because I've been on the radio for a year-and-a-half with Dan Patrick, so that transcends two full season. And like everyone else, what I don't know don't know, I will steal from Peter King.
SI: The Worst Person In Sports is....?
Olbermann: At the moment it has to be Barry Bonds. See if this sounds familiar: He got all of us into this no-win situation under false pretenses.
SI: How often do your Google yourself?
Olbermann: I will confess: There is a bookmark for that. I probably do that once a day. There is a lot of stuff out there that is completely untrue and you have to know what is out there and whether you should call a lawyer.
SI: Will you appear on SportsCenter again in your lifetime?
Olbermann: Well, they mentioned me about a month ago with the Pete Rose, I-bet-on-baseball-every-night interview that Dan and I did on ESPN Radio. Clips were played from it. My voice was heard on it and my name was used.
SI: And the network still stayed on the air?
Olbermann: There was no major walkout. I think the nuclear war ended and everything was still standing. So I assume it's a possibility on some anniversary show.
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