The Washington Post

Keith Olbermann will indeed be allowed to talk about politics on new ESPN show

Contrary to an earlier report that his new nightly ESPN show will be devoid of any talk about politics, anchorman Keith Olbermann said that he’ll be free to range topically when the show makes its debut next month in the 11 p.m. slot.

Keith Olbermann at summer press tour. (Getty Images)

“There is no such clause [in my contract],” Olbermann said, speaking to the Television Critics Association on Wednesday afternoon in Beverly Hills, Calif. “I’m not intending to talk about politics – certainly not in the partisan sense … for the simple reason that it is a sports show. There’s nothing preventing me from doing it, other than common sense. I’ve enjoyed the work I’ve done in politics and news, but that’s not what this is.”

The show, called “Olbermann,” will premiere Aug. 26. It marks the 54-year-old broadcaster’s return to ESPN, the network that made him famous two decades ago.

Since then, as everyone knows (and as Olbermann made some light of Wednesday), he’s had a peripatetic trip through cable TV, working first for MSNBC, then for Fox Sports, then for eight years at MSNBC again, where his nightly “Countdown” show became a contrarian, left-leaning, harshly critical counterpoint to the George W. Bush years. Olbermann left MSNBC in early 2011 and joined Current TV, a network that was partly owned by for former vice president Al Gore. His show there ended in 2012.

Though he was eager to talk about sports Wednesday, reporters at the press tour couldn’t resist asking him to opine on some topics du jour, beginning with New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner’s latest admissions to sexting.

“Well, I think that,” Olbermann began, carefully at first, “he stole a great fake hotel sign-in name that I would have liked to have used. The idea that anyone could call themselves, under any circumstance, ‘Carlos Danger’ is a tribute to something about him.”

Olbermann’s appearance was a highlight of a rather slow opening day at the Television Critics Association’s annual summer press tour. The TCA meets for the next two weeks at the Beverly Hilton hotel, getting a (sometimes grueling, often mystifying, occasionally rewarding) look at the new fall shows from broadcast and cable networks, as well as new TV content from streaming services.

Hank Stuever has been The Post's TV critic since 2009. He joined the paper in 1999 as a writer for the Style section, where he has covered an array of popular (and unpopular) culture across the nation.



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Greg Barber · July 24, 2013

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