Reclining exacerbates the condition, so Olbermann got out of bed, took a pill for the ailment, and, while waiting for the drug to kick in, scrolled through his Black Berry, scanning recent messages. It was a link to the Web site Politico, which featured an interview conducted that day with President Bush.
When he was twenty-three, he told Bill Mac Phail, the former CBS Sports executive who had overseen the introduction of instant replay, that Mac Phail didn’t know anything about television sports.
In an argument with one of his supervisors at UPI, he so forcefully advocated his position (“God damn it, this is the minor leagues here,” he said, “and it’s things like this that are keeping us the minor leagues’’) that he was fired that afternoon.
Griffin was Olbermann’s first television producer, nearly thirty years ago, when both of them were at the start of their careers, Griffin as a CNN producer, Olbermann as an innovative, eccentric radio sportscaster making his first foray into television.
It was Griffin’s job to handle Olbermann, to teach him about the frenetic, video-hungry new world of cable news.
It was nearly midnight before Keith Olbermann left the NBC News election studio on May 13th, having spent five hours on the air, co-anchoring coverage of the West Virginia Democratic primary.
Olbermann had a short ride home from Rockefeller Plaza to his condominium on the Upper East Side, and he was in bed by 2 .Growing up in suburban Hastings-on-Hudson, in Westchester County, he was the sort of kid who, when his parents thought psychological testing was in order, responded to the Rorschach test by saying, “It looks like an inkblot.” Advised that Keith might be better served by a private education, his parents—Theodore, a commercial architect, and Marie, a preschool teacher—enrolled him at the Hackley School, in Tarrytown.It wasn’t an easy adjustment; Keith had skipped a grade and was younger than anyone else in his class, and he wasn’t a jock.The biggest issue we face is—it’s bigger than Iraq—it’s this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created includes ‘cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives’? “They are those in—or formerly in—your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.”The denunciation hit the high notes of the most fevered antiwar rhetoric, accusing Bush (he of the “addled brain”), his alleged puppet master (“the American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney”), and the “tragically know-it-all minions,” “sycophants,” and “mental dwarves” who serve them in the Administration of perpetrating a “panoramic and murderous deceit” on America and the world. Olbermann turned to Bush’s golf remark, which he called the “final blow to our nation’s solar plexus.” He wrote: Mr. Why did Olbermann need to end his commentary by Phil Griffin is a compact, nearly bald man with the intensity and the revved-up metabolism of a TV-news field producer, which is how he spent his early career.Bush, I hate to break it to you six and a half years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people, but the war in Iraq is not about you. He speaks in quick bursts, and his conversations tend to the elliptical.His agent sent his highlight tapes to stations around the country, but most station managers didn’t quite know what to make of him.“The standard response,” he says, “was ‘I like him, but is Baltimore ready for him?’ ”Jeff Wald, who was then the news director of KTLA Channel 5, in Los Angeles, had heard the stories, but he saw Olbermann’s tapes, and was curious. “Regardless of the baggage he may or may not have, I want to meet this guy and see if he’s the real deal.And he was.”Wald wanted someone unusual, and he got it.“He thought that was going to compromise his objectivity and reporting,” Wald recalls.“I didn’t know at the time that he didn’t like to fly, but I think that he was probably right in his reasons.”In 1992, Olbermann joined ESPN, where his erudite, wise-guy style flowered into an artful, full-blown satire of the cliché-ridden form: “That’s a six-four-three double play if you’re scoring at home.