During Monday's debut of Keith Olbermann's new weeknight program on the ESPN2 sports channel -- unsurprisingly called Olbermann -- it took him only 48 seconds to stray from sports reporting into his former role as political commentator while slamming a reporter with the New York Daily News for “making up” a story on whether New York Jets coach Rex Ryan would be fired.
“Reporting is dead; long live making something out of nothing,” the leftist former host of programs on MSNBC and the Current TV channel declared. A few minutes earlier, Olbermann stated that New Jersey governor Chris Christie had “signed in” on the controversy, and even though the host had promised “the show wouldn't be about politics,” he broke his word because “I agree with the governor.”
With a sarcastic tone and the image of a tombstone noting “REPORTING DIED 2013,” Olbermann said: “If you can instigate controversy, if you can sell just a few more newspapers to a world that no longer wants them, all your sins will be forgiven, especially the sin of having just contradicted yourself in that newspaper.”
The altercation began when the Jets were trailing the New York Giants 15-14 in the fourth quarter of a pre-season game on Saturday night. Ryan sent in quarterback candidate Mark Sanchez to try and win the contest. Unfortunately, Sanchez staggered off the field a few minutes later after suffering a serious shoulder injury.
As he has done for many years, Olbermann sarcastically declared that the injury was caused by the Giants breaking through “the porous Jets line made up of free agents, bad players, and players who should not be in the NFL. You know, guys as good as the Jets starters.”
Nevertheless, the Jets defeated the Giants with a 24-21 overtime score, a fact the host omitted.
“I don't like Rex Ryan,” he then admitted. However, “he must be wondering, even in this time of media madness where controversy has replaced reporting, just what on God's 'gangrene' Earth is happening to him.”
“Long before that game was over, long before there was a clue about Sanchez's health, one of the beat writers covering the Jets,” Manish Mehta, tweeted this message:
Rex Ryan should be fired tonight for signing off on one of the dumbest decisions I've ever seen.
“The New York media has, rightly or wrongly, been after Mark Sanchez for the last year like stalkers,” Olbermann stated. “No fate was too grisly for Sanchez so long as it meant somebody else would be the Jets' QB, and there would be a headline."
But in their desire to create a headline, what newspapers' sports departments now laughingly call “getting ahead of a story,” makes for awfully strange bedfellows. Sanchez is suddenly the Boy King, and the New York media is the Prince Regent.
On Sunday morning, the same writer who had tweeted that Ryan should be fired had crafted his headline: “Rex Ryan's decision to play Mark Sanchez in fourth could cost him job” and tweeted:
Rex Ryan took ineptitude and incompetence to new heights with a boneheaded decision Saturday night that ultimately could seal his fate as the head coat of the Jets.
“Says who?” Olbermann asked. “Who's the source? Who says it could cost him his job? Who says it could seal his fate? You got a source? Anybody?”
Unless you've got a general manager or an owner, or somebody, anybody you could hang the label “source” onto, you're just making it up. The source for the New York Daily News article was the New York Daily News tweet.
“Reporting is dead, long live making something out of nothing,” the host said before noting that five days earlier, Mehta expressed support for the other candidate for the team's quarterback position: “If Geno Smith can stay interception free, QB will secure NY Jets starting job.”
“Did you know that some sports stories are made up?” Olbermann asked ironically. “Gosh! I know! I'm shocked!"
Worse still, if one reporter successfully makes a story up, all the others in the town will follow. On Sunday morning, no other New York paper even hinted Rex Ryan should be fired, let alone would be. By Sunday afternoon, even USA Today already had a column posted demanding the firing.
“Nevertheless,” the host noted, “Rex Ryan is being wronged here, and the governor of New Jersey called the writer who started this an 'idiot. This guy's a complete idiot. Self-consumed, underpaid, reporter.'”
Olbermann then concluded the segment by stating haltingly that the Republican governor “is … holy cow … the governor is right!”
In this instance, the sarcastic sportscaster is … good grief … also correct! Do we dare hope that this is the start of a new trend for the liberal firebrand? One that will last longer than 48 seconds?