Sports commentator Keith Olbermann spent nearly seven minutes Monday during his show attempting to atone for a Twitter brawl that got him taken off the air for a week.
Olbermann was suspended by ESPN brass after he got into it with Penn State supporters following his response to a tweet directed at him Feb. 23 concerning the school’s annual fundraising event THON, which raises money to help fight pediatric cancer.
A woman tweeted Olbermann a link to a news story about the event, which has raised more than $13 million. She also included the first two words of the school’s signature chant, “We are Penn State!” To which Olbermann replied in a tweet, "....Pitiful.”
It just got uglier from there as Olbermann went back and forth with others on his case for the initial response.
The veteran commentator, who likened social media to batting practice, said he shot first and asked questions later when responding to the tweets. This “wild west” mentality, he added, also meant he didn’t actually click the link the first person tweeted at him. Had he taken time to do so, the incident could have been avoided, he said.
“Under ordinary conditions if I had come across that fact on Twitter or elsewhere, I would have been retweeting it with my congratulations or retweeting it with my congratulations and then my donation,” Olbermann said. “But this is a batting-practice world now. And in this batting-practice world there is no time for anything good -- only everything fast.”
Olbermann said both his parents died of cancer, and as someone who also donated regularly to charities, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he stressed how seriously he took the issue.
“As I tweeted last week, I’m sorry for the Penn State tweets -- stupid and immature,” Olbermann said. “But I’m much more sorry about batting practice. So for me, batting practice ends, and as quixotic as this may seem to you, I hope you will join me in trying to end it for all of us, so we can get back to what matters.”