Olbermann Drops ‘Worst Person,’ In Response To Jon Stewart Rally

by | November 2, 2010 at 10:54 AM | Cable News, TV News

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann

The worst people in the world can now breathe a little easier: Keith Olbermann is doing away with his “Worst Person in the World” segments seen nightly on his MSNBC show ‘Countdown.’

The reason? He was apparently persuaded by Jon Stewart’s closing speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity, held Saturday in Washington, D.C. The ‘Daily Show’ host was highly critical of the partisan cable news channels – MSNBC and Fox News Channel – saying they play a role in dividing the nation.

“There is an institutionalization of it that may no longer be valid,” Olbermann said on air Monday night of his ‘Worst Person’ feature, in which he regularly skewers those with whom he disagrees (and also apparently hates) – especially FNC rivals such as Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck.

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In announcing the suspension of ‘Worst Person,’ Olbermann actually admitted that the anger and vitriol of the segments has gotten out of hand.

“Its satire and whimsy have gradually gotten lost in some anger,” Olbermann said, “so in the spirit of the thing, as of right now, I am unilaterally suspending that segment with an eye towards discontinuing it.”

Elaborating on his decision, Olbermann said he realized “the tone has to change” after he heard Stewart say, “The country’s 24-hour politico-pundit perpetual panic ‘conflictinator’ did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder.”

Will Olbermann really kill the ‘Worst Person’ for good? “We might bring it back. We might bring back something similar to it,” he allowed. “We might kill it outright.” The numbers (read: ratings) may tell the story, if they indicate that the segments were an audience draw and that ‘Countdown’ can’t afford not to have them.

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It reminds us of 1999, when the producers of ‘The Jerry Springer Show’ – responding to pressure from media watchdogs and Chicago City Council – vowed to do away with the show’s famous fights.T hey made good on their promise … for a couple of months, at least, until they realized the show couldn’t draw an audience without the donnybrooks. Before you knew it, the fists started flying anew.

As long as we’re talking about doing away with the “Worst Person in the World,” what about some of the other snarky segments and features on other partisan cable talk shows? Which ones of those should also be retired in the interest of “restoring sanity” to cable TV?