Keith Olbermann Won’t Talk Politics on ESPN Because ‘It’s a Sports Show’

by | July 24, 2013 at 7:56 PM | TCA 2013, TV News

TV Personality Keith Olbermann (Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

There’s one thing you will definitely see on “Olbermann” when commentator Keith Olbermann returns to his former employer ESPN on Aug. 26: a joke — any joke at all — about Anthony Weiner’s sexting alter-ego Carlos Danger. “I guarantee you Carlos Danger will wind up in the first show of the new series somehow,” he promised reporters at the 2013 Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles.

“I think that he stole a great fake hotel sign-in name that I would have liked to have used,” Olbermann cracked. “The idea that anyone could have called themselves, under any circumstances and for any purpose, Carlos Danger, is a tribute to something about him.”

Olbermann likely won’t be discussing Weiner’s New York City mayoral run, however, but he shoots down a report from the New York Times that stated there’s a contractual clause prohibiting him from talking politics at all. “There is no such clause referring to content about anything we might do on the show,” he says. “There were also references to having pop-culture segments and such. That is also inaccurate.”

But that doesn’t mean politics are verboten. “I’m not intending to talk about politics, certainly not in the partisan sense, and not in the sense that I did in the last ten years of work that I’ve done, for the simple reason that it’s a sports show. There will be occasions,” Olbermann says, when it will be permissible — say, if Barack Obama rushes the field at a baseball game — “but it will not be the intent.”

What else will we see? A lot of stuff you’ll see on other sports shows. “You’re not going to be able to bring a new component to it,” Olbermann says. “Every sports program is going to be made up of a lot of the same elements and we intend to use them. The secret to it, obviously, is the recipe and the mix, and whether you can provide an alternative, our complementary broadcast to ‘SportsCenter.’”

That will include commentary, highlights, interviews, experts, analyses and a popular segment borrowed from Olbermann’s old show but with a sports-related bent: The Worst Person in the Sports World. “People kind of liked that one,” he says.

Olbermann is taking the same approach to his new show as he did to “SportsCenter” 20 years ago: “We’re going to assume our viewers know 50 to 100 percent of the stuff,” he says. “What we’re here to do is explain why it happened, hopefully, and to add some additional insight. And failing that, to just do some stupid cliches and catchphrases. So now here we are in 2013, and we’re going to do that same kind of concept but in a 21st century manner. Whatever the hell that means.”