The Barbed, Ambiguous Compliments in the New Olbermann Profile

David Carr profiles the soon-to-be Current TV anchor in the Times

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One of Keith Olbermann's stops on his media blitz before the debut of his new show on Current TV was a baseball game with New York Times media critic David Carr. The resulting, thoughtful profile to emerge from it is every bit worth Instapaper-ing to read in full later. But one thing we noticed. It felt like the praise in the profile was rather conspicuously accompanied by humorous caveats. Even the artwork for the article--a cartoon depicting a presumably on-air Olbermann--is neither particularly flattering nor critical. On a first reading, here are the ambiguous compliments we pulled out:

  • On his work ethic: "You get the feeling he would wear a sandwich board to retail his new enterprise if he thought it would help." [page 1]
  • On his likeability: "While Olbermann is clearly a handful to sit next to at work, he's a fine companion at a baseball game..." [page 4]
  • On his strengths part I: "Perhaps the first order of business for Olbermann in his new home will be to find a suitable enemy, something he is good at." [page 4]
  • On his strengths part II: "Olbermann is enough of a student of sports to know that you can't really lose punching up, although he comes by his animus for O'Reilly honestly." [page 4]
  • On how his fans praise him: "Mr. Olbermann, I have somehow managed to form opinions without your assistance, but I really miss your show," said Arnold Karr, who works in publishing in Manhattan. [page 1]
  • On his new home, Current TV: "...Olbermann will be broadcasting on a channel that has significant carriage — Current is in 60 million homes — but that most consumers couldn't find on a bet." [page 3]
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.