Say what you want about MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, but his penchant for going after rivals is always good copy. Having driven Bill O’Reilly nuts over the years by targeting the thin-skinned Fox News Channel host, on Thursday Olbermann took aim at Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, who will begin hosting a competing program on CNN with former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer at an unspecified date.
Olbermann took issue with Parker’s latest column — calling Obama “Our first female president” — which was, admittedly, kind of stupid, if only because it trafficked so overtly in dated gender stereotypes. It’s hard to imagine a male columnist having the balls, pardon the expression, to advance a similar thesis without women’s groups going after him.
Still, the best part was Olbermann’s reaction, in which he asked an unseen producer what Parker would do if the Post folded. “CNN? … Eight o’clock? Seriously?” he asked incredulously, before letting loose with a hearty laugh.
Historically, the prevailing attitude in broadcasting has been never to acknowledge the competition. Olbermann has turned that philosophy on its head, poking at the other channels — and especially their marquee talent — whenever possible.
It will be interesting to see whether CNN chooses to respond — getting drawn into the equivalent of schoolyard taunts — as the premiere of Parker-Spitzer nears. For now, though, there’s no one to punch back, and Olbermann just got in the first jab.