Keith Olbermann returned from suspension to his ESPN2 show this afternoon with a lengthy apology for a Twitter war he engaged in with Penn State University students that caused him to appear as if he were calling “pitiful” some students’ efforts to raise money for pediatric cancer research.
“Since I did a commentary in January slamming part of those in the Penn State U community that still prioritize its football team’s stats over the awful legacy of Jerry Sandusky, I have periodically been barraged on Twitter by that part of the community and swung back as hard and fast and blindly as possible,” he explained. Mistaking one student’s “We Are…” tweet that linked to the cancer research fundraiser for another of those attack tweets, he responded with the word “pitiful” in a tweet, “in my haste to win batting practice” that is Twitter, he explained.
“I was not a victim here. I brought this on myself,” Olbermann said. He vowed his use of Twitter as “batting practice” had ended, and urged others to “stop viewing social media as an alternative for Wild West saloon brawling” with a goal “to inflict as much damage on as many people as we disagree with as quickly as we possibly can.”
He noted both his parents died of cancer and that he had, since 2008, made many donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and to the Make-A-Wish Foundation — both of which are involved in work with pediatric cancer patients. The segment ended with a message to viewers as to where they could make donations to the two organizations.
Earlier in the day, Olbermann had set the tone for his lengthy apology:
But he’d begun apologizing last week on Twitter, right around the time ESPN announced he’d stand down from his TV show for the rest of the week:
“We are aware of the exchange Keith Olbermann had on Twitter last night regarding Penn State,” ESPN had said in a statement the morning after Olbermann’s Twitter war erupted. “It was completely inappropriate and does not reflect the views of ESPN. We have discussed it with Keith, who recognizes he was wrong. ESPN and Keith have agreed that he will not host his show for the remainder of this week and will return on Monday. The annual tradition of THON and the efforts of the students of Penn State to fight pediatric cancer should be applauded.”