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Keith Olbermann: Unsung Inspiration for “Anchorman” Ron Burgundy?

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Posted on November 11 2010 2:00 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
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Some of our biggest mistakes occur years before we realize we made them.  Television personality Pat Sajak, of Wheel of Fortune fame, issued an apology Wednesday for what he regards as his unfortunate role in introducing left-wing blowhard Keith Olbermann to a national audience.

Keith was a sportscaster at the local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles at the same time I was doing a talk show for that network. I thought Keith was pretty funny on the air, and I suggested we have him come on the show and talk sports. This was the first of several appearances he made on the show, and he always did a nice job.

I’m not sure how he morphed into the bitter-sounding, hate-mongering name-caller he’s become, but I’m sorry he did.

The first thing you may notice upon watching Sajak’s 1989 interview with Olbermann is the latter’s uncanny resemblance to Will Ferrell’s Anchorman, Ron Burgundy. From the mustache and coif to the faux class and unearned confidence, Olbermann’s stride onto the set of Sajak’s show evokes memory of Steve Carell’s beloved lamp and that pungent Sex Panther cologne.

In fact, Sajak’s curiosity regarding how Olbermann devolved from a quasi-amusing sportscaster to a “bitter-sounding, hate-mongering name-caller” makes for a promising premise for an Anchorman sequel. In it, our man Burgundy would find himself mistakenly cast as a serious political commentator on a struggling cable news network. Poorly mimicking the gravitas of great newsmen of the past, Burgundy would make a fool of himself night after night, all the while convinced of his own importance.

On second thought, that script might be a tough sell given its real-life occurrence each weeknight on MSNBC. Responding to Sajak’s post, Olbermann took time on his show to remind us that he’s kind of a big deal.

Pat Sajak did not introduce me to America. I started on CNN the same year he started on “Wheel” (1981) and by the time I guested on his show in 1989, I’d already spent three years as a national sports correspondent for CNN, had a feature done on me by The Today Show (1986), been on the CBS Evening News (1988), and begun guest-hosting on ESPN (1989).

Olbermann went on to say he has many leather-bound books, and his apartment smells of rich mahogany.

The Countdown host’s insecurity is on plain display. Sajak’s tongue-in-cheek mea culpa could have been easily ignored. It’s not as if he wanted credit for bringing us Olbermann.

That’s the thing about egomaniacs though. They can’t let the little things slide.

I think if [Sajak] needs to apologize for anything it needs to be that talk show. When he was canceled, he was replaced by a crime-and-skin series called “Silk Stalkings,” for God’s sake.

Way to stay classy, Olby.

Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota’s North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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