You likely either hate Keith Olbermann or you love him. If you’re a regular watcher of Fox News Channel, you probably fall in the former category. If you’re part of the same crowd that adores Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann’s probably your cup of tea. Despite all the conservative ranting about the “liberal” media, there of course is no such thing. Olbermann’s just about the only unabashedly progressive fixture on network news, which is likely where he gets a lot of his viewer base. Plus, he’s just a good journalist.
The Worst Person in the World is just over 200 transcripts from the similarly-named segment on Olbermann’s show, Countdown. The segment is a mixture of Darwin Awards, News of the Weird, and a fair amount of political venom as well. Olbermann skewers everything from stupid robbers to oblivious school boards to crooked politicians. His favorite, however, is hammering his ratings and ideological opponent, Bill O’Reilly. The FNC star has a habit of saying stupid things, and Olbermann quotes him, shames him appropriately, and we all laugh later when O’Reilly refers to such quoting—quoting, mind you—as “smear campaigns.”
Olbermann also includes a prologue and an epilogue that I at first assumed were original pieces for the book, but I realized that the epilogue, anyway, is a slightly modified transcript of Olbermann’s castigation of O’Reilly’s repeated and stubbornly impenitent mistake with regards to the slaughter of US troops at Malmédy during WWII (see a video of that segment on YouTube here).
The piece, though moving, naturally paled in comparison to Olbermann’s baritone delivery on the air—say what you want about the man’s politics, but he actually has a grave delivery like that of his hero, Edward R. Murrow. Most of the book is like that: the segments are curious and funny for the silly antics they unearth, but watching the Worst Person in the World segment on Countdown is a significantly more fulfilling experience.
It’s worth a read if you haven’t seen many episodes of Countdown, but there’s certainly nothing new in The Worst Person in the World, and nothing to make it better than its broadcast counterpart. It’ll take you all of a night to read, too, so if you spot it at your local library and feel like a laugh, pick it up.