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Ticket Replay: Pat Sajak profoundly sorry for infecting the country with Keith Olbermann

December 30, 2010 |  1:12 pm

Handsome all American TV game show host Pat Sajak

During the holiday season, as in years past, The Ticket is republishing some of our favorite items from the previous political year. This story was originally published on Nov. 12, 2010:

Pat Sajak is finally taking full blame for giving Keith Olbermann his start on national television. Historians note that civil discourse has never been the same in American politics.

Sajak clearly feels guilty about launching the liberal lamenter into the nation's thought process like a virus.

On his blog, the good-natured Chicago native and host of "Wheel of Fortune" says he liked the mustachioed Olbermann of the late 1980s, then one of those local hey-there sports guys in LA. Sajak found him entertaining and had Olbermann on his short-lived national talk show several times.

Then, the noted TV barker notes, Olbermann moved on but "tended to wear out his welcome at stations and networks." He landed in several places before squatting over at MSNBC, where he found success ranting against the man who was the nation's president during 9/11.

As everyone knows, however, that success has faded in more recent years, with Olbermann getting his keith kicked nightly by the ratings masters over at Fox News Channel. As one result, Olbermann has raised his hyperbolic volume.

Earlier this month Politico caught Olbermann having donated to three....

Democratic candidates who'd been on his TV show. Olbermann said he had no idea that would possibly be seen as a conflict by his journalism employers at parent NBC.

As a result, MSNBC immediately suspended Olbermann for months as punishment for such poor judgment and unacceptable conflict of interest. Keith's fans launched a petition to bring him back.

OK, MSNBC suspended him for only two shows. It would have been several months if he'd donated to Republicans.

Sajak expresses puzzlement over Olbermann's transition to ranter. "I’m not sure how he morphed into the bitter-sounding, hate-mongering name-caller he’s become," Sajak writes, "but I’m sorry he did. I liked the guy, and he was always a good guest. Maybe it’s just show business and trying to find a place in it and building an audience."
MSNBC's grumpy Keith Olbermann
Then, the host adds: "I do know that to whatever extent the political well has been poisoned, Keith has dumped more than his share of venom into the water. I’d like to think he knows that and maybe even regrets it. I liked the Keith Olbermann of 1989."

Showing the thick skin of a veteran celeb, Olbermann tweeted today that, in fact, he had once been on CNN before the Sajak show, had gone on to great things on other prominent shows before MSNBC and was at one point interviewed by CBS to replace Sajak. 

Olbermann didn't get that job either.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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