Political commentator Keith Olbermann announced Monday he will change the “Worst Person in the World” segment on his show, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, following the Arizona shooting.
From his show last night:
“This ordinarily is where you would see our “Worst Persons in the World” segment. For more than two months I’ve struggled with its value. We suspended it for a time. There was a small clamor to bring it back and we bring it back did. The segment was born in humor and with clear intentions — criticism, sarcasm, calling out, even ridiculing. But a lot of people, especially those who don’t watch the show, still think I literally mean these are the three worst persons in the world. There is potential danger in that. So the name has got to go. But the purpose to employ the French philosopher Bergson’s explanation that laughter is a social sanction against — inflexible behavior remains relevant and important maybe more so than ever before. Se’ll have a new version. No time for it tonight, maybe not even this week. We have sadder and more sober things to discuss.”
Pandering? PR move? Maybe. I’ve never had an issue with the segment, and on the contrary I think it’s kind of amusing. We still don’t know exactly what changes he will make — he could just rename the segment, though there is also talk he may scrap it altogether — but I do think it’s big of him to do something, to put his money where his mouth is.
You may remember that this is not the first time he’s made changes to his show after wide criticism. Following Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear — during which Stewart so succinctly stated, “when we amplify everything, we hear nothing” and called out Olbermann (among many others) by name — Olbermann suspended the segment for weeks. When it returned, it had been renamed “Worst Person in the World (not really).”
Here is a clip of Olbermann speaking on the decision.