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Countdown with Keith Olbermann is an hour-long weeknight news and political commentary program on MSNBC which airs live at 8 p.m. Eastern Time and reruns at 10 p.m., 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. on weekdays. The show, hosted by Keith Olbermann, debuted on March 31, 2003 and counts down five selected news stories of the day with news reports and interviews with guests, along with commentary by Olbermann. On February 15, 2007 Olbermann received a four-year contract extension, which includes two Countdown primetime specials on NBC.

The show is known for Olbermann's fast-paced rhetorical style, historical and pop culture references, ready interjections and liberal commentary. Olbermann melds news stories, both serious and light, with commentary, much of it critical of Republicans and conservative politics. The show has been the source of some controversy due to these criticisms, as well as its host's ongoing criticism of Fox News Channel, to which he refers using a variety of deprecatory names, and his feud with rival commentator Bill O'Reilly of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, whose show runs directly opposite.

Since October 22, 2007, the show airs live from NBC Studiosmarker 1A's Second Floor at 30 Rockefeller Centermarker in New York Citymarker, and is currently published shortly thereafter each weeknight in its commercial-free entirety on the iTunes Store podcast directory and Zune Marketplace, and in segment form, with shorter interstitial ads, on the show's web site.


Countdown originally was titled Countdown: Iraq. It premiered on October 7, 2002 and was hosted by Lester Holt. It focused completely on the military and diplomatic actions which would become the Iraq War. Countdown: Iraq aired at 7pm and replaced a show hosted by Jerry Nachman, which was moved up to 5pm before its eventual termination. In addition, a daytime version of Countdown entitled Countdown: 2002 Election aired from October 25, 2002 to November 2002.
The show's logo, used from 2003 to October 19, 2007.

After the new incarnation of Donahue was terminated on February 28, 2003, and because of the build-up to the start of the war, Countdown: Iraq expanded to a two hour program, from 7-9pm Eastern Standard Time. Ironically, President Bush's deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq was set for 7pm EST on March 19, 2003 the exact time the final Countdown: Iraq program started to air, the war began that evening Washington time. After the Iraq War began there was no need for the show in its current form since it was focused on covering the run up to the war. Also MSNBC went wall-to-wall with coverage of the war during the first few weeks of the invasion, removing the need for differentiated programming.

On March 28, 2003, MSNBC announced it was hiring Keith Olbermann to host the 8pm hour of Countdown. The show dropped the Iraq subtitle and was retitled Countdown with Keith Olbermann. The 7pm hour of Countdown was turned over to Hardball with Chris Matthews. Holt was moved to anchor rolling news coverage during the day.

At the start of Countdown, Olbermann told television columnist Lisa de Moraes that "our charge for the immediate future is to stay out of the way of the news.... News is the news. We will not be screwing around with it.... As times improve and the war ends we will begin to introduce more and more elements familiar to my style." On Bill O'Reilly, with whom Olbermann would later cultivate a feud, he stated, "I'm not looking to take down Bill. It will be a totally different program. It will not be a show in which opinion and facts are juxtaposed so as to appear to be the same thing."

About the show

Countdown is a nightly news commentary program, covering a selection of national and international stories which provide fodder for the host's analysis and opinions. Clips from NBC network news broadcasts are featured on a regular basis.

According to The Cornell Daily Sun, Olbermann has a staff of roughly ten to twelve people who work on the show's editorial content. They spend the morning looking for noteworthy or interesting stories. The group meets via conference call at 11am for a half-hour discussion to toss around possible subjects for the evening's show (many times pulling information from online sites like and By 12:15, Olbermann receives a final list of story prospects, picks what he likes, and puts them in order. He emails the list back to the staff, and the writing process begins. He arrives at MSNBC's studios, originally in Secaucus, but now at the GE Buildingmarker in Manhattanmarker by 2:00 p.m. and works on writing the show's material in his office until 7:30, when he goes to makeup, before going on air at 8pm.

The punctuating theme music to the show's countdown is the opening eight beats of the second movement, a scherzo, of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125, the "Choral". The theme is a historical reference to NBC's pioneering newscast Huntley-Brinkley Report with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, which featured the scherzo of Beethoven's 9th over the credits.


  • Open/Headlines — A preview of some of the stories to be featured beginning with the question, "Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?"
  • Number 5 Story — Generally the day's most important or "top" story. Elements usually include one or more interviews as well as a series of soundbites or a report from an NBC reporter. This is usually the show's longest segment.
  • Commercial break
  • Number 4 Story — Similar in format to number five, sometimes even a continuation of the same. This segment is somewhat shorter than five.
  • Commercial break
  • Oddball — A fast-paced look at "quirky" stories and odd or humorous videos. The segment usually begins with a historical reference ("On this day in [year]..."), followed by Olbermann saying "Let's Play Oddball!" A short "stinger" plays, which ends with a prerecorded clip of Chris Matthews' distinctive, shouting laugh. Between two and three stories are usually shown, with the soundtrack usually being Eduard Strauss' "Bahn Frei Polka" by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra in honor of his idol, humorist Jean Shepherd. Prior to the switch in May 2007, the music was Aram Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance", and at some points a cover version of Boots Randolph's Yakety Sax has been used.
  • Countdown's Best Persons in the World — A collection of the day's top three "goofballs and good guys". This upbeat, humorous segment features dumb criminals, strange characters, and people winding up in unusual or noteworthy situations. The title of Best Person is usually sarcastic, but sometimes it is legitimate and describes a person who has exhibited extraordinary humanity or kindness. Originally named "Top 3 Newsmakers", the end of Best Person in the World typically has Olbermann throwing his script into the air in mock ridicule or disbelief while a song that ties in with the story plays (a woman's unsightly mugshot, for instance, featured Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful").
  • Commercial break
  • Number 3 Story — Another top story of the day, similar to four and five.
  • Still Bushed! — Known as "Bushed!" from its debut in February 2008 until the the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009, this occasional segment details three updates and developments on "the headlines lingering from the previous administration's 50 running scandals".
  • Commercial break
  • Number 2 Story: Worst Person in the World — Set to Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, a list of three individuals or organizations deemed by Olbermann to be the Worse, Worser, and Worst Person in the World. This segment is skipped when there is a guest host, except for one occasion when Olbermann once called in his Worst Person list from a "secure, undisclosed location" (actually his vacation spot of Tampa, Floridamarker). "Keeping Tabs" was the number two story until 2008 when it was replaced by "Worst Person". The "Worst Person in the World" was originally a character on the Bob & Ray Radio Show—of which Olbermann was a fan [100433] —in their "Mary Backstage" series, someone who did something very annoying. When someone other than Olbermann hosts, "Worst Person" is replaced with a more general story or with "Keeping Tabs".
  • Commercial break
  • Number 1 Story — The final segment generally falls into one of three categories.
    • Either a lighter piece focused on pop culture or strange happenings, often with the assistance of a guest, who is usually a comic. Occasionally a highlight reel of the previous month or year's "Oddball" segments, styled "Oddball Plays of the Month/Year" is shown.
    • A "WTF!?! Moment".
    • One of Olbermann's "Special Comments".
  • Sign off — The show usually ends with Olbermann noting the number of days since President Bush gave his "Mission Accomplished" speech. Then, Olbermann generally signs off with the words "Good night, and good luck", quoting Edward R. Murrow, before crumpling a page of his script into a ball and tossing it at the camera followed by a glass shattering sound and visual effect on the screen. (Since returning from his two-week vacation in late July 2009, however, he has used a variety of closings other than Murrow's sign-off, such as "Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow" from Saturday Night Live's early news segments, and "Good night and good news!", Ted Baxter's sign-off). The visual effect reveals a split screen with Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. Olbermann then introduces Maddow who begins her own show. The paper toss and shatter are omitted when there is a guest host instead of Olbermann, or the show ends on a somber note.

Substitute hosts

Former The Most host Alison Stewart was the primary guest host for Countdown until the end of 2007. Other occasional substitute guest hosts have included Alex Witt, David Shuster (a regular contributor to the show), Amy Robach, and Brian Unger. From April 2008 until September 2008 Rachel Maddow hosted Countdown in Olbermann's absence. This ended when she was given her own show The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. On December 23 2008, MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall substituted for Olbermann, as did Richard Wolffe on July 24, 2009, for each marking their first appearance hosting the show. On the July 27, 2009 edition of Countdown Lawrence O'Donnell filled in for Olbermann. On July 28 and 29 2009, former Vermontmarker governor and DNC chairman Howard Dean guest-hosted Countdown. Wolffe hosted again on July 30 and 31.


Olbermann has anchored away from MSNBC headquarters for such events as debates and more recently, the inauguration of Barack Obama. During the week of 26 January 2009, he took his show on the road to Tampamarker, in preparation for that week's Super Bowl, which he was covering for NBC.

Special comments

In late August 2006, Olbermann started delivering occasional "Special Comments" in which he has expressed sharp criticisms of members of the Bush administration, including then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush. As of November 10, 2008, Olbermann has delivered forty of these commentaries, as well as a series of about ten "Campaign Comments" during the final weeks of the 2008 presidential election. While the majority of these comments have been directed at members of the Republican Party, Olbermann also directed two Special Comments in the first half of 2008 at Senator Hillary Clinton, criticizing aspects of her campaign for the Democratic nomination. One of Olbermann's Special Comments also spoke out against the passage of Proposition 8 in Californiamarker on November 4, 2008, for which he was awarded the 2009 GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding TV Journalism Segment".

Olbermann's "Special Comments" have been both compared to and contrasted with Edward R. Murrow's signature essays.

At the end of the years 2006 and 2007, four of Olbermann's comments from the year were gathered as a special program during the Christmas and New Years holidays.

Puppet Theater

Beginning with the Michael Jackson trial, Countdown presented comedic puppet "reenactments" of news which, due to court protocol or for other reasons, could not be captured on film titled Michael Jackson Puppet Theatre. Simplistic puppets created from printed photographs glued to popsicle sticks were manipulated in front of a bluescreen while Olbermann performed voice overs.

Other puppet theatre skits followed, including those involving Karl Rove and ethics within the White Housemarker; Anna Nicole Smith and the U.S.marker Supreme Courtmarker; Burt Reynolds; the election of Pope Benedict XVI by the College of Cardinals; the nomination of the Chief Justice of SCOTUS; Mel Gibson; Paris Hilton; Bill O'Reilly on the 2008 New Hampshire Primary trail trying to get an interview with Barack Obama, only to be held back by a member of Obama's staff, dubbed as "Bill O'Reilly Attacks Someone Taller Than Him"; the alleged ménage à trois of former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, his ex-wife Dina and a limo driver, Bill and Chelsea Clinton campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton merged with the post-Easter holiday called Dyngus Day in South Bend, Indianamarker, and the affair of U.S. Senator John Ensign

'Oddball' segment

Done in the middle of the show, Oddball (a play on Hardball, the show that airs before Countdown) is a segment devoted to offbeat news items and "goofball video." The 'laugh' that comes between the intro graphics and the first item is Hardball's host Chris Matthews' laugh. Olbermann traditionally begins the segment with some interesting historical fact about that date. At the end of the month, Olbermann features "Oddball Plays of the Month", a compilation of some of the Oddball segments from that month. At the end of the year, a special show (sometimes two shows) covering the "Oddball Plays of the Year" is shown during Christmas week. It is generally a compilation of all the Plays of the Month.

'Worst Person in the World' segment

The "Worst Person" segment is a nightly feature in which Olbermann recounts a recent news story involving people saying or doing something that Olbermann finds objectionable. In response to some critics, Olbermann has stated that the title of "Worst Person" is satirical and not meant to be a literal description. "Nominees" for Worst Person in the World are ranked at the bronze medal level ("Worse"), silver ("Worser") and gold ("Worst"). While many of his targets are not political, the overwhelming majority that are political are conservatives or former members of the Bush administration. The segment is usually done with an organ playing Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" in the background.

Olbermann usually ends the segment by saying "[Name of Worst], today's worst person in the world", in which the words "worst person in the world" are, for the most part, stretched and intoned in a humorously frightening and devilish manner. However, on occasions he has strayed from this approach and uttered the line in a much more somber or angry tone.

The most frequent recipient of this award is Fox News Channel commentator Bill O'Reilly, often referred to on the program by one of a variety of nicknames, including "Ted Baxter", a pompous anchorman character from the Mary Tyler Moore Show. When quoting O'Reilly in this segment Olbermann often imitates the Baxter character's voice. Olbermann has repeatedly named O'Reilly his "Worst Person in the World" winner (gold medalist), awarding him a clean sweep of all three positions ("Worse", "Worser", and "Worst") twice, the first time on November 30, 2005 and the second on November 10, 2008. Former New York Citymarker mayor Rudy Giuliani is the only other person to receive all "World's Worst" spots on the same program; this occurred on November 2, 2007. Other frequent honorees include various right-leaning media personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, who is often referred to as "Comedian Rush Limbaugh" or "Boss Limbaugh", and Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck, who is often referred to as "Lonesome Rhodes Beck", figures in the second Bush Administration, and members of Congress.

Based on this segment of the show, a book titled The Worst Person in the World was published in September 2006. It included transcripts of segments that aired from this feature's inception on July 1, 2005 through May 31, 2006, as well as some original material.

During 2007, Football Night in America, Olbermann also spun off this segment into an NFL-themed "Worst Person in the NFL" segment during halftime of the weekly NBC Sunday Night Football telecast.

The "Keith number"

During the 2008 U.S. Presidential Primary season, Olbermann began using the term "Keith number" in reference to the sum of a pre-election opinion poll's margin of error and the percentage of respondents who are undecided. Olbermann believes this value tends to be predictive of the extent to which a poll may vary from actual election results, and also of the volatility of the electorate's leanings.

To summarize:
  • The greater the poll's margin of error, the farther the results may be from the current views of the voters.
  • The more undecided voters, the more likely voters are to change their views in the future.

On the January 11, 2008 episode of Countdown, Olbermann described the number as follows:

Olbermann's "Keith number" is unrelated (mathematically or otherwise) to the more traditional use of the term.


Guests regularly featured on the show as of March 2009 include:

Regular contributors in the show's broadcast history have included:

Interviews with comedians are featured regularly during the final segment of the show; notable appearances have included George Carlin, Lewis Black, Richard Lewis, Mo Rocca, and John Cleese.

Olbermann vs. O'Reilly

Countdown often highlights Olbermann's long-standing criticism and rivalry towards Fox News Channel commentator Bill O'Reilly. Countdown occupies the same time slot as Bill O'Reilly's show, The O'Reilly Factor. In addition to often naming O'Reilly "Worst Person in the World", Olbermann frequently lampoons him in other ways, including referring to him by several nicknames, including Ted Baxter, and when quoting O'Reilly will often do so by impersonating Ted Knight's Ted Baxter voice. Occasionally, Countdown presents a segment titled "Factor Fiction", where O'Reilly's opinions were fact-checked, introduced by animated character Stewie Griffin of Family Guy. The "Factor Fiction" segment usually concerns an O'Reilly-related controversy or features Olbermann humorously reading quotes from O'Reilly's commentaries—especially if they concern NBC News, MSNBC, or Olbermann—with his Ted Baxter imitation.

O'Reilly has never directly addressed Olbermann's criticisms and has rarely even mentioned Olbermann by name; instead, O'Reilly has critiqued NBC and MSNBC, accusing them of smearing him and of displaying a left-wing bias. Other Fox News personalities, like Shepard Smith and the hosts of Fox & Friends, have defended O'Reilly and have criticized Olbermann. O'Reilly petitioned for the cancellation of Olbermann's show from MSNBC and the return of Phil Donahue to Olbermann's slot, stating that Donahue's ratings far exceeded those of Countdown. During the January 30, 2006 edition of the O'Reilly Factor's "Talking Points Memo" segment, O'Reilly criticized [[NBC Universal]], the parent company of MSNBC for "taking cheap shots at [[Fox News Channel|Fox News]] on a regular basis...for some time." O'Reilly also claimed that FNC has "good relationships with [[ABC News]], [[CBS News]], and generally [[Cable News Network|CNN]]."{{cite web |url=,2933,183292,00.html |title=Network Rivalry |accessdate=2008-11-01 |work=The O'Reilly Factor |publisher=[[Fox News]] |date=2006-01-30 }} Olbermann responded to those criticisms by saying that Fox News had had less than cordial relations with CNN, referring to Fox having set up a [[billboard (advertising)|billboard]] across the street from [[CNN Center]] in [[Atlanta]], taunting them about their lower [[TV ratings]]; to when Fox News, through an unsigned statement, compared CNN to the ''[[R.M.S. Titanic|Titanic]]''; to when Fox News, through a [[press release]], had claimed CNN founder [[Ted Turner]] had "lost his mind" after he criticized Fox News; and finally to when Fox News executives had made disparaging references to CNN host [[Paula Zahn]]'s abilities after she had left Fox News.{{cite web |url= |title=Responding to O'Reilly's attack on "unprofessional" NBC, Olbermann awarded Fox News host another "Worst Person" citation |accessdate=2008-11-01 |publisher=[[Media Matters]] |date=2006-02-01 }} ===Save the tapes=== When O'Reilly was [[lawsuit|sued]] for [[sexual harassment]] in October 2004 by his former producer, [[Andrea Mackris]], Olbermann urged Mackris to take a payout of $99,000 ([[United States dollar|US]]) in exchange for, allegedly, a tape of a phone call that O'Reilly made to Mackris, in which he incorrectly referred to a [[loofah]] as a [[falafel]].Daniel Kurtzman's Political Humor Blog at [[]]: "[ 10 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes by Bill O'Reilly]" (see #4). The lawsuit settled out of court and no tapes were ever made public. Subsequently, Olbermann references the word "falafel" often when referring to O'Reilly, and segments where he is discussing O'Reilly's criticisms of others are often labeled "The Falafel Guy Fatwa."Daniel Kurtzman's Political Humor Blog at [[]]: "[ O'Reilly vs. Olbermann: The Falafel-Guy Fatwa]."''[[The New Yorker]]'': "[ The Wayward Press -- Fear Factor]." ==="Fire Olbermann" petition=== On February 22, 2006, O'Reilly initiated an online petition, that did not mention Olbermann by name, to have MSNBC remove Olbermann from the 8pm EST timeslot, purportedly to have former slot host [[Phil Donahue]]'s show reinstated. The petition was in the form of a letter addressed to Wright saying: "We, the undersigned, are becoming increasingly concerned about the well-being of MSNBC and, in particular, note the continuing ratings failure of the program currently airing weeknights on that network at 8:00 p.m. EST".[ Petition, February 22, 2006 ] Olbermann responded two days later on Countdown by playing a selection of disparaging television clips featuring O'Reilly [ "Late Night: Olbermann signs O'Reilly's Petition"] Crooks and Liars. February 24, 2006 and mocked the whole affair by joining several MSNBC staffers, including [[Tucker Carlson]] and [[Dan Abrams]], in signing the petition to have himself fired. ==="Fox News Security" incident=== Two weeks later, on March 3, 2006, Olbermann reported on an incident in which O'Reilly dropped a caller, identified as "Mike" from [[Orlando, Florida]] (ultimately identified as liberal blogger [[Mike Stark]]) from his live radio show, seemingly for mentioning Olbermann's name. O'Reilly accused the caller of being part of a larger group of individuals that had been calling O'Reilly with the sole purpose of mentioning Olbermann. The caller said, “I like to listen to you during the day. I think Keith Olbermann's show…” when O'Reilly cut in, responding to “Mike” as follows: {{cquote|Mike is — he's a gone guy. You know, we have his — we have your phone numbers, by the way. So, if you're listening, Mike, we have your phone number, and we're going to turn it over to Fox security, and you'll be getting a little visit. […] When you call us, ladies and gentlemen, just so you know, we do have your phone number, and if you say anything untoward, obscene or anything like that, Fox security then will contact your local authorities, and you will be held accountable. Fair?{{cite news | title=Audio Clip of Mike Stark's Call to O'Reilly | | url= | date=2006-03-02 }} }} While [[Westwood One]] broadcasts O'Reilly's radio show, the program does originate from Fox News Channel's New York City studios.[ Westwood One's Web site for ''Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly''] Olbermann noted that it would be unlawful for O'Reilly to send anyone to a listener's home for purposes of intimidation. ==Criticism and response== The [[Media Research Center]] (MRC), a conservative media content analysis organization, has been very critical of Keith Olbermann since he became the ''Countdown'' host. The organization has asserted that he has a [[liberal bias]] in the form of being overly critical of President George W. Bush, attacking Fox and O'Reilly, starting off his newscast with what it claims to be unimportant stories with a [[left wing]] motive, and ignoring the Bush administration's side of the story. MRC has also accused Olbermann of allegedly supporting [[Movement to impeach George W. Bush|Bush's impeachment]], among other practices.[ "Keith Itching for Impeachment"]. February 13, 2006 and [ " - Keith Olbermann"] Bloggers from [[Newsbusters|]], a conservative blogsite owned by the Media Research Center, have also asserted that Olbermann exclusively chooses guests who reinforce his point of view.{{cite web | url=\ | title='Brad Wilmouth's blog' on | publisher=NewsBusters | accessdate=2007-12-08}} MRC issued a press release describing Olbermann's November 1, 2006 Special Comment as "preaching hate speech", and describing Olbermann as "a [[Sturmabteilung|brown-shirted]] left-winger spew[ing] hate from an NBC-owned podium."{{cite press release |title= MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann Preaches Hate Speech And Liberal Media Are Silent |url= |date=November 2, 2006 |accessdate=2008-09-11 |publisher=[[Media Research Center]] }} ("Brown-shirt" is a term that was used to describe the [[Sturmabteilung]] paramilitary organization of the German [[Nazi party]]). In response, Olbermann has on a number of occasions named MRC founder [[L. Brent Bozell III|Brent Bozell]], whom he has described variously as "Redbeard the pirate",{{cite web |url= |title='Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for October 25th, 2005 |date=October 25, 2005 |accessdate=2008-03-11 |work=Transcript |publisher=MSNBC }} and "humorist",{{cite web |url= |title='Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for July 13, 2006 |date=July 13, 2006 |accessdate=2008-03-11 |work=Transcript |publisher=MSNBC }} the "worst person in the world" for various comments he has made about ''Countdown'' and other topics, such as Bozell's criticism of the ''[[New York Times]]'' for sponsoring the [[Gay Games VII|2006 Gay Games]].{{cite web |url= |title=Olbermann crowned Bozell "Worst Person" runner-up for claiming NY Times is "rooting for the homosexual revolution" |date=July 14, 2006 |accessdate=2008-03-11 |publisher=[[Media Matters for America]] }} The anchor has also said that the MRC desires "an institutionalized, pro-[[U.S. Republican Party|Republican]] slant" in the media.[ Olbermann: MRC Wants "Institutionalized, Pro-Republican Slant"]. March 16, 2005 To support its assertions of bias, the MRC researched ''Countdown'''s ''Worst Person in the World'' segment and claimed to find that of the approximately 600 nominees between June 30, 2005 and June 23, 2006, 174 had [[Conservatism|conservative]] political views and 23 had [[Liberalism|liberal]] political views, with the remaining 403 having no apparent political affiliation. Olbermann interpreted the results differently by claiming that 71% were not conservative.{{cite web | url= | title='Countdown with Keith Olbermann' for June 28 | publisher=MSNBC | date=2006-06-29 | accessdate=2006-09-05}} Olbermann has addressed the assertions of liberal bias by stating that he would be equally critical of a [[Democratic Party (United States)|Democratic]] president who had invited criticism by his actions: "I mean, no one in 1998, no one accused me of being a liberal in 1998 because I was covering the [[Lewinsky scandal]]. And whatever I had to do about it, I tried to be fair and honest and as accurate and as informed as possible, and allow my viewer to be the same way. And nowadays it's the same thing. And now all of a sudden I’m a screaming liberal.""Q & A." March 12, 2006. [[C-SPAN]]. [ Uncorrected transcript provided by Morningside Partners.] Retrieved on January 24, 2009. However, [[Howard Kurtz]] has written that Olbermann departed MSNBC the first time as a result of the Clinton-Lewinsky coverage, which he did not personally agree with.{{cite web|url= |title=Howard Kurtz - The Anti-Bush Anchor - | |date= |accessdate=2008-11-08}} The MRC responded by noting that they criticized him in 1998 for comparing [[Ken Starr]] to [[Heinrich Himmler]].{{cite web | url= | title=Waxing Hypothetical, Olbermann Hails Demise of Fox News as 'Best Hope of Mankind' | | author=Tim Graham | date=2006-03-13 | accessdate=2006-09-17}} On November 25, 2006, ''[[Fox News Watch]]'''s panelist Cal Thomas named Olbermann as his choice for 2006's "Media Turkey Award" for what Thomas alleged were Olbermann's "inaccuracies" and "hot air". Olbermann in turn gave the show the Bronze for "Worst Person in the World", not for naming him "Turkey of the Year", but for spelling his name "Olberman" on the onscreen graphic.

Conservative radio talk show host Michael Medved has criticized Keith Olbermann's picks for Worst Person In The World, saying that it's "no terrorists, all conservatives". He went on to say, "If you have a segment called 'The Worst Person In The World', isn't it striking when you've chosen Ann Coulter twenty times, and never chosen an Islamic terrorist?" Olbermann gave Medved "Worst Persons" honors on October 1, 2007 in response to his column titled "Six inconvenient truths about the U.S. and slavery," and chided him to "go back to reviewing movies."

The show's absence of guests who challenge Olbermann's views was noted by Howard Rosenberg in a commentary published in the Los Angeles Times. "At least O'Reilly invites dissenters to his lair (if only to disembowel them)," wrote Rosenberg, "Whereas "Countdown" is more or less an echo chamber in which Olbermann and like-minded bobbleheads nod at each other."


In 2008, Saturday Night Live guest host Ben Affleck portrayed Olbermann in a parody of Countdown, in which he levelled a long, angry tirade at his co-op board for not allowing him to keep his cat, "Miss Precious Perfect", in an apartment he shares with his mother, saying that the perceived slight was like the 1942 internment of Japanese citizens (amongst other things) and it was "all perfectly legal and every bit as wrong!" The satirical version of Olbermann also damned former MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe during his "Worst Person in the World" segment for not calling the host "courageous", and then proceeded to compare Wolffe's character to that of a typical member of the Nazi Party.

International broadcasts and availability

Countdown is one of the MSNBC and NBC News programming shown on the 24 hour news network Orbit News in Europe and the Middle East. In addition, the show can be seen in its entirety on and downloaded as a podcast on iTunes and Zune Marketplace.


  1. Boyer, Peter J., One Angry Man: Is Keith Olbermann changing TV news? In the New Yorker, June 23, 2008.
  2. foreword to book The Worst Person In The World

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