Shister: How do you grade the ‘SNL’ bit, and why?
Olbermann: As a technical achievement, it was an A+ Seriously: Ben did that off cue cards, as I discovered when he sent me one with a funny message scrawled in the corner. That is startling to me. I barely get through something of that length on teleprompter. Ben got most of the facial expressions right, and the camera turns were hilarious. And – no offense to Richard Wolffe – but I laughed out loud when they converted “him” into The Worst Person for disagreeing with me. And most to-the-point: yeah, must be four years in a row I’ve mentioned George Orwell‘s birthday. Actual constructive criticism in there amid the satire.
Shister: What DIDN’T you like?
Olbermann: Well, it was a little like that Biden/Murtha sketch from the week before, which I think poor Jason Sudeikis will finally be getting to the last line of in about five weeks. Kinda went on a bit, but then again I know people say that about me. More pertinent, there was a lot of Third Reich stuff thrown around in there, more than I think I’ve actually done in the last five-and-a-half years, and even in humor you have to measure that out with an eye-dropper, not a gallon-sized jug. Also, I think I’ve cut one guest off in five-and-a-half years (other than for breaking news or we just ran out of show) and in the sketch Ben cut off two of them. I think that was a writer writing what he wanted to be true, not what was true.
Shister: Are you flattered or insulted that you rated a bit, and why?
Olbermann: From the moment I heard about it as they rehearsed on Friday, I was flattered. I might nitpick the details, but there is a status implied by this. Especially running it before midnight. Especially having the host doing the impression. Also, you can kvetch now and again about criticism, and lord knows I do, but if you are insulted by something like this, it’s time to become a Park Ranger. I mean if they want to do another sketch just skewering me and they’re stuck for somebody to do the impression, I’ll do the impression. Anything else and it’d be like complaining that Letterman is obsessed by the size of my head rather than saying “is there anything I can do to encourage you to mention me and my head more often?”
Shister: What did you think of O’Reilly’s thinly-veiled comments about you on CBS yesterday?
Olbermann: As I’m saying on air tonight [Monday night], when asked what he thinks of me, Bill should say, as he should have said in 2003: “Never heard of him.” If he’d forgotten the cardinal rule (never shoot down) we wouldn’t have beaten him in the demo last week. Nor would Rachel have beaten him in the demo last week. Nor would we have tied Fox in the demo in primetime. So Bill should continue to ignore me on this.
Shister: When can we stop meeting like this?
Olbermann: When it quiets down. Which is what I’ve been saying since 2003.