The story that splashed across the New York gossip pages was a juicy one: Keith Olbermann, a legendary jerk in broadcasting, refused to live in a building owned by Donald Trump, a legendary jerk in politics.
In March, the former MSNBC host vacated his apartment in the lavish Trump Towers, fed up, he said, with Trump’s divisive presidential campaign. This week, we learned the final straw for Olbermann: Trump’s claim that he could walk out onto Fifth Avenue, shoot people, and it still wouldn’t hurt his popularity.
“The day that I actually said that I gotta get back into this, and I’ve gotta get out of this house, was when Donald Trump said, boastfully, that if he went out on Fifth Avenue and shot people, it wouldn’t impact his campaign negatively,’ Olbermann told Bill Simmons on a podcast released this week.
(Discussion of Trump Towers begins around minute 6:20.)
In addition to the general idea of shooting people, Olbermann took issue with “the idea that [Trump] would view that as part of the political calculus.” Olbermann interpreted Trump’s statement to mean that he didn’t care about anyone in New York City, and “without this city, he would be selling newspapers in an outdoor stand outside Madison Square Gardens. He wouldn’t even have one of the indoor stations in Penn Station.”
Thirdly, Olbermann was repulsed by the “impunity” he detected in Trump’s statement, that his followers somehow would remain loyal, even if the billionaire went on a shooting spree in Manhattan.
“[They] wouldn’t swerve away from this semi-fascist freight train that he’s driving,” Olbermann said.
Olbermann announced his departure from the New York City apartment building in a Washington Post op-ed published in March. “I’m getting out because of the degree to which the very name ‘Trump’ has degraded the public discourse and the nation itself. I can’t hear, or see, or say that name any longer without spitting. Frankly, I’m running out of Trump spit.”
Olbermann has also vowed to come out of retirement to wage a war of words against Trump. The veteran journalist, who has worked at more cable news outfits than can be named in a single sentence, said that he didn’t have anything lined up yet.
“I’m going to do it one way or another, even if I’m just writing, I’m going to be doing something the rest of the [campaign],” he told Simmons.
He wants to have his ”opinions known on a regular, perhaps hourly basis somewhere,” Olbermann told Simmons. He also hinted that he might look outside of mainstream media for a place to criticize Trump, whom Olbermann has called the “most dangerous presidential candidate” since the Civil War.
Despite his reputation as a difficult employee and a demanding boss, Olbermann was for a time an influential voice on the political left, especially in his criticism of the George W. Bush administration. On MSNBC, Olbermann’s acerbic wit and angry commentary resonated with Americans who despised the Bush administration, as well as those who wanted an immediate end to the war in Iraq.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
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