Penn State

Keith Olbermann talks to David Letterman about Thon, Penn State tweets

Keith Olbermann
Keith Olbermann AP file photo

“There was a kind of bad reaction from the Penn State community.”

Yes, Keith Olbermann, that was true.

On Tuesday, the ESPN sports guru sat down with David Letterman and fell on his sword, or at least fell in the general vicinity.

After being suspended for several days after instigating a Twitter war when he called Penn State students raising $13 million for the IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon “pitiful,” Olbermann came back to the airwaves last week with a mea culpa that hinged on mindlessly responding to a message without reading it and forgetting that real people were on the other side of Twitter.

He doubled down on that explanation while visiting CBS’ “Late Show.”

Olbermann started his exchange talking about the incident and calling Twitter the first sign of societal downfall.

It took him more than halfway through his explanation to mention the university at the heart of the uproar. He never mentioned Thon or the amount of money raised by the world’s largest student philanthropy, saying only that he dealt the blow to a cause close to his heart, pediatric cancer. He was able to squeeze in a mention of the 200 or so donations he has personally made to other children’s cancer charities.

For the first time in a long while, Olbermann did mention the late Joe Paterno without a sneer. After vitriol-filled rants in January when the settlement of state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman’s lawsuit with the NCAA and the university nullified the consent decree and the package of punishments that stripped 112 Nittany Lion wins, Olbermann declared Penn State the “world’s worst” and said the fans cared more about football than abused children.

He told Letterman that it was simply too soon, saying that in five years he would have supported restoration. That may be true as Olbermann has done an about-face on the issue of Pete Rose’s ban from the baseball hall of fame.