Friday, August 12, 2005

KEITH OLBERMANN: I QUIT

In the wake of Peter Jennings' death from lung cancer has been a flurry of attention on lung cancer and smoking in general. People are now getting more motivated than ever to quit smoking for good and one of them is Keith Olbermann of MSNBC.

This week on his show, Keith has been going on a crusade against smoking. A long-time pipe and cigar smoker himself, Keith had a lesion removed from his mouth and he was convinced it was cancer, all due to smoking. (Pipe smoking is actually pretty notorious for causing mouth cancers.)

As it turned out, it was benign. Thank God. So he's on a big crusade now, telling people to quit smoking and talking about all this on his blog.

His crusade has not been without controversy. He went on his rant on Monday, grossing people out on the air with his stories about blood coming out of his mouth and so on, hoping it would scare people into quitting smoking.

But producer Rick Kaplan went nuts over this. He went on a tirade against Olbermann after the show, from all accounts, calling him out of control and even telling him he didn't care whether he showed up for work the next day. Speculation is that Kaplan was offended because he was a friend of Peter Jennings from ABC days, and also because the big debut of Rita Cosby's show was coming up on MSNBC so he was furious that Olbermann might drive viewers away from that show.

I think Kaplan should just calm down and drink some decaf coffee, and let it go. Really, Olbermann is Olbermann and his whole reputation is based on being independent and opinionated, and he needs some room to operate. Olbermann's always been a bit of a loose cannon, which is what has made him so great on TV. But it drives management crazy. It's why Olbermann has been tossed out of so many stations and networks over the years. He used to be at ESPN, and he went on Craig Kilborn's show one time and trashed Bristol, Connecticut, where ESPN is located, on the air. So needless to say, that was the end of him there. But Keith had good reason to hate Bristol: life sucked there. He wanted to live in a big city, plus Keith was single and in Bristol there were no girls (very important consideration). The only good thing about Bristol is that ESPN is there.

Anyway, that's the history behind the Kaplan-Keith blowup.

Olbermann showed up for work the next day. He had to, he's the highest rated show on MSNBC. So now he has something else to talk about: cancer. Anyway I hope this works. I hope people tune into the Olbermann show and get motivated to quit smoking.

I remember one guy I met, a good guy, too. And a heavy cigarette smoker. He was not only a big smoker, but a big apologist for the tobacco industry, too. He used to import cigarettes by the truckload and used to quote these statistics about how cigarette smoking cured arthritis and all these other diseases. At his funeral people will tell stories about how much he loved smoking cigarettes. That will be all they talk about. Smoking is basically his life.

And his death will be pretty soon if he doesn't quit smoking. I don't want to see this guy dying of lung cancer, I don't want to have to read his obituary in the paper! I hope someone gets through to him and gets him to quit, scaring him if necessary. But I don't know if he can live without these bleeping smokes. He really needs to go on "the patch" or something, or use Nicorettes, or go see the hypnotists and get them to hypnotize him into quitting smoking. Maybe he should eat jelly beans like Ronald Reagan did. Whatever works. I want this guy to stick around this planet a few years longer.

My own family is on a bit of an anti-smoking crusade because we've lost enough relatives due to cigarettes and smoking and the various diseases it's responsible for. We had a beloved relative who also loved to smoke cigarettes, and smoking was his life, too. And he died at an early age, and it was smoking that killed him. So all I gotta say is QUIT SMOKING CIGARETTES.

That's it!