by Seth Eisenberg
Keith Olbermann, fired from MSNBC yesterday a week before his 52nd birthday and eight years after launching his evening Countdown show, has had a tough year.
After losing his mother at the end of 2009, his father died last March.
Olbermann and long-time live in girlfriend, WPIX reporter Katy Tur, reportedly called it quits on their romance as the former sports reporter was beginning a period of difficult personal and professional challenges culminating with this week’s separation from MSNBC.
While Olbermann is most often talked about in reference to his liberal positions, evening commentaries, and ongoing feud with FOX News pundit Bill O’Reilly, what stands out most for me are words he shared last March hours after his father died.
“My Dad was my biggest booster,” Olbermann said. “Of course it was he and my Mom who took me to my first Yankees games (even though my father nursed a delightful grudge against the team for trading away his favorite players, Steve Souchock and Snuffy Stirnweiss – in 1948 and 1950). But as my interest in the sport began to take the shape of a dreamt-of career, it was my Dad who also sacrificed family vacations so we could buy ever more tickets to Yankee games. When we could afford both games and vacations, four times those vacations were to Spring Training.”
“He was my inspiration, and will always remain so,” Olbermann said. “His bravery these last six months cannot be measured. He is as much my hero now, as he was when I was five years old.”
In a world in which people with different views and perspectives are often labeled as “opponents” and with similar words, it can be easy to lose sight of the common humanity we share with those whose positions and passions are played out nightly to millions of living rooms and many others whose lives intersect our own.
Olbermann’s tribute to his dad, the public struggles of a life empowered by his parents’ faith, love and sacrifice, and the situation he now finds himself in of having to redefine and rebuild his career without a chance to return home to the comfort and wisdom of the hero he cherished, is a reminder of how much we share in common.
Seth Eisenberg is President of the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation in Weston, Florida, an industry leader in relationship and marriage education.