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The Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann Feud Flares Up Again

Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann are fighting again, as only swelled 21st Century media celebrities can, by subjecting their hundreds of thousands of twitter followers to petty personal attacks. Olbermann responded to Simmons’ Lakers-Kennedy Assassination joke by claiming Simmons had no taste in addition to having no talent. The barbs flew.


Bill said he “should have taken (Keith’s) advice and been so vicious to Suzy Kolber that she locked herself in a bathroom and cried.” Keith said that “obviously (Bill) did; those crap columns must come from somewhere.” (Semicolon. He means business.)

Bill linked to a HuffPo article documenting one of the instances Keith showed poor judgment. Keith pointed out that he apologized and suggested Bill (err… “Junior”) do the same. Bill mockingly wished Keith good luck with his new TV show on Current TV. Keith told Bill “good luck getting a show on TV.” (umm…30 for 30…). Bill pointed out to Keith he had “burned bridges at 3 different companies” and no one wanted to hear his advice.

Keith conferred with his twitter followers further, calling Simmons an “unoriginal man” with “C- Material.” He also said ESPN is “just a sports network, and most of it is crap.”

As for the tweet that started this, the Kennedy assassination and the resultant conspiracy theories and details have become such a part of the cultural lexicon, assuming an identity almost independent of the event itself. It has been nearly 50 years since the assassination and nearly 20 since it was parodied on a Seinfeld episode. Other comedy outlets have used it, including Family Guy, a show Olbermann could not enjoy if he was genuinely offended this easily. It’s hard to argue that Simmons’ joke was grossly malignant or offensive to the objective audience.

Where is the statute of limitations on assassination humor? Is every “et tu…” joke noxious? Would Simmons have been equally remiss saying the Kobe Era’s Gräf and Stift took a wrong turn down a Sarajevo sidestreet?

Even accepting Olbermann’s point about the taste level, he soils it by using it to club Simmons as a performance piece for his twitter followers, alerting them (and Simmons) that he finds him talentless and indecent. It’s not surprising Simmons came back with bare knuckles.

Twitter makes everyone actors. It’s not enough just to react or to have an opinion. You now feel compelled to share that opinion with your tens, or hundreds or thousands of followers. You must frame it extremely to draw attention and aggrandize yourself. It turns ordinary people into blowhards and blowhards into spiteful lunatics.

Hopefully, individuals, especially celebrities, can rediscover the art of discrete communication. This Simmons-Olbermann argument could have been settled through direct messages, through an email, through a telephone call or, preferably, through a charity cage match.

[Photo via Getty]

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