On a night that found the world’s top gymnasts flipping, stretching, and straining for gold in individual apparatus events in Beijing, Keith Olbermann sat in a studio in New York City, his back to Rockefeller Center’s skating rink, doing some gymanastics of his own. Of the rhetorical variety, that is. And directed, unsurprisingly, at John McCain.

That’s right, kids: last night was Special Comment night on Countdown. A little bit Murrow, a little bit O’Reilly; a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n roll—and always filled with vitriol. Olbermann’s performance, this time around, was particularly melodramatic: as the former sports reporter swooped and spun (again, rhetorically) while railing against the “immaturity” of the GOP’s presumptive nominee, he indulged in even more Dramatic Sighs and Angered Shakes of the Head than usual. Quite the floor routine.

So while Olbermann, as he generally does, bolstered his bloviations with solid reporting…the whole thing was ultimately more circus than ceremony. And one lacking in, among other things, sportsmanship.






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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.