CNN host Piers Morgan and Countdown’s Keith Olbermann, each well-known for their propensity to feud, squared off on Twitter last week when Olbermann used the occasion of Christine O’Donnell’s walk-off to take a shot at Morgan. In response, Morgan mocked the size of Olbermann’s audience, called him a “coward,” and issued a challenge for the liberal firebreather to debate him on Piers Morgan Tonight. So far, Olbermann has ducked the gauntlet by claiming that Morgan banned him “for life.”
Who walks out on @PiersMorgan tonight? I’m betting on…the audience (as usual)
Come on and debate with me you big coward @KeithOlbermann – or are you too busy with your 40,000 viewers a night?
Morgan’s estimate of Countdown‘s audience is off by a lot, and while Olbermann’s ratings have arguably exceeded some expectations (especially when compared with pre-Olbermann Current), Piers Morgan Tonight‘s ratings far exceed Countdown’s. I’ve never liked the idea that ratings=quality (Firefly, anyone?), but it’s particularly curious for Olbermann to set those terms of engagement.
As for Morgan’s challenge, Olbermann seemed to refuse, based on the claim that Morgan had banned him for life:
Just to wrap this up, most recent of 12 pleadings by @PiersMorgan that I appear on his show arrived 7/26. After he “banned me for life.”
Fortunately for Olbermann, and the viewers of a possible Olbermann/Morgan throwdown, Piers Morgan actually didn’t ban him for life. In fact, he told Entertainment Weekly he would ban Olbermann “Just because it would really annoy him. I think he’s a great broadcaster, but I know he gets wound up very easily. It’s not a lifetime ban, it’s a temporary ban, designed to confuse and bemuse him, and hopefully engender a violent reaction.”
So, since there’s no lifetime ban, there’s really no obstacle to Olbermann’s acceptance of Morgan’s invitation. It would be a huge win for the audience, and would give Olbermann a chance to finish what he started. Piers Morgan, no matter the outcome of their debate, would have scored an undoubtedly compelling interview. The only possible downside would be if the pair decided to debate football.
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