The youth portion of the spring turkey season is this weekend, and the adults can take to the woods to bag a turkey April 15-May 1.
I have never been turkey hunting, but last year there were 35,800 birds harvested in the state, according to the Department of Conservation. Turkey hunting goes on in lots of states, and I read with interest recently a story by a former co-worker of mine at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, about a young man who killed a rare white gobbler.
News guys in the South like Brian Broom, an outdoors writer for the newspaper, jump at the chance to write about oddball harvests like white gobblers, giant alligators and deer with lots of antler points. It’s what they do. And in places like Mississippi, and Missouri, too, where hunting is popular, lots of people like to read about this stuff.
Notice the careful choice of wording I use: harvest. Years ago, we would kill deer and turkeys, but in order to appease some folks sometime back we started harvesting them.
Anyway, I read Broom’s story about the rare white gobbler and didn’t think too much about it. That was not the case with ESPN broadcaster Keith Olbermann, a former MSNBC commentator who has a habit of, like a lot of network television personalities these days, telling us his opinion on things in a self-righteous, know-it-all, holier-than-thou manner. They define intolerance when it comes to their opinion.
In case you missed it, this is what Olbermann had to tweet about the harvester and the guy who wrote about the harvest:
"It be rare and beautiful so me should kill it. This pea-brained scumbag identifies himself as Hunter Waltman and we should do our best to make sure the rest of his life is a living hell. And the nitwit clown who wrote this fawning piece should be fired."
If Olbermann worked for me, he’d be fired on the spot.
Olbermann wasn’t referring in his tweet to a child molester, a school shooting perpetrator or even a person of a certain political persuasion, and even that would be out of line. He was referring to Waltman, a 22-year-old turkey hunter from Kiln, Mississippi (also the home of former NFL great Brett Favre, by the way.)
I have been to Kiln many times. It’s a rural place with rural roots and a love of fishing and hunting. So, when Olbermann fired away at Waltman and my old workmate Brian, I can only imagine what they had to say in Kiln, and anywhere else where camouflage and rifles are a way of life.
But this isn’t about hunting or anti-hunting, it’s about how far the talking heads on network television have gone, and why many Americans have lost respect for them. Even ESPN is consumed by politics.
Olbermann’s threatening tweet – he has over a million followers on Twitter – is a crime in my book, and Olbermann’s tweet should be treated as such. Waltman said in the days following the tweet that a few folks took Olbermann up on his request to make Waltman’s life “a living hell.” Twitter took down Olbermann’s tweet due to its content.
We are trying to cure a generation from internet bullying, and up steps Olbermann.
Olbermann, who did eventually apologize, also called for the firing of writer Brian Broom. Olbermann is the one who should be fired. Clarion Ledger Executive Editor Sam R. Hall said it best when he tweeted, “Keith Olbermann‘s tweet was recklessly irresponsible. Someone with his following needs to understand the possible impact of his words. Telling over one million people to make someone’s life a living hell could have seriously dangerous consequences. In our newsroom, that would be a fireable offense, not writing a story about a hunter bagging a turkey.”
Olbermann said in his apology that “nobody should feel threatened. This was anything but my intent. . .” Read his original tweet again and tell me how that could have anything less than a threatening meaning.
Waltman is having his brief stint of fame, and I am sure Broom will find a big deer – maybe an albino one – to write about this fall. And Olbermann will continue to do what he and much of the rest of the cable pundits do, much to the disgust of an America that is peppered with anger every day on network news.
Waltman in a subsequent interview said he took what Olbermann said as a threat. “I’ll be glad to see him fired,” he said. “He went overboard.”
Fired? Hardly. Olbermann will continue to mix baseball and his politics for a network that is no stranger to controversy of the political variety.
"We have spoken to him about not making personal attacks," a representative for ESPN wrote in an emailed statement to Fox News.
Olbermann isn’t even getting a slap on the wrist for attacking a 22-year-old hunter. That, apparently, is the end of it as far as ESPN is concerned, and another example of why Americans believe less and less and like less and less of the rubbish that has become network television.