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- ESPN suspended Keith Olbermann on Feb. 24 for his tweets on Penn State and its THON fundraiser.
- Olbermann will be back on the air on Monday, March 2.
ESPN suspended Keith Olbermann for the rest of the week for his tweets on Penn State and its annual THON fundraiser.
ESPN has suspended Keith Olbermann.
According to a press release on ESPN’s website, the network took Olbermann off the air for the rest of the week “because of tweets critical of Penn State and its annual THON fundraiser.” He is set to retun on Monday, March 2.
A statement featured on the ESPN press release describes Olbermann’s tweets as “completely inappropriate”:
“We are aware of the exchange Keith Olbermann had on Twitter last night regarding Penn State. It was completely inappropriate and does not reflect the views of ESPN.
“We have discussed it with Keith, who recognizes he was wrong. ESPN and Keith have agreed that he will not host his show for the remainder of the week and will return on Monday.
“The annual tradition of THON and the efforts of the students of Penn State to fight pediatric cancer should be applauded.”
Olbermann has since apologized for his actions:
I apologize for the PSU tweets. I was stupid and childish and way less mature than the students there who did such a great fundraising job.— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) February 24, 2015
According to a Feb. 24 update from The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Robert Moran, 55-year-old Penn State alumna Lisa Aiello DeLeon read an article saying the annual THON dance marathon had raised more than $13 million, she first thought of Olbermann.
DeLeon tweeted “We Are!” while tagging Olbermann with a link to the article:
We Are! @KeithOlbermann http://t.co/c5vmqIuW7G— Lisa Aiello DeLeon (@lisaadeleon) February 23, 2015
Olbermann then replied to the tweet by writing “…Pitiful.”
Moran says this set off a series of tweets from Olbermann which targeted Penn State students. At one point, Olbermann tweeted,”PSU students are pitiful because they’re PSU students — period,” per The Philadelphia Daily Inquirer.
Moran then goes into detail on why DeLeon thought of Olbermann in her tweet:
“In late January, DeLeon watched a video of Olbermann condeming the ‘disgraceful restoration’ by the NCAA of 112 football wins that had been stripped during the Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal. Joe Paterno was once again the winningest Division I football (coach).
“DeLeon tweeted a link to a rebuttal posted on a news site dedicated to Penn State news: ‘@KeithOlbermann silent on this? nailed you.”
Olbermann didn’t stay silent. He replied back on Twitter, per Moran. He quipped,”You’re quoting a penn state fanboy site. The only person who got nailed was that bastard Paterno.”
Moran reports DeLeon was shocked in her reply to Olbermann: “wow just wow. Truth in facts — not a fanboy site. You’re living proof you can’t argue w stupid!”
Olbermann did not reply to that tweet, per The Philadelphia Daily Inquirer.
ESPN’s @KeithOlbermann won’t host show this week after calling Penn State students ‘pitiful’ http://t.co/TP9HOoXpAv pic.twitter.com/aLiRItSlV5— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 24, 2015
Moran then goes on to say that Olbermann’s on-air commentary about Penn State threw DeLeon off. Olbermann said Penn State supporters believe football “is still more important than saving kids and healing their wounds.”
DeLeon, a mechanical engineering major who graduated in 1982, took part in the THON fundraising event in 1979. She told Moran via phone interview she wanted Olbermann to see Penn State in a different light when she tagged him on Twitter. DeLeon said,”I was just trying to educate him.”
Penn State’s official Facebook page released a statement from spokesman Lawrence Lokman regarding the Olbermann issue on Tuesday:
“It’s a shame that ESPN’s Keith Olbermann chose to attack Penn State students who raised more than $13 million for the fight to end pediatric cancer. Mr. Olbermann has apologized, which is appropriate.
“We challenge him to make a donation to THON.org. Thousands upon thousands of Penn State students who take part in THON every year have created the largest student-led philantrophy program in the world. We could not be more pround of our Penn Staters and their selfless commitment to helping families and children affected by cancer.”
To be more precise, the 2015 Penn State Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon raised $13,026,653.23 this year, per a Feb. 23 update from The Daily Collegian’s Kelsey Thomasson. It is less than last year’s $13,343,517.33, but Penn State junior biology student Bobby Mullin told Thomasson this year’s funds will still go a long way in helping combat pediatric cancer at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
THON Executive Public Relations Director told Thomasson its mission “is to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer.” To date, it has raised more than $114 million for this purpose since 1977.
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