Perhaps, like me, you have long loved Keith Olbermann from afar. If you’re really like me, you still have his last Big Show (the Sunday night edition of SportsCenter, with Dan Patrick) on videotape, if only because they were the model for Aaron Sorkin’s underappreciated Sports Night. (Or perhaps to preserve gems such as “Dick Trickle…did not finish.”) If you’re really, really like me, you love Keith anew every year when he gripes about Dale Murphy not being elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.
If you’re really, really, really like me, you’re really, really, really loving Keith these days for being one of the few newsfolk out there who acknowledged that bad calls by pundits prior to, say, the New Hampshire primaries likely had less to do with “racist” voters (paging Chris Matthews) or cell phones and more to do with the pundits’ own inability to do math. Hence the recent introduction of what might be my favorite part of Countdown‘s broadcast, the Keith Number, or polling data that include noting the percent of respondents that are undecided plus the margin of error (not to be confused with the Keith Number—don’t they teach recreational mathematics anymore?). If the Keith Number had been in play before New Hampshire, the pundits might not have been able to make the right call, but they couldn’t have pretended to be so shocked by it, either. It would be nice to think that attention to detail like the Keith Number might lead to a bump in Keith’s numbers (from tvbythenumbers.com).
The real Keith Number today, however, is eight, or the number of fourth quarter comebacks Eli Manning had engineered late in the regular season when Mr. Olbermann called Manning a player to watch a few weeks before the Super Bowl–and dang. Perhaps the Keith Number is not to be messed with.