ESPN host Keith Olbermann apologized late Wednesday evening after telling his more than 1 million Twitter followers to harass a 22-year-old Mississippi Turkey hunter, Hunter Waltman, and to “make sure the rest of his life is a living hell.”
“I am an opponent of trophy hunting and remain so, but nobody should feel threatened. This was anything but my intent, so I unreservedly apologize to Mr. Waltman for this tweet,” Olbermann said.
On Wednesday, the “SportsCenter” host was enraged after reading an article in the Clarion-Ledger — a Gannett-owned paper based in Jackson, Mississippi — about how Waltman had shot and killed a rare white wild turkey.
“Man, it was awesome,” Waltman told the paper. “I was shaking I was so nervous. It was one of the hardest turkeys I’ve ever killed.”
That did not sit well with Olbermann, who frequently uses his Twitter platform to promote animal rights activism.
“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,” he said in a now deleted tweet sharing the Clarion-Ledger piece. “And the nitwit clown who wrote this fawning piece should be fired.”
Before ESPN, Olbermann spent much of his career as a primetime anchor at MSNBC.
In a brief statement to TheWrap, ESPN said they had “spoken to [Olbermann] about not making personal attacks.”
Steven Ward, an editor at the Clarion Ledger said that his paper stood by the piece and confirmed that its reporter, Brian Broom, would not be fired.
“Brian Broom was only doing his job writing about a Mississippi hunter hunting during Turkey season,” Ward told TheWrap. “The tweet was ridiculous as far as we’re concerned. We thought it was reckless and dangerous.”
In a follow up piece, the Clarion Ledger and Waltman said the Olbermann tweet has resulted harassment.
“They text me all kinds of stuff. If he [Olbermann] hadn’t done that, none of this would have happened,” Waltman told the paper without getting into specifics. “I don’t think a lot of people would like to be called out on social media like that, especially (by someone) with so many followers.”
“I’d be glad to see him fired. He went overboard,” he added.