ESPN Commentator Ask Twitter to Make One Turkey Hunter’s Life a “Living Hell”

The latest in what has become frequent, mob-like incidents on social media pits ESPN’s Keith Olbermann’s 1 million followers against a wild turkey hunter from Mississippi.

ESPN Commentator Ask Twitter to Make One Turkey Hunter’s Life a “Living Hell”

Photo: Valerie Loiseleux (iStock)

The Mississippi Clarion Ledger published an online story about a local turkey hunter who harvested a “bizarre white turkey.” This story was at first unique because the turkey itself was unique. It was almost entirely white. But it’s beard was not, and its eyes didn’t have the defining features of an albino turkey. 

A few days after the news report, however, the turkey and the turkey hunter were overshadowed by this tweet, posted by ESPN and former MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann.

“It be rare and beautiful so me should kill it,” Olbermann tweeted on March 26. The tweet has since been deleted. “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.”

 The Ledger’s outdoor writer Brian Broom, who wrote and posted the story about Waltman’s rare bird, didn't have to defend his work thanks to the newspaper’s executive editor Sam Hall. Hall quickly responded to Olbermann’s call to fire Broom.  

“Keith Olbermann says Brian Broom should be fired for writing this story,” he wrote, replying to Olbermann on Twitter. “What was I thinking? I guess I should have fired our outdoors writer for writing about a hunter killing an unusual turkey during turkey hunting season.”

Had this turkey-hunting article been written for a national publication where Olbermann’s 1 million followers may have had more sway on the publication’s editorial staff and advertisers, the outcome could have been quite different. Instead the controversial ESPN commentator’s influence ran into a Mississippi dead-end, where the hunting culture is commonly accepted and meat-eating is too. 

In a statement to FOX News, Hall wrote, "Keith Olbermann’s tweet was recklessly irresponsible. Someone with his following needs to understand the possible impact of his words. Telling over 1 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.”

For his part, the turkey hunter Waltman told the Ledger, "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. They text me all kinds of stuff. If he (Olbermann) hadn't done that, none of this would have happened."

Olbermann ultimately issued an apology. “I am an opponent of trophy hunting and remain so, but nobody should feel threatened,” wrote Olbermann on his Twitter account. “This was anything but my intent, so I unreservedly apologize to Mr. Waltman for this tweet.”

If you’d like to read less about Olbermann and more about the unusually rare wild turkey Waltman bagged in Mississippi, you can read Brian Broom’s detailed account of the hunt and bird taxonomy in the article, “Mississippi Hunter Bags ‘Exceptionally Rare’ White Turkey,” at the Mississippi Clarion Ledger


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