While away on vacation, I read some newspapers and got a little more news from TV and radio.  But I didn’t go online, didn’t check my e-mail, didn’t make a single blog entry (although I have several things to post as soon as I find time, after reading and replying to the more than 500 e-mails I had waiting for me this afternoon upon my return home).

One of the things I missed was Keith Olbermann’s great piece on smoking and cancer.  He did it at the end of “Countdown” on the same night he had opened with a very nice 12-minute obituary of Peter Jennings.  His closing piece was about his personal connection with cancer — having had a tumor removed from the roof of his mouth ten days earlier, caused by decades of pipe and cigar smoking.  He’s drawn some criticism for the piece, but I think it’s praiseworthy.

It’s also typical of what Olbermann can do that others can’t, or won’t, in the anchor chair.  Now that Jennings is gone, Olbermann is undoubtedly the most polished writer and news presenter on television.  He understands that the words matter, and they don’t have to be shouted, and that a sense of humanity must be at the core of whatever he’s reporting, whether it be deadly serious or seriously stupid.  Here’s the text of what he said that night, with a link to the video version.