He opened his first show back on Tuesday mischievously. The camera showed an empty desk, then he slowly edged his way into the picture, saying, "Oh, hi. What's new?"
He thanked viewers for showing him the kind of gratitude reserved for Chilean miners. A liberal group had launched a petition drive to get him back on the air over the weekend, following his suspension Friday. Olbermann acknowledged donating to the campaigns of three Democrats; NBC News rules prohibit such political activism among employees unless they have special permission.
Olbermann said he read over the weekend that the suspension was a publicity stunt.
He said: "This was not a publicity stunt. `Course, if I had known all this was going to happen, I would have done this years ago."