Olbermann first mentioned Palin on his show July 1, 2008, when his guest, conservative columnist William Kristol, recommended that McCain make her his vp choice. Since then, he talked about the former governor of Alaska in a total of 320 separate segments during his former MSNBC show, according to data compiled by LexisNexis. That's at least one story about Palin for every two episodes. The ex-governor who has become a lightning rod for left-wing criticism was such a frequent target of Olbermann's that the news of his Countdown show being canceled had one blogger joking: "It's Sarah Palin's fault. I'm sure she's behind this!" But if the attention Olbermann gave to the diminutive and perky hockey mom from Wasilla sounds excessive, think again. LexisNexis indicates that MSNBC's Chris Matthews has reported on her during a whopping 420 segments of his Hardball show since she burst onto the scene as McCain's running mate two months after Kristol's Countdown appearance. And MSNBC is no cable-news outlier. The hosts at CNN and Fox News are only slightly less obsessed with Palin, though the coverage at CNN attempts objectivity, and at Fox it is downright favorable â a given since most of its hosts lean right and Palin is employed there as an analyst. So basically, the 24-hour news cycle on any given week might go like this: Olbermann attacks Palin. Fox then attacks Olbermann for attacking Palin. Olbermann counterattacks by calling either Palin or Rupert Murdoch the "worst person in the world." And so on. You see, it never gets tired. Except it does: Primetime ratings for MSNBC, Fox News and CNN are all down. Palin didn't respond to requests for an interview. Fox also declined comment, at least on the record, though several insiders there explained their theories as to why cable news is so focused on Palin. "If MSNBC and CNN stopped talking about her so much, Fox would, too," one insider said. "Then she could behave like any other political analyst at Fox News and give her opinion about the issues." Says another Fox insider: "Detractors are more obsessed with her than supporters are. And they canât even explain why they hate her. Ask them about it, and they mumble something about her being stupid. But I'd hook her up to an intelligence test against Joe Biden any day."