Breaking: Current TV "terminates relationship" with Olbermann, replaces him with ... Eliot Spitzer; Update: Olby regrets joining Current, vows "legal actions" against it

Fox, MSNBC, ESPN, and now Current. Apparently it’s impossible for a media outfit to co-exist happily with Keith Olbermann.

Note to CNN: How lucky do you feel?


In a letter to viewers, the channel said Friday: “We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before. Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.”

Mr. Olbermann will not be given an opportunity to sign off…

The decision to dismiss Mr. Olbermann was unanimous among the senior managers of Current, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Alternate headline: “Cable-access host loses last three viewers.” If any of this comes as a surprise, you must have missed (a) this post and its follow-up back in January when the first rumblings about Olby not getting along with Current’s management began and (b) the entire arc of his career.

Updates are coming as reaction to this wholly predictable clusterfark develops, so stand by. A question to ponder while you wait: No one embodies “respect,” “openness,” and “loyalty” quite like Client Number Nine, huh?

Update: TPM has a source.

According to a source familiar with the situation, Current decided to let Olbermann go because the progressive pundit “did not respect the viewers of Current.” The basis of his firing included, according to the source: “sabotaging the network” and attacking Current and its executives.”

The source added that Olbermann failed to show up for work without authorization, missing almost half of his working days in the months of January and February. Olbermann asked for a vacation day on March 5, the night before Super Tuesday, according to the source. He was told it would be a breach if he took the vacation, which Olbermann did.


The NYT story linked up top has that same detail about March 5.

Update: As promised, here comes the clusterfark: Olby just tweeted that he’ll be putting his statement out on Twitter imminently. Here’s his feed. Things I’m hoping to see: “That Nobel prize was totally undeserved.” Stay tuned.

Update: Yep. Clusterfark:

I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV. Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring @AlGore and @JoelHyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract. It goes almost without saying that the claims against me in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently. To understand Mr. Hyatt’s “values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty,” I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee’s name was Clarence B. Cain: In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.


Whom to believe? The guy who seems to end up clashing with every network he joins? Or … Al Gore?

Update: Andy Levy of “Red Eye” imagines the statement Olby should have issued.

Update: The only place left he can go is the Internet, which is good because if ever there was a guy who really needs to be his own boss, he’s it. I wonder if he’ll start his own Beck-type operation where he does a show every night for paid subscribers or if he’ll latch onto, say, Media Matters and put out exorbitantly expensive podcasts for them. Let’s hope that a serene, independent-minded shop like MMFA can cope with his hysterical partisanship and unique workplace charm.

Update: The Political Math guy tweets, “If you play Olbermann’s career in reverse, it’s the story of a jobless man who rises from a lowly Internet channel to a prime-time talk show”.

Update: Politico identifies Olby’s chief nemesis at Current as network prez David Bohrman:

There was noticeable tension between Bohrman and Olbermann from the get-go, said a source familiar with the situation.

“It seemed like Bohrman had it in for Keith since Bohrman got hired at Current TV,” said the source. The source asserted Bohrman used Olbermann’s show as “a guinea pig for trying out new talent” on Current’s airwaves, such as Spitzer and Bill Press, both of whom guest hosted “Countdown.”

Bohrman “brought in all his own people,” said the source, asserting Bohrman favored folks with CNN ties, including Shelley Lewis, who was the lead producer for CNN’s “American Morning” and is now Current’s executive vice president for programming. Spitzer, of course, also came from CNN.


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