Keith Olbermann fired by Current TV, threatens lawsuit

Countdown-Keith-Olberman

Image Credit: Justin Stephens/Current TV

UPDATED: Keith Olbermann has been fired by a cable network. Again.

Current TV released a statement saying it was parting ways with the outspoken liberal news pundit, citing a difference in values. Olbermann then shot back with a statement of his own (both are printed in full below). Current also announced it’s giving former New York governor and CNN personality Eliot Spitzer a show in Olbermann’s 8 p.m. slot. Spitzer’s show starts tonight.

The decision comes less than a year after Current hired the former MSNBC personality as lead news anchor to help energize the cable network’s prime-time ratings. Olbermann’s stint was marred by infighting, including a public spat last fall over whether he would anchor the network’s election coverage. According to The New York Times, Olbermann had a five-year, $50 million deal with the network, but Current is accusing Olbermann of violating the terms of his contract.

Here is Current’s full open letter to viewers:

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.

We are moving ahead by honoring Current’s values. Current has a fundamental obligation to deliver news programming with a progressive perspective that our viewers can count on being available daily — especially now, during the presidential election campaign. Current exists because our audience desires the kind of perspective, insight and commentary that is not easily found elsewhere in this time of big media consolidation.

As we move toward this summer’s political conventions and the general election in the fall, Current is making significant new additions to our broadcasts.  We have just debuted six hours of new programming each weekday with Bill Press (Full Court Press, at 6 am ET/3 am PT) and Stephanie Miller (Talking Liberally, at 9 am ET/6 pm PT).

We’re very excited to announce that beginning tonight, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer will host Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer, at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT.  Eliot is a veteran public servant and an astute observer of the issues of the day. He has important opinions and insights and he relishes the kind of constructive discourse that our viewers will appreciate this election year.  We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Governor Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis.

All of these additions to Current’s lineup are aimed at achieving one simple goal — thegoal that has always been central to Current’s mission:  To tell stories no one else will tell, to speak truth to power, and to influence the conversation of democracy on behalf of those whose voice is too seldom heard.  We, and everyone at Current, want to thank our viewers for their continued steadfast support.

Sincerely,

Al Gore & Joel Hyatt
Current’s Founders

Olbermann responded with a statement linked on his Twitter feed:

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 Al Gore and Joel Hyatt 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 implied 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. http://nyti.ms/HueZsa

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.

Read more:
Current boss: Keith Olbermann ‘on vacation’
Keith Olbermann clashes with Current TV, media, and Twitter followers
Keith Olbermann calls Fox News ‘political whorehouse’


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