Current TV Fires Keith Olbermann
Less than a year after he was hired, Current TV said it was ending its contract with lead anchor Keith Olbermann. Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who had an ill-fated run on CNN, will replace him.
Current announced the move in an open letter to its viewers from Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, Current's founders.
The letter reads in part:
"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."
The New York Times Media Decoder blog reports that Olbermann will not have a chance to sign off. Spitzer replaces him with "Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer" beginning Friday at 8 p.m. ET.
The Times adds:
"It came after months of infighting between the famously temperamental Mr. Olbermann and his bosses at Current, including David Bohrman, the channel's president, and Joel Hyatt, its chief executive. The fighting spilled out into public view last January after Mr. Olbermann declined Current's requests to host special hours of election coverage, apparently out of frustration about technical difficulties that had plagued his 8 p.m. program, "Countdown."
"Fourteen months ago, Mr. Olbermann abruptly left MSNBC, where he had worked for the prior eight years. There, he nearly single-handedly gave the channel an identity as a liberal counterweight to Fox News."
Update at 5:49 p.m. ET. Olbermann's Statement:
"I'd like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV," writes Keith Olbermann via Twitter.
Olbermann goes on to write that it took a "lack of judgement" to join Current and that the network's statement is "untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently."
"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."
Update at 5:28 p.m. ET. Signs Of Trouble:
Trouble between Olbermann and his employer was reported for a while. They came to a boil in January when Olbermann sat out of the network's Republican primary coverage.
At the time, The Hollywood Reporter detailed the tension.