Bringing to a close weeks of tense standoffs and snide remarks, Current TV has ended its relationship with Keith Olbermann, whose Countdown has served for the past year as the plucky cable channel’s most heavily rotated series, while his knowing smirk has served as its public face. Olbermann and Current had been on the outs since at least December, when Olbermann refused to take part in the network’s coverage of the Republican primaries, setting off a prolonged public airing of grievances that eventually culminated in today's parting of ways.
That back-and-forth included this Newsweek article in which Rebecca Dana claimed Olbermann had spent his freshman year complaining about his show’s cheap sets, his car service, and his lack of influence over hiring decisions, despite ostensibly being the network’s “Chief News Officer.” This was answered by various statements and emails fired off by Olbermann to outlets like The Hollywood Reporter, in which he claimed he was not being given "acceptable conditions" under which to host, making acerbic reference to the many technical glitches that had become as much a part of his show as his (recently suspended) “Worst Persons In The World” segment.
Then, things got kind of ugly: Soon enough, anonymous former MSNBC staffers were coming forward to elucidate what Current TV probably had to deal with by detailing all the crappy things he supposedly did during his era there, with Olbermann immediately turning his ever-bristling rage on the outlets that published them. And of course, all the while, Olbermann continued to burnish his public image by firing insults back at the people who talk shit about him on Twitter, every single day. Evidently, Current finally had enough of the noise, issuing this "open letter to the viewers" from co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt:
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.
Oh yeah, the collegiality. You gotta have the collegiality. Anyway, much like his previous exit from MSNBC, the end of Olbermann’s brief tenure at Current will be equally abrupt: The channel will (probably wisely) not allow him the chance to sign off, instead replacing him, beginning tonight, with the new Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer, in which the former New York governor who definitely does not bring to mind lots of collegiate sex-having with prostitutes anymore will prove “he relishes the kind of constructive discourse that our viewers will appreciate this election year”—with unlike some people heavily implied.
Not surprisingly, Olbermann isn't going gently into the basic-cable night. He's already used his favorite medium, Twitter, to issue the following statement, in which he "apologizes" for ever getting involved with Current TV, while also saying he will take "legal action" against Al Gore and Joel Hyatt.
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.
Suffice it to say, this is only going to get uglier.