Keith Olbermann out at 'Current TV': Moral beacon Eliot Spitzer to replace

Al Gore's reputation takes another nosedive. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2012 – This just in: Left-wing hatemeister Keith Olbermann was officially ejected from his Current TV anchor seat yesterday. The news  during and after close-of-business on Friday afternoon. That tactic seemed eerily similar to the way the Obama Administration chooses Friday afternoons and evenings to announce major policy announcements they don’t want you to know about, all the better to bury them in the usual weekend media black-hole.

As “Daily Caller’s” Jim Treacher snarked (PG warning): “You’ve heard of a Friday afternoon document dump. How about a Friday afternoon douche dump?”

Keith Olbermann.

Fired ‘Current TV’ pundit Keith Olbermann. (Credit: AP)

Problem is, the timing wasn’t sufficient to bury the story this time. PJMedia blogger Ed Driscoll seemed to have latched onto it first, posting details early Friday afternoon.

In a statement ostensibly written by Current TV founders Al Gore and trial lawyer Joel Hyatt, the difficult-to-access “progressive” (i.e., hard-left) cable channel described Mr. Olbermann’s firing in lofty, moralistic terms:

“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.” 

Doubling deviancy down, Current TV quickly replaced Mr. Olbermann with former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, commencing with last night’s 8 pm primetime slot. Patterico pontificates:

“[Mr. Olbermann] will be replaced by a man who cheated on his wife with a prostitute.”

So much for Current TV’s high-mindedness and moral rectitude.

In a way, Mr. Olbermann’s latest demise was not unexpected. As FireDogLake’s David Dayen observed, Mr. Olbermann “now has the distinction of being fired from almost every major cable news channel on television – CNN, MSNBC and now Current. He never appeared on Fox News, but he did work for Fox Broadcasting, and was fired from there. As he would say on ESPN, you can’t stop him, you can’t even hope to contain him.” 

Predictably, center-right Internet media writers and bloggers have been gleefully piling on to this latest accumulation of evidence that left-wing hatemongering has begun to hit the twin brick walls of revulsion and disgust. “Daily Caller’s” Jim Treacher again: 

“On behalf of Tucker Carlson and everyone here at The Daily Caller, I want to reach out to Keith Olbermann in this troubled time. You don’t have to decide anything right now, Keith, but we’d be more than happy to offer you an internship.” 

Aaron Worthing (“Allergic to Bull”) is slightly more sympathetic: 

“So today we get word that Keith Olberman [sic] has been fired. Again. His viewer must be devastated.” 

The Current TV-Olbermann flap and its endgame could hardly have been a surprise to avid TV and media watchers. A variety of sources, ranging from Politico and the New York Times, note that Mr. Olbermann’s relations with the fledgling network had probably entered a death spiral months ago. The notoriously hyper-sensitive anchor/personality was reportedly signed to a lucrative $50 million contract by the network. But he was almost immediately up in arms against his new bosses, rebelling against Current’s cheap-looking sets and purported lack of professional level broadcast engineering skills.

Objectively speaking, there seemed to be at least some justification for Mr. Olbermann’s complaints. But then again, what else can you expect from a startup cable channel reaching very few viewers whose budget at best is a fraction of the deep-pocketed resources available from his former employers at NBC/MSNBC? 

Reports indicate that Mr. Olbermann seems to have worked himself into a state. This culminated in a series of sit-down strikes against Current, evidenced by Mr. Olbermann failing to show up for an increasing number of broadcasts as the Republican caucuses and primaries began to build momentum early in 2012. He reportedly missed 19 out of 41 working days in January and February, devastating Current’s halting attempts to cover these events.

Mr. Olbermann’s frequent disappearances entered last-straw territory when he requested a vacation day on March 5, Super Tuesday. The request was apparently not granted. But Mr. Olbermann took the day off anyway, clearly daring the network to take action against him, which it finally did yesterday.

TPM cites an inside source who largely corroborated this information: “According to a source familiar with the situation, Current decided to let Olbermann go because the progressive [sic] 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.”

Mr. Olbermann was also said to be at odds with Current TV’s latest president, David Bohrman, whom the former regarded with increasing suspicion. Mr. Bohrman had begun to populate Current’s front office with CNN types, and apparently pushed then-peripheral players like Bill Press and Mr. Spitzer to appear on Mr. Olbermann’s show, using it as “a guinea pig for trying out new talent,” according to Politico

Not known as a wall-flower himself, Mr. Olbermann fired back at Current TV yesterday with his own comments to the Twitter-verse. “Hot Air’s” Allahpundit has pieced key items together:

“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.

It’s not clear what, if any, long lasting effects this personality churn will have either on Mr. Olbermann’s waning career or on Current TV. The cable channel’s personality portfolio and business travails seem to be putting it on the same downward trajectory as its radio predecessor, the now defunct, hard left “Air America” network.

Like “Air America,” Current TV attracts a miniscule number of viewers for its highly predictable propaganda and bluster. Making matters worse, at least in some markets (like this writer’s), basic cable viewers actually have to pay extra to receive Current TV which is linked to higher-priced viewing packages, although its programs can sometimes be seen for free as on-demand delayed broadcasts.

Al Gore.

Al Gore during better times, porking out in Oslo during the 2006 Nobel Prize festivities.

In addition to having all the characteristics of “dueling divo syndrome,” this latest flap also calls into question the once-vaunted wisdom and business acumen of former Vice-president Al Gore. Having failed to gain the Presidency in 2000 due to the failure of his blatant attempt to game vote recounts exclusively in favorable Florida precincts, Mr. Gore spent the next eight years as a notoriously sore loser, viciously sniping at the Bush Administration at nearly any occasion.

Concurrently, the former Veep began pushing what later proved to be the massive “global warming”-“climate change” scientific hoax whose acceptance would have enriched him immeasurably via his “green” business investments. He copped an undeserved Nobel Prize for his propaganda efforts. But his “settled science” took a dive when a devastating series of hacked emails pried from the servers used by key alleged climatologists revealed that their climate research had been badly—no, fatally–compromised.

Having failed again in his attempt to spearhead this massive environmental charade (and arguably losing his wife in the process), Mr. Gore is now attempting to redeem himself by creating a left-wing propaganda mill via his Current TV cable outlet, apparently unaware of how and why “Air America’s” similar business model failed in promoting similar material. In so doing, he has, perhaps unwittingly, become the poster boy for today’s clueless but wealthy media and political socialist elites who appear incapable of learning from their mistakes.

As if to prove this point, Mr. Gore recently promoted his latest media opinions at a recent SXSW meeting in Austin, promoting “a ‘Wiki-democracy’ of ‘digital flash mobs calling out the truth’ and ‘a government square that holds people accountable.’ Ironically, he also joined others in deriding “the dominant role of television in elections and political dialogue.” Presumably, that “dominance” doesn’t include his money-losing Current TV.

Meanwhile, in another context, conservative radio bigwig Rush Limbaugh has blown-away the latest left-wing attempt by leftist agitators to blow him off the air, increasing his listenership in the process.

Just sayin.’


UPDATE: According to “The Daily Beast,” Keith Olbermann “will still be on TV next week, but he won’t have his own show anymore. CBS announced via Twitter that the political commentator will go on The Late Show with David Letterman Tuesday to talk about being fired from Current TV.”


Read more of Terry’s news and reviews at Curtain Up! in the Entertain Us neighborhood of the Washington. For Terry’s investing and political insights, visit his Communities column, The Prudent Man, in Business.

Follow Terry on Twitter @terryp17

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Terry Ponick

Now writing on investing, politics, music, movies and theater for the Washington Times Communities, Terry was formerly the longtime music and culture critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2009) before moving online with Communities in 2010.  



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