Current TV announced today that they have fired Keith Olbermann because he lacked the values of, “respect, openness, collegiality.”
Current TV head honchos Al Gore & Joel Hyatt announced the canning of KO via a memo,
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.
There is something naively surreal about the Current TV statement. This is Keith Olbermann we are talking about. KO has a track record a mile long of being difficult to work with. What did they really expect? (I also have a sneaking suspicion that the folks and Current didn’t quite live up to their end of the bargain, and Olbermann likely has some valid reasons for disappointment). Keith Olbermann has had trouble with his bosses no matter where he has worked before. Olbermann is one of the best broadcasting talents out there, and many including myself thought that by making KO his own boss would provide the perfect creative environment for him.
The Olbermann/Current TV marriage was a surprise when it was announced, but the Countdown broadcast itself provided a unique outlet for stories that too often were ignored, such as Occupy Wall Street. The conflict between Olbermann and Current had been brewing since January. It all began with a very public battle over GOP primary coverage, and it ended with Olbermann being shown the door today.
Unlike when Keith Olbermann and MSNBC parted ways, Al Gore and Current TV made it clear that they were firing the Countdown host. The move to Current was always a questionable one for both sides. It was obvious from the very beginning that the channel did not have the budget for the kind of studio and setup that a name brand like Countdown needed. Olbermann did good shows there, but he never really seemed to get comfortable at Current. Even at its best, Countdown was never quite right in its new home.
MSNBC has moved on and done just fine with Ed Schultz providing the 8 PM emotion with a dash of bluster program. After MSNBC and now Current TV, Keith Olbermann probably should go be his own boss, and do his own thing.
Firing Keith Olbermann for disrespect is a lot like buying a lion, and then wondering why it is trying to eat you. What you see is what you get with Olbermann, and it would have been more believable if Gore and Hyatt would have said that Olbermann on Current wasn’t working.
The Olbermann/Current fiasco proves the old adage, “If you are going to stick your head out the car window, don’t be surprised if you swallow a bug.” Gore and Current knew what they were getting with KO, so the attempt to cover their own butts by proclaiming him a bad team player doesn’t wash.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association