April 2, 2012

Olbermann ’79 Fired From Current TV Due to Lack of ‘Respect,’ ‘Collegiality’

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Fourteen months after his departure from MSNBC in July, Keith Olbermann ’79 was fired from his job at Current TV due to a lack of “respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty” in his relationship with the network, according to a statement released Friday by Current TV. Olbermann’s show, Countdown, will be replaced by former New York governor and CNN host Eliot Spitzer’s Viewpoints, which aired for the first time Friday night.Within an hour of his termination, Ol­ber­mann released a Twitter statementdenying the company’s claims and announcing that he plans to take legal action against Gore and 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,” Current founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt said in their statement. “We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.”Olbermann was fired one year into his five-year, $50 million contract for a number of reasons, including 19 unauthorized absences out of 41 working days in January and February, The New York Times reported. Olbermann attributed some of these absences to “throat problems,” according to The Times. According to The Washington Times, in addition to his absences, Olbermann asked for a vacation day on March 5, the day before the Super Tuesday GOP primaries. Although his request was denied, and the company said it would be a breach of his contract if he decided to take it, Olbermann took the day off, the Times reported. In his comments Friday, Olbermann cited “a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee’s name was Clarence B. Cain,” the statement read.According to The New York Times, Federal District Judge Raymond J. Broderick ruled that Cain was illegally removed from his position as head of Hyatt Legal Services Inc.’s Philadelphia office after Hyatt learned he had AIDS. The Times article, which was published in 1990, states that the ruling was made due to Hyatt’s lack of effort to accommodate Cain. In his ruling, Broderick said Hyatt’s actions were “not merely inexcusably insensitive” but “so outrageous” that they warranted punitive action.Prior to his position at Current TV, Olbermann hosted the program Countdown on MSNBC. Upon Olbermann’s exit from MSNBC, “neither [Olbermann nor MSNBC] indicated a reason nor addressed whether Olbermann quit or was fired,” The Huffington Post reported.According to The Times, in its 40 weeks on Current TV, Countdown was ranked as the network’s highest-rated program with an average of 177,000 viewers in its 8 p.m. timeslot.Olbermann said Friday that “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 … Instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, [they] finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.”According to The Times, Olbermann’s relationship with Hyatt and Current president David Bohrman throughout his time at the station was marked with tension. The Times article states that “the clashes became visible when Mr. Ol­bermann started anchoring his program, Countdown, in front of a funeral black backdrop, apparently out of frustration about technical difficulties.”Amid the lawsuit and publicity surrounding the issue, Current founders said they remain optimistic that Spitzer will serve as a suitable replacement for Olber­mann.“We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Governor Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis,” Gore and Hyatt wrote in a letter posted on Current’s website.

Original Author: Kaitlyn Kwan