Keith Olbermann fired from Current TV talk show, threatens lawsuit
Keith Olbermann run at Current TV ended abruptly on Friday, when the network announced hours before his "Countdown" was set to air that it would be replaced by a new program, hosted by former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer called "Viewpoint."
Current TV was founded in 2005 by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Democratic politician and businessman 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," Gore and Hyatt said in a statement. "Current was 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."
It was announced in February 2011 that Olbermann would host his series and serve as the network's chief news officer, charged with providing editorial guidance for all of the network's political news, commentary and current events programming. Olbermann signed with a five-year, $50 million contract, according to the Associated Press.
Though no details were offered about the move, the sometimes temperamental Olbermann often clashed with his employers and declined to host certain hours of election coverage and missed several broadcasts, which the network considered to be in "serial, material breach of his contract," deeming them "unauthorized absences."
"We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Gov. Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis," Gore and Hyatt said in their "open letter" to viewers.
Olbermann spoke out against the network's claims in a statement posted online, writing, "the claims against me implied in Current's statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently."
The host went on to say that his decision to join Current was a "well-intentioned" but "foolish" gesture on his part and claimed that while he hasn't been publicizing his complaints with the network, he has been trying to resolve his differences with Gore and Hyatt for "more than a year."
Olbermann's show premiered on Current in June after the host spent a turbulent eight years at MSNBC, where his program "Countdown With Keith Olbermann," the network's top-rated show at the time, ended in January 2011. Olbermann, who had often sparred with management, was suspended in November 2010 for contributing funds to political candidates.