Just a little over a year after Keith Olbermann’s strange dismissal from MSNBC, it seems that the Countdown host is once again out of work. Early Saturday morning, the New York Times’ Brian Stelter broke the news that as of tonight, Olbermann’s show on Current TV (the network co-founded by Al Gore) will be replaced by “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
From the information that’s available so far, it appears that faltering ratings combined with Olbermann’s complaints about internal network issues, are to blame for the sudden dismissal.
Olbermann, who will not get the opportunity to bid his loyal viewers farewell on the air, elaborated on the circumstance in a series of Tweets after the announcement, writing:
“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 Al Gore and Joel Hyatt 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 implied 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. http://nyti.ms/HueZsa
“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.”
Current TV, on the other hand, claims that a series of unathorized absences, a failure to promote the network, and disparagement both of Current as a network and of its executives individually, are the contract violations that led to their decision.
Whatever the real reasons may be, it’s the viewers who will suffer. Olbermann earned my respect and admiration through his deft and fearless coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement from its very inception. When the major news networks were ignoring the protests, regurgitating opposition rhetoric, and turning a blind eye to police brutality, Olbermann reported the facts on behalf of the 99%.
He’s human, and therefore destined to make mistakes. I’m certainly not privy to the backroom dealings of Current TV, and it’s quite possible that the accusations against him are true, and the punishment deserved. I’m not concerned for Olbermann’s future, although he has burned quite a few bridges of late. I’m more concerned that the media has lost yet another bold, progressive voice. And we don’t have many to spare.
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