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Bombastic left-wing talk show host Keith Olbermann — who seldom held a job he couldn’t be fired from — found himself out of work once again Friday when Current TV announced just before his scheduled broadcast that he was gone.
Current TV bosses Al Gore and Joel Hyatt said in a statement that their network 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 Mr. Olbermann and we have ended it.”
Olbermann countered online with:
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.
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 actually fired Olbermann by letter a day early but announced Friday he would not be going on the air and that his show would be replaced that night with a new program, Viewpoint, hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who left office during a scandal over his dalliances with a high-priced call girl.
Olbermann’s firing ended a stormy relationship with Gore and Current TV that lasted less than a year and represented a sharp turnaround from the hoopla from the announcement of his hiring with a five-year, multimillion dollar contract last year after MSNBC fired for much of the same reasons.
Olbermann, characterized by those who work with him as “an ego-maniacal bully,” failed to show up for a number of shows during his short tenure at Current and clashed with his bosses over election night coverage, production problems and other issues.
“He is nothing short of a monster,” one Current employee told Capitol Hill Blue. “He bullies people, thinks he is a god and throws temper tantrums that would embarrass a child. I’m glad he’s gone.”
Sources within Current TV say the mood around the network Friday was more relief than shock. Olbermann’s outbursts, demands and demagoguery had, one employee said, created “a morale-robbing tension among the staff.”
Gore and Hyatt hoped to build a new prime-time, left-leaning prime time schedule around Olbermann but while his show brought new viewers to Current his numbers never approached his ratings at MSNBC and he lagged far behind his right-wing nemesis Bill O’Reilly at Fox News Channel.
Current’s official reasons for canning Olbermann include “serial, material breach of contract” and “unauthorized absences” but the central reason was that Gore and Hyatt decided Olbermann just wasn’t worth the costs and headaches.
Olbermann now calls his decision to join Current “a foolish one.”
On that part, he and his former employers finally agree.