Current TV becomes the latest television network to sever a stormy relationship with famously fractious Keith Olbermann.
Current TV founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt said in a letter to viewers that they decided to cut bait because the relationship no longer represented “the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers.”
Olbermann’s prime-time show, “Countdown” has been replaced, effective immediately, by a new show anchored by former New York governor/former CNN show anchor Eliot Spitzer.
Olbermann issued his own statement Friday: “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.”
Olbermann’s humdinger of a statement continues:
“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.”
Olbermann had been back on Current TV, if unhappily, since a wild week of public brawling back in January. The feuding erupted Jan 3. slightly less than a year after he joined the network for what was to have been a five-year deal. That day, Current TV preempted “Countdown,” with coverage of the Iowa caucuses — the important first vote of the GOP primary season.
“Keith was asked to be the sole anchor and executive producer of our primary and caucus coverage. He declined,” Current TV President David Bohrman said in a memo to staffers that day.
Olbermann fired back with a statement to the Hollywood Reporter, a trade paper, in which he insisted he was “never given a legitimate opportunity to host under acceptable conditions. They know it and we know it.”
Speculation seemed to fall into two camps:
●The “Current TV is too low-rent for Olbermann” camp. His New York-based show has been plagued by tech problems, satellite feeds dropped out, and in early December a blown fuse caused the lights to go out while Olbermann was on the air.
●The “Hello? They hired Keith Olbermann” camp. No explanation required.
But, after a week-long spitting match, Olbermann issued a statement saying he was pleased that he would be running the election coverage on Current, following the New Hampshire primary.
Current TV is not the only network that’s learned it needs to fasten the seat belts when in business with Olbermann, because it was going to be a bumpy ride.
He feuded with ESPN, where he anchored “SportsCenter” for years, followed by a contentious relationship with MSNBC, which he dumped for Current TV.
Back in February 2011 when Current TV announced it was getting into bed with Olbermann, Hyatt hailed the hire as “the best investment that Current has ever made.”
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.