Talk-show host Keith Olbermann has been fired by Al Gore at Current TV, and he’s darn mad about it. He joined the network after a stormy eight-year stint at MSNBC, followed by his abrupt departure in January 2011. Soon after, Current TV announced his hiring, as the start of an effort to transform the network’s prime-time slate into progressive talk.
Keith Olbermann’s official title was that of chief news officer, charged with providing editorial guidance for all of the network’s political news, commentary and current events programming.
The left-leaning cable network announced late Friday afternoon that “Countdown,” the show Olbermann has hosted on Current TV since last June, would be replaced with a show hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, beginning Friday night.
“Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer” will air weeknights at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Spitzer had a short-lived talk show on CNN in that same time slot, and briefly competed with Olbermann.
In a statement, Current TV founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt said the 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 Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.”
They offered no details, but it is known that the temperamental Olbermann had clashed with his bosses. During the primary season he declined to host additional hours of election coveragein certain cases and missed a number of broadcasts, as well as complaining about technical problems he said undermined his show.
“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 added in their statement.
In a statement posted online, Olbermann said “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.”
He said he had been attempting “for more than a year” to resolve his differences with Gore and Hyatt internally, “while I’ve not been publicizing my complaints.” Instead of “investing in a quality news program,” he said, his bosses “thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.”
He called his decision to come to Current “a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one.”