In a series of messages on Twitter, newly fired former Current TV host Keith Olbermann blasted former Vice President Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, the founders of the network that Olbermann’s presence put on cable TV radar.
In his statment, Olbermann writes:
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 @AlGore and @JoelHyatt 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 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.
The story Olbermann linked to is a “Law At the Bar” column from 1990, discussing the “illegal removal” of Hyatt Legal Service Inc., head of their Philadelphia office, Clarence Cain. His story became the basis of the movie “Philadelphia,” starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.
Olbermann’s sudden dismissal was first reported via a Tweet by Brian Stelter of the New York Times, who wrote that Current terminated Olbermann for failing to honor the terms of his five-year, $50 million contract, giving the channel the right to terminate it.
With those words — “on a daily basis” — the founders of Current hinted at one of the reasons for Mr. Olbermann’s termination. It was the culmination, at least in part, of months of infighting between the famously temperamental Mr. Olbermann and his bosses at Current, including Mr. Hyatt, and David Bohrman, the channel’s president.
Stelter’s story continues:
In January and February, Mr. Olbermann continued to miss many days of work, as he himself acknowledged on his popular Twitter feed. He attributed some of his absences to throat problems.
But Current considered some of those absences to be breaches of his contract, labeling them “unauthorized absences,” according to a person familiar with the matter, who insisted on anonymity because the executives involved had agreed not to comment on the record.
For instance, he took a vacation day on March 5, on the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries, despite a warning from Current that it would constitute a breach of contract, according to the person.
On that same day, Mr. Hyatt stood by Mr. Olbermann in an interview with The New York Times, calling him unquestionably “the big gun in our lineup.” Referring to Current, Mr. Hyatt said, “it’s all on top of his shoulders.”
One looks forward, not only to the upcoming legal battle, but to the conundrum this will place on the conservative punditry which will take great delight in the alpha lion of liberal commentary being temporarily (no doubt) de-fanged while having to balance that delight by finding ways to express it without saying anything kind about Al Gore, who they despise even more than they hate Olbermann.