The Hollywood Reporter writes that Current TV sent an e-mail to Olbermann’s agent on Thursday morning stating that Olbermann was being let go for “material, serial breach of contract.”
The network also informed him that Eliot Spitzer would take Countdown’s 8 p.m. time slot effective immediately. Current’s statement, signed by the network’s co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, was unusually personal.
Without even a trace of the forced “we wish him well” bits usually found in such things, the two men laid into Olbermann, saying he had violated Current’s “values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers,” tells The Huff Post.
Current launched into an anonymous campaign against Olbermann, feeding the same lines to multiple media sources. Network sources said over and over again yjay he was “in breach of contract,” had ‘sabotaged’ and ‘attacked’ the channel and its leadership, and had taken ‘unauthorized absences’ from work.
Current has claimed that Olbermann missed 19 out of 41 working days in January and February. After that on Monday, Feb. 27, Olbermann asked for a vacation day on the following Monday, March 5.
That happened one day before the Super Tuesday GOP primaries. Olbermann was told that he could not have the day off, and if he took it, he would be in breach of contract.
Nevertheless, he took the day off. But he was on the air the following day for Current’s Super Tuesday coverage.
In some other reports Current was described as disorganized and shambolic. It’s actually well known that Olbermann became enraged at repeated technical failures and what he saw as a crippling under-investment in his show.
Within less than an hour after Current’s statement was released Olbermann released a statement of his own, vowing to sue Current for firing him.
“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,” said Olbermann.
“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,” he said.
The former host of “Countdown” on MSNBC, who was reportedly being paid $50 million for five years, was immediately replaced by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who took over the 8 p.m. slot with a show called “Viewpoint.”
“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 said.
And in a parting shot, Olbermann mentioned a 1990 discrimination suit against Hyatt’s Hyatt Legal Services Inc. (which Hyatt has since sold).
“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.”
In 1990, Hyatt’s legal firm was found to have illegally fired Cain after his bosses discovered he had AIDS.
Neither Cenk Uygur, whose show preceded Olbermann’s, nor Eliot Spitzer, his sudden replacement, nor Jennifer Granholm, his former lead-out, mentioned him at all during their Friday shows.
It was as if the man who was supposed to be the enduring centerpiece of their network had never even existed.