Perpetual bridge-burner Keith Olbermann set ablaze another viaduct Friday with his acrimonious departure from Al Gore's Current TV network. After his bad breakups at MSNBC and ESPN, who will take the liberal firebrand now? Sure, he's a difficult person to work with but his cocksure belligerence is perfect for television and Olbermann's got too much fight in him to just fade away. Here's our landscape of career options for him:
CBS: Not impossible. According to The New Yorker, the network reached out to him in 2005 as a permanent replacement for Dan Rather as the anchor of the CBS Evening News. It never panned out and the network opted for Katie Couric. While the expression of interest could hint that the network could reconsider him for some position, a statement by Sandy Socolow, Walter Cronkite's final executive producer, suggests the network would never take the risk at a news gig. “Oh, no, no, no, he’s not a newsman,” she said. “He’s not a reporter. I’ve never seen anything that he’s done that was original, in terms of the information." Still, that doesn't mean Olbermann couldn't go back to his sports anchor roots and find a home at CBS Sports.
News Corp: Don't bet on it. Not only has Olbermann spent most of his career bashing News Corp's subsidiaries such as Fox News, Olbermann left Rupert Murdoch's Fox Sports acrimoniously and Murdoch told The New Yorker "I fired him... He's crazy." Also, if Bill O'Reilly holds any sway there, Olbermann won't be anywhere near a job. Upon his departure from MSNBC, O'Reilly said the network lost a "hateful commentator."
HBO: Not impossible. If the premium cable network wanted a less funny, newsier voice to add to its lineup, Olbermann would be the guy. He certainly would fit with its liberal programming bent.
ESPN: Forget about it. When Olbermann walked out at the end of his 1997 contract with ESPN, an ESPN official was quoted saying Olbermann "didn't burn the bridges here, he napalmed them."
NBC: Forget about it. By all accounts, Olbermann drove MSNBC executives and his underlings up the wall. The straw that broke the camel's back was thought to be MSNBC suspending him for donating to Democratic candidates without notifying his bosses but elsewhere, sticky personnel issues were cited. Like CBS, though, NBC is ramping up its sports division, but with the coals of that particular bridge still so warm, it's hard to see Olbermann working for any of the Peacock's outposts any time soon.
CNN: Not impossible. Olbermann started at CNN in 1981 as a freelance sports reporter and returned to the network in 2002. As New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman has detailed, CNN has aggressively considered Olbermann as a hire in the past but ultimately decided he was too left-of-center for the brand. Though it's not a full-time job, it's not too far-fetched to envision him as a liberal contributor.
KOTV? Not impossible. Will Keith pull a Glenn Beck and launch his own subscriber-based digital venture? It certainly worked for Beck, as GBTV was reportedly on track to take in $20 million in revenue for its debut year. But if Olbermann worked for himself, who would he fight with?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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