The weekend has aired out a heaping load of dirty laundry surrounding the recent dismissal of Current TV personality Keith Olbermann. The mercurial host of Countdown is rumored to be readying a lawsuit against the cable network that claims he breached his $50 million contract, but has found time to respond directly to a select few of his Twitter supporters ("LOL" he wrote, in response to one; "TYVM" to another) and confirm his upcoming appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, where he plans on offering his own version of how things shook out. Current, meanwhile, isn't holding back. The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz has unearthed a trove of acrimonious emails traded between Olbermann and Current TV executives, including Al Gore. The emails suggest that griping from Olbermann, who the network quickly viewed as a "chronic complainer," began just weeks after his show launched in June.
On Aug. 2, 2011, according to emails reviewed by The Daily Beast, Olbermann’s manager, Michael Price, sent Hyatt a list of about 40 “deficiencies” that needed to be corrected. Six days later, Price told Hyatt that the problems required “immediate attention” and that “we are not aware of any demonstrable effort to address the issues.”
Among the network's complaints: that Olbermann refused to participate in contractually obligated PR events for the network, which he viewed as "a rinky-dink operation," and that he failed to show up for work entirely. Olbermann missed 19 out of 41 days in January and February, during which he failed to cover the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. Olbermann's team complained back that the network was "completely out of touch ... with the realities of producing a first-rate show," and blamed their faulty operations for costing him DVR viewers: The network “more closely resembles cable access than that of a cable news show,” Price wrote, “causing low ratings ... The show’s production values have actually gotten worse, not better." An exit strategy was therefore in the works long before Olbermann was fired, TMZ adds.
The story grows nastier at Mediaite, who quote an anonymous source who claims Olbermann, who does not drive, "went through eight different car services ... and complained to the network that some of the drivers 'smelled,' and 'talked to him.'" The source also said that Olbermann "refused to use" the $250,000 set "built to his specifications" after technical difficulties led to candelit broadcasts last December. So far Olbermann's only comment on those last allegations came in response to a Twitter user who wrote that "the public smear campaign against @Current the last 2 days is unprofessional." Olbermann wrote: "Excuse me. They're making up stories about me and drivers etc and I'M smearing them?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.