Yesterday, with a very widely reported Friday afternoon news dump, Current TV announced that it was replacing Keith Olbermann’s Countdown with an Eliot Spitzer–hosted show called Viewpoint, effective immediately. The former governor went on at 8 p.m., with no mention of the fraught circumstances surrounding his first day. (He and James Traub had a nice chat about Syria.) Meanwhile, more details of the ouster have been trickling out.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a letter from the network to Olbermann’s agent explained that the host was being let go for “material, serial” breach of his $50 million contract. Sources say those breaches include “sabotaging the network” and “attacking Current and its executives.” He also wasn’t showing up for work:
Current has asserted that Olbermann missed 19 out of 41 working days in January and February. Then on Monday, Feb. 27, Olbermann asked for a vacation day on the following Monday, March 5, 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. He took the day off.
Olbermann has promised to sue, and the network is said to be ready for it, having retained legal and crisis public relations firm Fabiani & Lehane for what will likely be a lengthy court and media battle. As his lawyer told Deadline, “We will sue them for their improper conduct. They made a bad decision. They can expect a bad result.” The world will get more of Olbermann’s perspective on and plans for the situation this week on the Late Show, which has booked him for Tuesday. Of course, by then you’ll know more about all this than you could ever possibly want to.