Current TV and Keith Olbermann are splitting ways.
The New York Times’s Brian Stelter reports that the cable news channel said that it has dismissed the host, effective immediately and that former New York governor Eliot Spitzer will replace him.
Here’s the full press release, courtesy of Politico.
To the Viewers of Current:
We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.
Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it.
We are moving ahead by honouring Current’s values. Current has a fundamental obligation to deliver news programming with a progressive perspective that our viewers can count on being available daily — especially now, during the presidential election campaign. Current exists because our audience desires the kind of perspective, insight and commentary that is not easily found elsewhere in this time of big media consolidation.
As we move toward this summer’s political conventions and the general election in the fall, Current is making significant new additions to our broadcasts. We have just debuted six hours of new programming each weekday with Bill Press (“Full Court Press, at 6 am ET/3 am PT) and Stephanie Miller (“Talking Liberally,” at 9 am ET/6 pm PT).
We’re very excited to announce that beginning tonight, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer will host “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer,” at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Eliot is a veteran public servant and an astute observer of the issues of the day. He has important opinions and insights and he relishes the kind of constructive discourse that our viewers will appreciate this election year. We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Governor Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis.
All of these additions to Current’s lineup are aimed at achieving one simple goal — the goal that has always been central to Current’s mission: To tell stories no one else will tell, to speak truth to power, and to influence the conversation of democracy on behalf of those whose voice is too seldom heard. We, and everyone at Current, want to thank our viewers for their continued steadfast support.
Al Gore & Joel Hyatt
Update, 5:25 p.m.:
Talking Points Memo reports that a source familiar with the situation said Current decided to let Olbermann go because he “did not respect the viewers of Current.”
The source added that Olbermann often didn’t show up to work, missing half the days in both January and February.
“At the end of the day, Current made a decision, based on a strong legal foundation, that goes beyond merely business considerations – this decision was made because Olbermann was in breach of his contract and his conduct was simply not consistent with either mission of or the values of the company,” the source said.
Politico’s Keach Hagey tweets that a source familiar with the firing says Olberman was let go “for failing to show up to work, ‘sabotaging the network’ and attacking Current execs.”
Update, 5:32 p.m.: Olbermann just tweeted about the news:
We’ll be waiting.
Update, 5:46 p.m.
Olbermann just tweeted out his statement in 11 140-character Tweets.
My full statement:
I’d like to apologise 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 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. 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 implied 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 apologise again for it.
Update, 6:40 p.m.:
It sounds like a chaotic day over there at Current TV.
TVNewser reports that, in their haste to replace Olbermann, Current TV put out a press release telling viewers to follow a fake account for its new host, Eliot Spitzer.
In a release announcing Spitzer’s new show, “Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer,” Current’s press team directed viewers to follow the former New York governor @ESpitzer.
It’s pretty clear that the real Spitzer is not behind the Twitter account. Here’s a sample of @ESpitzer’s most recent tweets:
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