The first days of spring are traditionally a time of new beginnings, and apparently this ancient axiom will hold true for perennial liberal gadfly Keith Olbermann. The news first came to my attention through social media, pointing to a rather stiff and formal letter from his most recent employers at Current TV. In it, they cited a failure on the part of the former MSNBC host to uphold their core values and mission agenda of “respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers.”
Olbermann quickly responded in kind by… threatening to sue them.
Now, if you happen to be like me — by which I mean a keen, savvy consumer of all things political across the media spectrum — you might have responded the same way I did on Twitter to my friend Ed Morrissey. “Wait… there really IS a Current TV? I thought that was a Twitter gag.”
But while many of Olbermann’s detractors — and they are legion, I assure you — will spend the weekend having more than their fair share of fun at the pundit’s expense, there are more than a few questions going unanswered. First of all, was this sudden divorce in a high profile media marriage truly all that “unexpected” as it’s being portrayed? There were some far less than subtle hints shortly after New Year’s Day that trouble was afoot in paradise. Current had tasked Olbermann with being the sole host for their coverage of the official Election 2012 campaign kickoff for the Iowa and New Hampshire primary battles. He declined.
Further, as Politico reported, there had apparently been visible friction between the network’s flagship media star and their new president, David Bohrman, ever since he arrived on the scene. Combine that with Keith’s complaints of technical difficulties, up to and including the lights in the studio cutting out in the middle of his live broadcast, and perhaps Olby had some legitimate cause for acting like there was a burr under his saddle.
Things seemed to deteriorate further as this year’s presidential campaign continued, with Olbermann repeatedly asking for time off during key phases of the primary. Reading all of these reports, I will confess that I could imagine a scenario where he simply felt too put upon to continue.