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Kurtz writes: "Keith Olbermann sounded suspiciously like a man taking the blame. 'I screwed up,' he told David Letterman on Tuesday. 'I screwed up really big on this.'"

The battle over the firing of Keith Olbermann from Current TV continues. (photo: XTRA)
The battle over the firing of Keith Olbermann from Current TV continues. (photo: XTRA)

The Olbermann-Gore War Escalates

By Howard Kurtz, The Daily Beast

04 April 12


eith Olbermann sounded suspiciously like a man taking the blame.

"I screwed up," he told David Letterman on Tuesday. "I screwed up really big on this."

So it was all his fault that the Current TV version of Countdown flopped, prompting Al Gore’s channel to fire him last week?

Well …

"It’s my fault that it didn’t succeed, in the sense that I didn’t think the whole thing through." Intertwining his fingers, Olbermann said, "You know, if you buy a $10 million chandelier, you should have a house to put it in. Just walking around with a $10 million chandelier isn’t going to do anybody a lot of good, and it’s not going to do any good for the chandelier."

Translation: I am a glittering jewel - an expensive one, at that - and I let myself be put on display in a slum apartment with peeling paint and leaky plumbing. Alas, how could I have been so misguided?

Olbermann’s motive in going on the Late Show was clear: to be a bit self-deprecating, describe Current as a schlock operation, and show audiences he is not the arrogant, work-dodging diva that the channel suggested in bouncing him for breach of contract in less than a year. And the much-traveled host knows full well that he doesn’t get the presumption of innocence after his bitter breakup with MSNBC just 14 months ago, and with ESPN well before that.

Say what you will about Olbermann’s checkered résumé, the man knows how to perform in front of a camera. He played along as Letterman handed him a business card with an adjustable wheel, which flashed his various employers in a little window. From a public-relations standpoint, Olbermann did himself a bit of good.

Perhaps most important, he got Dave as a character witness. Olbermann has always been "a stand-up guy," Letterman proclaimed, who will "take the high road" whenever possible. At one point the comedian insisted: "You’re being contrite almost to a fault."

There was a precooked bit in which the guest recalled his Letterman appearance in September - "the last time I had fun on TV" - to read the Top Ten list. One of those reasons now sounds prescient: "Better watch now because things could go wrong in a hurry."

What Olbermann avoided was a lengthy interrogation about just what it was that went wrong. Dave wasn’t about to grill him on Current’s contention that he failed to show up on key dates and refused to engage in joint marketing events or allow his staff to promote guest hosts for his program. Because that wouldn’t be very, you know, funny.

Instead, Letterman tossed him a softball by saying he could never quite figure out Current, asking: "Do they know what they’re doing over there?"

Letterman did ask in a second segment about Current’s contention that Olbermann changed car services eight times; he said it was "a couple of times" and that in one case the bill hadn’t been paid. When Letterman asked why he hadn’t shown up the night before Super Tuesday, Olbermann hesitated: "I don’t like airing dirty laundry in public, even though my reputation is that of a complainer." He then explained he’d been battling throat problems and was following a doctor’s order that he remain silent for five days. your social media marketing partner


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+35 # lifetimeliberal 2012-04-04 21:43
Come on Keith. We love you, but your screw up was not joining Current, but not showing up for work enough to justify your enormous salary.
+13 # RJO 2012-04-05 05:44
Quoting lifetimeliberal:
Come on Keith. We love you, but your screw up was not joining Current, but not showing up for work enough to justify your enormous salary.

I don't know exactly why Olbermann was "fired".
Olbermann is being coy about it.
Current is being vague about it.
What do you KNOW that the rest of us don't? You seem to have swallowed Currents spin way too eagerly.
0 # Sweet Pea 2012-04-05 10:11
Quoting lifetimeliberal:
Come on Keith. We love you, but your screw up was not joining Current, but not showing up for work enough to justify your enormous salary.

Keith thrives on discord even the discord that he instigates. He puts on an entertaining show even the few times that I didn't agree with him. Great publicity caper.
+59 # Listner 2012-04-04 21:52
I believe you underestimate the power and connections of Fox News and News Corp in this country
+23 # terrison 2012-04-04 23:43
Huh? I'm going to go ahead and agree that for $50 million he should have just gone to work.
+3 # vt143 2012-04-05 06:07
Quoting Listner:
I believe you underestimate the power and connections of Fox News and News Corp in this country

Listner, please explain....
+10 # noitall 2012-04-04 22:41
And this is newsworthy, why?
+2 # John Gill 2012-04-04 23:05
Keith Olbermann is somebody who has said things that needed saying. That's great. He is also a supreme egotist, a colossal bore, and probably an extreme pain in the ass to work with. Anyone with an ounce of perception and a modicum of honesty will acknowledge this. As for his fan club, he could have, "I AM A DICK" tattooed on his forehead and if you said, "But just look at his tattoo!" they would respond, "What tattoo? I don't see a tattoo!"
+11 # cordleycoit 2012-04-04 23:17
Americans expect perfection from it's news readers and pundits. Al Gore is fine one to talk after beatings he took from Rove and His Supremes.Whose turn in the barrel next?
+17 # Regina 2012-04-04 23:25
Keith has overestimated the value of temperament -- after a few such eruptions, it's reduced to plain old temper. Star power includes forebearance as well as talent. Meanwhile, there is another side to this saga -- Current appears to be an underfinanced startup; it has some big advertisers, but it needs to invest the income from those accounts into physical plant. So Gore and his cohorts also have some thinking as well as working to do. I wish them all luck, after they all earn an A for effort.
+21 # George D 2012-04-04 23:58
I really want to like Keith but I'm afraid the man has just spun completely out of control. It's been coming for a long time. I applauded his efforts and was a loyal viewer on MSNBC, all through the dreadful "Bush" years. But he got increasingly arrogant, culminating in his "Thursday's with Thurber" bit. I followed him to Current, paying for a service upgrade to do so, and I found myself opting for Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz, instead of Keith; And it wasn't because of Current's little screw-ups.

I'll always be grateful that Keith helped launch a series of great Progressive talk shows but I have to say his "ten million dollar chandelier" reference tells me he has gone completely off the deep end and hasn't handled his fame well at all.
Goodbye Keith...and Current. Neither of you are worth my extra time or my extra dime.
+13 # James38 2012-04-05 00:43
Olbermann isn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier that he is. Too rich and egotistical by half, Keith. Your comments are often good, but I hope you grow up sometime. Then maybe you could stay working long enough to do some good.
+18 # artmensor 2012-04-05 01:27
Kudos to Keith for taking the high road and admitting that he jumped in to the pool before checking not only the temperature of the water, but whether or not there was even water in the pool.

I do believe that Keith was battling throat problems, but that is easy to prove by contacting his doctor, and I doubt seriously that he would bring that up on television, which is recordable you know, if it couldn't be proven.

Keith needs a place where he can be himself, with decent quality production ke Bill Maher.......... HBO must be thinking they could add a rather inexpensive nightly newscast to their lineup that has proven it can draw 1,000,000 viewers, and even more once it gets going.
+13 # Montague 2012-04-05 01:32
For the man to fall out with three different employers in a row suggests it's more likely to be his bad than theirs, no?
+59 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-04-05 01:46
The pointers were pointing to what was coming - a police state vs. united states - and an excellent journalist named Keith Olberman, an ethical and firm believer in a truly free press, was the sole reporter at the national level to cover the story, a grim reality tale of loss of basic rights and rule of law. And what story is that?

The sixty-five year old, fully disabled former nun, Elizabeth Fineran, normally walked with a cane, and in the 2007 Colorado Springs St. Patrick's Day Parade, rode in the van with the parade permit fully visible in the van's front window. Along with many others in her group of over forty justice and peace activists, she wore a green shirt with a peace sign on it, honoring Ireland and simutaneously saying no to endless war, war, war for $$$ in the pockets of the 1%.

She watched as suddenly her group was suddenly and for no reason ordered out of the parade. Police appeared and began their chokeholds, arm twists, and Taser threats. Elizabeth slowly climbed down from the van to question why her friends were being so brutalized, and demanded the name and badge number (neither visible) of the cop who appeared to be in charge. The tripping/draggi ng of her in front of parade onlookers, including kids, until she was bloody and raw in spite of a warning from a 'good cop', was reported by truthteller Keith.

We so need more truthful Keith's, Julian Assange's, Chris Hedges, etc..
+27 # davehaze 2012-04-05 13:18
ritaague Congrats on being one of those rare folks the politically astute.

Back in the old bad days of Georgie Bush --as opposed to these new bad days-- Keith was the first and for a while only person on a non-comedy talk show to expose the blatant lies of the Bush Administration and Congress.

So now we are suppose to believe -- because we read a few articles -- that Keith is only an ego.

Well, I don't mind Keith's ego. I'll gladly take truth from an ego than lies from a humble guy.

And a friend yells out, Hey, Gore lacks an ego?
+19 # uglysexy 2012-04-05 04:07
I was looking at his net worth online. $30 he's more like a $30 million dollar chanticleer.
Listner is right though....if you say too much that is critical of the ruling corporate junta ....including murdoch & koch etc...or the creeps at the SCOTUS....they will look into you and try to sabotage you. It doesn't take too much hacking to do that and they have experts working for them. Look at the people behind the Harmon Rent Control Case
-20 # gdp1 2012-04-05 05:06, Olbermann is a diva in democratic clothing? need of a Snicker bar?...maybe now we'll find out if he is indeed a first- rate muckraker....or ,just another opportunistic used-car salesman...
+18 # RnR 2012-04-05 05:09
I don't think Countdown on Current TV flopped. That's a rather subjective opinion.

I'd have given it a year or so with a whole lot more publicity before I thought changes might be in order and even then I'd never have fired Olberman. Sorry Al, **YOU** and yours screwed up.
-24 # Robt Eagle 2012-04-05 05:19
Olberman is not bringing in any audience and therefore he doesn't bring in any real money and that is the pure reason he was fired.
+10 # RJO 2012-04-05 19:32
Have you any objective, confirmable evidence of this or is this the rankest of opinion and conjecture on your part?
I hear enough of that on Fox.
I don't really know, but your tone suggests the latter.
-9 # Robt Eagle 2012-04-07 09:28
RJO, Olberman has no ratings that is why he was fired. It is simple business, not any political garbage. Come on, Gore is in the 1%, but since he spews the garbage science of Global Warming, you folks love the jerk. Gore is just out to make money, Olberman is a joke and doesn't bring in any audience so no advertising sales, so why would Gore want Olberman. So Gore fired him. What is not to understand here?
0 # dick 2012-04-05 05:30
Since Keith is at least 1/2 as smart as he thinks he is, he must have known he wasn't going to work for slick set seeBS. And he must have known he was getting most of the money. Bill, Rush, & Rupert are LAUGHING as the diva whines. He must be truly self absorbed to screw things up at the worst possible time. Gore needs to be the bigger person & integrate the talented Olbermann back in. Keith needs to get his priorities right. Ed Murrow would not have pulled his infantile stunts. Send $$ to RSN,Mass, Wisc, Neb. If you owe back dues to RSN, now's the time to catch up, to do the right thing. The left must acknowledge that it takes $$ to compete, & we don't have the KochHeads. Please don't be a freeloader.
+14 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-04-05 06:46
As much as we may be disappointed by the issue, as much as we all clapped when Keith started to snipe at Dubya a few years back, as much as we would all like Current to be a loud voice of reason , aren't there more pressing matters in this world than the clash between a Diva and a TV channel?
+3 # beeyl 2012-04-05 06:47
A pretty fair article from Mr Kurtz, who is usually a great purveyor of false equivalencies, though conveniently he did manage to pretend to misunderstand the $10M chandelier metaphor.
-7 # ericlipps 2012-04-05 06:58
What it seems to come down to is that despite his genuine skills, Olbermann is a prima donna whose beef with Al Gore is that he seems to think that if *he'd* been the Democratic candidate in 2000, Dubya would have been swamped--but that he wouldn't lower himself to actually run, as Gore did.
+15 # brenda 2012-04-05 06:58
Oberman is a talented TV celebrity that Current TV could not afford. It's that simple. It's also clear that the TV media is probably not going to hire him again. Perhaps he should do a radio show where he can spar with Rush Limberger. That I'd like to see.
+11 # mrbadexample 2012-04-05 07:04
Olbermann is being self-serving to a degree. That said, Current can't get its act together--they didn't manage to get on my local cable in the months that Keith has been on, and it makes zero sense to pay KO all that money if viewers and potential viewers can't see him. Current clearly didn't have the kind of funding stream that would have made this viable, and their attempt to cover the primaries was a shoestring operation.
+17 # jazz19 2012-04-05 07:17
I'm big fan of Keith. He needs a venue where he won't be censured. Maybe internet blog? He is definitely bigger than life.
-19 # wfalco 2012-04-05 07:17
I like Keith's viewpoints and sarcastic wit. However, he is a perfect example of the out of touch "rich Liberal." They are great at commenting and offering personal philosophy about what is best for the poor and working class. He is of the 1% and his arrogance is evident-the same arrogance that the "typical" 1 percenter right winger displays. Keith's arrogance is troubling since it reeks of hypocracy.
+6 # juliajayne 2012-04-06 09:36
Oh, what do you know about if he was out of touch or not? He seemed like he knew what was what. So if you have some bucks, you don't have empathy, intelligence, a heart and some courage? The fact is that we don't know exactly what went on. It's pretty much speculation. It does seem like they probably couldn't pay his salary and they didn't get his program glitches fixed. And maybe KO is hard to work with or maybe not. You think Bill O'Reilly is easy and has no ego? Yet there he is spouting off on a daily basis. Same for many others who surely have an ego. Current seemed like it didn't have it's act together. Or they weren't ready for Keith, whatev. That doesn't mean he's a diva or has an ego with it''s own zip code.
+2 # wfalco 2012-04-06 14:30
OK. You probably make a point. Certainly rich people can have empathy. Courage? Perhaps some of that involved. But really how much courage does it take to simply state your opinion while being paid millions ?

The real courageous people are the workers who have a family to support while earning $18-$30 per hour. The individuals on the assembly lines (they still exist), in the coal mines, and firemen running into burning buildings to rescue babies.
I just don't get too bothered over spoiled entertainers (be it actors, athletes, or news personalities)c omplaining about their jobs. They have the right do do so, of course. And celebrities, at times, make outstanding leaders for social movements and protests(Martin Sheen, George Clooney-to name a few.) But forgive me if I think Keith (although a talented spokeman) comes across as a rich baby.
+23 # jackloganbill 2012-04-05 07:36
I respect both Keith Olbermann and Al Gore. I respect their political positions.

Gore knew very well who and what he was hiring. And it does not take a rocket scientist to understand the firing.

It was not the work ethic. It was not the arguments. It was the salary, pure and simple.

With all its good intentions, there is no way that the Current TV network could pay Olbermann what they were contracted to pay him. Period. End of story.

So, you drum up the charges, most of which were probably true to large extent to fire the best voice on TV or Radio.

It is obvious that Current TV simply could not afford the $10,000,000 chandelier...or $50,000,000 Keith Olbermann...Too bad for Current TV. Too bad for Keith Olbermann. Too bad for us.

Now if Al and gang would simply state that fact I believe they would restore the public trust. But there are 50 million reasons why that will never happen.

Too bad.
+9 # becca1099 2012-04-05 08:30
One MUST have a big ego to even be considered for this job - (it's like professional sports; it comes with the territory)! Sadly, Al Gore showed who he was when he let George W. "win" the election without even a challenge! He gave this country to G.W. and look at the damage that has been done! No, don't "look" - it's too horrific - wars, torture, contractors hired to do more of the dirty work, etc., etc.! No, this isn't about Keith; this is typical Al Gore wimping out again! Current will soon be gone, too.
+6 # terrison 2012-04-05 09:37
Please again did Gore "give" this country to GWB? You have managed to lay the wreckage of the entire presidency of GWB at the feet of Al Gore! Are you going to blame him him for the financial crisis too? What a slippery slope you have created!

I seem to remember the Supreme Court having a lareger role in determining Gore's fate, and ours, than he did himself. There were automatic recounts in Florida underway, because the margin was so close, that the SCOTUS shut down. Legal challenges on Gore's part would have taken months, if not a year or more to settle. Al took the high road by not leaving the United States leaderless so that he could pursue his dream of being the President. He could not possibly see the future, 9/11, or the travesty of the Bush/Cheney administration. He set aside his personal lifelong ambition for the good of the people. THAT is sacrifice, and a true patriot.
+5 # Firefox11 2012-04-05 20:56
Actually an automatic recount was NOT underway. I live in Florida. Gore requested only a partial recount of the state, which was not legal here. Legal challenges are provided for in our Constitution I believe. Also, elections have gone to the House to sort out before. Are you saying that just because a process is difficult and complicated, challenging the so-called results of the Florida vote, that it is better to just allow the election fraud to stand? Gore picked Lieberman as his VP, who publicly did not support the recount. And, last but not least, Gore called Bush on the night of the election and conceded defeat, and then called back and said he had changed his mind. Nothing about being a true patriot in any of that. The sad truth has been that Gore is a disappointment. During the pre-election campaign he did not take Clinton (a still popular President) out with him; he did not promote the success of that eight year Presidency which he was a part of; in the debates he wore the same suit and tie as Bush, and failed to discuss what policies distinguished him from his rival Bush, and instead allowed Bush to dictate the conversation which was largely about lock boxes for social security. Gore snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in 2000, and doomed the country to eight years of looting and pilfering from which it has yet to recover.
+4 # davehaze 2012-04-05 21:45
Is it possible to give more than one thumbs down per person on #terrison's opinion?

Gore won the presidency. Gore won Florida. Gore won even though he ran the worst campaign in history: embarrassing, (remember that kiss at the convention?) brainless (he ran without the wily Pres.Clinton), sanctimonious, clueless, gutless (he also forgot to mentioned the environment yet alone defend it), and barely liberal.

I couldn't stand to watch his behavior so I totally shut him out. Would turn off the TV or radio whenever he appeared, wouldn't look at his photo nor read a word. And do so to this day.

Gore won but wimped out to Georgie Bush and Fox News and the reactionary court stealing the election. Gore had a responsibility to the American People to stand up for himself and the Constitution but he wimped, totally, absolutely, along with the Democratic party, wimped, tail between legs, out of DC, leaving it to tens of thousands of protesters to show up at the false inaugural and shout, Hail to the Thief! I know I was there. Perhaps a hundred thousand protesters out-representin g well-wishers five to one. But no Democratic party, no Gore. No honest reporting.

And did Gore take any responsibility? Did he have any explanation for the debacle that followed? Who was to blame? Well, we all know that answer and...

... I thought Gore's answer to WHY I FIRED KEITH OLBERMANN was going to also be because of Ralph Nader.
+2 # Anarchist 23 2012-04-07 11:42
In case you don't remember, Gore was president pro-tem of the Senate-he could have cast a vote in his own favor, especially when that group of black congresspersons presented their petition as seen in the opening shots of Moore's 'Farenheit 911' which despite its faults (like it really believes a group named Al Qaida-aka al-CIA-duh in subscribing to the 'Official History') still shows a factual news-clip of Gore folding and refusing to fight.
+8 # jackloganbill 2012-04-05 09:57
Actually, if I remember correctly, it would have taken exactly one vote from a member of the Senate to stop the madness associated with the recall fight, and not one Democrat stood up. Not one! There must have been a reason. And what's best for the country does not fly right in my book given the $$$$ spent campaigning, etc.......
+1 # gadfky 2012-04-05 12:43
And as Gore was President of the Senate, there was a Democrat who could've stood up to stop the madness.
0 # jackloganbill 2012-04-05 16:22
I doubt seriously that procedures allows the President of the Statement to make that call, vote, whatever it is called...
+22 # JRPActor 2012-04-05 09:00
Have ANY of YOU watched anything else on Current. #1 - they do not broadcast in Hi Def. Their sets, if there is one, look like they were created by high schoolers.
Morning shows are easy. They just put a camera in on an already established radio program. Keith deserves BETTER. A black backdrop? Lights that go out? Current fails to get decent advertisers and instead of working with Keith they fired him. Let's hope Oprah picks him up. She needs the rating boost. Like we did with FOX VIEWS we have now BLOCKED Current. Maybe Keith is a bit of a "diva" but he is wonderful to watch and a voice to those of us in the 99% where as FOX VIEWS is a voice for the 1%. With the loss of Keith on Current we also lost the voice of his regular guests that are brave enough to tell the country the truth as to what is happening. Meanwhile, the GOP is eating its young and destroying each other.
-4 # Interested Observer 2012-04-05 11:43
Yes, High Definition is sooo critical to delivering an essentially verbal message properly. For $50M he should be willing to do almost anything consistent with the message and work overtime for it. It it were about the cause and not just about him, he would consider the money a very nice perk for doing the right thing, and make that very clear off camera and off the record. It they then fired him, it would be clearly just about the money and ratings. But it appears to me that the biggest problem here is that in Olbermann's view, everything really is about him.
+5 # gadfky 2012-04-05 12:45
High definition is critical to getting advertisers who would like to make their product look good
-1 # KittatinyHawk 2012-04-05 12:47
I gave KO the benefit of the doubt except at the end of his time with D, Mr o said he hired Conan's lawyer and looked(gloated) at whomever. I believe that his phony sorry, is not a sorry at all. He didnot show up to work more than one occassion.
I would say any saavy person would have looked at the Program, Current TV Advertisers, ratings...inste ad he got a hefty contract and that was enough. Now he is going to sue a Station that got nothing with O coming over. No new Advertisers, no large amount of people due to its being cloaked out in TV Land.
So if that was part of the promise, I am afraid Current got short changed. Mr O to prove point did not show up for work, probably gave some attitude.
Too bad both are going to lose in a time when we need all the truthful Media we can get. No one wins Wars, they just make more Victims.

Apology not accepted, you went on Letterman for what reason? You cannot say a word as you hired a Lawyer.
+6 # Sensible1 2012-04-05 13:20
Keith is a media star, and should be displayed in a prominent place. Current TV was not the place. Current would never be the vehicle to revitalize his career. I agree that Keith made a mistake to join Current. Keith needs a big spotlight.
+8 # Billo 2012-04-05 15:24
Keith Olberman is guilty of arrogance, vanity, and the inability to work with others. He went to a fledgling network and expected an operation like other established networks that have been around for decades.

He should have just laughed off the technical difficulties, and work WITH management to resolve the problems and bring the network up to the standards to which he was accustomed.

Instead of using his experience to help Current (and his own program) succeed, he could only focus on maintaining his own personal brand.
0 # lcarrier 2012-04-05 20:09
Olbermann is such a prima donna.
+3 # BellBuoy 2012-04-05 20:30
Terrison: Perhaps some history homework is in order. Al Gore chaired the committee that the NAACP came to with legitimate complaints about voter fraud in Florida. Gore directly prevented that case from moving forward. The result was a country that was indeed LEADERLESS. Most of us knew Cheney and Rumsfelds records, and had a damn good idea of their agenda (PFNC). Gore is responsible for capitulating the Presidency that history proved he WON. The man's a talker, not a fighter.
0 # carp 2012-04-07 11:18
I am sorry but who cares beyond the initial report of Olbermann and Current parting ways? $50 million dollar contracts for being a talking head is really not a real issue facing this country. Sure report on it, it is interesting but don't make it into anything more than it is. big bucks vs big bucks. What is so important to Olbermann except the big bucks and why is he so intent on taking down Current?

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