Current TV said Friday afternoon that it had terminated the contract of its lead anchor Keith Olbermann, scarcely one year after he was hired to reboot the fledgling channel in his progressive political image.
Mr. Olbermann did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Current indicated that he had failed to honor the terms of his five-year, $50 million contract, giving the channel the right to terminate it.
In a letter to viewers, the channel said Friday, “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.”
Mr. Olbermann will not be given an opportunity to sign off. Starting Friday night, the former New York governor Eliot Spitzer will replace him at 8 p.m., according to the letter to viewers. His program will be titled “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
The decision to dismiss Mr. Olbermann was unanimous among the senior managers of Current, according to a person familiar with the matter.
It came after months of infighting between the famously temperamental Mr. Olbermann and his bosses at Current, including David Bohrman, the channel’s president, and Joel Hyatt, its chief executive. The fighting spilled out into public view last January after Mr. Olbermann declined Current’s requests to host special hours of election coverage, apparently out of frustration about technical difficulties that had plagued his 8 p.m. program, “Countdown.”
Fourteen months ago, Mr. Olbermann abruptly left MSNBC, where he had worked for the prior eight years. There, he nearly single-handedly gave the channel an identity as a liberal counterweight to Fox News.
Executives at MSNBC had no public reaction on Friday to Mr. Olbermann’s departure from another channel.
Does this mean Keith and Richard Wolffe can finally form their own homoerotic sexy times news hour?