Just over half a year since the company poured millions into hiring him and building a new studio in New York City, Keith Olbermann is butting heads with his superiors at Current. Olbermann was nowhere to be seen during the network's Iowa caucus coverage on Tuesday night, a decision that apparently wasn't entirely his. He tweeted just a few minutes before the show was scheduled to begin:
On Wednesday, Olbermann followed up with the full story of why he wasn't around for the one of the biggest political stories of the year. "I was not given a legitimate opportunity to host under acceptable conditions," he said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "They know it and we know it. Telling half the story is wrong." THR added that Olbermann had assembled his staff to cover the event despite earlier reports that he wasn't on the schedule, but Current stonewalled his attempts to move forward and do the show anyways with an internal memo (pasted in full below). "As we assumed Keith had communicated to you, Keith was asked to be the sole anchor and executive producer of our primary and caucus coverage," the memo reads. "He declined." Why Olbermann declined to cover the event and then planned to do it anyways is unclear.
News of the caucus night confusion comes just a week a New York Times story claiming Olbermann was "disgruntled" raised suspicion of internal strife. The Times's Brian Stelter compared the situation to Olbermann's stint at MSNBC, where "stories abound about his refusal to speak to managers and executives." In an unexpected tweet to this Atlantic Wire writer, however, Olbermann pointed to a brief statement that "anybody who describes my disposition towards Current as 'disgruntled' is either uninformed, working from a personal agenda, wrong -- or all of the above." Olbermann didn't reply to a request for an interview, but we're seriously dying to know what word is accurate if "disgruntled" isn't.
To the Countdown Staff....
I wanted to clarify tonight's programming, as I gather there may be some misunderstanding about what is on when.
As we assumed Keith had communicated to you, Keith was asked to be the sole anchor and executive producer of our primary and caucus coverage. He declined.
We then made other plans to have our 4 hours of prime time election coverage tonight hosted by Al Gore, Jennifer Granholm, and The Young Turks. We tried several times to have Keith participate in our coverage, including being the lead anchor for the 8p hour tonight, incorporated with our election group in the Los Angeles studio and produced in the LA control room. We have a special election graphic package, live remotes, caucus feeds, etc.
There will be NO stand-alone Countdown tonight. For those of you at work who might be preparing a program, I apologize your managers did not communicate this to you. See you back on the air tomorrow night.