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Why is Keith Olbermann imploding at Current?
Let me start off this blog post about by saying that I know nothing about the Keith Olbermann situation at Current TV, but "knowing nothing" has never stopped me from writing a blog post before, so why begin now? In other words, to the blog post about Keith!
Why is he crashing and burning at Current? Good heavens, it's been only -- what? -- 72 days, or am I confusing that with someone's marriage? But the point is, it has been brief, and already Keith is at war with bosses at the cable network. They, or he, made the decision that he should not be on the air covering the Iowa caucus on Tuesday, which is all shades of insane. Olbermann is their chief news executive and marquee talent and top anchor!
He tweeted Tuesday that if people wanted to know why he was AWOL, they should go ahead and ask his bosses Joel Hyatt and Al Gore; he didn't say they should ask his other putative boss, David Bohrman, which may be telling or maybe he just ran out of characters.
Nevertheless, things are going sour, and far sooner than I predicted. Keith usually takes a good year before he starts napalming his employer. This seems too soon. So, on that note, let's go to my list of Why Keith is Imploding at Current
1. Olbermann hates bosses. Well, d'uh. But they are paying him $10 million per; the least he could do is kiss some butt every now and then. Keith of course doesn't do that. For example, when Rupert Murdoch fired him years ago, Rupe explained that "[Keith] is crazy." Of course, Keith has said a lot worse about Murdoch, and probably even said it while he was working at Fox Sports.
2. Olbermann is fighting with new president David Bohrman. That's entirely likely, but Bohrman's a guy who knows how to deal with Himalayan-sized egos, being a bit of one himself. He was the top tech guru at CNN whilst running the DC bureau, and had spent many years massaging talent like Aaron Brown. But Keith is not Aaron. Keith is immune to massaging. Keith is unmanageable.
3. Olbermann is too expensive and Hyatt/Gore would like him to leave. Always follow the money! But wouldn't you think that they already knew $10M per was a big check to begin with? Maybe, or maybe they were so anxious to sign Keith that they took a money-be-damned approach. Now it's time to pay the piper, and the piper is Keith.
4. Olbermann thinks Current is a Mickey Mouse operation, and he regrets signing up. That's possible too. He's used to NBC resources, and now he's got the metaphoric equivalent of a weekly newspaper-serving-a-hamlet-in-the-Poconos. I can see him rage when a Teleprompter goes blank, or an assistant brings him a cup of coffee that's a bit tepid. Plus, Current's not exactly universally available. That's gotta bug Keith too.
5. Olbermann's too hot to handle even for Current. Maybe, but I'm not sure I totally buy this, but it's possible. For example, last night -- characteristically -- he listed Pat Robertson as a Worst Person of the Week, saying "God wants [Robertson] to shut the ---- up." Nothing unusual, but when Hyatt's trying to get Current carriage on some cable system in the Midwest, that might not go over so well in a board room where everyone's got a crew cut shorter than Keith's temper. Nevertheless, Hyatt/Gore knew what they were getting when they got Keith O. (They did, right?)
6. Olbermann hasn't broken open the floodgates of carriage agreements. Now this I do believe. Hyatt/Gore almost certainly had to believe that this big talent would bring the deals in -- "oh it's Keith -- WE MUST HAVE HIM!" But the silence must've been deafening, and a bit daunting. Sure, Keith has voluble fans, but it's inconceivable every cable operator in the country is one of them. I held a pet theory that his departure from MSNBC and the purchase of NBC by Comcast were not coincidental.
Those are the reasons, for now, friends. Again, caveat emptor, but...