It sounds all too familiar: Keith Olbermann, who left ESPN in a huff in the 1990s and bailed on MSNBC last year after publicly feuding with his cable bosses, is at odds with network executives again. The newsman, who hosts Countdown and is chief news executive at Current TV, has been off the air for several crucial days during the network's coverage of the Iowa caucuses. Current's president says Olbermann chose not to anchor the election night coverage, with the cable star pushing back, claiming he was "not given a legitimate opportunity to host under acceptable conditions." The rift has reportedly escalated to the point where Olbermann, upset with the network's production values and his own "level of influence," is attempting to get out of his $10-million-per-year contract with Current. Is Olbermann really going to burn yet another bridge?
Yes. His days are numbered: The Countdown host has "made an art form of leaving jobs in a cloud of flying debris," says Jeff Bercovici at Forbes. In this case, the tension most likely comes from a power struggle at the top. When he was hired as chief news officer, Olbermann bragged about being in charge. Since then, Current has hired a president who is now calling the shots. "You can bet the family farm that Olbermann's tenure at Current will end" soon, with "the host and his network only too happy to be rid of each other."
"Keith Olbermann's days on Current are numbered"
But Olbermann has a point: The conditions at Current really are "unacceptable," says James Poniewozik at TIME. Half a year in, Countdown was still subject to "graphic foul-ups and the lights going out" during live broadcasts. It's unfathomable why Current would spend so much money hiring Olbermann without setting aside a production budget that's up to par. The host may very well be right to demand higher standards — which would help "build the channel into a credible news competitor."
"Stop me if you've heard this one before: Olbermann at odds with his network"
Current should just fire him: Forget the talk over whether Olbermann should leave, says Hamilton Nolan at Gawker. Current would be wise to can its star. His continued "diva-like behavior" makes him come off like a "petulant, spoiled child." The specifics of his current tantrum are unimportant; the "salient fact is that this will never stop." Olbermann could be a "whip-smart," great newsman. Instead, his gigantic ego constantly trips him up. It's time for Current to recognize that Olbermann just isn't worth it.
"Keith Olbermann: Not worth it"