Anchor had been with cable channel for a year
The news anchor will be replaced with Eliot Spitzer, who had a short-lived primetime news program of his own at CNN last year. The new program, which premieres tonight, will be titled “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
There had been numerous reports in recent months about friction between the cable network, which counts former Vice President Al Gore as one of its backers, and Olbermann, who also had a tempestuous breakup with MSNBC.
Current confirmed the dismissal in a statement issued Friday that read, “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.”
Olbermann fired back at the network in a series of tweets Friday afternoon, indicating plans to sue the network and insinuating that Gore and another founder of the network, Joel Hyatt, behaved unethically.
“In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out,” tweeted Olbermann, who indicated he planned to take legal action against them. “For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one.”
A representative for Olbermann declined comment.
After a very public split with MSNBC in January 2011 after eight years with the cable network, the left-leaning Olbermann resurfaced at Current the following month. In addition to anchoring and executive producing a weeknight program, he took an unspecified equity stake in the network and took the title of chief news officer as part of a five-year deal.
But months after “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” launched on Current in June, reports of internal strife surfaced as Olbermann was absent from the on-air coverage of key political events during primary season.
Olbermann has built a reputation over the course of his long career for being a difficult albeit brilliant news anchor. He reportedly clashed with management even as a sportscaster at ESPN, where he broke through with his witty irreverence during the 1990s.
Spitzer left CNN last July after his series, “In the Arena,” was canceled after less than a year on the air including a previous incarnation of the series, “Parker/Spitzer,” in which he co-hosted with Kathleen Parker.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to host a show on Current TV that will provide insight into and analysis of the critical issues on the minds of Americans today,” said Spitzer, who served as governor of New York before he resigned in 2008 following a scandal involving his hiring a prostitute.
Current struggled to find a distinct identity for years on cable before making Olbermann the flagship of a news-oriented lineup intended to provide an alternative to 24-hour nets including Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC. His departure isn’t likely to steer the network away from that mission given the hiring of Spitzer.
“Viewpoint” will air weeknights at 8 p.m. sandwiched between “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur” and “The War Room with Jennifer Granholm.” Current also features political commentators Bill Press and Stephanie Miller.