×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Olbermann’s on the Right Side in Current Clash

Given where they stand politically, my guess is Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck would both hate being compared to each other, but the parallels are hard to ignore: Guys with big egos and loyal followings who Olbermannshrunk their platforms — and thus the reach of their voices — by being unable to get along with the cable news network that employed them.

Still, following Olbermann’s present dispute with his new home, Current TV, just from a distance, it’s hard not to see the host — his reputation for being difficult notwithstanding — as being on the right side, as it were, in this instance.

Simply put, Current was nowhere when it hired Olbermann and asked him, in essence, to put the channel on the map. And even if the ratings have lagged well behind what he used to deliver on MSNBC, he’s done that, making the otherwise cut-rate-looking network at least part of the conversation.

The tradeoff, clearly, was giving Olbermann control. After his difficulties at MSNBC, he was giving up the resources of NBC News in exchange for a place where he would be allowed to call the shots. That was pretty obvious from what he said at the time, and given where Current was, not an unreasonable position as long as it was delineated going into the deal.

He’s also right, watching “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” that the channel hasn’t fulfilled its part of the bargain by building a news operation around him. There are frequently technical glitches and snafus that perhaps ought to have been expected but nevertheless must be frustrating and embarrassing, both to Olbermann and his guests.

Admittedly, Olbermann can be his own worst enemy, and I’d extend that to the way he’s handled this situation, including his Twitter war with the New York Times’ Brian Stelter: To accuse Stelter of “threatening” him to do an interview sounds overblown. If Stelter had information and Olbermann disputed it, he didn’t have the credibility to do that without going on the record. That said, when a source tells a reporter something is inaccurate, you had better have the facts pretty well nailed if you’re going to ignore their denials and proceed with publishing it.

Still, if Olbermann can’t address what’s happening for legal reasons, then he should clam up about it — including Twitter — until he or his representatives can. Since his contract prevents him from talking, there’s little to be gained in tap-dancing around the issue.

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t right, from what I’ve seen, in his reported beefs with Current.

 

 

More Voices

  • Stock market Stock buyback

    Stock Buybacks Leave Firms Without Funds to Invest in Future (Column)

    Corporate giants on the S&P 500 have spent more than $720 billion during the past year on stock buybacks. Media and entertainment firms account for only a fraction of that spending, but even $1 million spent on share repurchases seems a foolhardy expenditure at this transformational moment for the industry. The record level of spending [...]

  • Hollywood Has Come Far With Diversity

    An Insider's Look at Hollywood's Diversity Efforts and How Far It Still Needs to Go

    I am a white man working in Hollywood. I grew up in Beverlywood, an all-white, predominantly Jewish, Los Angeles neighborhood sandwiched between 20th Century Fox Studios and MGM, where my elementary school had only one black student. I am compelled to write about diversity in Hollywood because “diversity” — in front of and behind the camera [...]

  • Venice Film Festival A Star is

    How Venice, Toronto and Telluride Festivals Stole Cannes' Luster (Column)

    In all the years I’ve been attending film festivals, I have never seen a lineup that looked as good on paper as Venice’s did this fall, boasting new films by Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”), Damien Chazelle (“First Man”), Paul Greengrass (“22 July”), Mike Leigh (“Peterloo”) and the Coen brothers (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) in competition, [...]

  • Black Women in Medicine BTS

    Hollywood Needs to Include People With Disabilities on Both Sides of the Camera (Guest Column)

    In five years, nothing has changed. Despite open calls for greater diversity and inclusion, recent research shows that there was little change in the number of characters with disabilities in popular films in 2017. A study conducted by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that [...]

  • Seven Seconds

    Fighting the Racial Bias at the Core of Hollywood’s Cop Shows (Guest Column)

    If fiction is the lie that tells a deeper truth, the TV crime genre has been, for the most part, the lie that simply tells a lie. As a storyteller (Veena) and an advocate for racial justice (Rashad), we collaborated for the past two-and-a-half years in an attempt to reimagine the roles of cops, victims, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content