Keith Olbermann’s Angry Email Trail Traces Breakup With Current TV

Just weeks after Keith Olbermann launched his nightly program on Current TV last June, his team was complaining that the network founded by Al Gore and attorney Joel Hyatt wasn’t living up to its promises to support a professional cable news show.

The arguments escalated for months, with Olbermann directly appealing to the former vice president on three or four occasions, until relations had become so poisoned that, on Friday, Current fired Olbermann for breach of contract. He has vowed to take the matter to court and questioned the ethics of Gore and Hyatt.

Some of the disputes are fundamental—such as missing days of work—and some sound petty, but they add up to a portrait of a dysfunctional alliance that was doomed from the start. Where Current management viewed Olbermann as a chronic complainer who had clashed with the bosses before leaving his previous jobs at MSNBC and ESPN, the liberal commentator came to believe that he had joined a rinky-dink operation, even if the channel was committed to paying him $50 million over five years.

On Aug. 2, 2011, according to emails reviewed by The Daily Beast, Olbermann’s manager, Michael Price, sent Hyatt a list of about 40 “deficiencies” that needed to be corrected. Six days later, Price told Hyatt that the problems required “immediate attention” and that “we are not aware of any demonstrable effort to address the issues.”

One of management’s complaints was that Olbermann would not participate in some press and marketing events, even though he was contractually obligated to promote the network. Executives grew upset when Olbermann balked at touting the programming that followed his 8 p.m. show, Countdown. In the email, Price explained that reluctance by saying the host was being given wrong information about what was to air. It was “inexcusable,” he wrote, to repeatedly have Olbermann “identify incorrect programming following Countdown. If people cannot trust him to correctly identify the programming, his credibility on larger matters comes into question.”

What’s more, he said, Olbermann was told to identify New York Times columnist Paul Krugman on the air as a Countdown contributor when it turned out he was not. The email asked for “demonstrable efforts” that these problems were being fixed.

Hyatt responded that day, saying that David Bohrman, a CNN executive who had just been hired as Current’s president, would be on the case. “We not only take the issues seriously, but we hired David to assure that any problems with Countdown are dealt with expeditiously and expertly,” Hyatt wrote. Bohrman, he said, has the experience to “assure the quality of Current’s ability to support Countdown.”

On Sept. 21, Bohrman wrote to Olbermann and Price, saying he would move “quickly” to resolve the problems at the Manhattan studio that were making Countdown a “less than high-class production.” He promised to hire a full-time publicist and said “we will get done almost all the things you need and have been asking for.”

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Van Jones: ‘Occupy…Saved the Entire Country From Destruction’

Former Obama administration green jobs czar Van Jones said Saturday the Occupy Wall Street movement essentially “saved the entire country from destruction.”

Jones made the comments in Los Angeles ahead of his appearance at an “All in for the 99%” training event, saying Occupy “disrupted the narrative” as both parties “barreling toward more austerity.”

“[The] Occupy movement pretty much saved the entire country from destruction,” Jones said in an interview posted online. “Both political parties were barreling toward more austerity, more cutbacks, more pain for the people and more — basically both political parties had managed to converge on this idea of basically no rules for the rich, no rights for the poor, no middle class to speak of. That was basically the agenda, the question was just how much pain how fast.”

“Occupy Wall Street came on and completely disrupted the narrative,” he said. All the ‘austerity, austerity, cut, cut, cut’ stuff went away and suddenly even Republicans had to talk about income inequality and that whole theme. Occupy Wall Street really kind of, like, helped us to hit a reset in the country.”

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