Keith Olbermann sat down with David Letterman this Tuesday to give his side of the not-entirely-unexpected firing from Current TV. I don't think Keith Olbermann did himself any favors with the $10 million chandelier reference, but he did give us a bit of insight into his take on everything from problems with the set, to his drivers not being paid for by the network, to why he had some problems appearing on the air and problems with losing his voice.
Obviously, Olbermann will present his side as contritely as possible that he tried to make it work, but he missed a whole lot of days besides the ones he addressed here. And I think it's a bit ridiculous to claim that he didn't know before he signed that Current had limited viewing access across the country and much lower budgets than the networks he had previously been on.
I regret the loss of both his MSNBC and Current TV shows, mainly because he was one of the few willing to speak out about the excesses of the Bush administration years ago and risk getting fired or publicly shamed. He did it anyway when we sorely needed not just Keith, but others speaking out in the same manner. This site was always very supportive of his show and he had been generous to us as well, even acknowledging C&L in one of his books.
That said, he was famous for being prickly and difficult to work with and work for. I'm not so sure how much of a chance he was willing to give Gore's network, nor how much Gore and the others there let him down with promises not kept of production standards and professionalism. It's sad that what looked to be another potential news network not governed by right wing corporate talking points is going through this sort of turmoil. Hearing about all of it aggravates me just as badly as when I found out about the problems with Air America.
If we're going to counter Rupert Murdoch's vast media network, right wing radio and the rest of the corporate media out there slanting to the right, liberals have to start doing a better job at this.
To Keith's point on the professionalism of the network, Current TV just added video coverage of Bill Press and Stephanie Miller's radio shows to their lineup. I haven't watched Press' show yet, but I've watched Miller's. To be honest, it's not ready for prime time. They're just in her radio studio with awkward camera sets ups. All you see are mics in front of their heads for the better part of the broadcast.
If they were going to offer that show for Current TV, why didn't they offer to get the studio set up for television first? I wanted to see Miller offered a spot on MSNBC rather than Scarborough on there every morning back when they were looking to replace Don Imus. If she had been given that spot on their network, her set would not look like the one airing on Current TV right now. While it's fine for radio, it looks low rent for television.
I wish Keith the best and we'll see how all of this plays out and if he manages to land somewhere else or not. Olbermann was replaced with Eliot Spitzer, whose show is still trying to find its footing. If given the choice, I'd rather see David Shuster, Randi Rhodes, Sam Seder or Thom Hartmann given some more air time if possible, along with a host of others too long to list here instead. Spitzer struggled in his CNN show as well; it's more than optimistic to think those issues would be resolved at a lower budget network.
Here's the second half of Olbermann's interview with Letterman.