Tell Me What You Really Think: The Ten Best Revelations of Keith Olbermann’s Lawsuit Against Current TV

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"Tell Me What You Really Think: The Ten Best Revelations of Keith Olbermann’s Lawsuit Against Current TV"

After Current TV fired Keith Olbermann last week, the combative host vowed he’d sue his (most recent) former network. Olbermann and his lawyers filed suit in California yesterday, and their allegations make for quite the read. Olbermann’s complaints with his former employer range from the social to the technical. Here are the ten most serious—and funniest—charges Olbermann makes against Current TV and its executives in the order they appear in the lawsuit:

1. Current co-founder Joel Hyatt was kind of socially awkward: A thread running through Olbermann’s lawsuit is that Current tried to distance him from his representation, sometimes to disadvantage him in negotiations. But in this case, Olbermann makes a more personal allegation, that “Hyatt also attempted to isolate Olbermann from his professional representatives in an awkward attempt to form a close personal friendship with his new star.”

2. Current underinvested in its web presence, to the detriment of its audience base: Sometime, these charges are an opportunity for snark, as when the suit alleges “Stunningly, Al Gore’s network was not interested in establishing a strong internet presence.” But the suit also suggests that the network was slow to build out its web presence and wouldn’t allow Olbermann’s show to stream online, a hook that might have helped viewers who didn’t have Current or weren’t sure where to find the network on their channel lineups, continue to watch the program. “Current even refused Olbermann’s request and contractual right, to stream segments of the Program and additional web-only content over the Program Website. It is both sad and ironic that a channel owned and founded by Al Gore, for the stated purpose of creating an independent perspective, free from the control of large corporate interests, restricted the rights of its most celebrated commentator and Chief News Officer to fully broadcast his opinions over, of all things, the internet.”

3. Current’s facilities were a mess: This has been one of the most commonly reported points of dissension between Current and Olbermann, particularly after an electrical failure while the program was on-air led Olbermann to bring a candle on set. The lawsuit alleges that “Current President David Bohrman admitted ‘the 33rd St. facility is never going to be a professional facility. We need to move to HD, and a better location.’ He further admitted in that same e-mail ‘We are paying for a Porsche and getting a Yugo.’”

4. Hyatt behavior threatened Olbermann’s staff: “Hyatt’s leadership was highly erratic. Just days before the premiere of the Program, Hyatt even threatened to fire Olbermann and the loyal staff members who had followed him from MSNBC to Current. Hyatt behaved as if he had just paid Olbermann to become his puppet instead of the Chief News Officer of the network.”

5. Hyatt and Current were moustache-twirling blackmailers: “Hyatt blackmailed Olbermann into agreeing to put himself in a position that no other major talent in the entertainment or news industries has been forced into in decades: fending for himself without the benefit of hire advisors. Olbermann gave in to Hyatt’s blackmail for the purposes of saving the premiere of the Program and the jobs of those who worked on it. Olbermann left the meeting devastated at having discovered that he was working for a blackmailer.”

6. Hyatt doesn’t know how the television ratings system works: “The very success of the Program was compromised when Hyatt, displaying his utter lack of industry knowledge, ordered incorrect ratings data and then disseminated it to the media. In essence, Hyatt took what could have been a victory and turned it into an unrecoverable defeat. A show only has one opportunity to be launched. In reality, the Program’s premiere had higher ratings than both CNN and MSNBC in the key demographic for advertisers. The incorrect ratings purchased and disseminated by Hyatt, because they did not contain statistics for same day viewing through DVRs and other such methods, did not reveal that the Program had outrated MSNBC. Because Hyatt did not know that there were two types of ratings and ordered the cheaper ones, the Program missed out on its lone opportunity to tout its success.”

7. There are two journalists out there who Olbermann would take a pay cut to work with: This may be the biggest mystery of the lawsuit. Who in journalism does Olbermann like that much? “Olbermann even offered to reduce his own salary to help pay for two journalists with whom Olbermann had previously worked, who would have been immediately recognizable and had credibility with the ‘Countdown’ audience. Despite Olbermann’s generous offer and his proven track record of identifying star progressive voices, Hyatt ignored Olbermann’s advice, arrogantly believing in his own unproven eye for talent.”

8. Olbermann didn’t think the network should hire Jennifer Granholm or Cenk Uygur, but he really doesn’t like Uygur: “Hyatt and Bohrman asked Olbermann about the possibility of hiring Cenk Uygur. Olbermann told them that he did not believe Uygur would be a good choice. Olbermann opined to Bohrman that Uygur had difficulting separating facts from things he wanted to be true…It was, therefore, reasonable for Olbermann to decline to be associated with a host with a questionable journalistic standard and a show that was not up to the standards expected by the ‘Countdown’ audience.”

9. He’s also not much of a Van Jones fan: “The month prior, Bohrman had asked Olbermann’s opinion about a prospective show to be co-hosted by Granholm and Van Jones. Olbermann advised against it.”

10. Olbermann has a pretty low bar for what constitutes disparagement: The lawsuit refers to “Hyatt’s statements to the press, including The Wrap and the Daily Beast, disparaging Olbermann and referring to him as “replaceable.”

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