Keith Olbermann Files $50 Million Lawsuit Against Current TV

Apr 6, 2012 2:23am
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Mark J. Terrill/AP Photo

Keith Olbermann has filed a $50 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against former employer Current TV following the writer and political commentator’s highly publicized firing from the cable network last week.

Olbermann filed the suit in Los Angeles on Thursday, which according to The Associated Press seeks a judge’s ruling that he didn’t disparage the network before his termination, while stating that bosses at Current TV violated his contract by disclosing his pay. A bevy of potentially embarrassing technical problems also plagued the fledgling network, according to Olbermann’s suit.

The former ESPN and MSNBC anchor quickly became the star of the new political affairs network launched by Al Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt when he joined in February 2011. Olbermann had signed a five-year, $50 million contract to host the evening news show “Countdown,” which debuted last June. Appearing on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” earlier this week, Olbermann said that he knew “as early as … last July” that he wanted out of Current TV.

The lawsuit repeatedly goes after Hyatt and Current TV President David Borman, blaming the two for the problems Olbermann says he experienced with “Countdown,” which included “terrible sound and filming” and broken or malfunctioning equipment that allegedly wouldn’t work in the rain, The AP reported. The suit largely steers clear of attacks on former Vice President Gore.

Current’s Christopher Lehane fired back at Olbermann, saying the host was fired for missing work, “sabotaging the network” and disparaging his bosses, The AP reported, adding that Lehane’s statement said Current looked forward to airing the “false and malicious” grievances in a courtroom.

Olbermann, who joined Current after a tumultuous eight year relationship with MSNBC ended with a similar high-profile exit, has an ownership stake in the network. He claims he may be owed in excess of $70 million.

“Olbermann deeply regrets his decision to put his trust in Hyatt and Gore,” the lawsuit states. “Current had neither the desire nor the ability to produce a first rate news commentary show. Olbermann did not join Current to ruin his hard-won reputation and appear on a show that was an embarrassment.”

The details of the suit are the latest in a war of words that began with Olbermann’s March 30 firing and a statement from the network saying, “Current was [...] 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.”

On Tuesday Olbermann told Letterman that it’s now up to the courts to see what happens with the rest of his contract. “The nice judge will decide whether or not I get more of my money,” he said.

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