Keith Olbermann’s departure from MSNBC is being euphemistically called a “negotiated separation,” but this for the same man who was called “a jerk and difficult and brutal” by his boss. The New York Times has more details in this morning’s paper, the most concrete being the fact that Olbermann will be kept off of television for “six to nine months” and he is “apparently forbidden to discuss his departure.” Details of the gag order are hard to come by and it’s unclear if it has an expiration date. Meanwhile, Olbermann’s enemies are free to yap about how much the guy sucks to work with!
Though it’s as of yet impossible to answer the question “Why?” in regards to Olbermann’s dismissal, what is on the record is how trying he was to manage. Back in October, there was Gabriel Sherman’s account in New York of the cable news wars with tidbits like this:
But Olbermann can take his eccentricities to extremes. There’s a story that he told his producers to communicate with him by leaving notes in a small box positioned outside his office. Last spring, after David Shuster tweeted that he was guest-hosting Countdown while Olbermann was out sick, Olbermann erupted when a blog mentioned Shuster’s tweet and he fired off an e-mail to him saying, “Don’t ever talk about me and medical issues again.” Olbermann’s executive producer later told Shuster that there’s a rule against mentioning Olbermann on Twitter.
And more of the same in the Times today:
Mr. Olbermann was within one move of being fired in November after he was suspended for making donations to Democratic Congressional candidates. He threatened to make an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” to protest the suspension; Mr. Zucker was prepared to fire him on the spot if he did, according to a senior NBC Universal executive who declined to be identified in discussing confidential deliberations.
Many questions remains, but if he’s not in the mood for a vacation, Olbermann does have options, namely radio or the internet. So he should join us and he needn’t worry — here, everyone is an asshole.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 24, 2011