Keith Olbermann was on David Letterman last night where he explained for the first time on TV why he left MSNBC.
Here is the video from CBS:
Keith Olbermann called his MSNBC departure a long and boring story, and said, “At some point in the last few years that I have been doing the news in the way that I do, it has occurred to me that the best place to continue doing the news in that way would be to do it at a place that is just in the news business and nothing else. It doesn’t also own an amusement park in Orlando, it doesn’t have outdoor advertising, or beet plantations in the Azures. It’s a company that just did news and we could kind of make every decision relying on that.”
Olbermann said he has had nine full time employers and three of the later hired him back. He also discussed how they took the name Countdown with him and said, “We just sort of did it. I’m sure will hear from them if they’re not happy.” NBC never bothered to trademark the name Countdown, so it looks there was nothing stopping him from doing it.
It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to see that when Olbermann talks about getting away from corporate media, he is really referring to Phil Griffin and his former bosses at MSNBC. The truth is that Current is the perfect home for Keith Olbermann because he gets to be his own boss. He now gets to do things all his way, and for some people this is how it should be. Olbermann has always had a difficult relationship with the idea of being told what to do, and now he is free to do it his way.
Olbermann’s decision to go to Current TV was about freedom, not ratings. Countdown’s ratings on Current will be lower because the network is available in fewer homes and is less well known than MSNBC is, but at this point in his career it looks like it was a worthy tradeoff.
It will be interesting to see what kind of show the unfettered Keith Olbermann produces for Current beginning on June 20.