Keith Olbermann has been manning the fort over at Current TV as its “chief news officer” since his departure from MSNBC last year, and yet at least one New York Times reporter noticed that, for his prominent position, he appears noticeably absent during the network’s campaign coverage. Brian Stelter went on a quest to find Olbermann outside of his time slot and found little answers, other than off-the-record tensions between Olbermann and the network’s administration.
Stelter reports that Olbermann “is not scheduled to anchor Current’s coverage of the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary in January;” the network has placed anchors Cenk Uygur and Jennifer Granholm in that position, along with the head of the network, Al Gore. And despite having been hired to be a part of special reports, as well, Olbermann has not been around. What’s more, Olbermann’s program will actually not run on Monday, January 2 and in its stead will be a two-hour Iowa caucus preview hosted by Uygur.
Stelter does not provide concrete answers, but did find some rumblings of discomfort with Olbermann among the staff:
In the television industry, Mr. Olbermann is well known for fights with his bosses; stories abound about his refusal to speak to managers and executives. At Current, this behavior has continued, according to four people with knowledge of the situation, one of whom described Mr. Olbermann as “disgruntled.”
Current’s chief executive, David Bohrman, did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday, on what is traditionally a holiday week. Mr. Olbermann did not respond to an e-mail.
Stelter also notes that Olbermann himself has not made any indication that the absences from other program are unusual, adding that his final live program of the way only made note that he would be back to anchor on Tuesday, January 3.
Are these the tiny squeals of discontent that preempt the involuntary opening of the proverbial floodgates? It’s too early to tell, but there is certainly something unusual about his absences from major programming, as well as the silence surrounding the story.
UPDATE: Stelter reports that it appears Olbermann himself was not in on the plan to have him absent from the programming:
On Thursday afternoon Mr. Olbermann suggested that Current’s published plans might not be accurate. When a reporter asked him via email why he was not participating in the Iowa caucus coverage, he answered, “That’s not my understanding. We’ve already prepared a ‘Best Of Countdown’ for Monday, and are planning a live Countdown on Tuesday.”
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