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Keith Olbermann Re: Current TV: “I’m In Charge”

Ex-MSNBC host Keith Olbermann may have lost his perch in cable news primetime, but–if quotes attributed to him are to be believed–he hasn’t lost any of his, um, confidence. The Current TV-bound Olbermann is quoted by Cindy Adams in the New York Post today describing his new gig, saying “I start beginning June. Al Gore’s Current TV, station 103 in Manhattan. My producers and staff suggest I even veer a little to the middle politically.” Sorry? Did you say middle?

You’d be leaving MSNBC and going to Current (Channel 103 in Manhattan) to “veer to the middle?” Well, let’s leave that aside for a moment. It’s the next line in Adams’ story that’s even more surprising. Olbermann’s quoted as saying “No cut in salary. In fact, I’m in charge. I’m the news director.”

Hold on. First. Is Al Gore’s company really paying Olbermann what he was making at MSNBC? North of five million dollars annually? That is, the same money to host a nightly show that will reach a mere fraction of the audience of Countdown? (Yes, Mr. Gore, I know, Current’s audience of course has the potential to rise from where it is, but, it’s still far, far, smaller than that of MSNBC)?

And what about “I’m in charge?” At the time of Olbermann’s hiring, Current’s “bosses,” Joel Hyatt, Current co-founder and executive vice president, and Mark Rosenthal, CEO, of Current Media, described Olbermann’s role as “Chief News Officer,” responsible for executive producing his own nightly show and consulting on the expansion of Current’s primetime lineup to include the possibility of other shows. He’ll also have an equity stake in Current.

Now maybe he was making all these comments tongue in cheek, but if these quotes are to be taken at face value, his “I’m In Charge” Status means he won’t even be constrained by the limits of traditional timeslots. He’ll, essentially, have the power to pre-empt the show that follows him—right from the desk during his show? Adams quotes Olbermann saying:

“So I’ll stay on one hour longer, but I’m in charge of that, too. If we’re long, then I’m on a little more and the next show’s a little short.”

And then, if that’s not enough, there’s this. (Again, see repeated caveats above) Olbermann professes to have no idea why he’s not at MSNBC anymore.

Quote: “Keith Olbermann on MSNBC shedding him: ‘I don’t really know why.’”

If these quotes are all serious and true, Olbermann doesn’t know why he’s out of MSNBC, but he does know that he’s landed in a gig giving him total and complete power to do whatever he wants at Current TV–with no cut in pay. Either Olbermann was misquoted, he’s exaggerating his role, or he’s got one helluva sweet gig.

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