Apr 6, 2012

Keith Olbermann throws Cenk Uygur and The Young Turks under the bus

So as most people probably already know by now Current TV fired Keith Olbermann last week after a year and the acrimony between the two will no doubt fuel the tabloids for many weeks and months to come.   There are many stories to be told from both sides about incompetence and egotism and arrogance and whatnot, however there's one aspect that kind of stuck out as very interesting to me, and that is Olbermann's reaction to Current's hiring Cenk Uygur and The Young Turks to lead into Olbermann's show.

This is taken from the legal filing that Keith made against Current yesterday:

For example, prior to launching "The Young Turks," Hyatt and Bohrman asked Olbermann about the possibility of hiring Cenk Uygur. Olbermann told them that he did not believe Uygur would be a good choice.  Olbermann opined to Bohrman that Uygur had difficulty separating facts from things he wanted to be true.  As Current's Chief News Officer the credibility of the content shown on Current was directly associated with Olbermann.  Additionally, Olbermann told Hyatt and Bohrman that when Uygur appeared on "Countdown" the day after Uygur's much publicized departure from MSNBC (at the height of his perceived popularity), the ratings on the Program had actually gone down  during Uygur's segment.  Of course , Current ignored the advice of Olbermann and hired Uygur to host a program that aired immediately before Olbermann's Program.

 He also referred to The Young Turk's show as "demonstrably substandard" and felt it was not unreasonable for him to refuse to want to have his show advertised on TYT's show, nor was it unreasonable to want essentially nothing to do with it in any way shape or form.

Apparently, Keith felt that The Young Turk's was such a piss poor show that he didn't even want the viewers of TYT to watch his show later.   This is staggering on so many points, but I'll point out a few here.


When Cenk left MSNBC, he gave Keith his exit interview.  Clearly the two had some mutual ground in common and clearly Keith was not going to miss out on getting to rib his former bosses at MSNBC by hosting a guy who's going to air out his grievances.   So in that sense I don't fault Keith for doing that, but perhaps not wanting him on the network.   Often times news people will host someone because they are a story and that story is intriguing.

And when said intriguing story is also one that will allow you to twist a knife in the back of your former employers who you feel wronged you, well that's just icing on the cake.   So as I said I don't get with the idea of hammering Olbermann and saying "HEY! You hosted him on your show, and then you say you don't like him."  That doesn't matter for me.

Where I take issue is him seeming to offer Cenk a line to join him at Current.   Whether that was done simply to twist the knife a little more (there were reports that MSNBC was not happy with Cenk moving on to Current, and took steps to renew other talent such as Rachel Maddow in case she wanted to go to Current to join Keith), I don't know.  But the fact remains he did throw in a "We'll be in touch".

He also lauded Cenk's "very loyal audience" in the process, and then later throws them under the bus by saying that ratings went down in that segment.   Whether that's true or not I don't know if anyone has those numbers.  I'm sure someone will bring them out eventually.

I just find it interesting that he just bombed on Cenk and the TYT people like that out of nowhere.  I have a feeling he thinks that Current will throw that out there to make him look bad, so it's best to frame it in his own way (that he was told he'd have authority over hiring and then didn't get that authority), but it makes Keith look like an asshole.  Something that really has been known for awhile.

I wrote on twitter soon after he got fired from Current that I didn't feel sorry for him.  The reason being that this has happened too many times.  He has been either fired or left on acrimonious terms from MSNBC, CNN, Fox, ESPN and now Current (and those are just off the top of my head), and every single time it's never his fault.  It's always the incompetent people above him that made it impossible to do his job.

And he'll then go on Letterman and firebomb the places he worked and talk about how sorry everyone was and they were just bumbling fools.  Yet he never really takes any responsibility.  And when he DOES, it's always in a passive-aggressive manner where it's "Well, I'm sorry that I couldn't foresee what a bunch of fucking idiots these fools were.  I'm sorry I wasted everyone's time thinking I could make this work when these people clearly don't know what they are doing", like he did recently on Letterman's show this week.

It's hard to feel bad for someone who refuses to take any responsibility, TRUE responsibility for their actions.   If this was one time MAYBE two times that this had happened, I could say "alright, you know what... dude has a bad run of bad employers."  But this many times?   At a certain point you have to stand back and say that it might be you.

Now do I think that everything Current is saying is true and everything Keith is saying is false?  No.  I do think there were problems there, and we've all heard about the technical glitches that have plagued the Countdown set on Current.

I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle there.  I think that some of what Keith is saying is legitimate and true and some of it is probably a product of his ego and arrogance.   And I think the same thing can be said on the part of Current.   I don't necessarily buy everything they are saying, but I think some of it is probably true.

How much of this is just based on what we know about Keith and our own perceptions based on that history, who knows?   We'll find out eventually as a court will be dealing with this.

I think, though, that the Keith vs. TYT has an aspect to it that I haven't really seen discussed, but came to me earlier.   I think Keith's attitude towards Cenk and The Young Turks don't have as much to do with jealousy of the ratings increase that they got once hitting Current, and beating Keith in certain demos, but more to the attitudes of the old guard vs. the new.

Keith kind of represents this idea of the old school of how many viewed journalism.  Not to say I consider Keith a "journalist" but more of how he views himself and the field of journalism.  I think he is one of those older guard who doesn't respect those who have come up through the internet.   He views Cenk, in my opinion, as someone who has not really earned anything and has not "paid his dues", because he doesn't view the internet as a legitimate ground for journalism or commentary.

It's like how news bloggers are often treated derisively and not treated as being actual journalists.  They're mocked and derided as being "sitting in a basement in their pajamas", when in fact many internet journalists are legitimate.

I think that's how Keith views TYT.  He doesn't respect them, because they didn't go through the same routes that he did, and he perhaps think they've gotten through too easily.   I disagree wholeheartedly with that sentiment, but I honestly think that's where his feelings derive from.

Which I think is sad.   But if we've learned anything from Keith over the years, it is that it's all about Keith, all the time.   And anyone who gets in his way....well...hope you're wearing armor for when you get tossed under a bus and run over a few times.

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