Olbermann on MSNBC departure: I had to escape the corporate-owned media

Jeff Poor Media Reporter
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Former MSNBC “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann has been off the cable news airwaves for nearly four months, but he hasn’t been forgotten.

With his new Current TV show set to launch June 20, Olbermann appeared on CBS’s “The Late Show with David Letterman” on Wednesday and filled in some of the blanks about his departure from MSNBC. According to Olbermann, the move had been in the back of his mind for some time.

“Well, you know, at some point in the last years that I’ve been doing the news in the way that I do it, it’s occurred to me that the best place for me to start doing the news, hopefully to continue it that way, would be at a place that’s just in the news business and nothing else, that doesn’t also own an amusement park in Orlando, or doesn’t have outdoor advertising or, you know, beet plantations in the Azores or whatever else. A company that just did news and we could kind of make every decision relying on that. And that had been in the back of my mind for a while.”

Olbermann said former Vice President Al Gore contacted him directly about Current TV, which seemed to fit the template he desired. He reflected on how he left various employment situations over the years, which some have suggested always occurred at times of duress.

“Well, some people have said I did not burn the bridges,” he said. “I have Napalmed them. My argument was I did not burn the bridges, I burned the rivers. But actually, I’ve had nine full-time employers, and I’m appreciative that you brought this up. I’ve had nine full-time employers in my life, and three of them have later hired me back – so as crazy as I might be.”

Olbermann said he took “at least half-responsibility” for those rocky exits, admitting his own difficulties as an employee. As for his most recent departure, he said remaining quiet about was the “easiest way to deal with it.”

“But, you know, if you’re leaving for a better set of circumstances or more money or you want to go work with other people or something, I think these are all legitimate reasons,” he said. “Just that, you know, whether it looks like a big, fun event or a sad event or it looks like an atomic explosion. Which of those three do you prefer? The first two are better than the third and the last one largely seemed like sort of a mystery. I figured the easiest way to deal with it was shut up about it.”