He’s been off the air for nearly a year, and even when he was working, it was for low-rated, left-leaning networks such as MSNBC and Al Gore’s Current TV, from which he was fired.
Now, a published report indicates Olbermann’s inability to get another broadcasting job has been cited in a settlement the former host made with Current TV in connection with his $50 million lawsuit against the network.
While terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, two sources familiar with the negotiations told Politico that during the mediation stage, Olbermann’s legal representatives cited his inability to get a job at another network, which was interpreted as an effort to gain sympathy for the TV host.
“One of the cards his people played was hardship,” the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told journalist Dylan Byers of Politico. “He spent last fall talking to all the major networks, and he couldn’t get a job. The idea was, this could be the last money he ever earned.”
Olbermann’s attorneys reportedly used this as “a bargaining chip” to “appeal to the sympathy” of Current TV executives, but it’s unclear if it impacted the network’s decision to reach a settlement.
During an appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman” after leaving Current, Olbermann told a national audience, “I screwed up. I screwed up really big on this.”
But he then launched a verbal assault on Current TV, likening himself to a valuable chandelier.
“If you buy a $10 million chandelier, you should have a house to put it in. Just walking around with a $10 million chandelier isn’t gonna do anybody a lot of good, and it’s not gonna do any good to the chandelier,” Olbermann said.
Politico also reports that Olbermann sought work at a number of media outlets, including ABC News, while still under contract with Current TV, which has since been sold to Qatar-based Al Jazeera for $500 million.
He also reportedly approached non-news networks, including ESPN and AMC, the network with popular shows such as “The Walking Dead” and “Mad Men.”
“No one would hire him, and that became a negotiating ploy,” a source told Politico.
Olbermann, originally a sportscaster for ESPN, became a primetime face on MSNBC for almost a decade as host of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann.”
After leaving MSNBC in January of 2011, he joined Current, but soon clashed with management at the network co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore.
Olbermann was fired by Current in April 2012, and filed a $50 million lawsuit against the network, claiming he was improperly terminated one year into his five-year contract.
The network claimed Olbermann had made “material breaches of his contract, including the failure to show up at work, sabotaging the network and attacking Current and its executives.”