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|MSNBC President Threatened to Fire Keith Olbermann; Network News Icons Upset with Anchor’s Behavior|
Doug Thompson - Capitol Hill Blue
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November 17, 2010
MSNBC President Phil Griffin threatened to fire bombastic host Keith Olbermann during his suspension over donations to political candidates.
|Toublemaking anchor Keith Olbermann|
Media writer Howard Kurtz reports in The Daily Beast that Griffin told Olbermann’s manager that he would fire the problem child “news” show host if Olbermann went public on rival networks with comments about his suspension.
Meanwhile, NBC news insiders tell Capitol Hill Blue that NBC news icon Tom Brokaw and other prominent news personalities have warned GriffIn that Olbermann’s blatant partisanship is damaging the network’s reputation as a new organization.
Brokaw reportedly has told Griffen that MSNBC would “be better off” without Olbermann.
The insiders, who asked not to be identified, say the moody Olbermann’s monumental ego is “out of control” and that he is daring the brass to fire him.
|Keith Olbermann was having dinner with his manager at an Upper East Side restaurant, chewing over their battle to lift his suspension at MSNBC, when Phil Griffin called.|
Michael Price stepped out of the Atlantic Grill to talk to MSNBC’s president, leaving his client with a platter of 18 oysters. It was Sunday, Nov. 7, and Price informed Griffin that if they couldn’t resolve their differences quickly, Olbermann would take his complaints public by accepting invitations from Good Morning America, David Letterman, and Larry King.
“Why are you putting us in the position where you’re daring us to do this?” Price demanded, his voice rising.
“If you go on GMA, I will fire Keith,” Griffin shot back. Such a move was clearly grounds for dismissal.
Griffin suspended Olbermann after the web site Politico revealed the host of “Countdown” has donated to three candidates in the mid-term elections without clearing those contributions with network brass — a violation of MSNBC rules.
Olbermann admits making the donations but claims nothing in his contract with the network prohibited such donations or required advance approval. Olbermann points to former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” news/talk show, as a network personality who has made contributions without punishment. The Scarborough donations, however, were made by his wife.
Network insiders say Olbermann is a “bully” and a “tyrant,” who often refuses to talk directly with his own staff and orders them to leave notes on his office door. The insiders say Olbermann has refused to meet or talk with Price since his return from his three-day suspension.
Griffin demanded a written apology from Olbermann in exchange for lifting the suspension.
It never came but network sources say the relationship between the two have “reached a point of no return” and say Olbermann is not “a man without a country.”
“Olbermann is living on borrowed time,” says a longtime network staffer. “It’s no longer a question of if he will be gone. It’s just a matter of when.”
Olbermann is in the middle of a four-year contract worth $30 million.