"Current was [sic] founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it," network founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt said in a statement to viewers late Friday afternoon.
Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer will debut on Current on Friday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT in place of Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Spitzer previously hosted a CNN primetime show, first called Parker Spitzer and later In the Arena, from October 2010 to July 2011.
"Eliot is a veteran public servant and an astute observer of the issues of the day," the statement continued. "He has important opinions and insights and he relishes the kind of constructive discourse that our viewers will appreciate this election year. We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Governor Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis."
Olbermann joined Current TV in February 2011 as an anchor and chief news officer after being ousted from MSNBC the prior month. Countdownpremiered on the network in June to modest ratings that have since dropped off.
In January, reports claimed Olbermann was clashing with Current's management, which boiled over during the wake of the network's Iowa Caucus coverage, which Olbermann declined to be a part of apparently because of technical issues on his program.
Following news of his firing on Friday, Olbermann said he would pursue legal action against the network for terminating his contract and apologized to his viewers and staff for what he called "the failure of Current TV."
"[F]or more than a
year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues
internally, while I've been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping
the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal
staff," he said in a statement posted on Twitter. "Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their
promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program,
finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract."
"In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will
come out," the statement continued. "For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that
joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but
in retrospect a foolish one."
Olbermann was Current's most high-profile hire in its effort to position itself as a leading progressive cable news channel. In recent months it has which has added primetime shows with Cenk Uygar and Jennifer Granholm and debuted morning programs from Bill Press and Stephanie Miller last Monday