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Keith Olbermann sues Current TV for $50 million

Keith Olbermann hosted a commentary show on Current TV.
Keith Olbermann hosted a commentary show on Current TV.
Current TV

Keith Olbermann says Current TV owes him between $50 and $70 million in a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed in Los Angeles on Thursday. In addition, the cable news anchor, who was fired last week and replaced by a disgraced former governor, claims that Current also violated an agreement by disclosing how much he was being paid.

"Current's dysfunction permeated all levels of the organization," the lawsuit states, according to the Associated Press. "After being on the air for nearly eight months -- long after all `growing pains' should have ceased -- Current still couldn't manage to, literally, keep the lights on." 

Earlier this week Olbermann, who had turbulent exits from MSNBC, ESPN, and Fox, told David Leterman that although he had retained the lawyer that successfully represented Conan O'Brien in his suit against NBC, that he takes some responsibility in his failure at Current. "It's my fault that it didn't succeed, in the sense that I didn't think the whole thing through," he confided to Letterman.

But then Olbermann likened himself to the most expensive dining room furniture appliance any late-night viewers had ever conceived. 

"I [unfortunately] didn't say [to Current], 'You know, 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 going to do anybody a lot of good," Olbermann posed.

"You're the chandelier?" Letterman asked, confused.

The AP reports that the complaint includes a laundry list of technical issues, including shoddy equipment,  "terrible sound and filming" of the show, guests who - via satelite- were abruptly dropped from the air, and faulty teleprompters.

Current spokesman Chris Lehane, in a statement released Thursday, said that the Olbermann suit was baseless. Indeed, Lehane claimed the host sabotaged the network, in part, for not coming to work over a period of time. 

"Current terminated Keith Olbermann last Thursday for serial, material breaches of his contract, including the failure to show up at work, sabotaging the network and attacking Current and its executives," the statement read.

In Olbermann's interview with Letterman Monday, Olbermann said that during a disputed period where he was forced to stay home by doctors who instructed him not to talk for five days, let alone host his "Countdown" show on Current. The doctors said his throat was ill.

Lehane's response seemed to ignore that excuse.

"We hope Mr. Olbermann understands that when it comes to the legal process, he is actually required to show up."

The $70 million figure was derived partially because Olbermann, who has an ownership stake in the Al Gore-founded network, claims the network's bungling has damaged the newsman's value. 

While Olbermann cannot be seen, currently on television, he is tweeting away via Twitter, engaging all comers about baseball, politics, and yes, this very lawsuit. Of his former bosses, the opinionated anchor tweeted Thursday, "I have the highest respect for ESPN, CNN, NBC, etc. Not for the other 2."