Keith Olbermann is moving his grievances with his former employer Current TV from the airwaves to the courtroom, suing the network for more than $50 million.
Current TV has fired back at Olbermann by countersuing its former host and asking a judge to rule he is not entitled to any more money from the network.
Current TV’s lawsuit was filed Friday in Los Angeles, a day after Olbermann sued his former employer seeking more than $50 million in damages. The complaint rejects Olbermann’s claims that the network engaged in poor production and states it paid the “Countdown” host the most he received in his career.
The network is seeking unspecified damages.
Olbermann’s breach-of-contract lawsuit filed in Los Angeles seeks a judge’s ruling that he didn’t disparage the network before his firing, and that his former bosses violated his agreement by disclosing how much he was being paid.
Olbermann’s complaint describes technical issues, including shoddy equipment that wouldn’t work if it rained, “terrible sound and filming,” guests who were abruptly dropped, busted teleprompters and an earpiece that repeatedly malfunctioned.
The court cases escalated a war of words between Olbermann and the network. Olbermann’s lawsuit repeatedly attacks Current co-founder Joel Hyatt and network President David Borman, claiming they were responsible for many of the problems with the show.
Current spokesman Christopher Lehane shot back, saying Olbermann was fired for missing work, “sabotaging the network” and disparaging his bosses.
Lehane’s statement said the network looked forward to airing the grievances, which it called false and malicious, in a courtroom.
Olbermann denies missing work without permission and is asking a judge to determine he did not violate the terms of his lucrative agreement.
“Current’s dysfunction permeated all levels of the organization,” the lawsuit states. “After being on the air for nearly eight months ... Current still couldn’t manage to, literally, keep the lights on.”
The talk show host claims he may be owed in excess of $70 million, and that the mismanagement at Current has damaged its value. He has an ownership stake in the network, according to the case.
“Olbermann deeply regrets his decision to put his trust in Hyatt and Gore,” the lawsuit claims. “Current had neither the desire nor the ability to produce a first rate news commentary show. Olbermann did not join Current to ruin his hard-won reputation and appear on a show that was an embarrassment.”
Olbermann was fired March 30 and replaced with a new program hosted by Eliot Spitzer. In a statement, Gore and Hyatt said their relationship with Olbermann no longer reflected respect and other values.
In his lawsuit, Olbermann accused Hyatt of acting erratically in his leadership. He claims Hyatt threated to fire him and his staff days before the show premiered.