Spin Cycle

04.05.12

Keith Olbermann’s Rage During Current TV Gig

The former Current TV host once got so mad he threw—and shattered—a glass mug. By Howard Kurtz.

As the legal battle between Keith Olbermann and Current TV heads toward the courtroom, both sides seem intent on painting an unflattering picture of the other.

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Keith Olbermann gives a half-hearted mea culpa on Letterman.

The channel founded by Al Gore fired Olbermann for breach of contract last week, and the $10 million–a–year host has been making the case, most recently as a guest with David Letterman, that Current was a rinky-dink operation with lousy production values.

But the view of Current executives is that Olbermann was a hard-to-control hothead. And that view is reflected in an email obtained by The Daily Beast.

On his Countdown program in November, Olbermann faced delays in interviewing an out-of-town guest, and then lost his temper when staff members failed to extend the satellite time to complete the discussion. A Current employee recounted for management what had happened, saying that Olbermann got "a little emotional" and attaching an email from someone who worked in the studio. A source close to Olbermann called the characterization of the incident "a gross overstatement."

“As I know you are aware,” the staffer wrote, “Keith created a potentially dangerous situation last night when he threw with full force a glass mug at the set hitting a solid part of it that caused the mug to shatter. I know this was caused by the satellite time ending before the interview was over but had the broken glass hit someone in the studio, this could have caused injury and potentially having to bring in EMTs to help the injured person. In addition, the spill left from the fluid (I assume water) could have caused someone to slip, which is also a dangerous condition.

“I don’t know if Keith has been spoken to about such acts and I certainly understand how difficult such a conversation can be with him. However, throwing things in the studio is not acceptable as it creates a potentially dangerous situation for anyone in the studio at that time.

“Please let me know if this has been addressed with him,” the email concluded.

Olbermann said on Letterman’s show that he didn’t like seeing the “dirty laundry” being aired in public. But once the litigation is launched, more laundry is likely to emerge on both sides.