Olbermann's $70M Lawsuit Accuses Current TV of 'Blackmail'

Current calls suit 'false, malicious'

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 6, 2012 12:57 AM CDT | Updated Apr 6, 2012 5:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Keith Olbermann has filed a $70 million lawsuit against Current TV accusing his former employer of "blackmail," and blasting co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt as "dilettantes." The angry 43-page complaint claims that Gore and Hyatt wooed him with promises that he would be his own boss. But then Hyatt began running Olbermann's program as his "personal hobbyhorse," and "major business errors became commonplace and acceptable," according to the suit. Two weeks before Countdown began, says the suit, Hyatt threatened to shut it down unless Olbermann reined in his representatives after Hyatt accused Olbermann's manager of leaking contract details to the Hollywood Reporter—triggering claims in the lawsuit that the threat amounted to "blackmail."

Olbermann "deeply regrets his decision to put his trust in Hyatt and Gore," the suit states. The suit also says Current TV scheduled program guest hosts without Olbermann's approval, and released inaccurate data understating the program's ratings, reports the Los Angeles Times. A Current TV statement calls the suit "false and malicious." Current TV fired Olbermann 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 added. "We hope Mr. Olbermann understands that when it comes to the legal process, he is actually required to show up."

Keith Olbermann visits 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' at Rockefeller Center last year.
Keith Olbermann visits 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon' at Rockefeller Center last year.   (Getty Images)
Keith Olbermann poses at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
Keith Olbermann poses at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
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