Current TV CEO Joel Hyatt told staffers in a company-wide e-mail Monday that Current would not engage in a public spat with its former primetime host, while taking an indirect shot at the irascible anchor.
In the memo, obtained by TheWrap, Hyatt says Current will respond to Olbermann "in the appropriate forum," a reference to Olbermann’s disparagement of his former bosses on Twitter Friday.
He also cited an old legal aphorism: When the law is on your side, pound on the law. When the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. And when neither is on your side, pound on the table.
“We will be happy to engage on the law and the facts in the appropriate forum. Twitter is not that forum. And we will leave it to others to pound the table,” Hyatt wrote.
After news of his firing broke last Friday, Olbermann took to Twitter to call the network a “failure” and threaten legal action. His attorney, Patricia Glaser, told TheWrap on Friday that Olbermann would allege breach of contract in his lawsuit.
Olbermann's firing ended after less than a year of employment at the network.
Hyatt and co-founder Al Gore published an open letter to viewers on Friday explaining the move, arguing that Olbermann had ceased to reflect the network’s values of “respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers.”
Individuals familiar with the situation also indicated that Current felt Olbermann had breached his contract, missing too many days of work and asking for even more time off, among other misconduct.
This flare-up raised questions about how Olbermann’s departure will affect the network’s stature. Even with Olbermann, the network has drawn a relatively small audience – one far larger than it had early last year, but far smaller than that of any other cable news network.
Olbermann’s arrival at Current was supposed to represent a shift toward more aggressive progressive reporting. If Hyatt’s note is any indication, the company remains dedicated to that direction.
“To be clear: Current was created to be different than other cable networks,” he wrote. “We provide scrappy, authentic, smart, progressive programming with a fresh perspective and a fresh look. That’s why Current’s programs have a younger audience than the other cable news networks.”
Here's the full memo:
From: Joel Hyatt
Sent: Monday, April 02, 2012 8:24 AM
Subject: Good Morning!
In the Open Letter posted on Friday, Al and I explained to Current's
viewers the basis for the network's decision-making.
An old adage says: "When the law is on your side, you argue the law.
When the facts are on your side, you argue the facts. When neither
the law nor the facts are on your side, you pound the table."
We will be happy to engage on the law and the facts in the appropriate
forum. Twitter is not that forum. And we will leave it to others to
pound the table.
Given that our viewers count on Current to provide a fresh perspective
on what is going on in the world, we will remain focused on delivering
authentic, progressive programming to our viewers on a daily basis.
To be clear: Current was created to be different than other cable
networks. Our entire history as a company exalts that difference,
starting with the early thought leadership Current provided to the
media industry on user generated content. We have always been an
innovative counter-force in a media world of consolidation where a
handful of large, powerful corporations dominate programming decisions
and exercise control over content. As such, Current will never
provide the kind of programming and content that one can find at other
networks. Instead, we provide scrappy, authentic, smart, progressive
programming with a fresh perspective and a fresh look. That's why
Current's programs have a younger audience than the other cable news
And the talent that will do best in this environment is talent who
themselves have shown that they are scrappy, entrepreneurial fighters
with the initiative and courage to take on powerful interests on
behalf of those in society who all too often do not have a voice.
Cenk and Jennifer and Stephanie and Bill are just such talents. They
are more at home at Current than at large media conglomerates.
For this reason, I want to say how thrilled we are to have former
Governor Eliot Spitzer joining Current as the regular host of
"Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer." He is someone whose entire
professional career was dedicated to fighting powerful interests -
from organized crime to Wall Street. Al and I are confident that
Eliot's authentic voice on the important issues this election year
will be of great value to Current's viewers.
I look forward to seeing all of you at upcoming all-hands staff meetings.