Epic Ego Fail: Analyzing The Olbermann Suit, Part I

Everyone’s favorite lefty TV spokesboor Keith Olbermann filed his lawsuit against Al Gore’s Current TV on April 5, 2012.  That date will henceforth be known among conservatives as “National Schadenfreude Day.”

The 43-page Superior Court complaint was filed in my own stomping grounds, the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Central Courthouse. It’s a delightful illustration of everything conservatives hate about government:  The bloat, the inefficiency, the hordes of lawyers…

And Keith won’t be the only celebrity around!  Hollywood’s royalty frequently works out its issues in the interminable halls of Central. My personal highlight:  Seeing a guy who I’m pretty sure was Antonio Faragas yelling at someone over his cell phone outside the Hill Street entrance. 

Huggy Bear is in the house! Pssst, Starsky! Word on the street is that that jive turkey Keith Olbermann will be making his move!

Keith did okay lawyering up – Patricia Glaser is about as hardcore a litigator as you can get in LA. There are seven names on her law firm’s sign, and she’s numero uno. I’m sure Keith is going to get uppity with her at some point – celebrity clients often do that, because if you get on TV it must be cuz you’re a freaking genius and know how to litigate a lawsuit better than someone Fortune 500 companies pay a grand a hour to retain. 

And I’m sure that when Keith does what Keith does, Glaser is going to knock him on his smug little MSNBC-hole.

I note that there are actually two plaintiffs – Keith Olbermann himself and what I believe must be his company. Get this:  It’s called “Olbermann Broadcasting Empire, Inc.”

Yeah, the guy who hops from gig to gig like Charlie Sheen hops dead-eyed blonde to dead-eyed blonde actually went there. 

The complaint in Olbermann Broadcasting Empire, Inc. v. Current TV  itself is pretty typical in form, but it’s the substance that’s awesome. He claims breach of contract and that Current TV breached its duty of “good faith and fair dealing,” and seeks a bunch of declarations that Current TV did all sorts of nasty things, including disparaging him. 

It is unclear whether Current can assert truth as a defense.

The complaint reads more like a press release than a lawsuit, and since there is a four year statute of limitations the fact he filed within a week makes it clear that this lawsuit is as much about the court of public opinion as the court of law. 

It is unclear, though, how much of the public has any opinion of this glorified public access screamer at all, much less a good opinion.

The introduction is priceless:

After being enticed to leave MSNBC and come to Current with promises of editorial control, freedom from corporate influence, and the professional support to produce a high caliber political commentary show of the type his viewers (sic) have come to expect, Keith Olbermann was disheartened to discover Al Gore, Joel Hyatt, and the management of Current are no more than dilettantes portraying entertainment industry executives. (Paragraph 1)


So, let me get this straight:  Keith is dissing Al as a goof, which makes Keith what kind of doof for being suckered by him? I would pay money to watch the depositions, but of course this will settle for some confidential sum before the magic can really happen.

But at least we have the complaint!  Apparently, Current TV was more like Current High School, with Keith the Jock high-hatting Joel the Nerd:

Hyatt also attempted to isolate Olbermann from his professional representatives in an awkward attempt to form a close personal friendship with his new star. When Olbermann did not reciprocate Hyatt’s advances, Hyatt reacted by withholding necessary production resources, disparaging Olbermann in the press, denying him his contractually guaranteed editorial control over Current’s election coverage and the Program Website, failing to obtain Olbermann’s approval over the use of Olbermann’s image and the guest hosts of the program, cutting out Olbermann of internal discussions regarding other programs on Current, and directing Current’s attorneys to harass Olbermann with vague and spurious claims of breach.  (Paragraph 2)

I love how Keith refers to himself as a “star.” And I’m just a bit surprised that he didn’t include an allegation that Hyatt was writing means things about him in his slam book.

Note that all this gold is contained in just the first two paragraphs.  The complaint has 137 paragraphs.

By Paragraph 4, Keith is complaining about the high-tech wonderland that is Current TV, complete with ”disruptions of the Program’s news feed (if it rained).”  All hail the Emperor!

And from the Department of Ironic Tribulations comes his problem with “frozen text on teleprompters forcing Olbermann to ad lib for significant periods during live broadcasts.” 

Of course, “editorially Countdown was better than it had ever been.”  That’s Keith – the quiet professional who keeps churning out the quality while the world falls apart around him and dudes try to be his friend.

We’re still only on Paragraph 4.  Of 137.  And page 3.  Of 43.

And we have not even gotten to the discovery phase yet. 

Pass the popcorn.


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