Let Olbermann be Olbermann (ks)
It looks like ESPN is trying to silence Keith Olbermann by asking him to stop doing commentary on his daily show.
According to The Hollywood Reporter:
ESPN and Keith Olbermann may be headed toward a tough negotiation to keep the outspoken host on the sports network. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that ESPN has floated a highly problematic condition for an extension of Olbermann’s initial two-year deal: that he cease engaging in “commentary” on his ESPN2 program.
This conflict likely stems from Olbermann’s coverage of the Ray Rice domestic-abuse scandal. The controversy began last summer after a video surfaced of the Baltimore Ravens star running back punching then-fiancee Janay Palmer in the face. The NFL responded with a slap-on-the-wrist, suspending Rice for two games. During this period, Olbermann repeatedly hammered NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. In a lengthy commentary at the top of his Aug. 1 broadcast, Olbermann called on the commissioner to “resign”, describing the suspension as a “weak, damaging and almost enabling reaction”.
Olbermann’s on-air commentaries – unlike his tweets – are vetted by ESPN producers. This past February, Olbermann’s twitter account got him into trouble after he wrote some disparaging remarks about Penn State fans. There’s also been some frustration with his initial 11 p.m. time slot on ESPN2. Because it was preceded by live sports, his show was frequently shifted to the wee hours. At one point, Olbermann was pre-empted for several nights for women’s softball. Last September, ESPN permanently shifted Olbermann to 5 p.m.
Sources say that ESPN’s management initially signaled their discomfort with Olbermann’s commentaries last May, when ESPN president John Skipper abruptly told the New York Times that he had decided not to renew Simmons’ deal (Simmons learned of Skipper’s decision when the Times tweeted its scoop on May 8). ESPN had no immediate comment.
Olbermann’s commentaries are a rare dash of honesty from a network that has increasingly become the sports version of Fox News. ESPN has the most expensive deal in media with the NFL and their overhead costs are starting to drive down Disney’s profits. As a result, Small markets in professional sports are invisible and moral criticism of leagues like the NFL is rarely spoken on the air. If ESPN didn’t want commentary, why did they bring back Keith Olbermann? Cutting the commentary out of Keith Olbermann’s show would virtually kill it.
ESPN is caving to the NFL by trying to silence Keith Olbermann. If they are successful, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network is in danger of becoming stagnant.