Keith Olbermann is denying a report from CityFile that he threw a hissyfit last month and called in sick for three days because Rachel Maddow booked Ben Affleck, and Olbermann wanted him all to himself.
Olbermann—who has acknowledged a short fuse and an ego that fires "on all cylinders"—missed three days of work without explanation in late April. According to CityFile, the reason was that his protege Maddow nabbed Affleck and refused to hand him over:
According to a source at the network, Olbermann was livid when he learned that Rachel Maddow had booked Ben Affleck as a guest on her show. Olbermann, it turns out, had been interested in having Affleck on his show, too, and when he heard that Maddow's producers had secured the actor instead, he demanded that the interview be switched from Maddow's nine o'clock broadcast to his own an hour earlier.... Olbermann took the matter to senior management at MSNBC and NBC Universal and asked that they step in and "correct" the situation. That didn't happen, though, and Affleck went on Maddow's show as scheduled on Thursday, April 16. And Olbermann's three-day protest commenced the next day.
After Wonkette linked to CityFile's account, MSNBC spokeswoman Alana Russo sent the site a denial from Olbermann, who explained the absence by saying "that was my first opportunity to take even a long weekend to mourn my mother's death and deal with the many sad logistics subsequent to her sudden passing. The source of this story is a liar and those who spread it without seeking confirmation or refutation are beneath contempt." Olbermann's mother died on Saturday, April 4. He worked the following week, and most of the week after that.
While it seems odd for Olbermann to invoke his mother's death to explain an absence from work when he had shown up for nearly two weeks immediately after her passing, we don't dispute that the man was entitled to time off whenever it suited it him.
But one thing doesn't jibe: As CityFile pointed out, in April Olbermann's fill-in host David Shuster posted a message to Twitter, apparently in response to a curious fan, explaining that the absence was "nothing serious, but, it's flu/allergy season." So, which is it?
We asked Russo for an explanation, but she had no comment for the record.