Keith Olbermann, famed observer of reckless drivers and occasional Gawker emailer, is reportedly testing the waters at ESPN, the station he left in 1997 in a typically bridge-burning/napalming fashion. Several times over the last year, the former Current and MSNBC host reached out to ESPN president John Skipper with friendly "Gee, I would love to have dinner" emails, and finally, some time a few months ago, the two dined together at New York's Four Seasons restaurant:
"Keith Olbermann, both personally and through a couple people I know, reached out to say, ‘Gee, I would love to have dinner,' " Skipper said. "I agreed to dinner with Keith because I assumed he'd be provocative and witty and fun to have dinner with, and he was indeed lots of fun. We talked sports and politics, and we had a nice chat. He is very interesting.
"Clearly he was looking to see if there was an entry point to come back."
Olbermann confirmed the meeting, though he refused to go into specifics. "I had the privilege to spend some time with John Skipper," he told the New York Times. "His vision and charm were readily apparent, and judging by his leadership, his family name was prophetic."
Sounds like a nice dinner! An ESPN executive and someone close to Olbermann confirmed to the Times that Olbermann's reps have been inquiring about a job at the network for some time now. However, despite the campaigning by Olbermann's reps and the lovely-sounding, compliment-inspiring dinner, no job offer is imminent.
"After the dinner, at that point, there was no real appropriate place for Keith to come back, nor did I feel like I was prepared to bring him back," Skipper said.
"We don't have a policy that says we won't bring somebody back. We're running a great business, and when we think we can get quality content, there's no such thing as a condemned list. That said, this is not an easy place to get back into. There are not that many successful examples of people who have come back, in part because it's like water filling a vacuum. When somebody leaves, somebody else fills their place."