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Top 10 Most Memorable Media Breakups

By Betsy Rothstein, Peter Ogburn, Eddie Scarry and Piranhamous

Relationships are funny. They can last nights, years, or a lifetime. That can mean an eternity of laughs and love and mutual respect. It can also mean that you get stuck in a rut where it just drags on and on and you can’t stand the way the other person fake laughs at your jokes or crunches their cereal in the morning or never actually FOLDS the laundry, they just throw it on the floor. But, breakups happen. Sometimes, it’s no one’s fault — just simple, obvious incompatibility. Other times, it’s personal. Two people united in a vile hatred for each other. Heated blowups, spitting in food, infidelity, rage-filled silence and threats of lawsuits are all common symptoms of a relationship gone south. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, today we bring you the Top 10 Most Memorable Media Breakups of recent times. Enjoy!

10. Keith Olbermann and MSNBC  — Calling Keith Olbermann a “big fish in a small pond” overstates the ratings at MSNBC. He was more like a goldfish in a cereal bowl. But still, he was MSNBC’s biggest fish. So when they split last year, it came as a shock to his fan(s). It was an abusive relationship, for sure. Tales of Olbermann’s temper tantrums are the stuff of legend. The world in which his ego lives is one in where he his popular and influential, the world in which his body lives is the real world. When Olbermann abruptly announced on January 21, 2011, that that night’s Countdown was his last, his fan(s) cried, and throngs of Americans he painted as enemies, laughed. Both knew he would be back, his ego wouldn’t allow him to keep his opinions to his favorite and most loyal audience – himself. He returned to basic cable last fall, on something called Current TV. With production values just this side of public access and an audience almost as small, Keith quickly returned to his abusive habits. After some couple’s therapy, things seem to be going more smoothly. Not audience wise, no one watches Current TV, but at least Keith isn’t abusing the staff anymore.  Winner: MSNBC. They unloaded an angry man for whom no one enjoyed working. Loser: Olbermann. He’s now in the basement (both in ratings and, from the looks of it, his set). His contract with Current TV is technically larger, but based on company stock which, if the black hole that is his ratings don’t improve, is less valuable than a plastic bag filled with chewed gum. — Piranhamous

9. Pat Buchanan and MSNBC — As the closest thing to a Republican as MSNBC will allow on its air, you’d think Pat Buchanan would’ve had some job security simply based on the network’s desire to hold on to the last thread of a plausible claim of credibility and objectivity. If you thought that you’d be wrong. Buchanan, a former Republican and Reform Party candidate for President, was suspended for having opinions that strayed from the progressive orthodoxy MSNBC has sacrificed its objectivity for. Color of Change, the race-based thought police group, with the help of other left-wing groups, paid for an Astroturf campaign against Buchanan, to which MSNBC brass was only too willing to cave. Buchanan has a long history of saying stupid things, but had comfortably settled into the role of “right-wing” dancing monkey for MSNBC’s left-wing organ grinders. When the pennies stopped flowing he was cast aside for a newer, incredibly stupid model – Meghan McCain. While Pat is smart, McCain is not. Pat would probably call it  “affirmative action,” but it’s really, like our credit rating, a downgrading. Pat could make points and use facts that would stump and contradict MSNBC hosts, Meghan confuses the words “modicum” and “emoticon.” Winner: No one. They’re like the couple that should’ve broken up years ago, but stayed together for the kids. The kids are grown now, though they still live at home, so this break-up was a long time coming. Buchanan is ready to retire, and he’d actually have a larger audience if he retired to The Villages and just gave speeches in the rec room. MSNBC now has a pure line-up of progressive mouthpieces, so their audience won’t be threatened by being exposed to opposing viewpoints. It’s win-win. Well, technically it’s lose-lose, but who’s counting? — Piranhamous

8. Eliot Spitzer and Kathleen Parker–  Almost immediately after ex-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and WaPo‘s Kathleen Parker were teamed up for a primetime show on CNN, there were rumors that things just were cooling between the two. The show, titled “Parker Spitzer,” started in October 2010. Ratings were terrible, usually putting the show in last place in the cable news race. Then,  just four months after its debut, Parker announced she was leaving. A report in the New York Post said that Parker often felt upstaged by Spitzer who was more adversarial in his questioning of guests. The report said Parker “stormed off the set” during one taping of the program in November. But who ever thought Parker and Spitzer, who once had a thing for prostitutes, would make good bedfellows? After Parker scrammed for good, Spitzer was back the following week flying solo with a new program, “In the Arena.” That show itself was canceled nine months later. — Eddie Scarry

7. Politico and EVERYONE – Few media outlets have broken more hearts than the behemoth that is Politico. Last year alone, we saw them lay waste to several high profile reporters. Amie Parnes left her perch as FLOTUS-ass-kisser-in-Chief to cover the White House for The Hill. Chris Frates left Politico last year and jumped to NJ. This was particularly heartbreaking, since Frates had been with Politico since the beginning. Soon enough Politico threatened with threats of a lawsuit after Frates allegedly used a reader list for his new job — a charge NJ has always denied. Nonetheless, he pulled names to appease the situation. Kendra Marr resigned after she was busted plagiarizing the work of NYT writer Susan Stellin. We could go on and on and on with all the reporters that left Politico last year, but the most notable was Ben Smith, who left to become Editor-in-Chief at BuzzFeed. Sure, he’s still associated with Politico, but let’s not kid ourselves. They’re friends with benefits at best. — Peter Ogburn

6. David Shuster and MSNBC – This one goes back to 2010. MSNBC just didn’t know WHAT to do with David Shuster. He was their utility man, filling in for Keith Olbermann and various MSNBC shows. He had his own show with Tamron Hall, but no one could decide on which time slot to put him in. All of the back and forth and non-committal behavior from MSNBC prompted Shuster to explore his options. He filmed a pilot with CNN, which is a HUGE no-no. When MSNBC boss Phil Griffin heard of the news, Shuster was “suspended indefinitely” and later, sent packing. Shuster has landed on his feet after the ordeal. Or maybe he’s just landed. He is at Current TV as the primary substitute host for Olbermann and he hosts a weekend radio show on 1480AM. He also has plans to launch an investigative journalism website. Shuster gushed about MSNBC. Think warm fuzzies. “The breakup with MSNBC was amicable,” he told FishbowlDC. “We parted on mutually respectful terms… and I continue to have many close friends there.  Furthermore, leaving MSNBC opened up some amazing doors for me — a rewarding internet venture, weekly radio gigs that are as much fun as one can have in broadcasting, and the opportunity on Current TV to deliver the kind of analysis/commentary that I’ve always desired.  So, I have no regrets and wish the best to everybody at MSNBC.” — Peter Ogburn

See the five remaining breakups…

5. Lois Romano and The Daily Beast– Longtime Washington journalist Lois Romano’s career has seen two break ups in less than a year. In April 2011 Romano left WaPo after a 29-year stint at the publication. She went to work at The Daily Beast for a much shorter period: Her time there lasted just 10 months. (What happened? Maybe Howard Kurtz using a line from her notes about Nancy Pelosi slamming the administration that turned out to be wrong did something to squelch her experience, or maybe it was Tina Brown‘s penchant for intense work conditions and failure). Next, Romano hopped from the beast to the monster. It was announced last week that she would be joining Politico as a senior political reporter. John Harris absolutely glowed about her in an internal memo — maybe now she can get the love she deserves. — Eddie Scarry

4. Ed Henry and CNN — Few in Washington saw this split coming. Even many inside CNN didn’t know what was happening. By Spring of last year, brass informed Henry they would not be renewing his contract. FOH’s (Friends of Henry) claimed he was absolutely not let go. But higher-up sources at CNN told a different story. At that point national reporter Jessica Yellin was already being groomed to replace him at the White House. So Henry did what any self-respecting TV journo would do — he ingratiated himself with his new man crush Bret Baier, openly flirted with him on Twitter any chance he got, ass kissed his way onto a new network and got himself a job at Fox News.  Poor Ali Velshi — Henry’s former bromance at CNN. Tossed out into the cold, arctic air. They see each other from time to time, but it’ll never be the same. — Betsy Rothstein

3. Jack Shafer and Slate — Last summer Jack Shafer, a longtime, nationally respected Washington journalist got a shocker when his company laid him off. “I love Slate the way all of us love the person we loved who dumped us,” Shafer told us this afternoon. “With reservations.” Probably more shaken though were journalists around town who couldn’t help but feel the sting of the notion that if it could happen to him it could happen to them. Easily. Theirs was a sudden breakup — the kind where you have no idea something is wrong until the clothes are on the lawn and on fire. Reports soon surfaced that Shafer was so senior that he was too costly, which is why many believe the Washington Post Company decided to give him the ax. Editor David Plotz publicly called the layoff “painful.” But soon enough Shafer was swept off his feet by a new love — Reuters. So far, so good. He seems to be getting his groove back, not that it was every really gone. “Everybody in our business has to see this coming,” he told WaPo‘s Erik Wemple at the time, noting that journalists should be “looking both ways when they cross the street.” — Betsy Rothstein

2. Roland Martin and CNN – While not a total breakup, theses two are certainly on the rocks. Martin, longtime CNN contributor got into some hot water over his tweets. Some people  considered his comments about David Beckham’s underwear commercial during the Super Bowl to be anti-gay and condoning violence. So CNN smacked the ish out of him and put him on ice for awhile if not permanently. Time will tell if Roland can ooze himself back into their good graces. — Peter Ogburn

1. And now for a real breakup. But we’re going to be careful about it. Two broadcast journos are currently living apart. Like many people, both have had complexities in their personal lives leading up to their own, now troubled union. Will they divorce? Only time will tell. For now, he has been spotted repeatedly staying at an apartment building with another woman rumored to work at the same network. Unfortunately for him, his new neighbors aren’t too thrilled about it.

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