Since news broke that Keith Olbermann would have to consider allowing former Newsweek writer Richard Wolffe back on "Countdown" due to his perceived conflict-of-interest as a member of Dan Bartlett's PR firm Public Strategies, one open question remains: Why are Olbermann and MSNBC hedging now? Wolffe's position at Public Strategies was never a secret. The company sent out a press release on March 30 announcing his arrival. Wolffe includes his title in his bio for his Daily Beast column, and his Wikipedia page reads: "Richard L. Wolffe (born 17 September 1968) is a journalist, a corporate lobbyist, a political analyst on MSNBC, and author of the Barack Obama book Renegade: The Making of a President (Crown, June 2009)." (Technically Wolffe isn't a registered lobbyist, but he represents corporate clients.) Kris Dahl, Wolffe's agent at ICM, said that her client made his corporate ties clear to MSNBC and there was no problem up until now. "I'm perplexed by it," she said of the current flap. "He's never hidden his position."
On Saturday, Salon's Glenn Greenwald wrote a scathing post that linked Wolffe's appearance on "Countdown" to claims of corporate interfence by Rupert Murdoch and Jeff Immelt in an alleged deal to arrange a Fox-MSNBC detente. Olbermann claimed not to know about Wolffe's corporate ties. In his Daily Kos statement on Monday, Olbermann wrote: "I must confess I was caught flat-footed" and "not [to] know what the truth is."
Jeremy Gaines, a spokesperson for MSNBC, declined to comment about when the network first learned of Wolffe's corporate PR job and why it didn't address the issue back in April when he left journalism to work for Bartlett. Gaines also declined to comment when asked why Olbermann said he was caught off guard when Wolffe's appointment at Public Strategies was made public in a press release. Wolffe is traveling on a European vacation and declined to comment.--Gabriel Sherman