ESPN is expected to welcome home liberal firebrand Keith Olbermann, the former MSNBC and Current TV talk-show host known for his outspoken, left-wing commentary and never-ending skewering of conservatives, The New York Times reported.
But the controversial Mr. Olbermann will be on a tight leash on his new one-hour show on ESPN2. His contract with ESPN parent company Walt Disney explicitly prohibits him from discussing politics, according to The New York Times. He will, however, be allowed to discuss pop culture and current events.
ESPN is expected to announce the deal Wednesday.
Before he entered cable news, Mr. Olbermann was best known for his tenure at ESPN as co-host of the wildly popular “SportsCenter” show.
He left ESPN in 1997 and then landed a gig with MSNBC, hosting “Countdown” from 2003 to 2011.
After leaving MSNBC, he hosted a similar program on Al Gore’s Current TV for a year before also departing that network under messy circumstances in 2012.
Inside ESPN, there was trepidation about bringing Mr. Olbermann back. Some feared that he had become too polarizing a figure after his decade as a leading liberal commentator, The New York Times said.
But few can dispute Mr. Olbermann’s knowledge of sports and broadcasting talent. Since leaving ESPN, he also had a brief stint as part of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” team, where he frequently took political jabs during halftime highlight segments.