Goal of Al Gore's Current TV? 'Compete with MSNBC from the Left'
The left-leaning, JournoList-friendly Politico Website is certainly well-tuned to deliver plenty of news when it comes to Keith Olbermann's sandbox fight with Al Gore and Joel Hyatt's Current TV cable channel. But there are a couple of moments in their latest update that are unintentionally hysterically funny for anyone who doesn't view Gore as "The Goracle" and Olbermann as the one-man savior of cable TV news:
When Al Gore and Joel Hyatt snapped up Keith Olbermann last year following his spectacular exit from MSNBC, they knew what they were getting: a ferociously talented, famously difficult broadcaster with a track record of taking networks to the next level.
But as their relationship with him disintegrated rather publicly over the last six months – to the surprise of absolutely no one in the television business — it became clear that they were getting all of the drawbacks and none of the benefits.
Olberman’s equity stake in Current and high-falutin title of “chief news officer” came with hopes that he would apply the same Midas touch for talent that turned Rachel Maddow into a household name at MSNBC. But, as the path that led to this past week’s decision to simulcast Bill Press’s radio show showed, the only part of Current programming that Olbermann shaped were the minutes between 8 and 9 p.m.
Instead, the one making the imprint was Current president David Bohrman, the veteran producer who brought the magic wall to CNN and the Imus show to MSNBC. The tense relationship between Olbermann and Bohrman was at the heart of the battle between the channel’s top brass and its biggest star over how to create a 24-hour news channel to compete with MSNBC from the left.
What, they couldn't simply hook-up a feed to 3CP1 and call it a day?
Ideology is the only reason why someone would want to compete with MSNBC from the left; from a financial and ratings point of view, it's a disaster. As we noted at the start of 2010, Olbermann was constantly getting crushed in the ratings by Bill O'Reilly:
Back then, the American Thinker's Stuart Schwartz accurately forecasted the trouble to come for Olbermann, in a brutal piece that, had Olbermann's future employers at Current ever read it, might have given even them second thoughts:
By the end of 2009, media observers were noting the “abysmal” state of Olbermann’s ratings. And now the thirty-day moving average of ratings shows him steadily sinking as Bill O’Reilly leads the charge of FOX News to the top. The FOX blowout of Keith and friends during the State of the Union this past week prompted National Review to ask, “[A]t what point does MSDNC pull the plug on its all-Left format?”
And so the fat lady is not just singing for Olbermann and MS-NBC: Rather, she is belting out an aria that rushes Katrina-like past the designer finery of Old Media grandees in the audience of Manhattan’s Metropolitan Opera, rattles the Swarovski crystal chandeliers above their heads, hurtles across Central Park, and pierces the floor-to-ceiling windows of Olbermann’s $4.2-million 40th-floor Trump Palace roost.
It is from here that Olbermann leads the progressive media battle on behalf of America’s downtrodden, joined by neighboring New York Times staffers and mainstream media executives, fighting their self-described war on privilege from foxholes developed by Donald Trump. The various Trump Towers dotting upper Manhattan are, collectively, a progressive Pentagon, headquarters for the media war on Middle America…with Olbermann among the most polished of its brass.
…That is, until America began paying attention. The result: The audience of Countdown has sunk to roughly 20% of FOX News-viewers led by Bill O’Reilly. And now the fat lady is howling her delight as she joins a decades-long string of females in Keith’s life — beginning with his mother, who thought her son needed psychological help — whose fist-bumps will come when he has exited their lives.
Olbermann does not like women, especially attractive and/or accomplished women. Nor is he particularly fond of men. He is forever the awkward, angry teenager of his high school days who mystified psychologists, the überdork whose cruel taunts of the athletes he covered as a sports broadcaster were legendary, even as he yearned to be thought of as the stud that covers studs. Give it up, a Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist suggested after watching Olbermann ridicule the appearance of an overweight athlete. He noted that the hefty lefty is “so bloated he looks as if he swallowed Dan Patrick [his ESPN co-anchor] back in 1997.”
And so the venom drips, and the ratings sink. Olbermann is cruel to all who, as a class, have rejected him, such as joyful people and women…or people of faith and women…or people with traditional marriages and women…and those with well-adjusted relationships and women. Did I mention women?
Women are anathema to Olbermann. He delights in demeaning them, and the more attractive or accomplished they are, the more malicious he gets. Conservative Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, who relishes her role as policymaker and mother, is a frequent object of his anger; columnist Michelle Malkin is a “big mashed up bag of meat with lipstick” because of her intelligence and traditional values; Sarah Palin is a moronic “Bush in a skirt”; and there’s nothing wrong with Hillary Clinton — who had the nerve to oppose Barack Obama in the Democrat primaries — that a good beating won’t cure.
We'll get back to the "progressive" talker's misogyny in a few moments, along with his misanthropy as well. But first, as Howard Kurtz writes, Olbermann's numbers simply cratered once he moved to Current TV:
Olbermann never came close to the more than 1 million viewers he had averaged at MSNBC, but his Current show was drawing more than 100,000 in the prized 25-to-54 age group last summer—and that gradually dwindled to 30,000.
In the 1980s, Al Gore positioned himself as a sort of centrist figure; his wife Tipper's PMRC did an end-run around the cultural conservatism of then-President Reagan and the Moral Majority, leading to records with suggestive (read: repulsive) lyrics being stickered with a warning label. That was before Al's famous Epiphany in the late 1980s, when he decided the Big Money and the chance to really control the masses was on the far left. (Al would later be more than willing to work with the same acts his then-wife had targeted, for his 2007 "Live Earth" anti-global warming carbon-palooza.)
It's too bad -- the Al Gore of the mid-1980s would have likely built a populist vehicle to compete with ratings leader Fox News. (Maybe PJTV or Reason TV should look at going cable to give it a try from the right, though why go technologically backwards?) Instead, ideology has caused him to build a channel to compete with MSNBC, a channel mostly watched by coastal elites and the Occupy Wall Street crowd when they're not occupying their bedrooms at mom's house. It's very much akin to radio's Air America (remember them?) thinking that their opponent was Rush Limbaugh, when in reality, it was NPR and the rest of the MSM, which serves up the same leftwing news, but in dulcet tones, rather than with spittle-flecked in-your-face invective.
Incidentally, this passage from Kurtz's article is a riot:
What is clear from the correspondence is that the relationship was dissolving amid a flurry of mutual recriminations. Gore had welcomed Olbermann as the new face of a little-watched network, anointing him chief news officer and giving him an equity stake in the operation. Gore had dealt with big egos in politics, but he and Hyatt told colleagues they had never dealt with anyone quite like Olbermann.
Translation: Keith Olbermann makes the even more misogynist Bill Clinton seem like a grown-up in comparison -- and, similarly, Eliot Spitzer a welcome alternative. Especially when you add these details to the equation:
According to Mediaite, a source at Current TV said the former Countdown host went through eight different car services while working at the network, complaining that the drivers “smelled” and “talked to him.”
Furthermore, though Olbermann’s $250,000 studio was built to his exact specifications, he allegedly refused to use the set when there were lighting problems back in December. Not only that, but he refused to let guest hosts use the elaborate studio.
Current TV is also claiming that Olbermann refused to publicize the network and the show when he wasn’t hosting his program (and he took about half of January and February off). They say he even barred his staff from sending out related Twitter updates, and prevented guest hosts from promoting the show. (Jealous that they would get better ratings, perhaps?)
As the late Andrew Breitbart told me when I interviewed him for the first time in 2005, and as John Nolte repeatedly notes at the Breitbart-created Big Hollywood, ideology trumps bottom-line profit time and again when it comes to Hollywood. The same is true on cable TV as well. (See also: Winfrey, Oprah -- and CNN as well.)
Update: If Spitzer doesn't do the trick, there's another former NBC "newsman" nearly as petulant as Olbermann, whom Current could turn to.