Mon Feb 6, 2012, 05:17 PM
Al Gore's Desperate Bid to Keep Keith Olbermann—and Save Current TV--Newsweek
Don't shoot the messenger....
t was early November when tensions between Keith Olbermann and Al Gore escalated into a crisis at Current TV. There had been a short honeymoon after Gore, the channel’s co-owner, had handed the notoriously temperamental anchor a reported $10 million salary and equity stake in February of last year, but the relationship soured quickly. Now, just five months after Olbermann’s show Countdown had resurfaced on Current, it looked as if he might walk away.
Accustomed to the flashy graphics and slick broadcasts of MSNBC, Olbermann balked at the cheap sets and lo-fi production values at the scrappy Current. Ensconced in his New York office, the star ignored emails from the network’s West Coast executives. He wanted them to invest more on the technical side, and he wanted more authority in other areas of the network, including personnel decisions. He was also upset about his car service. Gore and his partners had shelled out for a star; now, it seemed, the star owned them.
The prospects were potentially ruinous for Current. After it had struggled for six years as an assertively nonpartisan news network, baffling critics and going largely unnoticed by viewers, Current’s founders, Gore and partner Joel Hyatt, had finally come up with what could be a game-changing plan: to reinvent the station as a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week liberal cable-news outlet, a bastion for progressive ideas and politics on television, a way to harness and influence the Democratic Party—in short, as Hyatt says, the “anti-Fox.”
Gore’s company politicking, plus the intervention of lawyers for both sides, seems to have worked. Olbermann—for now—is sitting tight. Current’s big media plan, hastily drawn up after the network managed to hire Olbermann, is quickly sliding into place. What it’s after is nothing short of the holy grail of left-wing politics. And Al Gore, who knows what it’s like to be this close to triumph, is determined not to fail.
more at the link...