While Current co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt duke it out with Olbermann in court (and in public) over who “wronged” who first, let’s spell out the possibilities for both.
Current has already replaced Olbermann with former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, so we know what’s next for the channel aggressively reinventing itself as a progressive news talk station.
But will Spitzer’s “Viewpoint” last any longer than his cancelled CNN show “In The Arena”? Olbermann was at the top of his game when he left MSNBC, gathering around 1 million views a night. Joining Current was a coup for the station and an opportunity for the ever-annoyed Olbermann to have things his way and build Current’s brand of progress news around his show. He was even given an equity stake and made the chief news officer. But even being one of his own bosses didn’t stop the inevitable breakup.
Olbermann’s calling Current a “penny-pinching, incompetent clown show” according to an article from Business Insider. Check out the “angry email trail” Olbermann’s team has put together and shared with The Daily Beast.
I was an intern for Current back in 2009, when the logo used to be a stylized pixel version of the word Current, which you can see above. I thought that was pretty cool, and still rock a track jacket zip-up with the 4 green dots.
In the last year, the station has turned into a whole different beast. Gone is the award-winning and boundary-breaking investigate documentary team Vanguard and long lost are the hilarious shows like infoMania and SuperNews!
Since the network brought on Olbermann, they built a lineup of liberal-leaning talk shows. Most of which I could care less about.
Since the station has been tumbling through startup-style experimentation since its inception in 2005, it’s time to grow up. That much I get.
But runner-up to MSNBC, whose slogan is “lean forward”, sounds like a pretty raw deal. And without a heavy hitter to improve ratings, it seems imminent that Current will lose its relevancy, especially with its target 18-35 demographic.
The biggest concern of all? The only news Current actually produces comes from its internal controversy. Do a quick search and the headlines rarely relate to programming or progression. Instead, it’s a handful of media flurries from the 2009 capture of two Vanguard reporters to its latest controversial breakup with its biggest star.
Closest competitor MSNBC has the Comcast-NBC parent company with genuine news reporting chops, while Current just fired the last of its journalists when it disbanded Vanguard.
What’s next for Olbermann is yet to be determined. But despite his prima donna ways, someone will scoop him up and pay him the big bucks. And it will work. Just like it works in the NFL and in Hollywood. The big stars still get big money and big turnout, whether they’ve still got “it or not. See this Forbes article for more on that.
… [update] …
In an interview with David Letterman on “The Late Show” April 4, Olbermann admits that the breakup is his fault. At the same time, he refers to himself as a $10,000 chandelier with no house, mansion, lot or building permit to live in. Ouch.