Well, it turned out (see previous post) that Keith Olbermann’s Tweet on yesterday’s Huffington Post-AOL deal was, indeed, a hint about “the Next Chapter” in his controversial, sometimes mercurial and brilliant—at least to many of us politically left of the 410-foot sign in center field—career.
Yesterday, @KeithOlbermann Tweeted: “Am I missing something or has the primary appeal of The Huffington Post been its independence from big $ media?”
Today, Keith O. announced his new venture, as Chief News Officer at Al Gore and Joel Hyatt’s Current TV, the public affairs station for which he’ll also host a primetime news and commentary show, airing later this year (after Keith’s non-compete agreement with MSNBC expires)
So, it seems that once again, we’ll be able to hear pundit Richard Wolffe intone: “Good evening, Keith.”
For those of you who missed the press conference (like me—I was at my shrink), Keith expanded on yesterday’s 140-character-or-less comment:
“Nothing is more vital to a free America than a free media, and nothing is more vital to my concept of a free media than news produced independently of corporate interference. In Current Media, Al Gore and Joel Hyatt have created the model truth-seeking entity.”
In a conference call with reporters, Keith added: “None of this should be directed at my nine full-time previous employers — there is nothing wrong with people making money and corporations being involved in covering information—provided there is an avenue in which those marketing forces are not the deciding factor in what we are doing. Current is not only the leading independent network, it’s the only one. To underscore and support that is my great privilege.”
Asked how he was stifled at previous jobs, K.O. stressed, “I don’t want to imply that there were massive repressive forces working against individual stories. This is the time for me in my career to continue to evolve, to continue to do a better job, and what is required is an opportunity to work in a much more pristine environment. Not to criticize what is being done elsewhere.”
Olbermann’s move should certainly provide a huge boost to five-year-old Current, which reaches only 60 million U.S. households and has struggled to gain a media foothold. And for his fans, it’s reassuring to know he’ll be offering his biting, incisive—sometimes delightfully over-the-top—commentary on the 2012 presidential race, right-wing extremism, and the continuing disintegration of Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck. To that end, Keith told reporters in a conference call that he will, indeed, feature a segment on the order of “Worst Persons in the World”—albeit under another monicker.
And who knows, MSNBC fans may see some contributions from our old pal David Shuster, who left the network after a dispute and is launching a new investigative journalism venture on the internet. As Shuster Tweeted this morning, “Nothing in my investigative journalism venture would preclude me from helping KO. I would be honored.”
Here’s an overview of Keith’s responsibilities from Current’s press release.
“Keith Olbermann’s show will lead a programming slate on Current that includes original and acquired TV series aimed at an influential adult audience. Current features compelling stories about everyday heroes and ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and takes you to sometimes dangerous and always intriguing places. Current shines a light on controversial subjects, tackling hot issues of the day in a thoughtful and sometimes humorous way. Current engages its viewers by sparking debate and discussion, and via interactive formats that allow viewers to inform its stories.”
Here’s Al Gore’s statement: “Keith Olbermann is a gifted thinker, an amazing talent and a powerful communicator, and having him tap Current as his new home is exciting and very much in line with the core vision we founded this network on: To engage viewers with smart, provocative and timely programming. In a world where there are fewer and fewer opportunities to hear truly distinct, unfettered voices on television, we are delighted to provide Keith with the independent platform and freedom that Current can, and does uniquely offer.”
Gore, also on a press conference call, added, “Olbermann signature is intelligent commentary. He is truly one of the unfettered voices on TV. Keith is one of those rare voices, his voice is truly unique…Keith Olbermann is one of our society’s most courageous talents. He speaks truth to power. He calls them as he sees them. He speaks his mind.
Here’s some background on Current, plus a sampling of their lineup via current.com
About Current Media:
Current Media, the Peabody-and Emmy Award-winningtelevision and online network founded in 2005 by Al Gore and Joel Hyatt, engages viewers with smart, provocative and timely programming -stories that no one else is telling in ways that no one else is telling them. Current’s programming shines a light where others won’t dare and boldly explores important subjects — opening minds, sparking conversations and forming deep connections with its viewers. The channel’s audience is comprised of affluent, curious, social and connected adults who crave the kind of entertaining, enlightening, witty and informative programming found on Current’s TV and online properties. Current is now available via cable and satellite TV in 75 million households worldwide – 60 million households in the US – through distribution partners Comcast (Channel 107); Time Warner ; DirecTV (Channel 358 nationwide); Dish Network (Channel 196 nationwide); Verizon and AT&T. In the UK and Ireland, Current is available on BSkyB (Channel 183) and Virgin Media (Channel 155), and in Italy, Current is available on Sky Italia (Channel 130).
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