TCA: Al Gore, Current TV Panel Trash MSNBC, CNN; Talk Olbermann Future

Al Gore
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His Current TV could boost ratings tenfold with Keith Olbermann on the schedule, analysts say.

The network co-founder branded MSNBC "the prison channel on weekends," while "Young Turks" host Cenk Uygur said CNN is populated with “plastic, fake, robot anchors [who] do not deliver the news.”

As the GOP primary heats up, Current is working to capitalize on an election-year opportunity to make a name for itself. And executives at the network expect their marquee personality – Keith Olbermann – to figure in that effort.

“Keith has told us he’s going to lead our [election] coverage moving forward, which is what we really want him to do,” Current TV president David Bohrman told The Hollywood Reporter on Friday. “It’s one of the main reasons we hired him.”

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Bohrman and Current co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt and network personalities Cenk Uygur and Jennifer Granholm held a series of individual interviews with reporters on Friday, hours before they were scheduled to address reporters at winter press tour. And they were clearly hoping to put the tension with Olbermann, which spilled into the headlines over the last two weeks, behind them.

Hyatt stressed that Current is reaching younger viewers (although far fewer of them) than incumbent cable news networks with Uygur’s 7 p.m. show, The Young Turks, attracting viewers with a median age of 47.

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“There is not another television news show, cable or broadcast, that has a median age as low as 47,” said Hyatt.

And they are hopeful that Granholm’s program, The War Room – which bows Jan. 30 at 9 p.m. after Olbermann’s Countdown – will attract a similar audience profile. Granholm said she’ll use her connections as a two-term governor of Michigan to wrangle her way into election-year war rooms beginning with President Obama’s operation in Chicago, which Granholm called “the mother of all war rooms.”

“We’re going to be following some key races across the country,” Granholm told THR. “I know a lot of the people I’ll be interviewing because I have those contacts. So I’ll be able to identify when people may be spinning on talking points because I’ve been on the other side. I can call people on it. I know what questions to ask.”

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Hyatt stressed that the company is “totally committed” to growing Current, and is not looking to unload the channel, which has been speculated. At the press tour session, Gore was unequivocal, saying Current “is not for sale.”

At their press tour session, Bohrman and Gore were repeatedly queried about Olbermann’s status at the network. Asked why Olbermann did not join his Current colleagues on the press tour panel, Bohrman answered that he “is on vacation.” The response drew an audible groan from reporters in the room.

“Keith has told us that he will do our special election coverage moving forward,” Bohrman reiterated, “which we desperately want him to do.”

Meanwhile Uygur spent considerable time bashing various cable news networks. He said CNN is populated by “plastic, fake, robot anchors [who] do not deliver the news.” Of Fox News Channel, the top-rated cable news network, Uygur said: “Fox News is full of lies and I think the great majority of the country understands that.”

Gore joined in, calling MSNBC “the prison channel on weekends.”

Bohrman, who came to Current after a long career at CNN, delivered a more tempered criticism of television news in general. “The mainstream media has this over-equalization sentiment,” he said, explaining that the media gives a false equivalency to dissenters on issues such as climate change. 


Twitter: @MarisaGuthrie