Opinion: Democracy ‘benefits greatly from having Keith Olbermann’s voice heard,’ Al Gore declares


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Former newspaper reporter Al Gore did not invent journalism. Or democracy. Or TV, for that matter.

But he finally got his no-name cable channel mentioned prominently in other media Tuesday with the announcement that political provocateur Keith Olbermann would launch a prime-time show there late this spring.

Olbermann, obviously reeling from Rupert Murdoch‘s rejection of hiring him again at Fox, has agreed to appear on and help manage Gore’s channel.

We’ve all heard of CEO’s and CFO’s. Well, Keith will be CNO of Gore’s channel, meaning chief news officer, whatever that means.


In a conference call with reporters Gore said that in addition to his own hour-long show of the usual leftist rants, Olbermann will help develop other shows and provide his editorial guidance to someone there.

The newly-not-quite-fired-but-sort-of-dismissed MSNBC commentator will also receive an equity stake in the channel, whose Current average national evening audience wouldn’t fill half an NFL stadium.

Slipping back into VP-speak, Gore said, ‘I find myself in susbstantial agreement with the views I’ve heard Keith Olbermann express.’ Translation: We think alike.

So KO seems unlikely to incur any censorship problems that he says he did not have at MSNBC. There, thanks to President George W. Bush, Keith helped revive its ratings from nowhere to somewhere, albeit a distant county from Fox News Channel.

Gore noted, somewhat defensively, that his channel is now available in more homes than MSNBC was in 2003. Key word there = ‘available.’ Our colleague Scott Collins reports here on MSNBC immediately disputing those numbers, perhaps an indication of the global warming competition ahead.

The Gore-Olbermann combo makes sense as they have much in common: Gore wasn’t hired as president in 2000 and Olbermann again lost his job on Jan. 21.


In effect, Gore is trying to do what other obscure outlets have tried to do to raise their viewer visibility in an overcrowded media scene. Think cable’s Versus signing up the National Hockey League. Think TBS signing Conan O’Brien to a late-night show after his departure from NBC. Even the Discovery Channel went for Sarah Palin’s behind-the-family-scenes Palintorial travel show set in Alaska.

Another nice benefit for Olbermann: It turns out that Gore, like the Republican Party all these years, thinks political donations are a form of free speech. So the K-man, who got in trouble for such political contributions just before The End when he was losing so badly to Bill O’Reilly, not only can give money to candidates he’s promoting on his show; he’s expected to.

That way all 23,000 Olbermann viewers will know they’re getting the straight KO schtick.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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