HBO releases trailer for Sorkin’s Olbermann show as Current post-mortems detail anchor’s complaints, lousy ratings

The Daily Beast | The New York Times
Emails between Keith Olbermann’s manager and Current TV executives chronicle a “slow-motion divorce,” writes Howard Kurtz (though isn’t 13 months from marriage to splitsville rather zippy?). Olbermann, through his manager Michael Price, complained about the set, muffed technical cues and “eight different car services” the network used to bring him to work; Olbermann found “fault with each one, sometimes objecting when drivers talked to him.” Current’s side of the story from the emails: Olbermann took inconvenient vacations, refused to promote the show and forbade his staff from promoting his show when it was guest-hosted.

Current’s problems only start with Olbermann’s messy exit, Brian Stelter writes. The channel is still looking to find an identity, one ironically not helped by Olbermann’s rise as a powerful liberal voice:

Now, liberal journalists and pundits who were inspired by Mr. Olbermann’s invectives against the Iraq war and the Bush administration five years ago have multiple channels to appear on and potentially be paid by — a marketplace, in effect, for liberal talent on television.

(Cue scoffing in the comments.) More to the point, viewership is wretched.

And as for the conventional wisdom that this latest blowup is Olbermann’s last act? Don’t bet on it, David Carr writes. He may be a pain, but he can do something few humans can actually do: Hold viewers’ attention.

Anchoring a show on television looks easy. Buy a nice suit, get a nice haircut and read the words on the prompter in the right order with some semblance of conviction. But it’s not. As cable stations proliferate, the desperate search for people who can credibly show up every night — or not, as Mr. Olbermann was frequently on strike at Current — and hold an audience’s attention will only become more acute. Mr. Olbermann has a terrible relationship with actual humans, but a very good relationship with the camera.

Olbermann may not be back on air as quickly as his fictional counterpart will debut. With perfect timing, HBO has released the trailer for its new Aaron Sorkin show, “The Newsroom,” based on the unpredictable anchor:

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  • Anonymous

    “He has always had a meager audience”?   For an exteneded period of time the 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm EasternTime showings of “Countdown” on MSNBC (the latter prime time in the West) drew from just under 2 million to just about 2 million viewers right up through the 2010 election and his departure from that network, based on  He laid waste to the attempts by CNN to gain traction in that time slot, although CNN was available in just about EVERY cable- or satellite-connected home.  In the time period leading up to the sale of NBCU to Comcast,  MSNBC ‘s availablility on many cable systems was iffy.  Every few weeks I would get offers in the mail for some satellite-TV outfit, and almost every one of them put an asterisk next to MSNBC, saying it might NOT be available in some areas/.

  • Anonymous

     stan chaz; you forgot your sarcasm emoticon.

  • Anonymous

    “Viewership is wretched.”  He is a “powerful liberal voice.” How do you recognize these statements? He has always had a meager audience, catering only to a niche audience. He is barely a blip in the media.  The only recognition he has is because of his continuing obnoxious behavior and his talent for shooting himself in the foot.

  • stan chaz

    The Right-Wingers are havin’ a ball, gloating and  trying to smear Keith. Hey guys,  chill out , and just take some more Viagra! The real question we should be asking is : Did CurrentTV simply USE Keith to gain attention and higher ratings? They KNEW what they were getting! Did they lure him with big bucks, and then drop him when they were done? Yes, we all know that  Keith injects emotion and passion into his commentary, into his intelligent and incisive reporting, and into his humor….all of which makes his program interesting, as well as informative. He’s forceful, honest, and direct: you FEEL his pain, you FEEL his anger, and you FEEL his heart-felt sincerity when he covers a story. And he covers it well. He’s NEVER  just another talking head! If Keith is absent from CurrentTV, then I too will be absent from CurrentTV. For Keith is one of the best – hands down-  as evidenced by his outstanding coverage of OWS during the past year. I wish him well, and hope that he is back on the air soon. We need his unique voice and viewpoint!

  • Tawanda Kanhema

    Headline is way too long, make it more Poynter-like.