Keith Olbermann, formerly a popular and controversial host on MSNBC, will announce tomorrow that he’s joining Current TV, according to a report in The New York Times.
Actually, what the Times says is that Olbermann is “said to be going” to Current TV, according to sources who point to “a possible deal”. That’s a lot of waffling, which suggests that the sources are only hearing about the deal secondhand and may not have all the details. (It could also suggest that the deal isn’t finalized, but since Olbermann is scheduled to announce his plans tomorrow, that seems unlikely.) The Times suggests that Current may only be one part of Olberman’s future.
The host abruptly left MSNBC’s Countdown program last month. He had become the cable news channel’s highest-rated host, but he also attracted a fair amount of criticism for his liberal politics, and he reportedly had a combative relationship with coworkers and management. MSNBC temporarily suspended him last fall over his campaign donations to Democratic candidates.
Current, which runs a news channel and online video site, seems like it would be a good fit for Olbermann, if it can afford him. (The Times said Olbermann will receive Current equity as part of the deal.) Co-founded by Al Gore in 2005, the channel is unabashedly liberal, so Olbermann would probably have the freedom to do what he wants. In a message posted on Twitter earlier today, Olbermann criticized AOL’s acquisition of the Huffington Post and hinted that he’s not interested in working for a large media company.
The move would be a huge coup for Current. The company says it’s available in 60 million households in the United States, but it hasn’t attracted much attention recently, and it suffered through multiple rounds of layoffs in 2008 and 2009.
Olbermann’s deal with MSNBC precludes him from joining another TV news program for what The Times says is an undetermined period of time, so he probably won’t be going on-air right away.