February 8, 2011

Olbermann ’79 to Host Show on Current TV

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Just weeks after ending his long running MSNBC program, “Countdown,” Keith Olbermann ’79 announced Tuesday that he will be moving his trademark political commentary to Current TV, a cable channel founded by Al Gore.Current TV averages about 23,000 viewers in primetime. The network hopes that Olbermann’s new program will bring some of the nearly 1 million nightly viewers “Countdown” amassed during its eight-year run at MSNBC.Olbermann’s sudden departure from MSNBC came after a brief suspension from the network. He was suspended after he was found to have made donations to several Democratic candidates in 2010. According to The New York Times, executives at MSNBC said Olbermann’s departure from “Countdown” came after several weeks of deliberation. These executives also confirmed that the agreement between MSNBC and Olbermann — which enabled the anchor to leave the network — included restrictions about when Olbermann could return to broadcast television, although these executives did not disclose the specific time frame.Executives at Current have not released any specific information about Olbermann’s new program, although Current’s CEO, Mark Rosenthal, expressed a desire to have him back on the air as soon as possible. “We are counting down the days to Keith Olbermann’s return to television,” Rosenthal said in a conference call Tuesday morning announcing Olbermann’s new position, according to The Times.At Current, Olbermann will assume considerably more responsibility than he did at MSNBC. In addition to eventually hosting his own primetime program, Olbermann will have an equity stake in Current, which is privately and independently owned by backers, including Gore. Unlike Current, most major cable channels are owned by large media companies. MSNBC, for instance, is owned by Comcast.“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 that is produced independently of corporate interference,” Olbermann said at a press conference Tuesday morning, according to The Times.At Current, Olbermann will also be the chief news officer, a role that will allow him to develop new programs for the network and guide the channel’s other journalists by providing editorial advice.Olbermann began his media career at Cornell, where he was sports director for WVBR. He graduated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a degree in Communications, a fact that was brought to the national spotlight in 2009 when fellow alumna Ann Coulter ’84 accused him of graduating from “Old MacDonald Cornell.”Olbermann returned to Cornell in 1998 as the University’s senior convocation speaker. Olbermann offered this piece of advice on life after Cornell: “There is no due date on this. There will be no grade other than the one you give yourself.”

Original Author: Peter Jacobs