As Al Jazeera takes over Current TV, Eliot Spitzer announced today that he is leaving the network effective immediately.
Former New York state governor Eliot Spitzer is on his way out the door from another television gig – this time due to changes at the top as Middle Eastern media giant Al Jazeera finalizes its deal to buy Al Gore’s Current TV channel for $500 million.
Spitzer, the disgraced politician turned liberal television host, is leaving his show ‘Viewpoint,’ he said on Sunday, noting that his professional relationship was with the station’s co-founders and not Al Jazeera, which is owned by the country Qatar.
Current TV’s mission will be different going forward, he said, emphasizing that the channel’s new owners will focus more on international newscasts rather than liberal analysis of the news.
‘I view Al Jazeera as a very serious journalistic outfit,’ Spitzer, 53, was quoting as saying. ‘They have proven to observers around the world that they are serious and objective.’
His 8pm talk show was the highlight of Current’s fledgling prime-time schedule, according to New York Times TV reporter Brian Stelter.
Last winter Current Media’s co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt asked Spitzer to take over the channel’s after-dinner slot as its host at that time, Keith Olbermann, was about to be fired.
Their offer came right after Time Warner announced its cancellation of Spitzer’s CNN talk show ‘In the Arena’ and put Anderson Cooper in his 8pm spot.
After the announcement was made that Current TV and Keith Olbermann had parted ways, the network founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt put out this statement;
To the Viewers of Current:
We created Current to give voice to those Americans who refuse to rely on corporate-controlled media and are seeking an authentic progressive outlet. We are more committed to those goals today than ever before.
Current was also founded on the values of respect, openness, collegiality, and loyalty to our viewers. Unfortunately these values are no longer reflected in our relationship with Keith Olbermann and we have ended it. We are moving ahead by honoring Current’s values. Current has a fundamental obligation to deliver news programming with a progressive perspective that our viewers can count on being available daily — especially now, during the presidential election campaign. Current exists because our audience desires the kind of perspective, insight and commentary that is not easily found elsewhere in this time of big media consolidation.
As we move toward this summer’s political conventions and the general election in the fall, Current is making significant new additions to our broadcasts. We have just debuted six hours of new programming each weekday with Bill Press (“Full Court Press, at 6 am ET/3 am PT) and Stephanie Miller (“Talking Liberally,” at 9 am ET/6 pm PT). We’re very excited to announce that beginning tonight, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer will host “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer,” at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Eliot is a veteran public servant and an astute observer of the issues of the day. He has important opinions and insights and he relishes the kind of constructive discourse that our viewers will appreciate this election year. We are confident that our viewers will be able to count on Governor Spitzer to deliver critical information on a daily basis.
All of these additions to Current’s lineup are aimed at achieving one simple goal — thegoal that has always been central to Current’s mission: To tell stories no one else will tell, to speak truth to power, and to influence the conversation of democracy on behalf of those whose voice is too seldom heard. We, and everyone at Current, want to thank our viewers for their continued steadfast support.
Keith Olbermann then put out his own statement.
I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV.
Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.
It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently. To understand Mr. Hyatt’s “values of respect, openness, collegiality and loyalty,” I encourage you to read of a previous occasion Mr. Hyatt found himself in court for having unjustly fired an employee. That employee’s name was Clarence B. Cain.
In due course, the truth of the ethics of Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt will come out. For now, it is important only to again acknowledge that joining them was a sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one. That lack of judgment is mine and mine alone, and I apologize again for it.
Eliot Spitzer will replace Olbermann with a new show called Viewpoint With Eliot Spitzer starting tonight, Current confirms.
And so, the return of Keith Olbermann has officially began, with the launch of FOK News Channel. Olbermann previously made the announcement in a tweet, saying “Proud to announce: Coming very very soon – your FOKNewsChannel website… #FOK” – [Friends Of Keith]
As described on the website,
Three-time Murrow-Award Winner Keith Olbermann is the “K” in “Friends Of Keith” and “Friends Of Keith” is the FOK in the not-for-profit FOKNewsChannel.
Next for Mr. Olbermann… his return to television.
Word from the Keith Olbermann camp – Mr. Olbermann broke the news on a conference call today that his new television show will begin this spring on Current TV. No word yet on what day or time the show starts, but his more than 1 million nightly fans of the former Countdown on MSNBC will be more than pleased to tune in. More from the NYTimes;
The untitled hour of news and commentary will effectively mimic “Countdown,” the MSNBC program that Mr. Olbermann conceived eight years ago and quit hosting last month. Mr. Olbermann told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that the new program would be “an improved, and we hope amplified and stronger, version of the show that I just did.”
Current is betting that Mr. Olbermann will put it on the cable map — and it needs the help. The channel averages just 23,000 viewers in prime time each night.
Mr. Olbermann drew about 1 million viewers to his MSNBC program each night. This is “the best investment that Current has ever made,” said another channel co-founder, Joel Hyatt.
Mr. Olbermann will have an equity stake in the company, and he will also have a management role. As the chief news officer, he will develop new programs and provide editorial guidance to the channel’s journalists.
“We are counting down the days to Keith Olbermann’s return to television,” the channel’s chief executive, Mark Rosenthal, said on the conference call. But he did not announce a premiere date or a time slot for the program.
With Current TV, Mr. Olbermann gains a measure of independence. Unlike most cable channels, including MSNBC, which are owned by large media companies, Current is privately and independently owned by Mr. Gore, the former vice president, and other backers.
Mr. Gore praised Mr. Olbermann in a statement. “We are delighted to provide Keith with the independent platform and freedom that Current can and does uniquely offer,” he said.
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