Al Gore, who has spent the better part of two years attempting to build a far left cable network to compete with MSNBC, threw in the towel with the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera yesterday.
Current, which has barely registered in the ratings – 48,000 total viewers in the most recent Nielsen survey, has struggled since its inception to find an audience willing to watch its programming. In 2011 Gore, along with his partner Joel Hyatt, decided to overhaul the network by hiring former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann as Chief News Officer and to recreate his Countdown program, hoping to steer some of his loyal fans to Current.
Olbermann’s show was supposed to be the centerpiece of the new Current TV, and even though the former MSNBC anchor was eventually shown the door, Gore added several other shows hosted by fellow liberals Eliot Spitzer, Cenk Uygur and Jennifer Granholm, among others.
But it didn’t seem to matter as the ratings, while improved from the documentary laden Current that preceded the makeover, never took off, dashing any hopes that the network would be able to compete fully with MSNBC.
With the sale to Al Jazeera, Gore won’t have to worry about ratings or cable operators threatening to drop the network, but it also means the likely end of the Current TV lineup.
According to The New York Times, the network will be renamed Al Jazeera America and will consist of programming that will be 60 percent produced in the U.S. and 40 percent by Al Jazeera English.
Al Jazeera, which has largely failed to gain a foothold in the U.S. on its own, has now bought access to American homes, and in essence has done an end run around cable operators who had refused to carry the channel previously.
What Current TV fans there are, will have roughly three more months before the liberal lineup disappears once and for all, ending Al Gore’s grand experiment with a resounding thud.