Current TV Chairman Al Gore did a little trash talking about MSNBC on Friday at the Winter TV Press Tour.
Gore said that while MSNBC has a few progressive programs in prime time, they also start the day off with a conservative show — Morning Joe — and turn into the prison channel on the weekends, while Current is consistent with their (liberal) programming.
Consistently boring, if you ask me. One look at the schedule shows that Current’s daytime schedule consists of repeats of the previous night’s shows, including The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur and Countdown with Keith Olbermann, interspersed with episodes of Deadliest Journeys, which is billed as “heart-stopping, adrenaline-fueled stories and dangerous journeys.” Is that supposed to be consistent with their prime time liberal programming?
MSNBC does have a weekend programming problem with its reliance on episodes of Lockup and a mixture of taped programs. But on Saturday and Sunday mornings they have added a new show hosted by Chris Hayes of The Nation magazine, which precedes general news anchored by Alex Witt until noon. But even that isn’t really enough to compete with Fox News or CNN.
All this trash talk was really just a smokescreen so Gore wouldn’t have to deal with the major challenges facing Current, namely Keith Olbermann and puny ratings.
Gore did briefly address the Olbermann situation, saying the liberal anchor was not leaving the network and would be participating in their election coverage of the South Carolina Republican primary after sitting out both the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary coverage.
It has been widely reported that Olbermann isn’t happy with his situation at Current, whether technical difficulties on his show, poor ratings or his ego, but if he left it would leave a big hole in the network’s budding prime time lineup. On the other hand, Gore’s statement seemed a bit like the owner of a sports franchise giving his beleaguered coach a vote of confidence shortly before firing him.
Gore may have attacked MSNBC’s programming, but the fact remains that the Lean Forward network far outpaces Current in the ratings and that is very frustrating to the former veep.
Current CEO Joel Hyatt told reporters that MSNBC doesn’t have an “authentic brand,” but perhaps in reality Current is the one suffering from an identity crisis.