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Al Gore Begged Keith Olbermann To Stay At Current: Newsweek

The Huffington Post   Katherine Fung First Posted: 02/ 6/2012 4:12 pm Updated: 02/ 6/2012 6:39 pm

Olbermann Gore

Conflict between Keith Olbermann and his bosses at Current TV reached severe depths in the weeks before the Iowa caucuses, according to a new report in Newsweek.

Reports of tension surfaced at the end of December when Olbermann was noticeably absent from Current TV's 2012 election coverage. The tension boiled over as Olbermann and network executives called each other out on his refusal to host. The feud was eventually resolved, and Olbermann anchored the network's coverage of the South Carolina primary.

In a new piece for Newsweek, Rebecca Dana reveals new details about the tension between the two, and the rocky road ahead that Current faces in its quest to gain an increased television foothold.

Al Gore, who jointly owns the network, personally called Olbermann less than 24 hours after he left MSNBC in January to offer him a job. Executives gave the host the title of "chief news officer," an equity stake in the company and $15 million show budget. However, trouble flared as the year went on.

Dana reports that that Olbermann's relationship with the network took a bad turn months before the primaries began. She claims that the oft-prickly host was raising concerns about cheap sets, ignored emails, demanded more control over personnel decisions, and complained about his car service.

These conflicts spilled out into the open. One technical glitch, for example, had him broadcasting in the dark and lighting a candle to mock the blackout. Sources later cited his frustration with low technical and production values as central to the tensions in January.

Things got so bad that Gore found himself "begging" Olbermann not to leave Current, Dana writes. Eventually, both sides smoothed things over, and OIbermann is securely ensconced in place.

The back-and-forth with its biggest star comes at a time when Current TV is facing an uphill battle in its strategy for growth. Al Gore and business partner Joel Hyatt, who own the network, have staked their efforts to transform the upstart network into a liberal news outlet on the "Countdown" host. They have also hired hosts Cenk Uygur and Jennifer Granholm to flank Olbermann, and Dana reports that the network wants a more left-wing morning show to rival "Morning Joe."

The media figures who left their posts in 2011:
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  • Keith Olbermann Leaves MSNBC

    Keith Olbermann <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/21/keith-olbermann-countdown-over_n_812506.html" target="_hplink">left MSNBC in January</a>. The announcement came during his final show on the network. His sign-off was so unexpected that ads for his show continued to play after his last show.

  • Erin Burnett Leaves CNBC

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/06/erin-burnetts-teary-farew_n_858630.html" target="_hplink">Erin Burnett said good bye to CNBC</a> in May. She anchored CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" and "Street Signs," before getting her own general news show on CNN.

  • Oprah ends her show

    Oprah <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/25/oprah-winfrey-show-ends-a_n_866772.html" target="_hplink">ended her 25-year run</a> in May.

  • Meredith Vieira Leaves "Today"

    Meredith Vieira <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/08/meredith-vieira-leaves-today-show_n_873019.html#s289185" target="_hplink">bid farewell</a> to "Today" after five years on the morning show. She left to spend more time with her husband and children.

  • Katie Couric Leaves CBS News

    Katie Couric <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/26/katie-couric-leaving-cbs-evening-news_n_853919.html" target="_hplink">left the "CBS Evening News"</a> in June after her contract was up. She spent five years in the anchor seat, and will be hosting a talk show on ABC.

  • Glenn Beck Leaves Fox News

    Glenn Beck<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/30/glenn-beck-fox-news-last-show_n_888155.html" target="_hplink"> stepped down from Fox News</a> at the end of June. He had said that he wanted to do more, and went onto launch his Internet channel GBTV.

  • Eliot Spitzer's show canceled

    CNN <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/06/eliot-spitzer-show-cancel_n_891418.html" target="_hplink">canceled</a> Eliot Spitzer's show in July.

  • Cenk Uygur Leaves MSNBC

    Uygur <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/21/cenk-uygur-msnbc-leaving_n_905415.html" target="_hplink">left MSNBC in July</a>, telling others that the network had asked him to tone it down.

  • Contessa Brewer steps down as MSNBC anchor

    Contessa Brewer <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/25/contessa-brewer-leaving-msnbc_n_936972.html" target="_hplink">stepped down</a> from the anchor chair in August.

  • Regis Philbin Leaves "Live!"

    Regis Philbin <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/18/regis-philbin-last-day-live_n_1101221.html" target="_hplink">left "Live!" on November 18</a>, after a remarkable three decades on the show.

  • Joy Behar's show canceled

    Joy Behar's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/17/joy-behar-hln-show-ending_n_1099060.html" target="_hplink">HLN show was canceled</a> in November. The show ended its run in mid-December.

  • Bill Keller steps down as NYT executive editor

    Bill Keller <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/02/bill-keller-jill-abramson-new-york-times_n_870267.html" target="_hplink">stepped down as the executive editor of the New York Times</a>. He resigned to become a full-time writer, and handed the baton off to Jill Abramson, the paper's first female executive editor.

  • Christiane Amanpour leaves "This Week"

    Christiane Amanpour<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/26/christiane-amanpour-this-week-final-broadcast_n_1170021.html" target="_hplink"> stepped down</a> as host of "This Week," ABC News' Sunday show about Beltway politics. She is staying with the network and reprising her foreign correspondent duties at CNN, in a new dual role.

  • Russ Stanton leaves LA Times

    Russ Stanton <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/13/russ-stanton-out-los-angeles-times-editor_n_1146553.html" target="_hplink"> stepped down</a> as executive vice president and editor of the Los Angeles Times in December. He held the position for four years, and has been at the paper since 1997.

  • T.J. Holmes Leaves CNN

    CNN Newsroom weekend edition anchor T.J. Holmes <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/06/tj-holmes-leaving-cnn_n_1132484.html" target="_hplink">announced his departure</a> from the network in early December. He is leaving for BET, where it is rumored that he will be hosting a news program.

  • Janet Robinson steps down as NYT CEO

    New York Times CEO Janet Robinson <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/15/new-york-times-ceo-janet-robinson-departure_n_1152255.html" target="_hplink">announced that she was stepping down</a> in December. Her exit cost the paper a whooping $15 million -- including a $4.5 million fee for her consulting services over the course of the next year.

  • Edward Felsenthal, Ray Chelstowski and Tom Weber out at Newsweek

    Newsweek experienced a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/newsweek-ray-chelstowski-tom-weber-publisher-managing-editor_n_1092980.html" target="_hplink">major shakeup</a> in November when it lost three members of its top ranks in a single day. Publisher Ray Chelstowski was fired, while Tom Weber, the magazine's managing editor, and Edward Felsenthal, the executive editor, both resigned.

  • Michael Wolff Out At AdWeek

    AdWeek's editorial director <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/17/michael-wolff-out-at-ad-week_n_1015770.html" target="_hplink">Michael Wolff was replaced</a> by executive editor Jim Cooper in October.

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