Saturday, January 5, 2013

Will Al Jazeera America hire Keith Olbermann?

When I announced Current firing Keith Olbermann, I described my disappointment and what I planned on doing about it.
I'm disappointed but not terribly surprised. I've been a fan of Keith's since he was the sports anchor for KTLA TV 5 in Los Angeles almost 25 years ago, which means I remember when the station fired him after less than a year. Therefore, his being let go from Current is just par for the course, although I'd been hoping he'd last longer than he did. As for what this means to me, my wife and I switched from cable to Direct TV just so we could watch Current. Now that Olbermann is no longer working for the station, we have no reason to renew our contract. After it expires, we will go back to the cable company.
Something happened this week that might just mean we'll keep Direct TV; a new Al Jazeera America will take over Current's slot.

Building on the international success of Al Jazeera network and its international channel Al Jazeera English - the purchase of Current TV opens the way for the new Al Jazeera America. It's expected that the channel will be available in more than 40 million homes across the US. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reports from Washington, DC.
As for what this might mean, I'll let PBS explain.

In an attempt to reach a larger American audience, Al Jazeera English announced plans to purchase cable channel Current TV, first started by former Vice President Al Gore. Ray Suarez talks to Al Jazeera executive producer Robert Wheelock about the Qatar government-owned news organization's move and challenges going forward.
I'm looking forward to watching Al Jazeera America, if nothing else than for the same reason I used to watch CBC before I got cable/satellite, listen to the BBC World Service on NPR. and subscribe to Al Jazeera English, BBC, and RT America on YouTube--news from a different perspective than what I get in from the U.S. services.

I also have another reason to look forward to Al Jazeera America, one that has much more basis in hope than in fact--the return of Keith Olbermann to my TV screen.  That's not impossible, as Forbes reported last October that Keith very much wants to work again.
Think Keith Olbermann has burned his last bridge in the television business? He doesn’t think so.

Seven months after he got dismissed by Current TV, the temperamental host is aggressively job-shopping, and he’s not being too picky about it.

In recent weeks, Olbermann has reached out to executives at a slew of different networks to communicate his desire for a new on-air role, according to people with knowledge of those conversations. Those include both cable outlets and at least one broadcast network.
Over at the New York Magazine entry on the topic, a bunch of the readers left their suggestions for what Keith could do, including me.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Al Jazeera English or, better yet, Russia Today America. RT America loves troublemakers.
This might be the perfect opportunity for both Al Jazeera America and Keith Olbermann.  For Al Jazeera, it would get a broadcaster with instant name recognition.  For Keith, not only would he be working again for a channel that would be a lightning rod for attention, it would also give him an opportunity to have a good laugh at his old employers, who he mocked serverely just after he was shown the door.

I can see three flies in the ointment that might prevent this happening.  The first is Keith's notorious reputation as a prima donna; Al Jazeera might not want that.  The second is whether Keith would be interested in working for a TV channel owned by a foreign government; it's why I think he'd have even worse trouble with RT America, even though I think the channel would be a good fit for him otherwise.  Can you imagine how much of a temptation Keith would have to twit Vladimir Putin, the most interesting man in the world?  I don't think he could resist.  Finally, I don't know if Al Jazeera became a party to the lawsuit, too, and I don't have time to find out tonight, either.  If they did, then they might have inherited the bad blood, too.  On the other hand, it might be a good way to settle it.  We'll see.

Here's to hoping!

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