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Al Gore and MSNBC get in shoving match after Keith Olbermann's move to Current TV

February 8, 2011 |  3:23 pm

Algorelaughs Al Gore, the Nobel laureate beloved by many liberals for his passionate espousal of environmental causes, has gotten into a dust-up — with MSNBC, the cable-TV home of liberal opinion.

The fracas started Tuesday after Gore and other officials of Current TV, the network founded in 2005, announced they had nabbed former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann to lead a new nightly program starting later this spring. Olbermann will also become chief news officer of the low-rated Current, which has about 60 million subscribers in the U.S.

Hinting at the potential Current has despite its low viewership, the former vice president declared during a phone call with reporters, "We have more subscribers today than MSNBC had when Keith Olbermann began working for them" in 2003.

MSNBC, whose management had clashed repeatedly with Olbermann prior to his exit, cried foul, with a spokesman citing Nielsen Co. data that shows MSNBC had 78.4 million subscribers in 2003.

Alerted to the network's claim, an Olbermann rep fired back by pointing to "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network & Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present," a commonly used reference book, which says that only 74% of those subscribers were in the U.S., which could conceivably give Current a slight edge.

"I don't know what he's talking about," the MSNBC spokesman replied.

Of course, this type of mudslinging goes on almost daily in the rough-and-tumble world of cable news. Although Current's bosses say they're not angling to enter that arena with the Olbermann hire, the skirmish with MSNBC could provide excellent practice should they change their minds.

— Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Al Gore has hired Keith Olbermann at Current TV. Credit: Graham Hughes/Associated Press.

 

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