Liveblog: Conference call with Keith Olbermann


I participated in a conference call with Keith Olbermann. Yes, I feel all fangirly, but I didn't ask a question, because 1) there wasn't much time, and 2) I was more interested in liveblogging what he said.

The following is a slightly paraphrased recap of that call. Forgive some of the shorthand, it went so fast:

KO: 2 days 5 1/2 hours to go. The practice shows are going well. Nothing in my experience has gotten together this quickly, the studio WAS a storage room only days ago. We just announced nine additional contributors, maybe a couple more to go.

David Shuster will be our primary guest host, and a contributor, too. Others: Matt Taibbi, John Dean, Heather McGhee, Jonathan Turley, comedian Maysoon Zayid, Kate Sheppard from Mother Jones, Jeremy Scahill, Donald Sutherland (no regular commentaries), Derek Pitt (non political), Ken Burns (non political), Nicole Lamoureux, Richard Lewis, Michael Moore, Marcos Moulitsas.

To put things in perspective, ESPN was at 60 million viewers when KO joined them back in the day.

Channel finder is at

KO just imitated Larry King: Santa Monica, CA, hello!

Q: Dem Convention Watch: Can't wait to see you again. I was diagnosed with terminal cancer... wrongly!! Costs astronomical. I'm employed, luckily. You've been a great voice for free clinics. Will you continue that?

KO: Yes, absolutely. Nicole Lamoureux is executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics. We partnered with her in the old show to stage those free clinics in 2009-10. My late father was involved with that. This is, to me, personal. .. a memorial to my father... particularly with the good luck we had. ABSOLUTELY the same experience we had in the hospital, life and death issues, nuances, daily convos we had about therapy, whether doctors helped or hurt. We marveled about what life would be like without worrying about what it would cost. The anger... people in the hospital wondering how to pay for this stuff?! The one happy thing in that ordeal was that his situation allowed us to address health care for all.

Q: Follow up, the one item on my bucket list,  was coffee with KO. Shot at that?

KO: Yes!

Q: Raw Story: Netroots Nation relationship continuing?

KO: You mean other than being keynote speaker next year in Rhode Island? Yes.  We will continue to stress the concept of independence in TV news. Current will have huge interaction on the Internet, promoting more people who made names for themselves journalistically.

Q: Banter Media Group: Partisanship in Mainsteam media. Fox v. Left. Will Current bridge that gap?

KO: Current is a Progressive TV news operation, there is no desire to shy away from that term. In our test shows, etc. everyone is fair game. I criticized Obama in blunt terms of his handling of the Anthony Weiner resignation, per my Special Comment.  We're not bound by "old media" rules. We won't fit any stereotypes. We'll surprise people on a constant basis.  We won't pretend we have a p.o.v. or talking points of someone else. I won't carry water for anyone.

Q: Mark Howard, News Corpse: Is a show dedicated to reporting on all media on Current coming? Your show covers some of that. This would be like Media Matters TV + Talk Soup...

KO: To some degree, Countdown very much takes that on part time. Not sure if Current relies on daily programming examining the media. It is fascinating, though. The new set has lots of photos in background, one is of Don Hollenbeck, newscaster during Murrow era. He was host of CBS Looks At The Press, got him in trouble with conservatives. But no promises for a daily show devoted to evaluating media, but those pictures are there, and my use of Edward R. Murrow's sign-off is not because I compare myself to him, but  to remind me of what I'm there to do.

Our election coverage will begin rolling when the GOP debates begin. Spectacular announcement coming who our primary analyst will be then.

Re: Fox- It's not about personalities, quality. They use words like "power", "most powerful name in news..." They'll continue to be fundamental to what we do on Countdown.

KO's sign-off: There will be (from a former employer) reports, you'll be buffeted, about the ratings for first edition of Countdown on Current. Our view: If the 10-12 people in our control room can successfully see the show on Monday night, that would be spectacular. They'll hit us on ratings. That will be heavily spun bullshit. including what WE send out.  Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. We'll tell you what they will not, that it will be heavily massaged. If MSNBC compares that Countdown to ours on Current, that's not a valid contrast. The goal we have in mind is what the numbers will look like in 2013. That's our goal. We'll be happy if ANYbody sees it on Monday night. If the number is the same for the next 2 years and great, or terrible, you'll hear from us.

And that was it. It was great hearing his voice on the phone, especially knowing Countdown is about to debut.