UPDATED: Keith Olbermann revealed his first guests — via Twitter — on Sunday. No surprises here: They’re Olbermann partisans Michael Moore, the mischievous documentary-filmmaker; and Markos Moulitsas, founder of the liberal political blog Daily Kos. Both guests are among the list of “contributors” who Olbermann has said will appear semi-regularly on his new “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” show, premiering Monday night at 8/7c on Current TV.
PREVIOUSLY: Combative Keith Olbermann says you can’t define his on-going clash with Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly as a feud because O’Reilly won’t ever address him by name.
“Twice he tried to use my name on the air and only once did he succeed in pronouncing it correctly,” Olbermann said in a telephone news conference on Friday. “He chose, therefore, never to mention it again on the air. So it’s not necessarily a feud if the other guy won’t say who he’s talking about,” Olbermann answered when your Xfinity correspondent asked him if he’ll continue his feuding with O’Reilly on his new “Countdown” show on Current TV.
The new “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” premieres Monday, June 20, on Current at 8/7c – where it will air weekdays. The news conference was held to promote the show, which represents Olbermann’s attempt at a comeback after abruptly leaving MSNBC last January.
Here’s what else Olbermann had to say:
Though he wouldn’t characterize their “relationship” as a “feud” (for the aforementioned reasons), Olbermann ridiculed O’Reilly anyway: “The reasons that I have mentioned him on the air in the past were the reasons that I would mention him on the air again; [if he said] something so outlandishly untrue, negative, against the democracy, against free speech, against portions of society, that it merited analysis.” Turning personal, Olbermann said of cable’s top-rated news/talk personality (that would be O’Reilly), “I think Bill has lost a little on his fast ball. So I suspect we will have O’Reilly mentions, but probably fewer of them, just because he doesn’t carry the water that well anymore for them.”
He revealed that the launch of “Countdown” is only the first step in a sweeping remake of the Current TV lineup: “We are gearing toward eventually being a 24-hour news, commentary and information network.” He indicated that he will play a big role in the development of new shows, by virtue of one of the titles bestowed upon him when he went to work for Current: Chief News Officer (possibly the first person to be so titled in the TV news business).
He announced a bunch of new “contributors” – really just people he knows well who have agreed to appear as guests on various segments. Among them: former Nixon aide John Dean and actor Donald Sutherland. Previously announced “contributors” include Michael Moore, Ken Burns and angst-ridden comic Richard Lewis.
Current is the cable channel owned partly by Al Gore. Much is riding on Keith’s “Countdown” because, for all intents and purposes, Current’s prime-time audience is non-existent – averaging 30,000 viewers a night in the first three months of this year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
And, as many people do when they are launching a new show in such a challenging environment, Olbermann said he wasn’t worried about the show’s ratings, at least in the early going. “We’re in this for the long haul,” he said.
He also noted that he hasn’t watched MSNBC since he left.