Olbermann's ratings success convinced NBC Universal to expand its liberal-oriented evening programming, making MSNBC a counterpoint to Fox News and leaving CNN's attempts at "even-handedness" looking wimpy and irrelevant.
Repeated clashes with management led Olbermann to depart MSNBC in January 2011, but his legacy was lasting and profound. By then, Bush was considered one of the worst presidents in U.S. history, the Iraq War was acknowledged to be a disaster, and MSNBC was the clear choice for millions of Americans tired of Fox's right-wing propaganda and CNN's phony "balance."
It was only after Olbermann left MSNBC -- and after the ugly trench warfare with the Bush-Rove-Fox machine was largely over -- that Gore and Current TV decided to abandon their MTV-with-a-conscience format and opt for more hard-edged political programming. Current hired Olbermann to head its news division and to continue hosting his show, but he quickly grew alienated by the poor production values and left in a huff in March 2012.
The hard truth about Gore's Current TV is that it missed its historic moment, a chance to truly fight for America's political future. Gore and the network thought they could do good by not engaging the powerful forces that were intent on crushing the nation's progressive tendencies and its democratic principles.
The idea was that Current could distance itself from such nastiness both politically and geographically, getting as far from the Washington Beltway as possible and focusing on the positive, not the negative.
That was a gross miscalculation, a failure of political courage and business acumen. Current will now disappear from America's media landscape having accomplished very little and with very few lamenting or even noticing its departure.