Al Gore and Rupert Murdoch have never been best friends, but now they're locked in a very public clash, at the root of which sits Keith Olbermann, who recently joined Gore's Current TV. Gore took a swipe at Murdoch in the press today, telling the Guardian that it was an "abuse of power" for the News Corporation magnate to force his left-leaning Current TV off the air in Italy because it didn't fit his "idealogical agenda."
Current got the abrupt word three weeks ago that the digital satellite TV station Sky Italia, which is owned by News Corp., would no longer carry the news and documentary channel because it had hired Keith Olbermann, who has criticized News Corp. in the past. Most notably, Olbermann launched the Fox-mocking FOK (Friends of Keith) News Channel in February after he left MSNBC and as he was about to join Current. Olbermann worked for Murdoch at Fox Sports Net from 1998 to 2001, The Wrap noted.
The kerfuffle in Italy has Gore steaming, and he laid into Murdoch with some harsh words in today's Guardian piece:
News Corporation is an international conglomerate with an ideological agenda. It seeks political power in every nation they operate. They wield that power to shut down voices that disagree with the agenda of Rupert Murdoch.
Lower in the story he had a stern warning for Britain, where Murdoch is trying to work out a deal to buy British Sky Broadcasting:
I know that News Corp is close to reaching an agreement to buy BSkyB. Now I may not be a party to that debate, but if anybody believes that [News Corp] will remain hands off if there are diverse opinions that do not agree with its ideological agenda then they are fools. This is proof positive of their abuse of power.
This is just the latest speedbump for Olbermann's progress at Current. Earlier this month, the New York Post reported that he was having trouble staffing his show, Countdown, and had sought the help of some of his former colleagues at MSNBC, who weren't eager to join him. "Everyone is laughing," a source told the Post. "They would never leave the network to work for him." Olbermann went on The Late Show last night to promote Countdown, which is slated to launch June 20, and acknowledged that he hasn't always left employers in good standing. "Some people have said that I did not burn the bridges, I have napalmed them," he told David Letterman. Here's the clip: