Current TV is finally using its most obvious asset on the air. Al Gore, who co-founded the network with Joel Hyatt, will lead coverage of the 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions on the tiny cable news net, with the rest of the network's team backing him up. Gore isn't exactly a stranger to television—aside from extensive campaign experience and his TV appearances as vice president, he's guest starred a number of times as himself on Comedy Central cartoon Futurama (for which his daughter Kristin used to write).
The decision to put Gore on the air does not inspire much confidence in the network's future. Until recently, whenever Current made a bid for more mainstream attention, it hired a new face, most recently Joy Behar. But in April, reports surfaced of at least one major cable operator (Time Warner) looking to kick Current off the dial based on its consistently low ratings, and while Gore is certainly a household name, he's already associated with the network.
Among the network's news draws are former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, ex-MSNBCer Cenk Uygur and former New York governor (and, very briefly indeed, CNN commentator) Eliot Spitzer. For a brief moment, disgruntled MSNBC vet Keith Olbermann became the channel's main draw, pulling in enough eyeballs for Current to double down on its investment in name-brand political commentators, but Olbermann very publicly quit the fledgling news org shortly after getting installed there. Ratings soon returned to sub-Nielsen levels.
Current also expects a currently active politician to join in the coverage: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California. Coverage will begin Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. for the RNC, which concludes on Aug. 30; for the DNC, coverage will begin Sept. 4 and end Sept. 6 at the same times.
“I’m pleased to be participating in Current TV’s impressive lineup throughout the Republican and Democratic National Conventions,” said Gore in a statement on Wednesday. “Cenk, Jennifer and Eliot provide the keen insight and spot-on analysis our viewers have come to expect, combined with decades of experience in public service and a deep understanding of politics.”