Current TV’s David Bohrman on Keith Olbermann, Cable News ‘Noise’ and The Future of the Channel

By Alex Weprin 

Before offering David Bohrman the job as president of Current TV, Current CEO Joel Hyatt and Current co-founder Al Gore put out an APB for a TV news executive.

“[We] concluded that we needed a senior member with expertise in TV news, production and programming,” Hyatt recalled to TVNewser. “Al and I are resourceful guys, and we set out to find out who is the best in the business, to see if we could attract that person to Current, and all roads led to David Bohrman.”

“Countdown” host and Current chief news officer Keith Olbermann was a key part of that decision.


“Needless to say one of the first people I consulted for input on the decision that led to offering this newly created position to David was Keith,” Hyatt says. “Keith highly recommended him.”

While Bohrman and Olbermann didn’t have a formal conversation before the former CNN executive took the new job, Bohrman says he and Olbermann chatted via email  to talk ideas.

“Keith’s advice is always intriguing, right? Everything is either good or bad at any given moment,” Bohrman told TVNewser. “He has an extroverted personality, but there is a huge amount of insight there. I am going to listen to everything he says, and see what happens.”

For Bohrman, Hyatt and Olbermann, priority number one is to  build out Current’s primetime programming, starting with new 7 PM and 9 PM shows to bookend “Countdown.”

“Our schedule is sooner rather than later,” Bohrman says. “I don’t want to sit around and gab for six months before we have a 7 PM and 9 PM program up. I am not sure that a 24-hour schedule will be built around Keith–I think it is all in the spirit of Current and what we want to accomplish in the overall schedule–but I do think prime will be built around Keith, and I would hope that we can very soon make real progress on the programs before and after.

It makes a lot of sense to ramp up prime, as a first step, but I will tell you, I will think about the full day and full week of prime,” Bohrman added. “A year from now the network will look very different than it does today.”

While Bohrman has spent the last part of his career working for a cable news channel, his view of much of the landscape has dimmed somewhat.

“Most of what is on cable news these days is pretty dysfunctional, it is a lot like what we saw in Washington during the deficit conversations,” he says. “There is a lot of yelling and screaming, but there is no light on any of the issues.”

Part of Bohrman’s goal is to shed that light on issues, and while he is known for his technological gimmicks at CNN, Bohrman says that they are not necessary to accomplish what he thinks is Current’s purpose.

“We don’t need to spend a lot of money on holograms to have good ideas on the air,” Bohrman said, referencing the “holograms” CNN featured during its 2008 election night coverage. “I want people to have something to say on Current. I don’t want everything to devolve into a shout-fest where you have four minutes, three points of view and everyone is arguing with each other.”

Bohrman cites the slogan of Fox News as something to live up to, a slogan that, in his mind, that channel hasn’t lived up to as its ideology crystallized.

“Remember ‘We Report, You Decide,’, back when Fox News began?” Bohrman says. “Well, we will present these ideas and analyze them, but then, then you can figure out what you think. Right now [on cable news] I don’t know what to think, there is just so much noise.”