Meet the New 'Countdown,' Same as the Old 'Countdown'


To regular viewers of Keith Olbermann’s former Countdown on MSNBC, his new Countdown program on Current TV will look quite similar.

The premiere newscast opened with the same theme music and a similar opening segment (David Sarosi, who produced the opening segment on MSNBC’s Countdown, is the Current program’s executive producer).

Olbermann opened the show by stating the number of days until the next election, before going into the first segment, about the Obama administration’s ignoring of the 90-day limitation on troops in Libya without Congressional approval. Olbermann compared the cherry picking of legal opinions to support the action to those of George W. Bush as it related to the water boarding of informants.

His first guest was the filmmaker Michael Moore, who contributed the opinion that the two situations couldn’t be compared because Obama made his decision to save innocent lives, while Bush made his to obtain information to support a war.

Before the first commercial break, Olbermann made a special comment to the audience, a sort of mission statement of what his program would be about. He said it would be a “newscast of contextualization, presented with a viewpoint,” and positioned himself and his viewers as a “last line of defense.”

The second segment touched upon ethical dilemmas surrounding Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Monday’s decision by the court to dismiss the Walmart class-action gender discrimination lawsuit. John Dean appeared as a contributor.

The following “Time Marches On” segment was a collection of three light Web videos, modeled after Countdown’s old “Oddball” segment. After another commercial break, Politico journalist Ken Vogel appeared to talk about his story on talk radio host Mark Levin accepting bribes from conservative groups in exchange for stories. The graphic on-screen labeled the segment “The Right Fluff.”

Then came the return of Olbermann’s “Worst Person in the World,” which named a woman insulting a train operator on a cell phone video as the day’s worst over Sarah Palin and Fox News’ Chris Wallace/Bill Sammon.

The next segment, tagged “Inside the GOP Cult,” had a spot on Sen, John McCain blaming the Arizona wildfires on illegal immigrants, video of an Obama impersonator who appeared at a GOP event, and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas weighing in on the current Republican presidential candidates.

Olbermann had been teasing Moulitsas’ appearance throughout the broadcast, saying he would tell the audience why he hadn’t appeared on television in over a year. The answer, according to Moulitsas, was MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

Moulitsas apparently offended Scarborough, who then allegedly went to MSNBC President Phil Griffin and demanded that Moulitsas not appear on the network’s air until he issued an apology.

Though the words of indignation that Olbermann was not allowed to choose the guests for his own program were coming from Moulitsas’s mouth, it is not a stretch to say Olbermann shared them. He has said several times since leaving MSNBC that he was looking forward to doing a program out from under the watchful eye of a corporate boss.

Moulitsas’ interview went past the 9 p.m. mark, which Olbermann acknowledged shortly before by saying “We’re going to go past the top of the hour nearly every night… Sorry I forgot to tell everyone.” Monday’s broadcast ended about 9:02 p.m., with Olbermann signing off by saying “Thank you for helping us preserve the freedom of news.”