Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Swimming against the current:
What's happening to Al Gore's tv channel?

I just got around to listening to a very stale podcast of the Brian Lehrer show from almost a month ago. (I share my iPod with a household that currently includes two seventeen-year-old girls, so I listen to more Leonard Cohen than Leonard Lopate, and I don't mind, because the seventeen-year-olds are right, in that respect.) But can somebody tell me what is going on with Al Gore's foray into television? (I know, I know. He invented it. Let's move on.)

I tried Googling INdTV, and Google asked me if I meant "In HDtv." The website "indtv.com" is parked. Not a good sign. Some more Googling informed me that his project is now called "Current TV," something I later realized I would have known if the Lehrer podcast hadn't put me to sleep. "Currenttv.com" is a television commercial ad company that apparently has fielded enough foul balls for Gore's station that their website now greets you with: "We are in no way associated with the Current.TV Network." That's a good sign. If you're not savvy enough to get your own dot com name, or to pick one you can get, you're already three steps behind most teenagers in America today. Not an auspicious start for the inven--okay, I said we wouldn't bring that up.

So what the hell is going on? Has the American public suddenly wised up to cynical appeals to its baser instincts and stopped watching crappy propaganda? Did Gore's concept simply nose-dive? Somebody fill me in! I'm watching French cable filtered through Guadaloupe, and there's not a news article to be found on the web about Current TV's arrival or demise. (Excepting one insider piece titled, "Gore's Current TV Actually Works, Some Think." Bear in mind that "Some Think" is media-speak for "Nobody Thinks.") The podcast I listened to said it was pretty heavy on religion and spirituality. Lots of Deepak Chopra. Did Gore discover an enormous black hole in the heart of American youth? Wouldn't that merit a story?

When I finally found Current TV's website, it was via the "tv" domain suffix. (I thought it might be Transylvania, which would be kind of cool--but that's not a real country. Actually "dot-tv" belongs to the island nation of Tuvalu, whose nine thousand inhabitants are now desperately trying to get rich off something it would have taken them another millennium to invent. More power to 'em.) The blurb for their latest video pick offers some kind of satirical piece wherein Karl Rove gets advice from O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and Robert Blake. Gee, that sounds funny. Except for the dead women and molested children part. Suddenly I don't mind not having DSL.

Anyway, Current-TV-dot.tv offers little for us non-high-speed viewers to view, even in their apparently favored four-minute format. So I checked our their blog. God, and I thought my numbers sucked. A pathetic appeal for comment on Katrina had brought in zero posts after five hours, so I jumped over to the vblog part of the site to see if maybe Current TV users aren't just too advanced for QWERTY. Nope. Nothing there except a weird pean to some guy who sent them some video of the aftermath of the London bombings. Which happened almost two months ago. And another pathetic appeal for any kind of input. "Garbage out, garbage in," I guess.

Can anyone say, "Air America"?


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