Just one brief thought about the demise of Current TV. For several years now, the venture’s boosters have insisted there is nothing wrong with the idea of Current TV. Their problems all stemmed from obscure details of one kind or another. I have no doubt that all sorts of non-ideological mistakes were made. But the one important point is that if their programming were legitimately popular, those mistakes wouldn’t have mattered. All sorts of successful entrepreneurial ventures make countless mistakes getting up and running. But because their products are popular, those mistakes don’t really matter. If very large numbers of people wanted to watch Current TV, Current TV wouldn’t be bankrupt. Money would have rolled in, and this keystone-cops stuff would have remained invisible. But despite the best efforts of very-serious-progressive types and ample up-front investment and enormous free publicity and goodwill from the mainstream media, the thing still bombed. Current TV was launched on the assumption that “if you build it, they will come.” They didn’t. And that’s the moral of the story few on the left will ever admit or call attention to.
I am sure that I will get e-mailed all sorts of articles and blog posts pointing to the great numbers Current TV had in Muncie or Austin. That’s all nice and fine. But the thing died because the thing was doomed from the start. Deal with it.
* Okay, here’s the catch. This is a verbatim repost of something I wrote in 2006 about Air America, except for a few necessary word changes.