Jennifer Granholm didn’t expect to get her own TV show. The opportunity for Michigan’s former governor to host a primetime program on Current TV came “completely out of the blue,” she said.
But here’s her shot. Granholm’s new program, The War Room, premieres Monday evening at 9 p.m. ET and will round out Current’s primetime line-up, following The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur and Countdown with Keith Olbermann. Granholm spoke to TPM by phone about her motivation to do the show and what she hopes it will mean to viewers.
Granholm, an actual politician, describes herself as a total political junkie. “I love this stuff, I am obsessed with it.” So she thought, “Why not do something I know a bit about on a subject that will last through November? It’s a win-win.”
Granholm, Michigan’s first female governor, has described The War Room as a program that liberals will love, independents will appreciate and conservatives will hate. Obviously, that plays to Current’s audience — former Vice President Al Gore is a co-founder of the network, after all. But with so much commentary and analysis available, how will Granholm’s program expand her already liberal viewers’ perspective?
“There is enough bandwidth on Current for a broad swath of viewers,” Granholm said. “We want to give those independent viewers something to think about.” The show will be “fair” but not “balanced,” she added. She won’t have a liberal and a conservative on the air just to start an argument and call it an objective line up. “I don’t think people are looking for moral equivalency,” she said.
Granholm’s program will stay true to its name. The set is literally a war room, with political posters and buttons. She wants The War Room to be “election central,” and so she has identified “12 races to watch in 2012.” Among those races are the Massachusetts senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown, the Virginia Senate race between Tim Kaine and George Allen and, of course, the race for the White House. In fact, The War Room’s first episode goes inside President Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters. And Elizabeth Warren will be a guest on The War Room Monday night. Other guests appearing during the show’s first week include New York Times polling blogger Nate Silver and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
It has been a tumultuous month at Current. Olbermann notably sat out Current’s election coverage for the first two primary states. Neither side would say much about the dispute, but eventually Olbermann agreed to run the network’s election coverage starting with South Carolina. It’s a good thing, considering Current is banking a lot on Countdown’s success. In August, Current’s new president David Bohrman told TPM that Olbermann “knows exactly what it’s like to come in and do that anchor show that gets the network off and running.”
But for Granholm’s part, she wants The War Room to do more than just inform viewers. She wants it to move them. If members of the Occupy Wall Street movement want to get politically involved, she wants the show to be a resource for them to take the first step.
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com