CBS was kind enough to send out highlights of David Letterman's chat with Keith Olbermann from tonight's "Late Show." Funny that Olbermann's visit to discuss his latest messy exit from a job would come the same day Letterman announces a new contract with the network that has been his broadcast home since 1993.
Here's the CBS transcript:
“Now, tell us your story,” Letterman asked. “How much time have you got?” Olbermann joked. “How long ago did you leave MSNBC to go to the Current TV show?” Letterman asked. “It’s over a year, right?” “I don’t know,” Olbermann said. “I have to consult my notes because after a certain point, I can’t keep track of where I’m working. I don’t have any idea.” “Well, that’s why we had this made up for you,” Letterman said. “This is – right here, this is an adjustable business card,” with rotating employers, which Letterman then handed to Olbermann. “Oh, that’s brilliant!” Olbermann exclaimed. “…Thanks, Dave, I’ll treasure it always.”
“But, you know, not that anybody cares,” Letterman said, “but when you said you were going to Current TV, I think a lot of people were skeptical because I still don’t know where Current TV is, I don’t know what they do at Current TV, and we all thought, ‘This is going to be fantastic or it’s just going to be nothing,’ and it turned out to be - ” “Nothing,” Olbermann whispered. “Nothing, yeah,” Letterman said. “First of all, do they know what they’re doing over there, because you know what you’re doing.” “Thank you,” Olbermann replied.
“All right, so do they, the Current TV people know what they’re doing?” Letterman asked. “It’s former Vice President Al Gore. Does he know what he’s doing on TV?” “I screwed up, “Olbermann said. “I screwed up really big on this. Let’s just start there. I thought we could do this. It’s my fault that it didn’t succeed in the sense that I didn’t think the whole thing through. I didn’t say, ‘You know, if you buy a $10 million chandelier, you should have a house to put it in. Just walking around with a $10 million chandelier isn’t going to do anybody a lot of good, and it’s not going to do any good to the chandelier.’ And then it turned out we didn’t have a lot to put the house on to put the chandelier in, or a building permit, and I, I should have known that. And it is, it is my fault at heart.” “You’re the chandelier?” Letterman asked to audience laughter. “I’m the chandelier,” Olbermann replied. “You are always pointing out how big my head is, so I think it’s a suitable analogy.”
“Now, I’ve been in situations in my lifetime where the second I agreed to something, I got that sinking feeling in my stomach and I said to myself on those occasions, ‘Holy goodness, I’ve just made a huge mistake.’ Did that happen to you?” Letterman asked. “It did,” Olbermann said. “And we even joked about it, if you recall, last September when I came out and did a Top Ten List…one of the great thrills of my life, and the last time I had fun on TV, but it was – one of the lines was about, you know – “ “Well, let’s see it, I think we have on – do we have it on videotape?” Letterman said, and he threw to the video of Olbermann reading the “Top Ten Reasons to Watch the New ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” from last fall, with Olberman reading #2: “Better watch now because things could go wrong in a hurry.”
“Now, you had something for me,” Olbermann said. “I have something for you, which is this lovely ‘Better watch now because things could go wrong in a hurry” button which we made.” “That’s great,” Letterman said, as he pinned the button on his lapel. “We made that up the next day,” Olbermann said, “because as I was saying, you know, as you just said, if you know it’s not going to work or you suspect it’s not going to work, it doesn’t mean you stop trying to make it work.”
“Well, that’s exactly right,” Letterman said, “because it’s not just you, it’s other people and you took a lot of people with you. Now I’m impressed. I’ve known you many, many years now and always as just a stand-up guy who’s ready for a good scrape and will take the high road if there is a possibility of a high road anywhere in the world anymore, so for you to announce that the whole thing was your fault just by agreeing to go there, you’re taking the blame for that?...You got your money. That’s all I care about, right?” “Well, up to last Thursday I got my money,” Olbermann said. “The nice judge will decide whether or not I get more of my money. But quite seriously, you know, in that situation, what you’re thinking is, ‘Oh, Lord, this is probably going to hit the water at some point,’ but what do you do? You have – you could bail out and say I’m getting out of this immediately,’ and trust me, I was thinking about that as early as like last July. We’d been on the air about 10 days and they fired the guy who knew what he was doing who I worked for and I went, ‘Uh-oh.’ But I went home and just sort of had a conversation with myself and said, ‘Look, these – the two important groups that are more important than what I do about myself – the audience who, you know, went to struggle to find where the network was and join me, and, most importantly, the staff.’ And I had 25 people who, most of them came with me from other jobs, one guy was with me four different places, and they put their careers at risk for me, and I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to them let alone thank them for the work that they did with me, and I’m, you know, I’m so proud of them because the show editorially was never better, but I let them down because the thing didn’t continue.”