The Quan of Keith Olbermann

1 REP Keith Olbermann P
Wesley Mann

In advance of the Iowa caucus, the Current host made headlines for his planned absence from the network's election coverage.

Sources close to Current say their No. 1 star declined to anchor the coverage and The New York Times cited tension between the anchor and his employer. THR asked for an explanation from Olbermann, whose Countdown has become Current's top-rated show but has experienced on-air technical difficulties (in December the studio lights went out, prompting the sardonic host to return the following evening with a candle). This is what he responded.

"The team I'm fortunate enough to be a part of has produced -- in my opinion and that of the veterans of the old show -- the best editions of Countdown we've ever had. We've gone from a standing start, yet we've put together a product that is editorially superior to anything in the space. And despite our underdog position or the concomitant glitches built in to that equation, editorially we continue to break ground and set the pace for the other networks. We were not only the first to cover the Occupy movement but the first to cover it on a regular basis, and the first to incorporate it into our interviews with political figures. Even when that meant throwing production assistants and their handheld cameras in a cab to Zuccotti Park, our team set the agenda, and the other networks had to follow. Just as important: The editorial tone my senior producers helped to set enabled us to break away from formula. After he raided Occupy, I was able to call for the resignation of a conservative mayor in Bloomberg of New York. But when she did the same thing, I was also able to call for the resignation of a liberal mayor in [Jean] Quan of Oakland. The studio lights might go off, but the editorial illumination is better than ever."