Announces contributors for 'Countdown,' debuting Monday

Trying to manage ratings expectations around his Monday debut of “Countdown” on the tiny cabler, Keith Olbermann said at a press conference Friday he was looking forward to Current’s eventual plans to become a 24-hour news and information network.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Olbermann told journos. “We’re in this to build a 24-hour-a-day operation.” Creating an alternative to mainstream news has long been a goal of Al Gore’s indie cable network, which has won numerous Peabody and other journalism awards but has failed to find audience traction or wide distribution.

Olbermann also announced the addition of new contributors to “Countdown,” including Rolling Stone journo Matt Taibbi, former Nixon adviser John Dean and thesp Donald Sutherland.

“You’re gonna hear a lot, from what I understand, from certain former employers of mine, about ratings numbers,” Olbermann said, referring to the long-standing practice of trashing the competition’s ratings on background to media reporters. “If the 10 people in the truck from which we are directing the show can see the show, that will be a satisfactory audience total for Monday night.”

Initial expectations aside, Olbermann and the net’s higher-ups are clearly hoping he can raise the network’s profile; Current hired the former MSNBC talkshow host as chief news officer in addition to his “Countdown” duties (the host confirmed that Current was at least meeting his MSNBC salary level).

“On the website, we’ll have a channel finder telling you how to find (Current) in your ZIP code, and, if you can’t, what you can do about it — pitchforks and torches and such,” Olbermann joked.

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