Inside the Collapse of Conan’s Tonight Show

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Finally, Glaser looked across the room to where Conan was sitting and asked him, “What do you want to do?”His chest muscles were so constricted, Conan wondered briefly if he might be having a heart attack. “What I want to do,” he said, haltingly, his voice rough and raw, “is something that all of you are going to tell me I can’t do.”He had their full attention now, all eyes pinned to him. “I want to write a statement that says exactly how I feel about it. You guys are going to tell me that I’m giving up all my leverage if I’m supposed to go to another network or something, but I can’t wait. I don’t want to play games here.”All his life, Conan O’Brien had lived through periods of debilitating self-doubt and insecurity, knowing that when the moment came to stand up for himself, when he was truly pressed against a wall, he would find a way to push all that aside, straighten his long Irish backbone, and be at his best. He described how much the show meant to him, the legacy of Carson, the offers he had passed up to get this chance, and how losing it would be crushing—and unfair. Because they were never really given a chance.