Keith Olbermann, MSNBC part ways
January 21st, 2011
10:49 PM ET

Keith Olbermann, MSNBC part ways

Keith Olbermann is leaving MSNBC, the "Countdown" host announced on his show Friday night.

The liberal commentator told viewers he had been informed "this was going to be the last edition" of his show, but offered no further details.

NBC Universal confirmed the news in a statement Friday night.

"MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

Olbermann made the announcement in his typical deadpan style, evoking scenes from the film "Network" and thanking viewers for keeping him on the air for eight years.

"In the mundane world of television goodbyes, reality is laughably uncooperative," Olbermann said before launching into a story about his exit from ESPN 13 years ago.

"As God as my witness, in the commercial break just before the emotional moment, the producer got into my earpiece and he said, 'um, can you cut it down to 15 seconds so we can get in this tennis result from Stuttgart,'" he said, half-smiling, pausing for composure.

"So I'm grateful I have a little more time to sign off here. Regardless this is the last edition of 'Countdown.'"

Olbermann began his career at NBC in 1997 as an anchor for NBC Sports. During that time he was also host of two MSNBC primetime news programs, “The Big Show,” and “White House In Crisis.”

He left the network amid a dust-up over his dissatisfaction with the network's coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. He returned in 2003 as a substitute host on "Nachman" before launching "Countdown."

The prime-time host's departure comes two months after he was suspended for a couple of nights in November for violating the ethics policy of the cable network after Politico reported that he had donated to three Democrats seeking federal office.

The contributions violated an NBC policy that requires employees of the news organization to obtain permission ahead of any political donations or activities that could be deemed as a conflict of interest.

The announcement triggered immediate speculation over whether the coming takeover of NBC Universal by Comcast had anything to do with his departure. NBC has denied that the move had anything to do with the impending takeover, New York Times reporter Bill Carter told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

Olbermann signed a four-year extension on his contract in 2008, Carter said, which will prevent him from appearing on television. He can still do radio and online appearances, he added.

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  1. Dutchie

    Smart move by NBC now their ratings will go up and will get some more advertisment $$$ to the bottom line. I'm sure KO will find work somewhere else but poor ratings will folllow.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Shawn

    He was the only reason I watch MSNBC, you guys suck, I hope CNN offer him a show, you will be miss Keith.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Linda

    Thank you, thank you! He's GONE!!! Hhopefully, MSNBC will pick someone that is actually balanced.....

    January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJN

      HOW ABOUT YOU, YOU SOUND LIKE A NICE JERK.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Duanesworld

    What a shocker this is! Once again NBC manages to ruin a good thing (remember "Boomtown?" Gets nominated for an Emmy so NBC trashed it.) Will miss Keith – one of a kind.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rafael

    As much as I Like Keith, I think he is one of the most important Journalist at this time sometimes I think he was too much in his comments but he deserves a much open forum to talk about his political views.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sandy

    Miss you Keith ...you were fantastic!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dr T

    Dear Mr. Olberman. On your terms, I hope. Thank you for persevering past your father's death. Thank you for instilling a sense of healthy skepticism, wit and justified outrage. Thanks for the deadpan. In the deeper recesses of my parahippocampal grey matter concentration, DNA nows continues to turn on the antidote for dementia, in great part due to the heightened attention demanded to follow your grounded, unique and delightful perspectives. Thanks

    January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • wirebell1

      I couldn't have said it better....he'll be back soon on a network that appreciates integriety...oh yeah until tonight that was MSNBC....

      January 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. forrest mcfarland

    I would think a simple disclaimer would have taken care of all the hoopla. Huh! Since opinionated political discussion has been decioded we will get on cable, then without Olbermann I'll have few reasons to tune in to MSNBC.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve Egger

    I wish I knew what MSNBC was thinking!!! He is a very kind man who got upset about the right things.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim

    Keith is a bit of an icon no matter what you may feel about him. He is likely larger than MSNBC, and I think we will see that. I hope so.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • John G

      He's nothing of the sort unless your a lover of rhetoric, hate and socalistic values.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Willy Brown

    CNN you can hire him to replace Piers when he bottoms out in 6 months.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay Jacks

      Glad I'm not the only one thinking this.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jennard

    Ha only thing left is to get the idiot Ed and Rachel Maddow that idiot insults the governor of New Jersey for messing up a simple math problem and then she does it herself typical liberal no brains.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wirebell1

    ball's in your court CNN...you have a chance to triple your ratings...I'll switch in an instant when Keith comes on board...you had the sense to fire Beck and that other guy who now shows up on fox, have the sense to hire someone with an IQ above a turnip with genius, class, humor and honesty who raises the level of discourse for us all. but maybe you can't recognise smart and witty when you see it...my old neighbor Ted Turner could...perhaps he speaks to Keith as I type.........

    January 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • M

      I'll jump in that boat too!!! Perhaps CNN will get Keith and then Lawrence and Rachel... I enjoyed watching Keith because he told it like it was without being afraid, about everything, about Bush, etc.... 99% of what he said was the truth and he had the guts to say it.. Some of these other journalists are jokes and complete idiots.....

      January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John Kelly

    I was hoping that Keith's show was going to be added to the NBC line up with the new merger. I now disapprove of the merger and will seriously consider changing to Uverse with AT&T. I just told them I wouldn't change even though they said they could offer a superior service cheaper. I was an @Home customer before Comcast purchased them.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mary Dixon

    I am chrused. He was the best on the air and I don't know where I will have to go to get the "Real Story". I hope and pray he get a better position some place else and will kill you in the ratings

    January 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
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