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.FULL STORY