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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soundoff (1,424 Responses)
  1. Cesar

    Where will he go? What will he do?

    January 21, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hutch

      Where will he go? Let's see...he's almost as original as David Letterman...he's almost as witty as Dennis Miller...he's almost as brash as O'Reilly...he's almost as articulate as Brian Williams...he's almost as offensive as Howard Stern. Bottom line, he's an "almost" kind of guy...a second-rater. Thus, best place for him to go is nowhere...he needs to stay where a second-rater belongs...MSNBC.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dale

      I think he's best suited for some used car dealership, honestly. A complete pompous moron.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Who cares?

      January 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • srichey

      He will be fine. He has a following whether anybody likes it or not.

      Right Hutch?

      January 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • hbjon

      He will go to where Jessie Ventura is.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • GeorgeB from Ohio

      Very intelligent, insightful guy, a bulldog for progressives. Will miss him, will watch him if he gets picked up by another network. Right wingers hate him because he shines a spotlight on their pathetic rhetoric, unseemly agenda and hate mongering.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • T.R.H.

      this isn't the last move the new comcast/nbc will make, lookout chris mattews and rachel maddow change or die

      January 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • mike

      It's all about ratings & money, & nothing else. Television was invinted to sell products, the entertainment segments are just to get people to watch the commercials.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fergie

      What a sad day. MSNBC has lost a show which actually asked viewers to use their grey matter. I hope he gets the same format somewhere else where we can all watch and appreciate this first class journalist at work. In the meantime, the morons at FOX as well as those who watch them, will talk it up as a victory for their side.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Brian MacCartney

    I have been a loyal viewer for years. I will miss this program. What will I do at 8:00 PM now? Mr Olberman's wit and delivery made for an hour of wonderful reflection. He will be missed.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • burrprint

      You get to watch The O'Reilly Factor!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      MSNBC has asked that you tune your TV to Fox news to get a dose of reality, instead of kissing the messiah's butt all night...your choice.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Fox News? Reality?


      January 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denise

      Me too.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      I totally agree. He is the best! CNN go after him.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • SJS

      You people HAVE to be kidding..... this jerk has been stealing money for a LONG time! CJPA, you moron, he wouldn't know TRUTH or FACTS if they hit him in the face! Good riddance, now they just need to take that pathetic station off the air, & that, IS a FACT!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mofojo68

      I am sick with Keith leaving. He was the reason why I began watching MSNBC and he really opened my eyes to the nonsense of the political world. I was completely uninerested before. I hope he finds a "new home" and I will follow him where ever he goes. CNN would be nice. I cannot stomach FOX. Thank you Keith and see you soon!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Roy Eisner

    If CNN is smart, they are calling Keith Olbermann right now. You want viewers back? Get Keith. Come on CNN.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jackie Smith

      If he didn't get viewers on MSNBC, why would people watch him on CNN?

      January 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      I'll switch. Do it CNN, & get me back.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Glen beck was an abject failure at Headline News and then went to be "successful" at Fox. Keith could easily do the same by switching to another network.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nathan

      Get him to join CNN to boost ratings? You can't be serious. MSNBC had some of the worst ratings in the business and it's likely why KO is getting KO'd by the network. Bring him on at CNN and you will lose many of those who consider themselves to be in the "middle". Myself included. I will never listen to another minute of that blowhard regardless of network just like I refuse to listen to anything Rush has to say.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      Do it CNN.....I'll be happy to switch. MSNBC is no longer on favorites list!!!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Keith had 1,000,000+ views last night. He'll land somewhere.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pamela

      I agree! This is the end for any truth in our media!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1ragincajun

      he's starting a new singing show with rosie o donnell

      January 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • SJS


      CNN went into the tank BECAUSE they hired people like Oberman in the 1st place. Yea, after hiring Piers, add Oberman, then it's OVER! CNN will not be alive by 2015 as it is.......

      January 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Storm

      People keep saying low ratings, and I'm not seeing it. Everything I look at is showing higher ratings for Kieth's show than most of the other shows on MSNBC. Cite?
      I don't watch cable news, but given that everything I see shows him having pretty decent ratings, I don't understand the rational behind removing him.

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

    I will never watch msnbc, what a stupid move. Shame on you.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • M.G. Harris


      January 21, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Let's blame this on George Bush. Had it not been for the recession, Keith would not have been under so much pressure to deliver.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • nannyx5

      idiots like oriley and beck hang around, someone like oberman who tells it like it REALLY is are let go, bye bye msnbc...going back to cnn............

      January 21, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pamela

      Well said. I am so outta MSNBC!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • nathan


      that is the most absurd thing i've ever heard. I don't like Beck or O'Rielly but to suggest Olberman is different (aside from ideology) is beyond ridiculous. They are all the same. Those shows are opinion pieces. They are not true journalists in the sense of reporting factual information. Anyone with half a brain and an ounce of objectivity could decifer that within 30 seconds of listening to his show. In your OPINION you may like his views better but give me a break with that nonsense.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • John G


      January 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. twistedpuppet


    January 21, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ryan

    Good luck, Keith! Can't wait to find out the real scoop.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. diane

    I agree with earlier comment. Get Keith on CNN and I'll come back.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • TTommy

      Huh? Exactly where are you now?

      January 22, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mitchie

    I will miss Keith... I don't know if he left or was asked to leave. If it is the latter, MSNBC has made a horrible mistake. I hope that he had a better offer and is going to continue to deliver his pointed views and acerbic wit at some other station.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Will Lee

    This is beyond sad. This guy has done so much good. Details please!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alistair

    I hope he comes on CNN or Headline News!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chip

    Say it aint so, I feel like I lost some one in my family. Been watching keith since he was on espn, CNN please get Olberman, he saved MSNBC that's for sure no telling what he could do for u guys

    January 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jamal

    Keith was a great voice for the progressive movement he and his show will be missed

    January 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dantelavelli

    While sometimes entertaining, Keith was occasionally out of touch with reality. I'm sure he'll find a spot on CNN.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ProudVeteran

    Aww, now who's going to spread all the lies and BS that Olbermann got from his daily White House transcript? Good move for MSNBC, now get someone with talent!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • rckeene

      He did not lie.. Now fox and that bunch could not tell the truth if they saw it marching down the street...

      January 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gracko

      What's the matter, bagger, Ice Road Truckers canceled?

      January 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • CindyLou

      Proud Veteran (of what), you sound like a typical Foxnews viewer, so go back to Glenn beck, he has the kind of show you seem to like. Don't waste your bothersome comments on Keith Olbermann fans, our intellect is above that.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      the only network that spreads lies is Fox news, as they have been busted several times

      January 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blagoliuff

      Actually, KO was regularly critical of the President Obama and, for that matter, the last Congress on a variety of issues. He wa also, btw, quite critical of the last Administration when they actually WERE feeding talking points to Fox. I ain't whistling dixie – all can be cited.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Olbermann is spot on, & earned my respect when he took on President Bush on Iraq before that was acceptable behavior. The man is brilliant, & doesn't need a transcript from the White House.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. rckeene

    I do think that CNN should pick him up. what a mistake for msnbc. who will be next???

    January 21, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
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