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. Carol

    NBC is at it again. Jane Pauley, Conan and now Keith. I hope he lands a GREAT job.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike

    Don't let the smug hit you on the way out Keithy Ol' boy

    January 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. M Brady

    If Keith is done so am I !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MontgomeryScott

    Good Riddance to a one of the worst that MSNBC has to offer. He routinely spread lies to back up his jaded views. MSNBC trying to move out its habitual last place in the ratings. Good luck with that.

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

      I agree!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Its easy to call Olbermann a liar... where's your proof? Oh wait, you watch Fox... you don't need proof to back up anything you say.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Carol

    What is the real reason that Countdown with Keith Olbermann was cancelled?

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

      he preferred to lie vice reflect upon the truth

      January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. gj corey

    Countdown with Keith Olbermann will be missed. Thank you for all the real News

    January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ken

    I don't really care where Keith goes. How about providing a little balance and bring Joe Scarborough to prime time? Better yet, Dennis Miller. Maybe Keith is headed to the White House to be President Obama's press secretary. That'd be interesting.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • brrrgirl

      I enjoy Dennis Miller, but he isn't exactly balanced. Besides, 90% of America wouldn't understand him. He has a pretty expansive vocabulary!

      January 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sues

    I and many, many others will NEVER watch your network again. You made a BIG mistake here – Mr. Olbermann was the last bastion of intelligence left in this ignorant, uneducated, pathetic country. Let the conservatives take your jobs, your money and bully you straight into the tent cities you deserve!!!! You’re too stupid to see it coming

    January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phylllis, Denver, CO

      Well said. THANK YOU! I record Keith daily so I never miss it and find I ALWAYS had the latest news and always the truth!!!!!!

      January 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Herb

    Well, it appears that Keith was forced out. His ratings was tops on MSNBC. From a ratings perspective, Comcast will probably regret this decision for the long term.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dan

    While I didn't always agree with Olberman, I enjoyed his perspectives. At the worst, he'll end up on radio somewhere. I'd like to hear a bit from him on progressive radio for 30 minutes or an hour each day.

    Hey I know, he should go helicopter hunting in Alaska and put on some bright red lipstick and he'd become real popular fast.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Craig

    I wonder if this had to do with the way Olbermann forced MSNBC execs hands after his "indefinite suspension". From what I read he believed he was more important than the station.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. waikikijohn

    Enjoyed his program nightly. Guess its time to go back to the News Hour on PBS.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. R


    January 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BJ

    I will NEVER watch MSNBC again! I hope Keith turns up with another show soon! He MADE the MSNBC evening lineup. They are idiots to either have fired him or chased him away.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • CG Wilkerson

      He was the center point of MSNBC line up. I would not be surprised if the remaining primetime lineup will also take a hit in the ratings, a very big hit!!!

      January 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. noel

    Keith wherever you go, I'll be watching. MSNBC execs are obviously not the brightest stars in the sky.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
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