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. Mark

    Without Keith Olbermann, we will never watch MSNBC ever again. He will be sorely missed. Comcast has proven that they really don't know what they are doing. Keith was the Edward R. Murrow of our generation.

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

    If MSNBC asked Keith to leave they have made a grave error. He actually gave the news as it really is, reminded us of what is really important and he brought Rachel to us. I agree with sobered, Keith, Chris and Rachel made their nightly lineup. He will be sorely missed.

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

    Too liberal for my tastes! Glad to see him go! He shouldn't have violated company policy and donated to a political party!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. June Weingart

    What is wrong with MSNBC? I certainly won't watch anymore. Now we have no one to reubutt Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Beck and all the other conservative idiots who spout lies about liberals. Where is our voice now????!!!! I hope another network has the good sense to give Olbermann a platform to reflect the interests of what used to be the middle class. The way it looks right now, MSNBC caved to the right. How could any political party be called something so undeserved? The "right" implies intelligence, caring, sensibility. What a laugh. All the GOP cares about is more for the rich and nothing for the average man. I'm totally disgusted!

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

    One wonders what the real reason for his canning is, hmm? Keith could at times be utterly riveting; isn't that what news-entertainment is all about? Oh well, maybe he'll go to CNN - or maybe Jon Stewart will take his place on MSNBC! Yes!!

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

      I like Jon Stewart just where he is. It's not the end of the world. We still have Jon Stewart to make us laugh and Rachel Maddow to make us think (though as often as not they do trade places in those jobs).

      January 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Chuck

    This change is a blow to those who strive for a well-informed electorate.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Fred Tinsley

    Keith made sense when he spoke to the audience, he spoke to our intellect, deconstructed the lies from Fox, called politicians out on their hypocrisy, appealed to us to help other. His departure will be missed by millions of viewers. I no longer need to schedule my day around the 8 pm time slot. I really wish he didn't have to go. Thanks Keith, you will never know how much your show meant to my entire family.

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

      AMEN! Very well-put! There's no one else who could rebut the RWers & Fixed News and really take a stand like Keith. This totally sucks.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mary Burebidg

    Keith was the only reason I watched MSNBC. I wish him well, and hope he goes on to bigger and better things. If it's true that Comcast is behind this, I'm outta here! What's the web site for Dish?

    January 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. fleabitten

    Great show him the door!!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Carol

    I could not believe my ears when Keith said tonight would be his last on MSNBC and that he was ending Countdown. I have been a faithful viewer and I will miss him. I hope he moves to another network soon.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe Issano

    No more MSNBC-TV for me...and, I am changing to Brighthouse cable.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. fail safe

    Yes! This is the best news! This guy is nuts. He has never been right in the head since his subway accident in 1980. Low ratings = out the door.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dprogressive

    He will be greatly missed. He is actually a good guy that really cares about the country and the world. He is great about uncovering the lies from the extreme right and always had the facts to back it up. I wish him the best luck.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. peter k

    I'll miss his left-wing rants. Who will get my blood pressure up nitely now? Good riddance to the, er, "Worst Person in the World"

    January 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ramon F Herrera

    Have you folks noticed what network is most excited about this???

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