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. Kris Craig

    Olbermann is controversial, but he certainly has a loyal following! I don't watch MSNBC, CNN, or Faux News anyway. But KO does bring a perspective that is sadly under-represented in today's media market.

    CNN, if you want to turn the tide in your ratings battle with Fox, grab Keith before he winds up at PBS or someplace else! Judging from the angry posts I'm seeing here, you'll probably pick-up a sizeable percentage of MSNBC viewers if you act quickly enough. Hell, I might even start watching you again.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Guntown Johnny

    "Keith, the viewers have spoken. Bring me your torch." If they canned him, he'll be able to work immediatley somewhere else, but not if he left voluntarily. This guy is a tool. Good riddance.

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

    I hope he gets to go somewhere he can show off his Libertarian leanings, instead of playing the part of the Statist clown and brain dead neo-liberal.

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

    I hope he doesn't get angry and move to Fox News, I will miss his commentaries...Kennygh

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

    Aw, nobody saw my red lipstick comment. If Keith went helicopter hunting in Alaska and wore red lipstick, he could get on Fox news everyday!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RJ Wilson

    I enjoy watching everyone on MSNBC, but Keith Oberman & Rachel Maddow are most entertaining, The two who are not afraid of telling the truth and facing the enimies. I hope Keith is replaced by someone just as good or better. I will miss you my HERO.

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

      wow! a couple of liars..I can see you are informed....NOT!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alex

    CNN Needs to Hire keith! They need to Start Firing Back at Faux news! Keith cannot leave the Airwaves.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CindyLou

    Boycott MSNBC and cancel your Comcast contracts.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1ragincajun

      Boycott? ... nobody watches anyway

      January 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • cecilia

      ok I am with you

      January 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kris Craig

      Ok whoever's spamming these nonsensical one-liners, please stop. I'm trying to watch the comments as they come in and you're just cluttering things up.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kris Craig

      Sorry CindyLou, I meant that as a general post, not a reply to yours. =)

      January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • phillip Marlowe

      you're talking about about 50 viewers in perspective to how he was crushed by O'Reilly nightly

      January 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Name*Dawn cahill

    I can't believe it I loved him he might have done things wrong but he was good at he's job good luck Keith and kick some but at your new place of employment I will watch u on any network

    January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sockeye

    Wait! Maybe that Mayan calender is correct! What year is it anyway?

    January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jack

    It's about time that GAS BAG is gone!!!!!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. twistedpuppet

    I really do not think CNN is going to hire Olbermann. They already fired Rick Sanchez for a bigoted comment he made. That was less severe than the conflict of interest and break with journalistic ethics that Olbermann pulled, which led to him getting pulled off the air last year.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mikemor

    Keith keeps the playing field balanced by calling out the TOXIC nonsense of the Reich wing media. He will be back you can Countdown the days till we see him again. Stay strong Keith we love you and thanks.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ZZZZ

    This Reeks of Comcast.. whats the history between Obie and Roberts?

    January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jackie M

    Hoping this is just a joke... Big mistake MSNBC. As a fan of both MSNBC & CNN, I think I will be watching more of CNN now. We need to hear from the Liberal side of the equation as there is so much of the Right Wing side of things out there in both cable and radio. MSNBC if you are tuned in to your audience you will reconsider. I'm hoping that Comcast had nothing to do with this.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
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