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. Alvinjh

    Keith who?

    January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • please.

      Like the article said, he had been informed "this was going to be the last posting" of this moronic comment, but offered no further details.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Richard

    Thank goodness! Why did it take so long????

    January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CalGuy

    CNN needs to get him quick. He is the most talent. He will bring more worldwide audience than CNN would imagine.

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

      CNN supposedly has a policy against running partisan commentary in the style of O'Reilly or Olbermann, so it doesn't seem like they'd pick him up.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eddie Dex

      You, sir, are 100% right! I read where CNN made a committment to be even more dedicated to reporting the news than the others, ratings be screwed.

      That's commitment. That's journalism with cajones. "This is CNN."

      January 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Wrong for Olberman to go to CNN. (Disclaimer: I am a liberal) Over the last few years I've seen MSNBC come to respresent exactly what I despise about FOX News except MS comes from the Lib perspective. Olberman, Maddow etc are just blowhards for my side. For all of the complaining from some uneducated conservatives that CNN has a liberal bias, I say CNN is the only MainStream media remaining that truely tries to keep the news balanced. I mean look at CNN's shows such as Zakaria's GPS, Reliable sources etc. People on the Right and Left need to ditch their habit of listening to pundits from FOX/MSNBC telling them what they want to hear and turn to other sources for reality based info. CNN while not perfect is a start and miles above MSNBC/FOX

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

    This is disgusting. Keith was the last reasonable voice on TV! (besides Rachel)

    January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • kake79

      Uh... what?! First, if you love Olbermann so much, why are you on CNN.com? Second, using the words "Olbermann" and "reasonable" in the same sentance is laughable if not outright ludicrous. Olbermann could never hope to touch the professionalism and integrity of someone like Anderson Cooper. He was nothing more than a loudmouthed, bloviating fool.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      I agree.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dink

      Maybe Rachel can quit and start another lawn service company and have Keith drive the riding mower.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Norma

    I am so disgusted with the cowards at Comcast. The only reason to watch MSNBC was Keith, Rachel and Ed. I will NEVER watch that channel again, neither will my family. Too bad.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • kake79

      Good. Now maybe you and your family can catch up on real news.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Boycott them online as well – I will never read another MSNBC news piece

      January 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • cecilia

      could not agree more. – I wish all of those left at msnbc would move over to CNN –

      January 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brad

    Who cares?

    January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jay

    This is a real loss for intelligent viewers. He revealed himself as a genuine person by reading from James Thurber
    on Friday nights. Add me to the long list of those who will boycott MSNBC.

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

      oh no!!! what will msnbc do without all of its five viewers?

      January 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      He's as much as a jerk on the left as there are on the right. They're each equally fools and think everyone that doesn't see things their way as obvious idiots.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JimGr

    Olberman was averaging, at his lowest, a million viewers each show and of that a quarter million were in the key advertiser demographic of 25-54 year olds.

    I really enjoyed his pomposity but Rachel Maddow is better.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. e.b. west

    I am very disappointed and disillusioned with MSNBC. Keith is one of the best commentators on TV and no one does a special comment better. He really gets the truth out and paints the whole picture. Is this internal ,personal struggle? He will be sorely missed and WE WANT HIM BACK!!!! Is he too real for the spinning of news???

    January 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sid ceasar

    That's the kind of hope and change I can believe in.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rasputin

    I despise the guy but, unlike the liberals, I don't believe in silencing opposing views. It will be interesting to know "the rest of the story".

    January 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RickyL

    I cannot believe the smarmy idiots that have posted comments here about Kieth lying about the tea party and conservaturds, His show and Rachels are fact checked to the punctuation marks.If he got something wrong or mispoke he always retracted and apologised.This is a baldfaced attempt to silence the progressive voice on MSNBC, they keep that doddering,Chris Matthews who is always more concerned with his metaphors and the pronunciation of Dck Cheneys name than with the important issues of the day.It will be frickin hilarious to hear the drug addled Rush and the neurotic and brain damaged Beck and The Quittah from Wasilla all fight over who took him down. MSNBC you just shot yourself in the foot.You in one swoop went from my favoirite station that I watch from morning until evening to one in the bottom of the lineup.I will still tune into Rachel & Ed,but do not care for Lawrence or Chris or that yap sap Dylan Ratigan.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • It's RW Comcast who have made the decision on KO

      Right Wing leaning Comcast are the new owners of MSNBC. Keith is and was a voice of reason, but we can't have that, can we?
      So we'll follow Keith wherever he goes.
      To the idiots making the smarmy remarks, if you would stop your Fix Channel watching for just a minute, your IQ would jump 30 points.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • mick29

      Excellent comment

      January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tommy111

    I will follow KO and hope he is picked up very soon. I hope that Rachael, Chris, Ed and Lawrence will leave MSNBC also. All will be well Keith – God Bless You.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kris Craig

    For the record, Olbermann's show generated among the best ratings on MSNBC. Unfortunately, that's still low simply because nobody watches MSNBC. I suspect they will have even less viewers now.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. geezer52

    As a screed for liberal positions, Olberman was every bit as obnoxious as any of the conservative screamers at Fox. I wish they would all give it a rest. Honestly Olberman would have been nothing without Bill O'Reilly to play off of. Let's hope some lower keyed sanity returns to the world of news commentary

    January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kris Craig

      Olbermann had his moments, but comparing him to nutjobs like Beck is just plain laughable and shows just how little you actually know.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • kake79

      Here's hoping that O'Reilly ends up in some no man's land never to be heard from again along with Olbermann. Then maybe we can have a return to real news and journalists.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
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