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. Phil Sandifer

    I'm sure that Fox will look at this and realize that they too have better things to do with their airtime than show partisan and inflammatory commentary, and will thus fire Hannity, Beck, and O'Reilly.

    No. Wait. I'm not. Fox will go on airing shrill liars who are ten times more offensive every day than Olbermann ever was at his worst.

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

      Yeah, right, ok, Phil! Looks like you've been drinking the kool-aid. Olbermann was a narcissist who didn't know the difference between reality and fantasyland. MSNBC depended on uninformed liberals to keep Olbermann on the air. I guess after November, the leadership at MSNBC did some introspection and decided they needed to start hiring real Journalists if they want to compete with CNN and Fox. Hopefully Maddow and Big Ed are soon to follow.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    COUNTDOWN to no Ogarman! Whoo hooooooooo!!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. vicky

    What the hell is this network doing?
    Keith is an excellent source of information and I enjoyed his program!
    Well another channel to skip from here on.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jerry

    Mr. Boehner where are the jobs?

    January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trump2012

      The US government has lots of jobs...and so does China.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh


      January 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary31267

      I loved his taglines like this. It started already with Boehner and his drones the repeal of "obamacare" vote. The republicans will do nothing to help low or middle class Americans. As long as the top 5 percent get richer and they can have 4 and 5 cars and 2 houses who cares if 95% of us work hard our whole lives

      January 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heywood Jablomi

      Well it's true, China does have lots of jobs. The People's Republican of China.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ihatefoxnews

      Good night and good luck........Now the only true progressive voice left. Ladies and gentlemen Rachel Maddow.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark

    Way pass due msnbc. Keith was a true disgrace to journalism. Hopefully in his next job he will report the news. Instead of his far left BS. Update your resume, Chris Matthews may be interviewing already for your next job.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramon F Herrera

      "Hopefully in his next job he will report the news"

      Who the heck told you he is a reporter? and how come you cheer the crap from Glen Beck and O'Reilly??

      January 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. blake

    When will MSNBC begin neutral news reporting rather than promoting a leftist Democratic agenda?

    January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joseph

    Keith, thanks for ripping the moronic Fox network for so long. Until you came along they went un-checked spewing lies. You are a trooper for America! You will be missed.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John G

    THANK YOU COMCAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! More to come we all can only hope.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Willa-PA

      Be careful what you wish for.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Elizabeth Swingle

    So who will go up against Bill O'Reilly now? MSNBC doesn't have many good replacements as evidenced by who fills in when the main person is away. I'm sure Chris Hayes is more comfortable writing than talking and Sam ____ and his squeaky voice don't cut it. So we will See.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Name*M Robbins

    What a stupid move to fire Keith

    January 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. kd

    Hopefully he'll go somewhere. My guess is Comcast, the new owner after buying NBC from GE, decided far-right is the way to go.

    Olberman was a refreshing breeze of loud honesty in the lying right-wing media world we live in.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. shooter505

    MSNBC, what took you so long? LOL!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Snyphilis

    PLEASE let him just go away!!!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Phil

    MSNBC- You will miss Keith when he goes to CNN and kicks you butt.... Comcast will ruin MSNBC. I like Rachel, but she cannot fill his shoes. You are losers.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Riley


    January 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
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