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. Steffan Piper

    So who is trying to silence the media now? Why is it that all non-Republican commentators and journalists are being forced off the air?

    What's the obvious answer?

    January 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ra Flo


      January 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • simplethings one was watching. that simple....

      January 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Brad

    I will miss Keith tremendously. He was one of the last "truth" journalists. What I find hilarious is the Right Wing Fox fans who think Keith "routinely spread lies". They are so brainwashed from the propaganda Fox spews that they do not recognize the truth when it's in front of their face. Their ignorance never ceases to amaze me.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rajiev

    If Keith goes to CNN,that network will be over for me also like MSNBC.
    Good riddance.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Semper Fi

    How will we all go on without KO.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dottie

    MSNBC has just lost ANOTHER viewer. Good luck, Keith, many are rooting for you!
    I think you and Rachel need to start your own network!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. e.b. west

    I am so disappointed and there will be a void on MSNBC. Keith is one of the best commentators on TV and no one does a special comment like him!! He is the best and really zero's in on the truth and painting the whole picture. Is that the problem??? To much truth???? WE learn to much. WE WILL MISS HIM AND WE WANT HIM BACK!!! What kind of loyalty is that to Keith or your viewers. Two shockers like this in less than 3 months is to much. ANd, I was not home to see the last show and did not know to record it. NO advanced announcement from the show itself.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Herb

    Good riddance. Goebelmann had lost everyone but the lunatic communist fringe, anyway, with his insufferable ranting. People saw through the BS and witnessed the sad consequence of two years of adhering to this ultra-leftist, anti-business, make-America-a-deadbeat's-paradise agenda. And they voted accordingly last November. Good riddance, indeed.

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

    Comcast made sure that Olbermann was leaving. News has become entertainment and now it's becoming a political tool used by huge monopolies who's best interests are served by giant military contracts and limited information to us "little people."

    January 21, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Willa-PA

      Kind of scary, to be forced to listen to people like Beck/Limbaugh and the likes of Fox. Corporations will own this country and they will make sure we don't hear the truths and will make sure we become like China, where they will black out the real news.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. John G

    THANK YOU COMCAST for giving Keith blubbermouth the boot. Nobody deserves it more than him.

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

    I'm an independent.
    He sucks, glad he's leaving.
    Don't come back.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimgpa


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

    Keith was the best of the few intelligent, thoughtful and inspiring voices on network TV. I've been a regular viewer and will miss him terribly. Obviously corporatist America doesn't want any antidotes to the brainwashing. He may have had enough, but I hope he gets another pulpit. I hope Ed and Rachel are okay as MSNBC ratchets up its race to the bottom. I won't be watching.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ryan


    January 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • mane

      Your mom could have done the world a favor by aborting you at birth. You have been rendered stupid by fox.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Doug Ison

    Good riddens. Not soon enough.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Packer Backer

    Way to go MSNBC !! You lost someone who had the kahoona's to speak his mind and to expose the "rightys" and tea baggers for what they really are !! Your ratings will be going farther down the toilet!! I Do'nt watch Fox and I will now add MSNBC to the list!! BYE!!!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Barbara

    I guess I should have known this was coming with Comcast taking over. Who's next? Sad day. Are we going to be left with only the conservative side of politics. That would really be tragic for our country.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
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