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. Ramon F Herrera

    Did Olbermann ever speak about Net Neutrality???

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

    Maybe he can goto Comedy Central and have his ratings go up! Nobody watches his crap anyway!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pam From Houston

    CNN, getting Keith would be the best move!!!! It would bring me back to CNN.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Eddie Dex

    It makes me sad to hear when someone loses their job. His style of (ahem) journalism does not please my palette (nor does Hannity/Beck/O'Riley), but I wish him the best success in his future endeavors.

    In the meantime, my journalism wish is for people to get back to the days when Chronkite, Reasoner, Rather, Jennings, and Brokaw gave the news...When people remembered that news coverage was not about tickling their partisan ears and just being informed about the world around them. When that happens, FOX News Channel and MSNBC will fade away, and traditional, hard-hitting journalistic organizations like CNN and BBC News will remain.

    But I digress. Good luck, Mr. Olbermann.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • kake79

      ^ this

      Unfortunately, CNN's been sliding. I mean, we lost Headline News (my fave!) to the likes of Nancy Grace and Jane Valez-Mitchell. Now CNN has Park-Spitzer. Who's idea what that?! At least King finally retired; I'm loving Piers Morgan. But I don't think anyone will ever have my heart the way Anderson Cooper does.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray

      Most of what CNN does isn't 'hard hitting news'. When they start having more than 1 expert opinion for every 200 biased pundit opinion. they may get that back. Though Farred Zacarria's show is probably the most intelligent program in your country.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nils Klykken

    Keith will be missed. His contribution to the greater good is his legacy. Best of luck sir.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. *M1A

    Glad he is gone, very un-American sick person

    January 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John

    He'll find another good fit. Perhaps as an anchor on one of Chavez's state-owned television station in Venezuela.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SEREN

    OMG!!! I can't breathe! Keith Olbermann is the light of my life. He made sense of politics and he is the reason that I came to understand politics. Where can we protest? I'm truly devastated!!!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ron San Bruno CA

    Very sad day for all of us who learned so much from a man who loved this Country and what it means to be a citizen in this Great Nation.MSNBC has sacrificed itself into the hands of Fox. murdock beck ,billo and palin have won.THX for the trip back tyo the 20th century msnbc.Good night Keith Olbermann and thank you for the hope you brought to the 21st Century.

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

    I don't know what happened with Keith, but I will miss his show. If he was fired, it was a mistake. If he left of his own accord I kind of feel deserted. But I wish him luck and I will continue to watch MSNBC as long as Rachel is there. When she goes, I go.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mark Isaacs

    I've been an admirer of Keith for a generation, since his days as a sportscaster in Southern California. While occasionally he goes over the top in his heartfelt criticisms of those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, there is no more bright, inventive, witty, enlightened, compassionate and decent commentator/anchorperson in media today. He is the heir to the spirit and sensibilities of Edward R. Murrow. He is also the heart and soul of MSNBC and the network loses a viewer in me with his departure. I'm sure there are hundreds of thousands who feel the same way, who will follow Keith to wherever he decides to continue his sober-minded, common-sense observations and reporting next. I hope the Countdown to that eventuality is a short one, indeed.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ohhiya

    A replacement to Colms for Hannity? Hannity and Olbermann.... Would make for interesting entertainment

    January 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. El Vee

    To quote Keith back to himself from just a couple of days ago when speaking about Joe Lieberman:

    "Don`t let the delusional liar door hit you in the delusional liar butt on the delusional liar way out."

    "Tonight, goodbye, Keith Olbermann, and good riddance."

    KARMA IS SOOOO SWEEET

    January 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Donna

    I'll miss you Keith! Countdown was my favorite show and I always enjoyed your sense of humor and intelligence. Hope to see you soon on another network.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Greg Clapton

    Good riddence of this two-faced lying liberal!

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

      Learn to spell fool. It's riddance

      January 21, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
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