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. jse

    Ding dong the wicked witch is dead!

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


      January 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray

      Arisona's Gov, is dead? I never heard that.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. R.D.

    We will miss you Keith. You were by far the most honest, sincere, and humane journalist my family and I have ever watched on television. You will always have a special place in our hearts and minds. We wish you the very best and I am sure that there is a another network that will be more than glad to have you join their team.

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

      WIthout you Keith, my knowledge of politics would have remained pathetic. You also made careers for Rachel and Lawrence. Apparently Comcast cannot handle the truth!

      I have watched you since the day you went on the air and gradually it became obvious (as you seemed to be testing the waters) that you were my liberal media man.

      How on earth do lies and dangerous rhetoric remain on the air with a following yet the truth is snuffed out. I guess this isn't America any longer. You will be sorely missed. Thankfully I have Direct TV and have paid for extra services just to get your show.

      Good luck and let us know where to tune in next!

      January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul pease``

      We're with you, R.D. We didn't always agree with keith but we were stimulated. We thought about what he said.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. M

    I feel bad for all the folks who work on his show. Real people (who do not make the millions Keith makes) lost their jobs today. Keith will land on his feet, I am sure.

    People with positions on both sides of the political spectrum deserve to be heard. The hatred exhibited by some of you scares me.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramon F Herrera

      "The hatred exhibited by some of you scares me."

      There are reasons to be hopeful. Research indicates that bagger-type folks fail to pass their hate to their descendants.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John

    I think people are tired of the extremists on both sides and "balanced" is becoming cool again. I expect the ratings on fox to be taking a bit of a dive soon. I think CNN is a bit to the left, but they are better than the others and will gain in the ratings in the future... at least for a little while.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LXG

    Keith is simply the best! Stays true to principles and calls them fairly, without bias toward power or whether dem or repub. He will no doubt land on his feet. MSNBC will begin to wither. Hope Rachel and Lawrence are still on for the short run, anyway.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lynda Schiebert

    Keith olberman says it like it is. I respect him for his honesty, humor and intelligence. I will cease watching msnbc and NBC network news. Your ratings will swamp again. Bad move NBC.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. *M1A

    He could get a job at Jazzara News Muslims love him, his main viewers

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Bailey

      Eat effluent and coss the pale.

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

      If you are attempting sarcasm, it helps to get the name correct.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ra Flo

    If I have my count right, there are now more people commenting on this article than are watching MSNBC.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jim Bailey

    The howling idiocy of MSNBC in self censoring Olberman to appease their new corporate masters speaks ill of the current batch of capos running the network....Maddow will be the next to go, then Ed Shultz and O'Donnell.

    Now is the time for the Olprah Network to make room in the evening schedule for the refugees from MSNBC (and Anderson Cooper when CNN sells him out).

    Oh, Howie Kurtz is a puta.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ramon F Herrera

    Why are baggers such liars? Keith Olbermann reinvented MSNBC alone.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mary


    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJN

      SAME HERE,

      January 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kim

    I will miss you Keith. Will miss your deadpan humor, the worst persons in the world, and reports on your urban health clinics. You nailed 'em with their own words in the video clips you provided. Hope to see you on air again soon.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mabel floyd

    i am shocked--keith was myi favorite. i still have not forgiven msnbc for firing phil donahoe-now this. has fox brought a controlling interest in msnbc? i think msnbc ows keith's fans an explanation--I WANT HIM BACK-

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe

    Wow! This is some of the best news I could have hoped for. He's a totally arrogant, ignorant puke.. I hope he doesn't show up anywhere else where the public would be subjected to his garbage.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. republithugs

    First Ricky Martin announces he is gay, now this??

    January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marqui

      OMG, not Ricky too! What has the world come to?

      January 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
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