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. Jennard

    You were by far the most honest, sincere, and humane journalist my family and I have ever watched on television

    People as dumb as you actually breed? God help us.

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

    The funny part: "MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success..." What success?
    The arrogant buffoon is out because O'Reilly kicked his a.s.s. every evening. Next is Matthews, who throws 'hardballs' like a girl to Beck and Smith.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JKR


    January 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    Rachel – turn off the lights as you leave the building please

    January 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Matt

    Clearly the first hammer to fall from the Comcast merger. This is a wrongheaded decision made out of spite and anger. While I didn't always agree with his tone, Keith was the centerpiece of MSNBC and the only person responsible for their resurgence into cable relevancy. To kick him out shows no class and no respect for the viewers of their sorry network.

    Bring Keith back...NOW.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Heywood Jablomi

    Looks like Faux news sent there entire press corps to this forum to gloat that the best counter to their lies is gone.



    January 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CG Wilkerson

    Keith provided balance to FOX want-to-be news and was the center point of MSNBC primetime.
    Hello CNN Parker Spitzer.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mainstreethost

    He will have no problem finding work, he should sports full time. mainstreethost

    January 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Outlaw

    I find it ironic that Keith Oberman has done far more for the gay community than Anderson Cooper who is excitedly reporting Keith's separation from CNBC. I wish Keith all the luck in his future endeavors.

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

    Ed's next. Can't allow too much ass to get kicked, afterall, we are liberals. Tea?

    January 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. norma wilkinson Long Beach Cal.

    I am always surprised at the people who will make a nasty,uncalled for comment regarding a person or show. If you don't like it, WHY DO YOU WATCH IT? If I don"t like a show , I don't watch it, no comment needed~~!!!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. maryln

    So now we have no one to counter act the hate and critizism from Hannity, Beck and everyone eles at Fox news. He made it balanced and interesting. This is not fair, I hate you MSNBC. Will miss him.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jms

    Cannot help but wonder if this the wave of the future now that Comcast bought out NBC. Comcast is my internet provider and the majority of the news they provide and promote on my home page is from Fox.

    He may have been outspoken but I welcomed his views and his passion. We need diversity and independence and for that I will miss him.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Craig

    about time! this guy is full of hate.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Texan Liberal

    Bye, Bye MSNBC...BBC: Here I come!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
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