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. NJ Bob

    This is a very disappointing development and a HUGE mistake. I guess some right-wingers in management couldn't take the truth.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Willie Wilson

    Few will miss his rants.

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

    I find it hilarious a guy who has a segment called "The Worst Person in the World" is supposed to refrain from giving money to campaigns lest we think his work tainted by his own opinions.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Patrick

    Finally justice! He got what he deserves.

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

    There goes Job Stewart again, getting people he don't like fired. That guy!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. G>K

    Why does the left always have to be so PC right wing fox would never fire Gleen Beck this is a said day for us. I hope Cnn gets some balls and brings him on board!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. damonj

    So how much money from a foriegn corporation was paid to get this done?? Or perhaps it was Comcast!!!!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kayla

    Hi keith
    I watch Msnbc becuase of rachel Madow, Keith and the Ed show. we wil miss you but you will find a better plae then where you came from. thank you for good reporting- and hope i wil be able to see what net work are youy going to be. god Bless you keith.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Boston

    He led the charge in calling out the hypocrisy of the right wingnuts. His critics will rejoice, because he was so good at what he did. It's a loss for MSNBC.

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

    Terrible news. Maybe CNN will be smart enough to hire Keith and get rid of one of the screamers featured on their evening "news" programs.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jon KIng

    Comcast is a right wing company. They had Palin drop the puck at Flyers games. So right wing extremists are all over the air waves but now no left wing extremes even have a voice.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. volsocal

    Keith who?

    January 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Catherine

    I wonder how much of this has to do with his NAKED attempts to exploit the tragic shootings in Tuscon? Just sayin'!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. norma wilkinson Long Beach Cal.


    January 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • nathaniel lindsey

      I think this is a sad moment for MSNBC. This is giving in to preasure from outside sources within our Politicians. I hope he gets another job with someone who believes in getting the truth to the public. Even though I feel that his career was ended due to political pressure from politicians. We are praying that he gets another show that will allow him to once again speak just as Rush is allow to do without pressure. What a sneaky way to fire a hero.l

      January 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin g

    Maybe now Faux News will follow their lead and give Shammity the heave-ho! We an all tone it down a bit.

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

      As much as I can't stand Hannity he gets great ratings!!! I watch Fox Business Network, not FNC.

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

      Very well put. Very fair comment.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • rodney

      The reason I watched MSNBC was for Keith's refreshing take on the body politic. He never tried to hide his slant but he gave you Straight Facts. I stopped watching CNN when they banded radio talk show host from their shows. I only have one source of News now and that's CSPAN I won't watch MSNBC anymore this is just the first of hosts to go do to the Comcast takeover CSPAN and NPR are the only news outlets now that deliver facts. Which is truly a sad situation.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
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