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. Randall

    We will miss his voice and intelligent commentaries and critics.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tyrone "The Truth" Tyson

    In other news Rachel Maddow was seen cavorting with Greta van Sustern. Details at 11.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John G

    GOODBYE and GOOD RIDDANCE!!!!!!!!!!

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

    The termination of Olbermann is a real shock especially when you reflect on the ratings he was bring to MSNBC. There may be coincidence here with the recent merger of Comcast and NBC. Comcast has supported the Republican Party and even the Tea Party with large contributions to both. The logic here screams that Comcast was involved.
    The Olbermann MSNBC show will be sorely missed as real live intelligent analysis of the Politics inside the beltway.

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

      He'll miss you too. You were his only viewer. Amazing what you'll watch when you can't find the remote, huh?

      January 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      What ratings? MSNBC was last in all news ratings. KO was an angry man. LIsteners turn him off. Don't need his kind of angry, pointed messages that make no sense.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. June

    I looked forward everyday to watching Keith. I thought he had a great show. It saddens me deeply that his show was cancelled. I will not be watching any shows on MSNBC anymore. The new owners obviously did not appreciate his views, honest as they were. Are they going to get rid of Rachel, Chris, Ed and Lawrence also?

    January 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. art vandolay

    I hope he goes back to ESPN sportscenter. But still rip Bill Oreilly every night.

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

      NPR would be a better fit for him

      January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. am_bp

    Can't believe that Keith is leaving/or was fired. When I heard the deal with Comcast had being approved I wondered how long it would take for them to start taking apart the shows. Didn't take long, wonder who is next? Hopefully no one. Keith you were great, some may say extreme sometimes, but I believe those extremes always came from true passion for what you discussed. If it wasn't for you I don't believe that many things, such as the free health clinics for instant would have ever been near as successful. Don't be gone for long.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jon

    Keith was occasionally over the top, and of course his show had a relentless slant to it, but it served as a needed counterbalance to Fox "News". I think the main differences were that Republicans would not go on his show very often (or perhaps they weren't invited very often) and Keith mostly told the truth. I've always been amazed at how Fox gets away with telling outright lies on their opinion programs, as if it is OK to lie just because it is labeled as "opinion" programming. Each side perpetuates their respective echo chambers, of course. It's just terribly sad that news and opinion programs have degenerated to the point where there is no balance and little regard for getting to the truth. These programs are just another way to profit from the decline of America.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Smith

      I agree, Jon. You said it well.. Keith was a bona fide progressive who stood up for the lower/middle classes in this country.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Browne24M

      Chris Mathews is left wing but reasonably fair and balanced as a counter offset FOX. Olbermann and Maddow are nut jobs that are so far to the left with skewed "facts" that they both lost any credibility a long time ago! Blame his firing on Bush!!

      January 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Slomotive

    We will miss Keith. He never pretended to be something he is not. he always spoke the truth, albeit sarcastically or with a hint of hyperbole. ..but he did not lie nor distort the facts for money or fame. will be interesting to see where he lands..

    January 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck T

      Well said. To Keith: "Good night and good luck"

      January 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dan, Ohio

    Goodbye and good luck Keith, Goodbye MSNBC

    January 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. lisa

    Keith Olbermann added balance to the Right's Fox News. And without him MSNBC will lose ground in cable news. I'm done. I'll never watch them again.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ramon F Herrera

    What are all you baggers doing here?? Not much freedom of speech over at Faux???

    January 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sam

    I am glad I do not subscribe to Comcast. Wilth Keith gone, they can stick MSNBC, you know where!!!. I just cannot even imagine Primetime news without Olbermann. This is nuts!. What, are we going to allow the nut jobs at Fox news to own the airwaves?. Please please Keith, find somewhere else, I will follow you to any place on the channel where you land, even the dreaded Fox news as awful as that sounds. Shame on MSNBC, now the whole network is just a total wast of valuable airwave resources

    January 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Scot Skinner

    Well now he can finally get his own show on NPR.......... Right... I mean Left, where he belongs.... Good Ridance...

    January 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. CRAIG

    Will miss Keith. He provided great counter balance to the right wing nuts who seem to go on and on and on despite their garbage spewing statements

    January 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
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