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. Jack

    Signing up for Verizon FIOS tomorrow!! Bye bye Cabletown!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Daniel

    Bye Comcast. Keith was my only reason for that cable bill.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill

    If you wanted a polarizing liberal bias, Keith gave it. His problem, for me, was his condesending arrogance (or was it arrogant condesenscion?) Along with his right-wing counterparts, he's had a role in dividing the country.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. lisa

    I'm glad keith stupid azz is gone.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lane Engles

    I liked Keith at first. But the more I watched the more I was unhappy with his strong attacks on those he disagreed with. And I'm a progressive.
    The sooner we express our views in a civil way, the sooner we'll have a civil society.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jenny

    I hope he'll go in Hell! I am Democrat

    January 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mickey

    I can't believe how blind some people are. I watch all 3 stations and Keith was no way balanced. His whole show was negative sarcastic criticism of the republicans. He also expressed his disappointment with deems, but there is a huge difference between him and Mathews who never makes fun of people. I bet Ed is next. He has a similar approach towards name calling as Kieth. I'm glad they got rid of him. I could only listen to him for about 10 minutes before having to turn him off. Lawrence is much better.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pandora

      And yet you seem perfectly fine with the extreme namecallers on Fox staying on the air. Fair and balanced....sure you are.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey

      Actually the only two I can listen to are o'reilly and Mathews. The rest are to far to the right or left. So don't make judgements without knowing the facts.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pandora

      You're telling me not to make judgments when your first post is full of them? Pot calling kettle black, but of course that is completely lost on you...

      January 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fail safe

    A great day!!!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jse

    hahahahahahahahahahahha oh, hahahahahahahahahahahah oh my, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. A belly laugh is good now and then.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LouAz

    One of the few clear voices of reason in the wasteland of TV. I will certainly miss his ability to call a spade a shovel !

    January 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. wavejump1100

    watch rachel maddow. she is smart, informed and for the people.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ddpepper

    Sportscaster, newscaster, humanitarian, critic of fox noise, big health care money raised for multiple clinics for those who cannot afford to see a doctor, etc., one of the good guys of so very few in news. He will be fine.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tim In Dallas

    Thanks, the airways are better with him not on them. The guy gave a bad name to the term liberal. Their highest rated broadcaster on the third rate cable network. Not a big loss. It is time for everyone to move to the middle.

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

      Great! Then tell your buddies addicted to Fox News to do the same. Can't find the middle unless you're actually willing to go there.....

      January 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JFost

    MSNBC: your loss. Olbermann: best of luck to you! and, please, take short vacations so we can see you soon!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Solid Logic

    Remember Hannity/Colmes? Why not O'Reilly/Olbermann? II can't think of a better prime time puke-fest than this. Hey FOX, big ratings coup idea here! Republicorps can root for O'Reilly and Demonrats can root for Olbermann as they circle each other in the Corporate Media Wrestling Federation steel cage death match. The rest of us can then turn off the TV and work to restore the Republic that these two clowns could care less about. Read alternative media and wake up to how we are all getting played

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