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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  1. Rebecca Randolph

    That's a darned shame! Countdown was one of my favorite shows. Big mistake, CNN! Keep on firing all your best talent and soon you will be losing more than just a great newsman: you'll be losing your great audience as well.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Packerfanchick

    I really hope someone picks up the story about Gov. Brewer in Arizona and her death panel. He exposed her for her ridiculous stupidity allowing Arizonans to die and playing god and doctor for transplant patients. As an RN it makes me sick to think that a Governor has that much power that she can call the shots on someone's life all for political purposes. This needs to be exposed further and if Keith does not have a forum to bring this to the forefront, CNN or someone needs to. For all the disgusting lies being told about Health Care Reform and the so-called "death panels" when one of Sarah Palin's bffs is legitimately allowing innocent people to die to save a few bucks (that would be matched by the federal government and then some) according to her own words, it is a travesty. The people who support these death mongers make me sick. Keith we need your passion and we need it now!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ramon F Herrera

    Studies consistently show that Fox viewers are the worst informed.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. P.D.

    I was one of many who threatened o boycott MSNBC for their suspension of Keith. Now I am cancelling my Comcast cable. I will not tolerate how MSM is silencing Progressive voices. We have Faux News, we have Right wing radio (Limbaugh and the rest come to mind.) I suggest CNN hire Keith. Instead of number 3 in the ratings, you will climb back to 2 with Keith. Just an idea......

    January 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joy

    I'm sorry to see Keith leaving MSNBC and don't really understand why. He is at times obnoxious but a level headed anchor and we enjoy listening to his show. Straight talk is hard for folks to hear but a necessary part of life. I am sometimes a little offended by his profanity but it isn't a regular part of his program, just when he's exceptionally upset. What doofus will you put on to replace him?????????????????

    January 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    I will miss KO, I read the Boston Globe because I want to know what the other guy thinks (I'm not PC), you on the left need to stop and think. MSNBC is moving even further towards you. Keith is being replaced by Lawrence who says"I'm not progressive, I'm a socialist".

    January 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Grateful

    I'm so grateful the lying spinmiester is gone....betting we see him as the press secretary for Obama's 2012 campaign next.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pandora

      Lots of other "lying spinmeisters" to be got rid of....Beck, Hannity, Drudge, O'Reilly.....oh, but I bet you think those guys speak TRUTH. You are so incredibly lost. Want to know what's wrong with this country? Take a cold, hard look in the mirror and wake up.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Marilyn

    Only reason to watch CNBC is Keith and Countdown. Ed has been boring since day 1 and Rachel isn't worth watching anymore. I suppose CNBC fired Keith because he cost more than their reruns of Lockup, which no one watches anyway. I hate Lockup. But will keep looking for where Keith ends up as I really enjoy his show.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pal armstrong

    It is a sad day countdown with Keith Obermann was the only cable news program that I would watch. He was the best in my opinion. Why is it that the haters on the other cable news station are still even there. Sorry, but Obermann told the truth and many cannot tolerate the bare facts. He was supportive of our President and did rip the nay sayers. But it's ok for the haters to disrespect the President. Obermann is a real trooper and I will no longer look at your station. So what ever the evil people have to say so be it.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Eddie

    I can't believe that anything Keith has ever said could be considered extreme compared to that racist bigoted ignoramous glen beck or that fat drug addict racist bigot rush limbaugh. beck just informed his listeners this week that they may have to "shoot them in the head" meaning liberal progressives because "they want a revolution and will shoot you in the head" whaaaat?? Why wasn't this a major national issue??? rush just this week made an ignorant childish mock of the Chinese President speaking and no one sais anything. Unbelievable that mr keeping them honest anderson cooper doesn't do so with all the idiocy being spewed by palin, beck, limbaugh, hannity and other right wing nut jobs.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Bmt

    Well, it appears we've heard from all the viewers tonight. Guess that's why the ratings are in the bucket. His left of left thinking was very tiring, but good for a quick (very quick) break from commercials. Keith, I understand they just fired someone at ESPN. Maybe they have a spot for you again. Take Rachel with you.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pandora

      Guess you only support Freedom of Speech when that speech supports your views, eh? Hypocrite.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bmt

      "Guess you only support Freedom of Speech when that speech supports your views, eh? Hypocrite."
      Come on now. You can do better than that. Freedom of Speech is not the subject here. I thought it was about journalism......and he certainly was NO journalist. He does indeed have the right to say what he wants, but I do prefer it to be more than babble.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pandora

      Yes, it is. It's not news, it's commentary. You are glad to see a person go whose views don't line up with yours, and you want anyone else with similar views to go too. Yet I see you are in no hurry to be as critical of the clearly biased views of those whose opinions you agree with. If we are to have balanced discourse in this country all voices need to be heard, not just the ones who get the best ratings. If you can't see that, then you are truly blind and do not support freedom of speech and why that is so important. Go ahead, retort. It makes no difference, your mind is made up.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Allison

    Very sad to hear this. I greatly enjoyed watching Countdown with KO. To me he was MSNBC, he and Rachel. Without him, what are they?

    January 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dee

    It's about time.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rebecca Randolph

    CORRECTION! I meant MSNBC, not CNN.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ramon F Herrera

    Bagger's definition of "idiot": Anyone with whom I disagree.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pandora

      LOL. I thought their biggest insult to anyone who disagreed with them was "MORAN." I bet they won't even understand why that's funny....

      January 21, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
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