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. Phil

    Rachel (Keith's good friend) is on Bill Maher tonight. How convenient for her. I wonder what Comcast thinks of her.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. James Harrison

    Its about time this trash was removed

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

      Tea bags have left plenty of trash. But I'm sure you see it as golden nuggets. Your blindness is pathetic.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shrek, Santa Barbara

    Keith IS MSNBC! Maybe he'll turn to Comedy Central or HBO so he can really go off! While I love Maddow, Shulz, O'Donnell, etc, those shows don't exist without Keith Olbermann. Don't really plan on watching 24/7 Lockup shows...

    January 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. imadreamer

    You've bucked the system long enough, Keith. Thank you for holding the light for so many of us for the past eight years. You've served us well. May the next chapter of your life be one that makes your heart sing.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Harry Paratestes


    Fox news and their followers are trolling this thread, it's the RIGHT thing to do.
    Their afraid of us since we are different (more educated) than them as a group.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramon F Herrera

      We are not only more educated but more intelligent:

      January 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramon F Herrera

      "Why Liberals Are More Intelligent Than Conservatives
      Liberals think they’re more intelligent than conservatives because they are "

      January 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Wildcatjill

    Keith, your voice will be missed. I will find you and tune in where ever you go. As for those of you who complain that Keith is opinionated.....take a look in the mirror. Oh, by the way, you morons, he is the most well spoken COMENTATOR on the air. He never hides the fact that he is commenting on something not REPORTING. You are such dumb dumbs that you can't understand the difference. Sad fact, you are too stupid to laugh at yourselves or to learn anything.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Amy

    I wish they would clean house over at Fox News and get rid of Sean Hannity, BIll O'Reilly, Glen Beck, Rush Limbough and others. I have not watched Fox News Since Clinton was in office . Journalists are there to report the news and i really believe that their personal opinions Should stay out of it. I am referring to all News Journalists.

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

      Fox "News" is not a news channel. Even Glenn Beck called it "entertainment." If those people who watch that 24/7 vile hatefilled insanity posing as "news" actually believe Fox News' paranoid, divisive nonsense, then those viewers ARE the idiots they are so insecure about appearing to be.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. :)

    And who said nothing good would come out of the NBC-Comcast deal?

    January 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. A. Goodwin

    Just heard....I'm really upset about this! I will follow Keith anywhere. But for now, besides Maddow – who is going to be the voice of reason? 8PM EST will never be the same for me again. I hope he doesn't give up on news broadcasting!! Good night and good luck Keith!!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Anthony in Tallahassee, FL

    MSNBC is losing a great guy in Keith O. The only one that could match up to the Fox unfair and no balance news! I'm sure the American viewers of his show Countdown will find his voice representing the millions of Americans left behind.
    Good luck and the best to you Mr. O. Many thanks!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. larry worley

    o'reilly squashed another one. people really prefer open dialogue, not the one sided reporting keith does.

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

      And your comment indicates that Bill O'Reilly is NOT one sided???? I think you are perhaps not correctly intune to the real and implied content of everything Mr. O'Reilly broadcasts. You might consider listening to some other MSNBC commentators, such as Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell and Ed Schultz . . . just a polite suggestion for your intellectual enlightenment and some helpful broadening of your outlook horizons.

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

      Reading some of these comments helps me understand why country is in mess they find themselves. This guys has created controversy everywhere he's been and not because of his honesty or leading off with his integrity. He's toxic. It's really sad because I do feel he has a brilliant mind............just seems like he has a deep seated anger and hatred for life in general

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

      It will be difficult to find someone as obnoxious as Keith Oberman to replace him.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crazyvermont

      Maddow, Schultz, Matthews, and O'Donnell as sane commentators for the left. MSNBC, to their credit, seem to be understanding that people turn off raving lunatics. There are regional liberal talk show hosts like Mitch Album etc who at least sound reasonable whether I agree with logic or not

      January 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Butch Seaman

      I have listed to Chris Matthews and he is as far out there as Keith Olbermann ... Bill maybe one sided ... but it's the side I am on!

      January 21, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • mabear87

      Anyone who thinks O;Reilly is open dialogue is an uneducated hick who never got past the sixth grade. O'Reilly never met a fact he could not alter or miscommunicate. The man is an idiot and an extreme right winger. He makes Sarah Palin look moderately intelligent and that is imossible.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denofwolves

      Hard to find someone as obnoxious? Try Rush Limbaugh, and Glen Beck, and Sean Hannity followed closely by Bill (master of the spin) O'Reilly.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just4fun

      Bill O is a non factor in all of this. Far too often the little man coplex gets mistaken for the prejorative..Or in his case lack luster journalism. Kieth, if you have a moment to reflect on our prose, you truly are a American gift..Free speech, daring words, and hell, you are really funny! Good Luck to you!

      January 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • HardJustice

      That's hilarious, Robert Andrews. Because Beck, Malkin, Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, O'Reilly, and the rest of them have *never* ever been obnoxious. The difference is Olbermann (as sanctimonious as he can be) relies on reputable, verifiable facts to form his opinions.Conservatives hate Olbermann, but how many have actually challenged him to a debate?

      January 21, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |

      Yes!!!!!! O'Reilly has done it again. It shows that the MSNBC liberal host (Keith) had little audience and he was obscured by O'Reilly. I certainly hope CNN does not even remotely consider Keith for a slot in their programming. That could be the end for CNN.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      He put himself in the same rank as Rick Sanchez with his personal and political views, and didn't have a level of journalistic professionalism that was the standard in broadcast news up until a few years ago. It's a sign that people expect more professionalism in where they turn for daily information. Not this circus.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • kristi

      funny cause joe from morning joe also contributed to the republicans but i guess that is okay..always a double standard on the right. obama was attacked for not putting jobs first and now the house republicans aren't putting jobs first but big deal huh?

      January 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      You are an idiot.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • justin of the manny BUSH WHACKED


      January 21, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • penomegaly

      Him and Rachel should get married and have a bunch of opinionated a hole babies...
      I'm just not sure she can have babies...

      January 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • justin of the manny BUSH WHACKED

      any one want to make Kieth proud ? lets get a non profit health ins. co. off the ground ! fix what ails our country ! would not be socialism fix a lot of budgets and help out we the people to the max !

      January 21, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • penomegaly

      Keith is gone? I think a just came a little....

      January 22, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
    • penomegaly

      Thank goodness, I was getting tired of cleaning puke off my tv screen....

      January 22, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
    • J. Williams

      open dialogue and Bill O in the same sentence, Damn your funny.

      January 22, 2011 at 2:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. jane

    We will miss your honest voice in this mess of distortion and confusion, Keith. Please find another way and place to keep speaking out strong. Thanks.

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

      If were lucky that will not happen .... fired from MSNBC ... that's pretty bad!

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

      I liked the guy at first. Then, he started to grate on my nerves. I felt pushed more than informed. Do you know what I mean? I like straight-talk, no non-sense, drama-free. I specifically don't want newspeople creating news out of thin air, or being in the headlines themselves. Does that make sense to everyone? I don't want to seem to be picking this guys personal or political views, but I made as much money as these guys get paid, I would hold myself to a certain level of journalistic professionalism, and I would leave the rest of my personal feelings and baggage at home.

      It's probably a good thing he is gone. Maybe he should start his own wordpress blog/podcast. Or have his own satellite radio program. Maybe that is more appropriate for political and personal views to be expressed about the news.

      Just my two cents,


      January 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Connie

      Thank you Jane for your comment. I was at work when I clicked into CNN news website and saw the story about Keith. I was shocked to say the least. I enjoyed his show so much and he will truly be missed by a lot of us. Let's hope and pray he gets another shot at giving us what he does best (the truth). Best of luck Keith.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gwats

    This is generally what happens to guys who lead with their principles instead of their paychecks.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim Bailey

    MSNBC executives....or as they were know in 1944, CAPOS....may they suffer the same!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Russ

    This is Murdoch's opportunity to prove that FOX is really unbiased. He should hire Keith. Their ratings would go through the roof.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Butch Seaman

      people didn't want to hear this guy on MSNBC ... what makes you think anyone who listens to FOX would put up with this guy?

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

      hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha @ ratings through the roof.

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

      They're ratings are already through the roof, they don't need this idiot.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • truth

      Fox's ratings are already through the roof.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      Unfortunately, Comcast is owned by Murdock.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gretchen

      I always have to laugh when Fox viewers puff their chests over Fox ratings. I would buy the Fox ratings swagger if there was only one or two other news sources. The only reason Fox can claim they have some of the highest rated "news" shows is because the right-wingers only watch Fox. Everyone else is spread out among every other network as well as online news.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rodriguez-Ruiz

      If Fox News could hire Keith to join Beck in the same program. When Keith's turn comes up to talk in the Beck show, I will change channels and watch the commercials. I am so glad he is gone, he is a disgrace to anyone with some sort of intelligence. I suggest Keith should go to a Monastery and implore forgiveness for his years of ill conceived television appearances.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
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