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. Connie Gates

    I am shocked . This move was instigated by Comcast. They are definitely a conservative group. Keith will be greatly missed. I faithfully watched him every night. He helped a lot of people with their causes. This is just the beginning of the changes. Next will be Ed Shultz( they already changed his spot to 10:00 p.m.) then Rachel Maddow.
    These people are too Liberal for them and they will try to cut their tones down until they shut them up. Good Luck Keith, I'll be looking for you in the future on another T.V. Station. As for Comcast I am dropping all services I have with them and encourage everyone that is unhappy with this move to do the same.

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

      Keith Olberman missed........I'd say NOT. He was one of those vitriolic voices that divided America. Now we can all get along.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patrick

      I agree with Connie.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Elle

    Noooooooooooo!!!!!! Keith dont' go! yours is the only intelligent voice out there. Every night I watch and listen. Please don't let the evil ones win. Please be a beacon of intelligence, wit and humor. Please, PLEASE do not go softly into that good night.


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

      I am with you Elle, the sad thing is the ignorance of of those who think it is a good thing that Keith's brutal honestly, and most importantly fact based reporting being terminated is a good thing............go figure. Sad, sad day.
      Comcast can go to hell.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. s1owens

    Agenda driven drama disguised as news..bye bye you schmuck. Now if only they would dump the Madcow.

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

    Its amazing people actually believe he talked about the truth. He is an actor like all the rest of the left leaning talking heads. They say liberals are more educated but all they know how to do is talk bull.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • J. Williams

      What bull tim? site some if its so prevassive? My guess is that all your sources are Right Wing. And THEY would nver lie or manipulate facts would they? Perish the though

      January 22, 2011 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. Chuck

    I've always looked forward daily for "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" to air. So sad to see you leave. Hopefully, we will see you soon somewhere else doing what you do best.

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

    Hire him to replace Robert Gibbs.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. W Reason

    Where did all those right wing comments come from in less than an hour? I thought they hang out at Faux News.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Stephanie


    January 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Todd Burton

    Well GOOD for MSNBC..............I coulld not stand that guy. Soooooooo lets get rid of Rachael Madcow....and re-do this alleged "News Network" where in hell did they ever find her anyway? Good Move! Hate Fox.....but at the same time ....Hate these liberal idiots too. Time for the "Moderate Network" to emerge somewhere.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chuck

    Will miss you, Keith.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • penomegaly

      Well, get glasses and try again

      January 22, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. stephanie

    Love Keith or hate him, big business should never be able to "control" personal donations made by their employees. What kind of free country is this? In a time where ethics seem to be disappearing at rapid speed, this is where the network draws the line? Blah!

    January 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe in NC

      You cannot be an unbias news reporter and contribute to one party and one party alone. If he donated to both sides I am sure there would not have been a problem. Use your brain for a second.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nathaniel lindsey

    Who or what is going to replace Keith? I thought that our political contributions were confidential and private.
    I hope an adequate replacement without a lease is chosen.

    January 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • penomegaly

      Obama's gonna need a new job soon....He's pretty good at making people mad.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. fail safe

    Why clean house at FNC. They are #1

    January 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John G

    R.I.P. Keith Olbermann

    January 21, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. kar

    what a sad news for all american pple to night , except bunch of wealthty idiots, probably foxnews viewrs who ,i am sure, would celebrate , with this news.

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

      FOX news had nothing to do with this you ignoramus.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • faux 'ewes' sheeple are brain-washed

      and JJ the faux 'ewes' sheeple makes their appearance as if on cue! 🙂

      January 21, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
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