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. dw

    I can only thank Mr. Olbermann for his efforts and his intellectual honesty. Love him or hate him, he made the land of pundits more interesting. It sure looks like Comcast is taking the first steps toward turning MSNBC into "Fox News Lite", either that or they are looking to shut down MSNBC in a year ot two. Nothing else explains why a network would cancel their highest-rated show. Hey: If CNN wants to grab a bunch of viewers and really combat Faux News they should HIRE KEITH!

    January 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JJ

    Olbermann stopped being a genuine newscaster long ago; too bad he didn't leave that network years ago.

    He was filled with hate and arrogance.

    Maybe more people would be watching it today if he had left years ago; the ratings prove that.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe in NC

      Exactly. I mean come on, Nancy Grace was beating Keith in the ratings.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Steve851

    NBC can begin to redeem itself. It presented Keith as a newsman and an achor when he was only a far left commentator. He destroyed the credibility of what was once the best news organization in the country. This is actually bad news for CNN and FOX.

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

      That you perceive Keith as far left is a reflection of how far right the country has fallen. It's no coincidence that the country has fallen so far since Reagan became president and liberal-bashing became a common pastime. The national debt has grown 13-fold at the hands of Reagan Republicans (Obama inherited a $1.4 trillion annual deficit and a failed economy) and most of the income generated these days goes to the wealthy (to the point where the top 1% own more wealth than the bottom 90%). The crony capitalism and plutocratic society endorsed by the right has taken hold and many people still don't get it. They know something's amiss, but they don't know why.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jon

    The thing I like about Keith is that he has a strong sense of right and wrong, more than I can say for Fox "News". People need to understand the concepts of selective exposure (the echo chamber) and selective perception (actually perceiving things according to your preconceived notions or biases), though. Countdown served as a counterbalance to the right-wing echo chamber, which is far more dangerous than the left.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    America ia just a little bit better place tonight. Hopefully Madcow is next.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. EddV

    Hire him to replace the outgoing Robert Gibbs as White House Press Secretary.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pal armstrong

    The Tea Party is onl the KKk in a suit

    January 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. greenbird321

    surely people are joking when they post comments mourning the loss of an "honest" pundit with "integrity"?

    January 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bhari

    Great news! The next anti-American uber-liberal that should go is Rachel Maddow.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve6167

    Keith will be fine. He did ESPN for years and the past years at MSNBC. No problem for him.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shrek, Santa Barbara

    It seems there are just as many Faux News fans commenting their giddy hysteria at this news as the rest of us lamenting a caving in to noise. So many "brilliant" bagger quips. Precisely the reason non-Fox channels need the likes of Keith Olbermann. Hugs and kisses to the haters anyway. Go Giffords!

    January 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. azrael

    about time they put the rabid dog down........ now if fox would only take care of his polar opposite beck

    January 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. KO DON'T GO

    KO don't go too far. Political news just lost major IQ points.

    Please start a new network with Zucker!

    January 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Carole Scarborough

    As a die hard fan I watched Keith every night. I am very disappointed and close down my Comcast account. Lived without it before Keith, now I can live with out it.

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

      maybe you could get bring back keith tattooed on your forehead.....

      January 21, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Tracey McTague

    ...but...who's going to read Thurber to me on Friday night?!!

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