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. Eileen

    I am really taken aback by this development. Countdown was the one show on MSNBC that I wanted to see for the intelligence, the questioning, and the insights to be gained. I hope Keith finds a place on CNN or another cable channel that will appreciate his unique talents and contributions to journalism and to political dialogue in this country

    January 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bd

    He was pushed out by Comcast executives who hate him. The Plutocracy begins.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mastrick

    C'mon CNN, show some cajones and take Olbermann for one of your nightly spots. You'll get a big chunk of viewership immediately!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jd

    Please give Keith Larry King's old time slot and show!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. steve

    I didnt know he was still on the air... Nor msnbc. Good riddens. Id rather watch cable aceess from some armpit desert town.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      yeah, he was on the air after the ab-buster informercial and before Matlock. no surprise you missed him.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joe

    Yahoo. It's about time this obtuse, tone deaf commentator take a hike. See you, jack_ss

    January 21, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • clewcrew

      Ditto – I wouldn't have wasted the space had I seen your succinct remark.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. clewcrew

    Hmmm – maybe I'll watch MSNBC – nah. I am glad that pinhead is gone. That is the last you will hear from him as he really offered no journalistic value to the network.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve Burton

      except to debunk Limbaugh and the always lying Glenn Beck.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve Burton

    I couldn't believe my ears tonight. No more Keith? What a great liberal commentator. Where is he going?

    January 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. racegirl01

    I will miss Keith so much, I hope he is going to have another show soon. MSNBC I hope you didn't fire him because I would be highly upset. Good luck Keith in whatever you do.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jim Smith

    About time. He should have been fired after the political contribution scandal. He used to be funny back when he did sports and didn't take himself too seriously. Somewhere along the way he seems to have gotten the wrong impression that he was important and that what he thinks actually matters. He became the reverse reflection of Bill O'Reilly and in so doing became a ridiculous talking head. I suppose they all feed the idiot masses.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AKJ

    Keith, you will be miss. I guarantee you that MSNBC would regret your departure. Stay strong and keep the flame alive.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. luke

    WTH??????????
    Olbermann was the only person we had to stand up to the politicians, especially the right wing –
    and stand up for the little guy –
    Who do we have now???
    I guess the right wing wackos win again –
    This country gets more depressing every day.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitchie

      You still have Ed, Rachel and Lawrence.... I watch Chris Matthews sometimes but I get really upset at him when he never lets his "interviewee" answer a question... He likes to hear himself more it seems.....
      I will follow KO wherever he goes..
      To the veteran who spoke. I am a 20 year veteran and I looked forward to KO's show every week day.. He offered a little bit of sanity in the insane nation that we have become. You are part of the problem....

      January 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Larnan

    The beginning of the end for liberal TV. Comcast in Olbermann out. Who is next?

    January 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pam

    I am saddened by the departure of Keith Olbermann. As you partake in dirty politics, you have lost ALL viewership in my household, as well as my respect.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tattMalbot

    I'm not that unhappy; his vitriol was too much for me and I think casting out the net again for another anchor is a good idea; at least it would be hard to do worse with almost random chance.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
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