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. MAD

    MSNBC has fired one of the best ever. Olberman approached the news and politics with educated analyses and practical thinking. Wherever he ends up, I will definitely follow.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tommy

      Thanks for the intelligent comment !
      I too will watch him where ever !

      January 21, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ttommy

      At least we all know what Olbermann's screen name is ... "MAD"

      January 22, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  2. Greenspam

    What exactly happened? Did Palin score another kill?

    January 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harry Paratestes

      Comcast made their first donation to the Palin 2012 campaign.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  3. Linda

    There goes one of the only thinking brains on cable news. His command of language and sense of right & wrong will be missed. He saw the truth, spoke the truth, and then, was able to apply new truth to himself. Who else can self-correct their behavior and examine their belief anew?

    I will miss him and truth. Can't wait until he shows up on PBS!

    January 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. GOP

    chumpcast strikes again.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Warren Hastings

    Keith Olbermann Leaving Countdown

    This is unbelievable and without Keith we have no reason to watch or support MSNBC. We are all still in shock and it will not sink in until Monday when we find ourselves at 8 PM and can’t find him. We watched his show every day it has been on when at home and even while out of town …. There is no replacement that could compare and MSNBC can go to blazes.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Steve Harvey

    MSNBC rating for Obermann's show are horrible, plain and simple that is why he needs to go. "Countdown" is WAY behing Billy O'Reilly and even CNN at the same time slot. Pure business decision.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harry Paratestes

      Countdown was the highest rated show on MSNBC, you didn't watch because it was informative not entertainment.
      Information not insanity. Had you received a degree from an accredited university (not BYU or Oral Roberts) that teaches
      subjects like science, evolution and sociology (not mysticism, creationism and bigotry) you might have been able to approach the show with an open mind.

      Don't come here to troll, we are all intellectually superior to you.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
    • RickyL

      To Steve....Keith's neilsen numbers are, by far, still the best at MSNBC.....and MSNBC is still highly rated as a network.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sandieg

    Keith Olbermann exposed a lot of things no one else does. His leaving is a great loss for liberals and progressives. I never
    missed his show...he always told us "the rest of the story"! I guess this will also tone down Maddow, Schultz, and O'Donnel.
    They may be next and MSNBC, under comcast will wind up being another FOX...uggggggh! Well, I don't care who they put
    in that time slot, I won't watch it. I usually keep MSNBC on the TV all day, starting with Morning Joe...not anymore! I'll
    watch Maddow, Schultz, Matthews and O'Donnel and if I can get them somewhere else, MSNBC will disappear from my remote! I didn't watch for years because they fired Donahue for speaking out against the war with Iraq. He was right, and they never apologized. So for a short, very short, I watched FOX, but they made me want to vomit. So I went to CNN and they never get into any issue deeply, and there are some things that if you are honest, you have to take a side for what is right, so I came back to MSNBC. This just goes to show you that those who have money have the voice and they squelch any who don't follow along with their agenda. In the case of the war with Iraq, GE won a lot of government contracts for that war. Money won and Donehue was out. Now, I'm sure Keith stepped on someones toes. I wonder what will happen with the fundraising for the free clinics that Keith initiated? Anyone remember who Keith's sponsors were? Their the ones I want to complain to....the execs at MSNBC are too stupid to get it! Well, I hope Keith has enough money to reach us on an online broadcast and the others join him...we need a rich benefactor to start a liberal station and tell CNN and MSNBC and FOX to take their programming and shove it!

    January 21, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • dhsjks

      Another of those completely sensless posts from the liberals. This guy had the intelligence of an ant. His only claim to fame was how loud he could be. If he ever ran into someone who could actually debate him he just yelled louder and louder. A completely worthless commentator that deserved his firing.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Lawrence IS taking the 8pm slot. That still wont make me give into watching at 8, and letting that lowly comcast have my ratings!

      January 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • MAD

      So well said!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      January 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • RickyL

      I'm in total agreement with you, Sandieg.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. Ike


    January 21, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dan

    I hope CNN scoops Rachael and him up. That would be just what I need to now leave MSNBC.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tonys

      If his ratings were crap at MSNBC, why would CNN want him?

      January 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • RickyL

      "If" is a big word, tony....I'll let others tell you how stupid your comment is.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. justgoaway

    Don't go away sad...

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

    Just go away eh. Canada eh.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Robert E. Lee


    You were soooo envious of Bill O'Reily & Glenn Beck.

    Get over yourself.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • RickyL

      Keith isn't listening to you.

      Get over yourself.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. andrew

    To compare olberman to any host on fox news is indecent. There is a level of intellectual dishonesty at fox that I have never seen on any other network. Keith olberman's positions were always backed by fact and principal, not failing to criticize even his favored president. Although I never watched his show (or cable news or TV for that matter), I listened to his podcast at least twice weekly, for his take on the news and entertainment, comedic, value. I hope he puts out a podcast or something.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Oreilly is the devil incarnate.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jennifer Fields

    This sucks ass! MSNBC is beyond stupid!

    January 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Vince

    As an objective observer, I have to say I do think he's as toxic as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, the only thing being that conservatives tend to be more about inciting violence and shooting people at political rallies. I don't really like liberal ideas because I'm a Republican, but I really don't like dumb Tea Partiers that's for sure. Just get rid of all of them already!

    January 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • CTYank

      Whatever do you mean by "toxic"? If you mean anything.

      On the one hand, you have someone seeking the truth; on the other, with people like Beck, truth is totally irrelevant. What's the hard part about that? It hit many Germans hard when they found out what their Reich was up to.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
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