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, ‚ÄúThe Big Show,‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúWhite House In Crisis.‚ÄĚ

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. RoseG

    I find the firing of Keith Oberman to be extremely sad. I am hoping CNN will consider highering him. Keith is not a mean or vengeful, he has oppinions but he will also listen to both sides of a debate. He wants to get answers and help people. He was able to move people based on the stories they presented. I hope we don't have to very long before we see him on TV. I am not watching MNSBC anymore.....I am sad.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Patti in AZ

    Good luck Keith. I will miss you terribly. You were the bravest person on TV. I hope you comeback as soon as possible to TV. MSNBC, you made a huge mistake in whatever your part was in Keith's departure.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Chauncey

    This is certainly MSNBC's loss and ours as well but I know Keith will resurface. Keith always spoke to the truth and he cared about those who are struggling and he was not ashamed to let the world know that he cared...he had our backs. He's gone and trust me, so are a lot of MSNBC's viewers.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rob

    It is so sad to listen to the Fox News cheerleaders who believe that crap they listen to everyday from O'Riley and company. How many times have we caught Fox News telling lies and untruths to the public. By reading the above comments from the Fox News cheerleaders, I am convinced that even if you proved the earth is round they still would not believe it. These folks are what's bad with this country and unfortunately it will take a bolt of lightning to change their pathetic way of thinking. Keith Obermann is a liberal, but he never came on the show telling a pack of lies and always backed up what he said. If he ever said anything that wasn't correct, he would correct it. That is not the same for Fox News. The list of lies is incredible and so is it's unhappy followers. By the way, Keith did have more viewers than the guy who doesn't know why the tide comes in and goes out. Base on that, I guess O'Riley has the perfect followers, dumb and dumber. Keith was too smart for some of the Fox viewers. Maybe you guys just couldn't keep up with the conversation and by watching Fox they were able to keep it simple by talking two syllables or less to the mentally challanged viewers.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. RickyL

    Keith will land on his feet, and those that appreciate honesty and integrity in the analysis of political news will be there to cheer him on. I knew he was doing an exemplary job when it became clear that neither of the two major parties were comfortable with him because of his penchant for logic over the party line.

    It's now day one of the firing of Keith Olbermann by Comcast, a move they will regret.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sherri W.W.#1~ ILLinois

    Wow! I didnt see THAT coming! I too .hope Keith can work out his contract .so he can have another show someplace. I dont watch much TV but I do watch him and R.Maddow online nearly every time. I will miss him. I believe he is one of the good guys

    January 21, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. wow

    hum..lets see how I can put this......what the HELL took CNN so long? Oberman needs to maybe hire his lady friend, Rachel Maddow and find another network........that will tolerate their...well...dreamworld. Good Riddance. CNN, Good Choice. 2,something comments from their fans??/lol..........yeah..fans...............shows the fortunate downfal of the liberalism in America. Hopefully CNN has seen the light and decided to fill the valuable airtiem with soemthing of interest. Obviously, Oberman,didnt ! Commen sence wasnt his best virtue! Or intellegence! .

    January 21, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • RickyL

      However long it took you......you still said it wrong.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Timothy Alger

    Bye!

    January 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. barbara

    This is the way Air America shot itself in the foot, cut off its nose to spite its face – canceling the great shows. Next stop will be no Rachel Maddow, and no ratings, no msnbc. Goodbye MSNBC. For years I used your website as my homepage, but now it will revert to Cnn or maybe facebook.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. levelhead

    I am one of those who leans left of the center. I watched Olbermann randomly, some time disagreeing with what he said and how he said it. He was abrasive, but he was honest and straightforward. We may not like Faux News that much, but at least they stand by with their people. Liberals on the other hand, swing with the trends like the straws in the wind. If you believe in something, stick to it, stop being wishy washy so American people can have some trust in you.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jh

    As of tonight, Olbermann still had the top-rated show on MSNBC, and he singlehandedly raised MSNBC to second place, leaving CNN third. Even with his large viewership, Comcast wanted to get rid of his voice. G.E. as a boss was bad enough, but Comcast is even worse.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lucy

    whoa! I wonder who will scoop him up?

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

    Back in the day,
    when talent ruled,
    we had a name for guys like Olbermann; weathermen.
    Later that same day Keith and Dan had plenty but it was sports and thus beneath them. Money cut their fingers and spitting the bit soothed Keith. So while the suits wait for you both to return to the Disney trough let's review.
    Too nutty for news
    too dumb for commentary and thus wait for it ...
    perfect for sports!
    How come the Berman Brothers got this but you twist in the breeze,as much talent as cautionary tale as wind sock. . Just like the rest of us.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Timothy Alger

    Bye.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. E & I

    MSNBC & Comcast have made the worst decision of their lives. Keith was the best thing on television who had the integrity to speak truth to power. He said it like it is, which was and is so verrrrrry refreshing. If I owned a television station, Keith Olbermann would be my star commentator! He's brilliant, witty, observant, politically savvy and easy on the eyes. HE MUST COME BACK IF MSNBC IS TO THRIVE. THE PERFECT ANTIDOTE TO THE LIARS, DISTORTERS OF FACTS, HYPOCRITICAL SPEWERS OF HATE ON FOX. AND A FINAL BLOW......CNN PARTNERS WITH THE TEA PARTY EXPRESS DURING THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION???????? HOW SICK IS THAT?? GOD HELP THE DECENT PEOPLE (INCLUDING THOSE UNINFORMED OR BRAINWASHED) FROM THE EXTREMIST FAR-RIGHT-WING OF POLITICS. AMERICANS UNITE!!!! GET RID OF THE FARCE OF "CITIZENS UNITED" THAT "BOUGHT" THE 2010 ELECTION WITH HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM UNDISCLOSED WEALTHY GROUPS TO PROTECT THEIR OWN SELFISH, GREEDY INTERESTS - SAYING, "TO HELL WITH THE MIDDLE CLASS!" IT'S SIMPLE, THE GOP CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO UPHOLD OUR DEMOCRACY. HELLO ROMAN EMPIRE. WAKE UP AMERICANS!!! SAVE YOUR COUNTRY FROM THE EVIL-DOERS WHO ARE ONLY INTERESTED IN TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY.

    January 21, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
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