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. LMD

    I won't be so ill informed as to blame comcast,but if they run the network they just took over the way they do their cable systems,then NBC will not be on the air much longer,

    January 22, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kathryn McHenry

    As if the political scene weren't crazy enough - now Olbermann is taken away?!? What the heck is going on? Was this part of a "Pre Nup" with Comcast?? MSNBC takes Olbermann away and retains those hideous weekend Prison shows???? I am sorry (actually I am furious) but NBC owes its faithful viewers an explanation!

    Kicked in the stomach tonight by MSNBC!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. td6425

    I looked forward to his show every night. I will miss him! He told it like it is. Good luck rock!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. hfs radio fan

    I thought he was terrific. Worst person in the world was great. Sure, he's controversial but so what. Yikes

    January 22, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mario

    MSNBC is stupid!! I look forward to watching Keith Olbermann every chance I get. Wherever he goes I will follow him, I hope to see him with another program very soon.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. mindenite


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

      I will miss some of the very well stated, wackiest comments I've every heard delivered. This may be a good thing for the uninformed as they might not be subjected to outlandish comments. But for me Big O was a classic and consistent source of well spoken craziness. It's been 302 minutes since the big O has been unable to twist reality in a well spoken manner, and counting.

      January 22, 2011 at 2:25 am | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      They got him, kinder & gentler.

      January 22, 2011 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Janice Dillman

      I am enormously saddened to learn that Keith Olbermann has been silenced by the corporate establishm­ent, both in business and in media (as there is no way to separate the two any more). Keith Olbermann, while energetic and passionate­, brought forth facts that are never heard on CNN, or Fox News. His passion was simply passion and focused and targeted energy on those who wre selling out the middle class and us regular folk. Sadly, the only "passion" that corporate media will tolerate is the right wing vitriol of Beck and O'Reilly and Hannity that everyone know is not only hateful, but filled with lies and misinforma­tion. Keith offered refreshing reality to the conservati­ve propaganda­. He is brilliant and his special comments can bring people to tears. Keith, thank you for all you have done. Good luck and please find a way to land on your feet and come back to us all.

      For those who read this post and disagree with me, please pause a moment and identify for me where, or who, will provide us real journalism now? What station? Journalism in which the journalist will question the newsmaker, on the facts of the news, and NOT just repeating the propaganda­.........f­ind me one example.

      When will we all recognize that journalist­s are gone, and are replaced with corporatis­ts who work for about three or 4 companies/­families. Unbiased news is now a thing of the past. This is a real tragedy.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chedar

    I am dropping comcast. That i can be sure.
    Will Brian be next?

    January 22, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. mp3trojan

    I hope he didn't burn the bridge in Bristol beyond repair. I would love to see him back on Sportscenter. He's a WAY better sports guy than a pundit.


    January 22, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. ZakB

    Great news!!!! Now can Raging Madcow also go?

    January 22, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • gemini

      Yup! they should get rid off "tingling up my legs" mathews too!

      January 22, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. Che Bravo!

    Mr. Olbermann, Thanks for the great ride! You called it like you saw it. Some liked it, some didn't. You are one of the best in the game! PEACE!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. MB

    And nothing of value was lost.....

    January 22, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
    • ktpinnacle

      And for you, nothing of value has ever been gained.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • MB

      ESPN fired him, MSNBC fired him.........pattern here? You are just another butthurt Democrap that is sorry to see their left wing mouthpiece get dumped (AGAIN).

      January 22, 2011 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
    • jesse

      wow. "democrap." i wasn't aware teenagers were so involved in politics. just kidding. i know you're not a teenager. you're a ridiculous excuse for an adult and if you don't mind, i think it would be best if you could refrain from voting until you can form an articulate argument.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
    • MB

      I'm sorry that was rude. I'm just uneducated

      January 22, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
    • jesse

      something to that effect. at least you're able to recognize it. good start.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. SunnyD

    I'm sorry but Olberman, while certianly a lefty, told it like it was and produced facts and worked to explain things. Those of you bashing him, or worse sticking up for freaken Limbaugh or Beck are out of your minds...those two are entertainers makign money off you mindless citizens. Folks like you are the reason the GOP still has relevance...just because you don't agree with certian views doesn't mean you can ignore the facts and Olberman provided them. I am a big fan but am an individual mind an knew when even Keith was beating something to death with a liberal stick but he was still on point 95% of the time...

    Does anyone here know Glen Beck started as a Howard Stren wannabe? I don't know how you take him serious...god I hate that man for what he's done to the blank slate minds of some of our citizens...sorry ranting still because we lose Keith and still have this to be kidding me.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
    • johnessj

      well said...

      January 22, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Miss Lady

      Well said, SunnyD!!!

      January 22, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
    • bdkern

      Wow, I think Beck (at least now – I can't speak for his past) cites his sources and puts together a coherent story, unlike the raging liberal pundits. It seems a much higher portion of the general population thinks the same. I'm sure you think you're part of the elite. I guess being the in the same mindset of the DC elite is a plus in your book. HA.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
    • MB

      Oh, you really burned him.... psych.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      Olbermann had few facts to back up his vitriolic bashing. He was a hate monger, clear and simple. His rage may have been popular with the far left, but his distortions and hate speech was insulting and base. Good riddance. I may even return to watching MSNBC with him gone.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. popeye1128

    We need to quit idolizing all these idiots from both sides.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. Matt

    There is a God!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. mp3trojan

    Not being a play by play guy and GOD please let's not allow him to be a color guy. Leave that to the ones wearing rings.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
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