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. johnessj

    comcastnbc is leaning to right wing meadia. cnn is deteriorating into the right wing meadia as well, keith thanks for speaking when most fell silent to obivious facts. u left msnbc, so have i. so that makes two of us leaving the comcast cable/media shall not run in my home.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Krista Moran

      Friend speaks my mind. Silencing a voice of reason is disturbing to say the least. What is it that you fear? Clearly this is not a rational decision... I am a Quaker, and as such hold Truth in high regard.
      As Quaker George Fox would say "Woe to the bloody city."
      Krista Moran

      January 22, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      There are so few right wing newscasters in the US, you have no fear of losing the left wing slant. In today's press John Kennedy would be called a right winger and he'd never get the democratic nomination. Anyway, never fear, the graduates of american universities have been well indoctrinated into left views. The snicker when describing conservatives will not leave the air waves. So just relax.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mo

    Obviously the man is depressed tonight...he's not even tweeting...he'll be back

    January 22, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. AntiMarxist

    Thank you msnbc, another failing leftist propagandist talking head is off the air. He served no purpose but to make the network look even worse. Maybe msnbc is getting wise, the people aren't buying this leftist marxist socialism propaganda anymore. The funny thing is most nationally broadcast radio shows have more listeners than this guy had viewers. Don't let the door hit ya Keith. I might have to actually attempt to tune in to msnbc for more than 1min to enjoy the ever slightly cooler hot air.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Sgt. Joe

      Time for your meds.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • jesse

      i'd be surprised if you could articulate the difference between capitalism, socialism, and communism, much less the ideas of karl marx. good job on remembering your talking points though. very impressive.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      Jesse: Good grief man. The reason we dislike you and the olbermann crowd is partly because you guys are so intolerant of our views. Just because we disagree with the proper role of government is NOT a reason to hate. Olbermann was a hater and he fed the hate speech of the left.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gregg

    Goodbye Keith – what is TV worth now! Stay tuned to Rachel for now!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  5. susan saari

    If Keith had only 100 viewers how did he have the highest rated show.
    and more importantly how did he encourage so many of his listeners to pony up for about 4-5 fully funded health clinics
    Doesn't make sense that the reason was low number of watcher.
    He is the best thing on cable-he and Rachel Maddow. He was her mentor I think.
    I hope he will be payed for the final two years of his contract.
    I will miss him very much. Isn't it odd that the saner the commentator the quicker they are to be vilified and or fired
    Go in Peace, Keith. hope to see or hear you soonest.
    Susan Saari

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

      Aaaahhh ... vilification. Olbermann certainly was very well acquainted with that.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. whitmanguy

    This is terrible. Olbermann is one of the few brilliantly articulate and insightful commentators on the screen. It seems to me unconscionable that Comcast could do this, even to the extent of prohibiting any tv appearances elsewhere for the next two years. America is in dire straits in more than one way these days, and the loss of this courageous journalist's voice means that our problems will be that much more difficult to deal with, or to approach with hope.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Tuckieboy

      whitmanguy you are right. I can say Friday January 21st was a sad day in the media world. And I think comcast might try to get rid of all the critics of the right before the election.

      January 22, 2011 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. MB

    For all of those bashing FOX (O'Reilly,Beck,Hannity,etc......) it is pretty hard to ignore the ratings:

    January 22, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Of course Faux news has higher ratings because you fat, pot-bellied conservatives are so useless that you spend all your time on the couch watching that garbage.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • MB

      JB: You mad, Internet tough guy?

      January 22, 2011 at 12:49 am | Report abuse |
    • bo and zeus

      So tired of hearing about ratings, it is meaningless once you understand that Fox News is on the most basic package, MSNBC is on and upgraded package, therefore most people have to pay a higher monthly rate to get MSNBC. That makes rating irrelevant. If the Republicans get their way, no one will be affording an upgraded package so we will all be Fox brain washed. Sad, sad, sad.

      January 22, 2011 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. Billy

    Buh-bye, you blowhard!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. susan saari

    my entire post is gone.
    nice going.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kay

    You're the greatest. No one can take your place. What a void this leaves

    January 22, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. Keith Olbermann's #1 fan

    In your face MSNBC and Comcast. Now, fight among your selves cause you remind everyone of Fox with this move. Keith will be on CNN headline news in 2 weeks. Then I wish Maddow, Chris Mathews, Shultz, follow. If not, Comcast will wake up from their nightmare and kiss his feet in the midnight hour and give him an offer never seen before and then – you know the rest. Ha!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. susan saari

    not gone just way up on the liine above. sorry for the complaint.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. Duncan Muir

    I live in Vancouver Canada.
    I have watched KO for 8 years.
    He is the only one who uses logic and fights for the people of the US.
    So many of you in the US believe the retoric from the right wing.
    please wake up America.
    we miss our old friends here in the great white noth.
    GO KEITH GO!!!!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  14. chatmandu002

    Keith, the spin-meister, Ubermann is gone. Yeah.... good riddance.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • spot

      spinmister?? I just feel comfortable now that I'll hear everything perfectly straight from you sad losers. sit back just one second take a deep breath and realize what you are really supporting, god open your eyes! give it time and you'll realize how wrong you are.

      January 22, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. Miss Lady

    Keith Olbermann is no coward. I guess he said "the right things" too many times about a whole lot of "bad people who do wrong" and MSNBC had to get rid of him. Shame on you MSNBC!!!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
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