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.

Post by:
Filed under: Showbiz
soundoff (1,424 Responses)
  1. Tony Sidaway

    As a Brit, I want to say that Keith Olbermann has been a great ambassador for his country. I cannot say it more clearly: his broadcasts have permanently altered my impression of his nation for the better.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tony Sidaway

    As a Brit, I want to say that Keith Olbermann has been a great ambassador for his country. I cannot say it more clearly: his broadcasts have permanently altered my impression of his nation for the better.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. concerned grandma

    The merger of Comcast with NBC should be watched closely. Wherever Keith lands, I hope he'll report on it. Nothing less than freedom of speech is at stake.

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

    He only works in small doses, surprised he lasted as long as he did!

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

    I am stunned and angry; if Comcast had a hand in this we should be told. I hope that CNN will pick him up. I will miss Rachel, however my family will no longer be watching MSNBC. Whatever happened to free speech? Keith, hold your head high and keep on doing the good work that you have always done.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kethfan

    MSNBC, you cannot afford to lose Keith Oberman. Keith Oberman is MSNBC. I will go where Keith Oberman will go.
    Keith Oberman we will love you and miss you for ever.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JB

    We'll miss you Keith. Unfortunately, Bill O'Reilly's fat mouth will now dominate the timeslot.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Margaret Dignoti

    What a shock and what a shame! Hope this is not the beginning of an exodus of bright, articulate liberal commentators on MSNBC. He was the best, and will be greatly missed.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mack Johnson

    MSNBC's loss. Keith was one of the few brains left in broadcast TV. Comcast your political undergarment is exposed. Let's see if you can outfox FOX.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SA

    MSNBC are a bunch of goons, CNN please offer him a show.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dale

    The commentators at msnBS are all ignorant, New England, pseudo-intellectuals with only bachelors degrees who've never held real jobs. Wonder if the mgt is starting to realize that they need to hire REAL JOURNALISTS.

    CNN mgt would be idiots to hire this clown!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • CyndyP

      I'll bet you watch Faux News!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dale

      Yes I do watch Fox, along with getting my news also from MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, Reuters, BBC, USAToday, Time magizine, etc etc.

      And from watching/reading ALL of these I can assure you that MSNBC is the biggest farce of a news agency.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Patricia

      Are you saying, that Rachel Maddow, that is a Rhodes Scholar is uneducated? I don't think so.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blagoliuff

      Rachel Maddow is from California and has a doctorate. Ed Schultz is from Norfolk, Virginia. Chris Mathews is from Philly. You are wrong.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dale

      Absolutely Maddow is uneducated! True education does not simply take the form of book smarts. True education includes that and worldy experiences of which Rachel is severly lacking.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mitchie

      You seem to be lacking education as well... so I dare you to list the education honors that your "heros" hold... Rachel is, indeed, a PhD... give me something to beat that. You spout your narrow views because you don't have the capacity to see that there are grey portions to our views.... Let me see you do some research... WORK for your agenda!

      January 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rationalist

      Rachel Maddow is one of the most highly educated pundits on TV believe it or not. She is a Rhodes Scholar with a Doctorate in Philosophy. Guys like Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh all dropped out in their first year of college. They can sell a message alright, and they are great entertainers, but they are not educated on the issues that they are spewing about.

      January 21, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CyndyP

    Unfreakingbelievable! MSNBC really blew it, Keith is fantastic and I am speechless at them letting him go. How the imbeciles at Faux News go on and someone that calls them and the Republicans out is gone shows MSNBC doesn't have a spine!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. faux 'ewes' sheeple are brain-washed

    ohh lookie!
    the trolls are slithering out from beneath their rocks to take pot shots at KEITH O –
    what a shocker... NOT.

    why Keith is leaving (i hope he has an offer lined up someplace else) when that megalomaniac BECK is still polluting the airwaves w/unamerican traitorous BS – i dunno!

    Piven responds to Beck's campaign against her on 'Democracy Now!':

    the vitriol Glenn Beck fosters –

    "Maybe they should burst through the fron door of this arrogant elitist and slit the hateful cow's throat."

    "We should blow up Piven's office and home."

    "Big lots is having a rope sale I hear, you buy the rope and I will hang the wench. I will spin her as she hangs."

    ^ Glenn Beck’s dishonest hate-mongering inspired this

    it makes his “HOLIER THAN THOU” SELF-RIGHTEOUS SHTICK even more HYPOCRITICAL, doesn’t it?

    Jewish Funds for Justice served Fox News Joel Cheawood (?) Roger Ailles & Rupert Murdoch, w/10,000 signatures asking for the firing & removal of Glenn Beck from the airwaves for unchecked hate-mongering & public incitement.

    I’m happy that my signature was among the 10K 🙂

    January 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Pay your taxes get a job.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • TTommy

      I watch Fox as much as I watch CNN, but I would never waste time on MSNBC. You give Fox way too much credit. If you think they are powerful enough to get this clown fired, you are really out of touch. Olbermann did it all himself. He is a hater of the first order. I couldn't stand to watch 30 seconds of the guy he spewed so much venom. Same reason I don't watch Hannity or Beck. He's a self righteous, smug, arrogant, misinformed fool. If you form your opinions around this guy, you are so far out there, the buses don't run.

      January 22, 2011 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. normal people

    thank god. now lets get after that O'reily D-bag

    January 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. EMILIO

    Who watches MSNBC and this guy????????

    January 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55