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. Orville

    Here we go!-getting stung again by another "right wing" leaning media giant (ComcastNBC)!...what is particularly disturbing is that KO cannot be on broadcast televison because of the contract extension that was effect, censoring him for several years to come. Is Rachel next to go!....Damn those right wingers!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Don

    Goodbye you clown. No one will notice you are off the air, and if they did they wouldn't care.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. spot

    tell them all to kiss your butt

    January 22, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. Trish

    *************** I AM DONE WATCHING MSNBC*******************
    Keith – Thank you for everything you have accomplished. Please know that you are respected and appreciated. You will be missed!
    Hope to see you very soon, you DESERVE BETTER!
    Good Bye and Good Luck 🙁
    Seriously, I am done watching MSNBC!!!!!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. Robert Jones

    MSNBC will be gone within a couple years.........all the NBC networks will son be "Comcastic". Hey , maybe they'll hire crazy Uncle Rush!!!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  6. Robert Jones

    MSNBC will be gone within a couple years.........all the NBC networks will soon be "Comcastic". Hey , maybe they'll hire crazy Uncle Rush!!!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom S.

      As much as I am sure you would like to see an Australian with a Caesar complex rule our airwaves, I truly hope that does not come to pass, for the sake of independent journalism...

      January 22, 2011 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. Orville

    We better pay attention to what is happening folks!.....the republicans and their lobbyists have the money to control virtually everything they want us to hear/see/read and to stifle those who question the "right wing" agenda!...the corporate media giants in the US are anything but objective....and this comes on the heals of the recent news that the availability of public funds for public broadcasting is being cut...a coincidence? I think not!l

    January 22, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Scott

    He was the perfect antidote for the Fox "Right-Wing Propaganda" Network.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. Holly Grimes

    This is a sad, sad day. Keith has been a solid voice of reason and sanity in an increasingly insane media world. I only hope that when his contract clauses expire (about no television appearances until 2012), he decides to make a comeback to the mainstream visual media and continue to wake people the hell up. Don't go too far, Keith! WE NEED YOU!!!!!!!

    January 22, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. George

    What a comedown! I hate politics, and Keith made it interesting enough to watch his show. He pointed out the injustices, though I don't always agree with political correctness, he hit the nail on the head. I'm glad I don't pay for cable anymore, and prefer to control my viewing online to avoid dead zones like Fox Noise, and PTL. What is there to watch now other than Rachel Maddow, who is proving to also be great. CNN won't put Anderson Cooper online, so now what? MSNBC made a big mistake and they are proving to be real losers.

    January 22, 2011 at 12:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. V Saxena

    I'm saddened by this news. Keep your head up, Keith. Much love from a fan.

    January 22, 2011 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  12. rmtaks

    OK right-wingers, Bwahahaha all you want, just stfu next time you are thinking of mentioning the "liberal media bias." This is the one mainstream liberal pundit you could name and now he's gone. Meanwhile, I can name 5 conservative ones off the top of my head. There is no liberal media bias, there is a conservative media bias, to placate the backwoods uneducated morons who comprise most of our country.

    January 22, 2011 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
  13. jnuey

    good.. ratings dont lie.. people are tired of his hate.

    January 22, 2011 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. Tom S.

    If those of you who are cheering his "downfall" would just put your money where your mouth was you would cheer ALL of these blow hards going away so we could actually have ADULT discussions without the "You did it first!" "Uhh, Uhh, YOU did it first!" fecal matter spewed on the airwaves. This is grown up world, not Kindergarten! I want the government to govern or get out of the way and let the adults in for a change. On both sides.

    January 22, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
    • rmtaks

      That's the thing – if he was being canned because of lack of intelligent discourse I would be cheering. I would seriously give my right arm if it would mean this country would debate firmly on the issues instead of calling names and making up sensational BS. But I don't think that was the case. I think he upset too many people being sensational on the right and had to go. So I see this more as an unbalancing as opposed to progress.

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

      This is typical of the left wing school of thought. Clinton got us in the wars by not getting "Osama" let we let "Obama" into office and look at the mess we're in. Once in, we can't just up and leave, overnight, though most on the left would be joyous if we could. So I ask, then: What would have satisfied you? Had he kept up the Clinton Wars header, you would complain that it is now Obama's war. (Which would be factually untrue). So he just stops pointing out the Clinton death toll, and he is accused of being biased. So I suppose he should have started a new counter, and labelled it Obama Wars? But the wars are not Obama's. So what, precisely, would have made you content?

      January 22, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom S.

      –Brian, you just made my point for me... Pointing fingers and saying, "You did it first", and so on. Irony. Sweet, sweet irony...

      January 22, 2011 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom S.

      rmtaks, actually I agree to a point, but you have to look at Olbermann's career. He usually will jump ship for the next opportunity after a few years. Actually after his ESPN gig, this is the longest he has been at one station in his career. I believe this has nothing to do with his politics and has more to do with his personal antsy career path to go somewhere different. He has done this throughout his career, and I would not be shocked at all to see him end up at either CNN or as the lead under a new venture. It has been his career nature. He may even go back to sports, and may be tired of the political jousting he has been immersed in for some time...

      January 22, 2011 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. Onedown

    The obnoxious liberal equivalent of O'Riely... finally gone through his own idiot undoing.... Thank God!!
    ...a poster-boy in this endless media clown act generation...

    January 22, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
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