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. luke

    I really think I am going to cry –
    I am DONE watching MSNBC after tonight –
    I wouldn't doubt it if Comcast had a role in this.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ray

    Whatever you want to say about Keith he always stood by his words and his actions. He was a fighter on the left something that we really need with all the dirty lying windbags on the right ( Bill-o the clown and such). He will land on his feet somewhere soon and continue to do good work.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trump2012

      Where the hell have you been for the last 6 years? Are you sure you are not thinking of Aston Kutcher? Get a clue.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RC

    Adios. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. KMAN821

    How about Hannity/Olbermann?

    January 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nicole

    Fire a nut like Bill O'Reilly- not the bright ones like Olbermann! Dumb move.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dave in Altmar

    Next gig @ Comedy Central

    January 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nate

    Now if we can only get rid of oriely, hannity, and maddow, all of television will be a better place.


    tis but a wishful thought.

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

      Whoa... Can't believe someone would group Rachel with those Fixed News windbags... She's got more education, insight, & clear-mindedness than both those goons could conceive of...

      January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • faux 'ewes' sheeple are brain-washed

      why comment if it's just to expose your own ignorance to the rest of the world?

      Rachel Maddow is a rhodes scholar who cares about reporting FACTS.
      she's one of the reasons MSNBC has the BEST PROVEN TRACK RECORDS OF TRUTHFUL REPORTING.

      so was Keith O.

      get a clue.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Meh, don't let the door hit ya...

    I agree with his politics and still found him a pompous windbag. Watch Jon Stewart instead, people! Better in every respect.

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

      Jon Stewart, Keith, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow all provided delivery that made me feel better about the news for this country. I don't need any more Fox fake facts and felt all of the listed people made the best compilation of the news. Keith had his own way and I loved his as much as the others.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ruth

    Keith lets us know where you are and we will be there with you. No more MSNBC.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sambo

    OMG! One of the best anchors out there!!1 I will no longer watch any show on MSNBC. I hope CNN scarfs him up. He and Anderson Cooper appearing back to back will return CNN to the top. Go get him CNN, PLEASE.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sobered

    I only watch three programs regularly each week day on any channel: Hardball, Rachel, and Keith’s Countdown. Keith Olbermann’s Countdown is the best one. His leaving tonight has shocked me, upset me. I hope he was not fired or forced out; if so, I will watch you no more. His views, guests, and programing were just my type. As a regular viewer, your msnbc is now depriving me of the best thing I watched on all of TV. Shame on somebody!!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ringo

    If I had to guess, I would say the Comcast-NBC deal played a major role in this. Maybe Comcast plans to scale back the left views on MSNBC and make it more centered.

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

      I agree with you about Comcast but in my opinion they want MSNBC to be more like FAUX News. I would love to get rid of Comcast but my area does not offer Verizon Fios. I would switch right now if I could.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Laurie

    I bet this has to do with Comcast and the new bosses coming in! No more news stations left for me to watch. I would watch CNN again if they hired Keith but that's not likely to happen from both sides. ESPN is where he should go back to. Ed, Rachel, and Lawrence are okay but without Keith there is no night time MSNBC!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JT

    I was watching tonight with my 83 year old Mother who is recovering from Chemo......she said simply "I don't want him to go".

    January 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sam Braber

    Too bad, I won't be watching MSNBC any longer.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
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