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, ‚ÄúThe Big Show,‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúWhite House In Crisis.‚ÄĚ

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. bwilliamson

    I just got home from two wakes. This news is making me have a third one. Good luck Keith. I will be watching to see you on some other program.

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

    The thing about this guy is that he was honest about what he was doing. He never pretneded to do anything but give the liberal progressive perspective on current events. He was brilliant at it and he never tried to sell it as "fair and balanced". The folks at fox news could learn a lot from him. On fox they have commentators as far to the right as olberman is to the left, but they intentionally mischaracterize what they do as providing "fair and balanced" news reporting. I think he is a brilliant journalist. I will miss him.

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

    I am shocked and saddened that the new owners of MSNBC would cancel Keith Obermann's show. His intelligent commentary will be missed. In protest, fans of the show should cancel their Comcast service and switch to Verizon or some other provider. Take a stand against censorship.

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

    Keith, you'd make a great press secretary for the Obama administration.
    Anyway, good luck and hoping to watch you again soon.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bhe

    Good news, now maybe somebody will actually be able to watch MSNBC. At least we'll hope there is something worth watching now. Or would that be too much to ask?

    January 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat Mora

      Whats the matter bhe? Not enough Fox out there for you??????

      January 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kat Mora

    I can't stand this! I love Keith. Will Rachel be next? What is going on????? My whole night revolved around MSNBC and fitting in their shows in between some of the other shows I watch. I can't stand the thought that he won't be there. Please Keith, find a new home that appreciates your delivery and get back on the tv asap.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. anthony

    I'm sure those old right wing farts at Comcast had something to do with this.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • faux 'ewes' sheeple are brain-washed

      of course they did!

      we need to keep an eye on those corporate fascists...

      January 21, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Woobie

    The comment above about there being "no room in the media for liberals"... someone's seeing that full on double rainbow again... I want some of what you're smokin'... oh wait... maybe I don't. You need a reality check Joe Schmoe. The mainstream "media" has no room for liberals because that's ALL that is there ... they can't cram any more of 'em in ...

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

    CNN, you best be snappin' this man up! I need a show to watch at 8pm, and God knows it will NOT be Bill O'Reilly.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. shaila

    CNN: I'll switch back to you. Do consider hiring Keith.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. nathan

    FYI: Its i his contract that he cannot go to another news network for a specific period of time.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpyGlass

      I hope he gets to go somewhere he can show off his Libertarian leanings, instead of playing the part of the Statist clown and the brain dead neo-liberal.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stewy - Las Vegas

      MSNBC "terminated the contract" therefor Keith can work where ever he wishs

      January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeanZ

      Hey spyglass
      Or is it ass wipe
      Libertarian and liberal are quite opposed

      January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rod

      Good Riddens!!!!! I am so glad to see this piece of trash go it is unbelievable!!!! His pure hatred of GW Bush was unreal. And he actually cursed republicans that did not "LOVE" Obama. He also would not let go of Sarah Palin. Okay, this is a free country and you don't have to like either but continually being negative about them is un-called for. Again, this is a good day!! I hope he has dug his grave so deep that no other network will even give him a chance. All he can do is name call those he doesn't agree with. YEA, Mr. Negative is gone due to being FIRED! Maybe MSNBC finally gets it.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • BushIsAWarCriminal

      His audience will follow him if he goes to the Cooking Channel.

      Conan went to a channel that never had a prime time night talk show.

      But larger, I think this sudden cancellation without notice or explanation is a horrific tragedy driven by one shiveled, tiny man's ego. The President of MSNBC did this, since he humiliated himself with KO 3 months ago. This is awful, hideous beyond description. This manager chooses to end such an important show with a wide viewership and awareness, suddenly and without explanation? For that alone, the President looks a fool. And only 3 months from the last dustup and he doesn't have a publicist craft a statement? His cowardice makes him look like a craven, venal and feckless Manger In Name Only. KO and this show were fantastic. This end is a tragic miscarriage of justice and should not stand.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Storm

      I don't get it – his ratings were pretty decent whether you liked him or not, and given the timing with the merger, this is going to look really bad on Comcast, a company that already has horrible PR (for admittedly completely different reasons).

      I sincerely doubt his replacement will pull in equivalent viewership, so it seems like a bad decision from a financial perspective as well. Of course, large companies are well known for being paradoxically full of bad and short-sighted management, so who knows.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mo

    Is it April 1st already? Don't be fools, MSNBC

    January 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Michael131

    Hey everybody, I know where Keith will go next. FOX News!!! Can you think of a better way to get the truth into news over there at the FOX Hole network. Where the slogan should be, FOX News, We report,Then Your Lobotimized

    January 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      You're

      January 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • texce

      Another liberal pea brain.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eddie Dex

      ROFL!!!!!!

      January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barada

      The word is "you're" not "your". Maybe when you get educated you will evolve beyond your childish ideas.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • steeve-o

      C'mon Michael131, they wouldn't be That balanced.
      If he were hired by Fox News they probably have him on the edge of the stage, and they'd throw stuff at him.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • sharky

      Funny thing with that one, Keith WAS on Fox Sports as a sportscaster. He was Fired from that gig.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • phillip Marlowe

      Go look at the nightly cable ratings for the past several years. Fox crushes everyone in every hour from 4pm to 11pm.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rod

      You are on some real good drugs if you think Keith and MSNBC are anything but ultra-liberal. At least on Fox, you do get both sides. In fact, on every topic, they have representatives from each party. NEVER did I see Keith or Rachael have the other side. All Keith could do was call names and be-little. Like I said, Keith has dug his grave so deep, no one will give him an opportunity!! At least Fox demonstrates a well balanced debate!

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

      put the beer can down... stop spilling on the keyboard... go to bed and in the morning you will feel better when you get a letter from barry the Obama to send him your tax money......

      January 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Glenn Beck

    Poor Keith, I have more people watching my commercials than he gets in a week.....perhaps the cartoon network will pick him up.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Classy.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      PIg.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colleen

      Perhaps the mother ship will pick you up

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

      wow you can be an ass a smug one too

      January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Truly classless Glenn.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike Shepherd

      Perhaps, "Glenn," – the difference being, yours is an audience of moron 'sheeple'
      whistling 'if I only had a brain.'

      January 21, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      That's a great one! HOW TRUE!!! LOL!

      January 22, 2011 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
    • George

      This was in response to Mike Shepard, – Perhaps, "Glenn," ‚Äď the difference being, yours is an audience of moron 'sheeple'
      whistling 'if I only had a brain.' – That's a great one! HOW TRUE!!! LOL!

      January 22, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      Mama mouse told mama Lion: ...You are so big, and you can have only one offspring, and I can have many!!!...Yes, mama mouse, said mama Lion, ...but mine is a little Lion....

      January 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      I wrote this to Glenn Beck.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jay

    Finally! Yayyy, finally!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • BushIsAWarCriminal

      This is a horrific tragedy driven by one shiveled, tiny man's ego. The President of MSNBC did this, since he humiliated himself with KO 3 months ago. This is awful, hideous beyond description. This manager chooses to end such an important show with a wide viewership and awareness, suddenly and without explanation? For that alone, the President looks a fool. And only 3 months from the last dustup and he doesn't have a publicist craft a statement? His cowardice makes him look like a craven, venal and feckless Manger In Name Only. KO and this show were fantastic. This end is a tragic miscarriage of justice and should not stand.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phylllis, Denver, CO

      Think about it. The reason the "other" side doesn't appear is they can't handle a real debate with intelligent interviewers. Watch Rachel in particular and hear over and over how she has invited them and no one responded. If you want softballs and faux news keep watching Fox, it's where those who can't handle the intelligence of Keith and Rachel go.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
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