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. Barbara

    Hurried home from work to watch Keith, what will I do, not Fox no way and maybe not so much of MSN anymore.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CindyLou

    Boycott MSNBC and cancel your Concast contracts.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Please don't boycott MSNBC, they can't afford to lose their last 37 viewers!

      January 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • CG Wilkerson

      I am with you. Comcast is history in my world

      January 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |

    Well I will delete MSNBC from my channel lineup ! Keith Olbermann was one of the only reasons I ever watched MSNBC

    January 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. luke

    If Comcast is responsible for this then I am so glad that I am with Verizon –
    what a stupid, gutless move.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. vance

    I can't believe this = (

    January 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Stymie

    Keith for White House spokesman!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TV-Guy

    There should be a mass exodus of comcast subscribers. Keith will surface again only this time better than ever.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cassi02

    Who will speak for the liberals now? Too bad, just too bad...

    January 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Terrell L Cross

    What a sad decision. He was the best answer to the garbage on Fox News. Who will be next Rachelle Maddow? If MSNBC made this decision, shame on them. He helped build that network. Watch out the rest of you on MSNBC, seems if you do not do major BUTT kissing of whoever is in charge, Out you go.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • MontgomeryScott

      the garbage and lies belong squarely in MSNBC's corner.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. @emergentcare

    Wow. Very sad day. Feel just as bad as when Aaron Brown signed off CNN and when Ron Reagan Jr.'s radio show was pulled. I look forward to the continuation of his illustrious career somewhere soon. (Ron's too.)

    January 21, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tess

      Sad day indeed. I'm shocked, saddened and disappointed. It was my understanding that Olbermann's show drew the highest ratings for MSNBC's evening lineup, so something smells rotten in the state of Denmark. I look forward to his next on-air venture and hope it won't be long before we see him making contributions again to the intellectual side of life.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    CNN is too balanced to want him, which is wise on their part. Bye, Keith. Glad to see you go!!!

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

    I'm pretty liberal and get tired of the hysterics and manufactured "truth" of the right wing but Olbermann's style is/was too much like theirs. Facts and the explanation of them work much better than mocking and ridicule in my book. A little excitement and a little exaggeration are fine but too much is a turn off. I couldn't watch him.

    January 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phylllis, Denver, CO

      Humorous, intelligent and the truth! Sadly many can't handle the truth.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rick

    He's probably being tapped to be the next press secretary.

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

      Olbermann as Press Secretary wouldn't surprise me a bit.

      January 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ramon F Herrera

      There is ABSOLUTELY now way KO qualifies as press secretary. They are supposed to be gray and above all: non-polemic.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dave

    that blows. F U MSNBC

    January 21, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phylllis, Denver, CO

      You must be a tea party member and love Glenn Beck. Otherwise there is no explanation for your insanity.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robert

    Thank God he is leaving the air. The Liberal blowhard was 10x worse than any bad Conservative. All he spread was lies and hate, then accused the other side of doing the same.

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

      You know that by watching him? Doubt it.
      Expand your horizons. Purge Feaux News from you channel selection. Add real news sources.
      He may have been over the top, but unlike his counterparts on False News, he vetted everything for facts.

      January 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • phillip Marlowe

      I totally agree. I loved how he had his nightly body count of the war to bash Bush, the Oduma gets elected and continues to the war, declares combat operations are over, soldiers continue dying, but funny how Keith quit the nightly body count...

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