Olbermann Out At MSNBC

Keith Olbermann has held politicians of both sides of the fence to a higher level of accountability through his popular political show, but today he did it for the last time.  Tonight he surprised his entire audience by announcing his departure, starting a firestorm of speculation as to the sudden dismissal.

Firedoglake writes:

Stunning his Countdown audience, Keith Olbermann announced at the very end of his show tonight that this would be the last edition of Countdown. He gave no explanation but thanked his audience.

Within minutes MSNBC released a statement indicating that it was not renewing Keith’s contract.

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.

We’ll add details as we get them. But the first question has to be: Is this the first action by cable conglomerate Comcast, after the FCC and Justice Department approved their takeover of NBC, in deciding what we see on television?

But the New York Times reports that it was just a mutual agreement to bring things to an end.

The host, who has had a stormy relationship with the management of the network for some time, especially since he was suspended for two days last November, came to an agreement with NBC’s corporate management late this week to settle his contract and step down.

Here is Olbermann’s farewell speech, via Crooks and Liars:

I think the same fantasy popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I have been told — “this will be the last edition of your show.” You go to the scene from the movie Network, complete with the pajamas and the raincoat, and go off on a verbal journey of unutterable vision, and you insist upon Peter Finch’s guttural resonance, and you will the viewer to go to the window, open it, stick out his head and yell. You know the rest. In the mundane world of television goodbyes, reality is laughably uncooperative. When I resigned from ESPN 13 1/2 years ago, I was given 30 seconds to say goodbye at the end of my last edition of SportsCenter. With God as my witness, in the commercial break before the moment, the producer got into my earpiece and said, ‘Can you cut it down to 15 seconds so we can get in the tennis result?’ I’m grateful that I have more time to sign off here.

Regardless, this is the last edition of Countdown. It is just under 8 years since I returned to MSNBC. I was supposed to fill in for exactly three days. 49 days later, there was a year’s contract for me to return to this 8:00 time slot that I fled years earlier. The show established its position as anti-establishment with the stage craft of mission accomplished to the exaggerated rescue of Jessica Lynch in Iraq to the death of Pat Tillman to Hurricane Katrina to the nexus of politics and terror to the first Special Comment. The program grew entirely due to your support and great commentary. I hope for you too. There were many occasions where all that surrounded the show, and never the show itself, was too much for me. With your support and loyalty — if I may use the word insistence — required that I keep going. My gratitude to you is boundless and you think I have done good here, imagine how it looked as you donated $2 million to the National Association of Free Clinics and my dying father watched from his hospital bed and comforted that his struggles were inspiring such good for people, he and I and you would never meet, but would always know. This may be the only television program where in the host the much more in awe of the audience than vice-versa. We will also be in my heart for that and the donations to the family in Tennessee and these victims of governmental heartlessness in Arizona to say nothing of every letter and tweet and wave and handshake and online petition. Time ebbs here and top the close with more story. It is still Friday. Let me thank my gifted staff and a few of the many people who fought with me and for me: Eric Sorenson, Neal Shapiro, Michael Weiss, David Bloom, John Palmer, Alana Russo. Rachel Maddow and Bob Costas and my greatest protector, the late Tim Russert.

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Joanna Clark
Joanna Clark7 years ago

I'll miss Keith. He reported factually, and when he made a mistake, he corrected himself and apologized. There is not a movement to draft him to fill the Senate slot filled by Joe Lieberman. If he accepts, he'll have my support.

Gary P.
Gary P.7 years ago

I was glad Keith was non-biased, and everyone else should be too. Someone should be challenging the extreme bias of Fox. I just wish the challenge could be done in the hearing of Fox viewers. THank you Kieth.

Karen F.
karen Friedman7 years ago

Give me a break, Fox news an actual news network. You must be joking.

wilma s.
wilma s.7 years ago

Patricia S----wake up! We need people llike Keith and Ed Schultz.

Sam B.
Sam B.7 years ago

I'll miss Keith. I think Keith was indispensable during the Bush years. I'm not surprised by his leaving. I think he was getting tired of this gig. When you start reading Thurber on Friday, it may mean you've lost some of your fire.

Sometimes I would accept what he reported, may have been glad that he reported it, but I would wince that maybe this was not the most professional thing to say. I always admired his courage.

I hope Keith will rest up and then come back with fresh and important issues to lay on us.

Good luck, Keith!

7 years ago

He was way too ANGRY for me to watch. Most of what I saw from him was condescending and mean spirited, along with some very inaccurate reporting, well maybe reporting is the wrong term... how about commentating. He was typically anti anything conservative. I not miss him at all. Maybe Fox will hire him. That should give their channel a boost from the left, plus having him directly debate some of the FOX news commentators would be very interesting. He can join Beckel, Combs and Williams as token Fox leftists. There are others, many others in fact, but those three are the main ones.

April Gray
April Gray7 years ago

i do like keith olbermann & always enjoyed his show, but i won't pretend he was unbiased. he added yin to fox's yang (or vice versa? not sure how that works, but you get the idea....) at least. he will be missed, but i'm sure we'll see him again soon.

Jeffrey W.
Jeffrey W7 years ago

Olbermann hired by FoxNews!


Jaime Torquemada
Jaime Torquemada7 years ago

You cannot be your own person, sad that HE, WE cannot give an honest opinion.
He makes sense and never found him obnoxious, but frank and down to the point.
Hope we can find him again in another network.
God Bless Him and take care of him and free speech.

Patricia S.
Pat S7 years ago

PBS is a real left-tainted news channel!