Keith Olbermann leaves MSNBC, ‘Countdown’ – again — MSNBC show host and political commentator, Keith Olbermann, has left the network and his nightly show, Countdown, yet again. The departure was announced abruptly in a statement by MSNBC on Friday, and Mr. Olbermann said his good-byes to his audience on the last Countdown show Friday evening. This time, the separation appears to be permanent rather than the temporary suspension the commentator faced last November.
In November, 2010, Mr. Olbermann, the most watched host on the network, was suspended from the channel because MSNBC executive Phil Griffin discovered the commentator had made political contributions to Democratic candidates for office in the 2010 election. MSNBC said this practice went against NBC News policy. Mr. Olbermann disagreed but returned to his job as host of Countdown two days later. The New York Times reports that 250,000 fans of the show and its host signed a petition to bring him back.
This time, the reason for the separation is, as yet, unclear. Some reports indicate that the recent takeover of NBC Universal by Comcast will make for a different working climate and set of expectations that would not be suitable for Mr. Olbermann’s continued employment with the network. According to the New York Times, however, Comcast denies the claim, saying in a statement that it has “no operational control” over the network. “We pledged from the day the deal was announced that we would not interfere with NBC Universal’s news operations. We have not and we will not,” the company said in its statement.
For its part, MSNBC issued a statement that also did not outline any reasons:
“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.”
Analysts appearing on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Friday evening suggested that Mr. Olbermann may have “read the handwriting on the wall” and decided himself, along with the network, that a separation was mutually beneficial.
Whatever the reason, it appears that Mr. Olbermann has settled his contract with MSNBC. In 2008, he signed a four-year contract with the network for an estimated $30 million. This meant that he had nearly two full years left on its run. The New York Times reports that his settlement with MSNBC involves an agreement that he will stay off television for an undisclosed period of time. He is reportedly free, however, to voice his views on the Internet or perhaps through radio.
In his own farewell on Friday night’s show, Mr. Olbermann cited the closest thing to a reason for his departure by saying, “all that surrounded the show – but never the show itself – was just too much for me.”
Keith Olbermann has been attributed with establishing MSNBC as a left-leaning alternative news and commentary outlet to the right-leaning network, FOX News.
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