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Keith Olbermann Quits MSNBC; Both Sides Mum on Reason

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NEW YORK – Keith Olbermann, the highest-rated host of MSNBC, has quit the cable news network. In an abrupt announcement on the air Friday night, he said he was leaving "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" immediately.

The flamboyant anchor, who was the leading and possibly most strident symbol of MSNBC's liberal leanings, settled his contract late this week and agreed to step down. His relationship with NBC's corporate management had been troubled for some time, but news of his departure came as a surprise to most pundits and MSNBC insiders. Click play to watch video:

As he closed his show Friday night, Olbermann said he would end his show immediately. He offered no explanation, and a statement from MSNBC did not clarify the circumstances behind his departure.

"MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract," the statement said. "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 future endeavors."

Olbermann, who has a sarcastic and acerbic style, had a four-year contract for an estimated $30 million, the New York Times reported Friday night. He hosted "Countdown" at 8 p.m. ET since 2003, and he was the key to MSNBC's fight to overcome the top-rated show on cable news in that time slot, "The O'Reilly Factor" with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News.

Olbermann challenged O'Reilly repeatedly, calling him the "worst person in the world."

O'Reilly's program left Olbermann's in the dust, nearly doubling "Countdown's" ratings. "The O'Reilly Factor" consistently ranks No. 1 on cable news. But Olbermann's program did lead MSNBC's climb to the second-ranked news channel on cable television, passing the onetime leader, CNN.

Olbermann's support for liberal policies and causes became a hallmark of MSNBC. He helped boost the MSNBC liberal brand. Eventually his program was followed by a like-minded host, Rachel Maddow, who is the host of the 9 p.m. hour.

Olbermann was almost fired by NBC in November when he revealed he had contributed donations to Democratic candidates, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was the target of an assassination attempt in Tucson on Jan. 8.
Filed Under: Media, Liberals

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R. M. Graham

Keith Olbermann was the reason I began watching MSNBC. He was always straight-foward and peeled back the layers of some of the heavily padded news (or at least what masquerades as news). I did not always agree with everything he said, but generally he was right on target and truthful.That made him refreshing; because truth is a rare commodity in the News Media today. I miss him already and hope he returns to the forefront very soon. Keith, if you read this, know that you have a lot of many supporters. I look forward to seeing you again, very soon. May God Bless you and your family.

Rose G.

January 26 2011 at 12:17 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Keith Olbermann's program was one of the best on MSNBC and spoke to masses of every day people and their concerns. Those who criticize are in for an awakening if the extreme right wing take control of this country. I did not aways agree on some of his positions but most of them were right on. I'm old enough to have lived through six republican agenda's and each one has hurt this country more than the previous one. As Keith would say "God help us all". I wish him the best.

January 24 2011 at 7:21 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Thank you Comcast.

January 22 2011 at 9:58 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

..go back to sports you can't fudge there. A hit's a hit, a touchdown a touchdown, perfect, you won't have to incorporate information and disseminate it back to the masses.

January 22 2011 at 9:01 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

i wonder if Keith will get the same backlash as Sarah Palin did for quitting his job in the middle of a contract

January 22 2011 at 7:26 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Tom's comment

Hardly the same thing Tom, but nice try! Keith is a commentator, Palin represented a lot of people! She let them down. Also, we don't know the facts as to why he's gone, now do we? There are people everyday who don't finish out their contracts, and Palin was elected, not a contract, big, big, big difference.

January 22 2011 at 7:31 PM Report abuse -7 rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, how could he betray all those people who elected him...?

January 22 2011 at 9:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

MSNBC Ratings are at best dismal
The leftist based programming either has to be supported(NPR)
or "borrows" funds from the Boys Club(Air America)
The numbers don't lie....very few agree with the programming at MSNBC.
And the NEW owners know it....look for BIG changes at MSNBC or it will shut down.

January 22 2011 at 5:02 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply

I began watching MSNBC because of Keith Olbermann. I found him to be personable and truly empathetic to the llives of ordinary Americans. Also, quick to point out hypocrisy. He brought in Rachel Maddow who is incredibly smart and was great at moving Olbermann's topics further. I will stay tuned for Olbermann's next move. He won't be silenced for long. Stay tuned to see where he lands. I will as will many many others.

January 22 2011 at 5:01 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply

Hope for all our sake you and MSNBC can find a middle road and you return. Looked forward to seeing and listening to you every night. Good luck.

January 22 2011 at 3:44 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Never had a conservative on the program. Never had a debate with anyone. His lineup of guests was a left-wing echo chamber so there was no "analysis" only propaganda. He constantly took cheap shots at anyone to the right of Scott Brown, but NEVER allowed airtime for rebuttal. I used to watch MSNBC to get the perspective from the left, but except for Mathews, there is no debate. Just constant diatribe, invective and demonization. Glenn Beck is the ONLY person on Fox who doesn't have a constant flow of liberals, and O'Reilly, who typically beats Olberman by 3 or 4 : 1, has cultivated a stable of leftists who are on consistantly. Some have predicted Olberman will make a comeback. Where? Air America is dead, CNN will not touch him, NPR has enough problems, and Media Matters, Daily Kos, or Huffington is not enough of a venue. He's done for the forseeable future.

January 22 2011 at 2:23 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

No match for O'Reilly. Seemed to be a puppet for Imelt spewing forth how wonderful those on the left were while those on the right, were to be mocked and ridiculed. Like Sharpton, he wanted to divide people instead of uniting. A very bitter and angry man. This country will NEVER be the way he wants it to be. Thank God!

January 22 2011 at 1:17 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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