Keith Olbermann leaving MSNBC, replaced by Lawrence O'Donnell

keith-olbermannImage Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty ImagesMSNBC announced tonight that anchor Keith Olbermann is leaving the network. “MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract,” the network says in a statement. “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.”

The network also announced that, starting Monday, Jan. 24, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell will take over Olbermann’s 8 p.m. ET timeslot. (O’Donnell has filled in for Olbermann in the past.) The Ed Show, hosted by Ed Schultz, will in turn move to O’Donnell’s 10 p.m. ET timeslot.

Olbermann’s departure comes in the midst of Comcast’s takeover of NBC Universal. Olbermann has hosted Countdown since 2003 and helped to rebuild the news channel. Here’s Olbermann’s sign-off from his final show Friday:

“I think the same fantasy has popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I’ve been told — that this is going to be the last edition of your show. You go directly to the scene from the movie Network, complete with the pajamas and the raincoat, and you go off on an existential otherworldly verbal journey of unutterable profundity and vision, you damn the impediments and you insist upon the insurrections and then you emit Peter Finch’s guttural resonant “Sooo…” and you implore—you will the viewer to go to the window, open it, stick out his head and yell… well, you know the rest.

In the mundane world of television goodbyes, reality is laughably uncooperative. When I resigned from ESPN 13-and-a half-years ago, I was literally given 30 seconds to say goodbye at the very end of my last edition of SportsCenter. As god as my witness in the commercial break just before the emotional moment, the producer got into my earpiece and he said, ‘Ummm, can you cut it down to 15 seconds so we can get in this tennis result from Stuttgart?’

So I’m grateful that I have a little more time to sign off here. Regardless, this is the last edition of Countdown. It is just under eight years since I returned to MSNBC, I was supposed to fill in for the late Jerry Nachman for exactly three days. Forty-nine days later, there was a four-year contract for me to return to this nightly 8 p.m. time slot, which I had fled four years earlier. The show gradually established its position as anti-establishment, from the stagecraft 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 the politics and terror to the first Special Comment, the program grew and grew entirely due to your support with great reward for me and I hope for you too. There were many occasions, particularly in the last two-and-a-half years, where all that surrounded the show but never the show itself, was just too much for me. But your support and loyalty and if I might use the word ‘insistence’ ultimately required that I keep going. My gratitude to you is boundless and if you think I’ve done any good here, imagine how it looked from this end as you donated $2 million to the National Association of Free Clinics and my dying father watched from his hospital bed transcendentally comforted that his struggles were inspiring such overwhelming good for people, he and I and you would never meet but would always know.

This may be the only television program wherein the host was in much more awe of the audience than vice versa. You will always be in my heart for that, and for the donations to the Cranick family in Tennessee and these victims of governmental heartlessness in Arizona, to say nothing of every letter and email and tweet and wave and handshake, and online petition. Time ebbs here and I want to close with one more Thurber story, it is still Friday, so let me thank my gifted staff here and just a few of the many people who fought with me and for me: Erik Sorenson, Phil Alangi, Neal Shaprio, Michael Weisman, the late David Bloom, John Palmer, Alana Russo, Monica Novotny, my dear friends Rachel Maddow and Bob Costas, and my greatest protector and most indefatigable cheerleader, the late Tim Russert.”

Read more:
Keith Olbermann suspended by MSNBC; Chris Hayes to sub tonight

Comments (201 total) Add your comment
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  • Daniel

    Yea just watched countdown and was blindsided. Shocking news, will miss Keith.

    • Big Time Rush

      What was more shocking is when Griffin almost destroyed the dreams of Big Time Rush, good thing the boys got their album out

      • Will

        Hahaha A+

      • DogBoy

        I know. right?

    • Amanda Kiwinerd

      Who gives a crap.? Jon Stewart is king!!!

      • Hey

        Hi Amanda! How are you! You sound nice!! I hope someday I can grow up to be as smart and pretty and nice and smart and nice as you are!!

    • LOL

      Comcast is already fast at work killing any voice against corporate greed.

      • Scobes

        The said thing is, this might be EXACTLY what appened.

      • Red

        That is highly unlikely! MSNBC/Comcast would not make a move like this unless they felt that they could be MORE profitable as a result. In fact, one of the reports on this (NY Times, I think) mentioned that the fact that Rachel Maddow’s doing so well was one reason they felt OK in dispatching the sometimes embarrassing Olbermann.

      • LOL

        Red knows nothing. Olbermann was the highest rated show on MSNBC.

    • DJ Smith

      One of the best things TV . I have been a fan of yours for years. Good luck .
      The will be missed.

    • jeff

      Ha Ha Ha, liberals just do not know how to succeed like real Americans.

      Fox News is here to stay you suckers! Ha Ha Ha.

      Keep lying & crying and pissin & moaning and complaining (The one thing that you dumbarse liberals are good at)

      Fox News is here to stay and I find great amusement at all of your angst! (Angst- look it up you stupid stupid losers)

      Hey stupid lazy liberals, how’s it feel like to live a life of poverty! How’s it like to be poor?

      Ha Ha Ha, we are all laughing at you and your failures!

      • Mike O

        Always nice to have the voice of reason from the conservative side.

      • teeps2k

        I *really* hope this is either a joke or a liberal plant.. someone to put the words of intense ridiculousness in a conservative’s mouth.

        These comments are not only silly but extremely degradative to our country as a whole. Olbermann was a loudmouth and a cretin much of the time. However, he was one of the *only* voices against corporate greed and the fatcats whose actions have set in motion the situation which you then blame on the new president. (NOTE: I did NOT say *rich people*. OBVIOUSLY, not all rich people are villains. OBVIOUSLY).

        FOX News represents many of these people, as does the Republican Party. The crime is that many of you who agree with many of the principles of the Republican Party (family values, principles based on Judeo-Christian values, etc.) have to go along with the other things, including Corporate Greed and all of the values that hurt you. I, as a Democrat, am often given the same choice. I agree with the Democratic Party on many things, biut I then have to go along with the parts I don’t agree with. I take on that responsibility and at least attempt to change views from within.

        We are all patriotic Americans, whether Democrat or Repiblican, but we need to find a way to get the federeal government (either Donkey or Elephant) to represent the people as a whole and not just the rich industrialists who send jobs to India or lawyers who cheat the legal system. That takes BOTH parties being made up of skeptics, doubting the foundations of their parties, and trying to treat the other side with empathy, not sympathy, but at least attempting to see where they are coming from. NO ONE is Hitler or Stalin or Mao. We are all Americans and we all want to succeed.

        So, cut the crap out.

      • jeff





        LIBERAL LOSERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Zakry

        What flavor is that kool-aid?

    • Angie G.

      Same here. I will miss the most funniest and most brash political pundit that MSNBC has ever seen. Now, things will be alot boring now that he’s gone. But, Lawrence O’Donnell isn’t bad either.

  • Zeke

    It’s about damn time that MSNBC wises up and gets rid of this turd once and for all and hoping NOBODY hires this fool! What a jackwad! Comcast is now serious about making major changes to the NBC slate of networks and this is one solid good starting point. Good riddance to bad rubbish! KARMA!

    • Lou

      Keith l will miss you. Best of luck in ur future endeavors. Peace & love.

      • jeff

        Keith, Drop Dead you Anti-American Prick!

      • LOL

        Jeff is a dittohead. How sad.

    • Lois

      Looks like Bill OReilly is posting under the alias Zeke.

      • Chae


      • Christopher

        I don’t think O’Reilly uses the “turd” word too often, maybe I need to watch him more.

      • jeff

        We use the term turd only to discribe Keith Obermann.

  • Mary

    Guess you can be a conservative and tell any lie on Fox and still keep your job. But if you are a liberal on MSNBC and tell the truth, you may not be able to renew your contract. I am very disapointed in MSNBC. I guess I am back to CNN

    • Classy!

      Exactly. Right on.

    • Nerwen Aldarion

      Um his contract was renewed for four years in 2008 so he left mid contract. As for Olbermann’s “truth” I’ll just refrain. You are clearly delusional

      • AK

        Did you not read? He was fired.

    • AcaseofGeo

      You know, I’m not gonna write here defending Fox News. However, anything Fox did from a conservative or Right wing approach, MSNBC and its evening anchors mirror from a liberal or Left wing approach. I think both do a disservice to logical reasonable discourse by being so polarizingly mean and snide. Hannity = Olbermann.

      • Amanda Kiwinerd

        That’s right, they’re all the same a-holes. opposite sides of the same coin.

      • Rick

        Absolutely true!

      • LOL

        Hilarious. That false equivalency crap shows that you don’t think very hard about anything. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

      • Lois

        FALSE! Olbermann told the truth, and made corrections if he got anything wrong. Hannity says the propaganda that his corporate masters tell him to say.

      • kahuna

        Nonsense. hannity is a professional liar. Period. He always has been and he always will be as long as the very big paychecks keep rolling in. Keith may get things wrong once in a while, but he never, ever intentionally lied.

      • jeff

        All you idiots are stupid. What grade did all of you drop out of school.

        Obermann was a hateful, unAmerican Prick. I hope his diarrhea eats him alive.

      • thorn

        there is a clear difference.. fact check verifies msnbc’s version and calls foul on fox’s version..

        msnbc/olbermann always told the truth. fox only spews propaganda misinformation and lies

      • joesmom

        Olbermann is the one who is always calling out Hannity on his outright LIES. I hate seeing a voice of reason being silenced. Everyone knows Comcast and Fox are bed buddies so no wonder this happened.

  • Gerry

    Does anyone know why?

    • justjack


    • Lois

      Comcast just bought NBC & MSNBC. They are a huge corporate entity with ties to the Republicans.

    • D

      It had to do with the rhetoric. His hateful speech since the Tuscon situation was taken into consideration and could very well have influenced the shooter.

      • Tim Hillman

        Did you read what you just said? Since the shooting he could have influenced the shooter? Really?

    • DogBoy

      Starts with “a”, ends with “hole”

  • k

    Proof corporate censorship is alive and well. I don’t even watch him but if he was pulled for what he says this country is in serious trouble. Fox does not pull people for saying outrageous things.

    • AcaseofGeo

      The ONLY proof of “corporate censorship” here is about RATINGS, NOT what he’s said. MSNBCs ratings are a small fraction of FOX news. Again, I am not really defending FOX but this is more about ratings and AD revenue than about anything else.

      • LOL

        Acase has no clue what he is talking about. Give it rest.

      • Lois

        Olbermann had the highest ratings on MSNBC.

      • AcaseofGeo

        Fair enough. Then YOU TELL me WHY would a LIBERAL network fire its shining star and a (get ready to laugh) “voice of truth”?

      • D

        @Lois which says nothing.

      • Willo

        @AcaseofGeo when it is taken over by a Conservative company.

      • thorn

        msnbc’s ratings are only lower because it is cable only.. while fox has all the local broadcasting stations in the usa.. basically all the white trailer trash that cannot afford cable .. fox is their only source of news.. thus.. we see the results in elections.. posts here etc…

    • Luiza

      I always liked Keith Olbermann. He had the knack for saying the true middle ground when it came to important issues. His closing remarks after Prop 8 were moving and totally true, he really earned my respect.

  • gragan

    MSNBC is crazy!!! We need and want Keith O.

  • lren

    I’m shocked-what’s next for sanity

  • tg

    Well that sucks. I love Keith. It’s nice to have intelligent people on air who actually tell the truth and put it to the people who are truly making a mess of this country.

    • Classy!

      Thank you!

    • Christopher


  • Jane B

    I was so afraid this might happen especially with Comcast taking over. Nothing but monopolies running the information we get. I loved is program and his special comments. We will all be dumbed-down now. It’s scary!

    • waya

      Comcast is pure Dr. Evil. They need Fox on their cable contracts and will back down from them every time. Us peons in the world have few defenders and Keith is one of them. I wish him well and hope we see him back on TV soon.

    • e4ia

      I thought Kable-Town was buying NBC? Damn you 30 Rock and your comedic misinformation!!!

  • loren

    what’s next-why-I’m shocked

  • Ranee

    I don’t understand this? Glenn Beck and his wacky rhetoric allows him to stay on the air and Keith gets canned? I don’t get it? I won’t watch L. ODonnell at 8pm. Boring.

    • Christopher

      3 times as many people watch Glenn Beck, that’s the bottom line.

      • k

        No. Any half-wit can see this has NOTHING to do with ratings. Corporations are in charge of our news. Their stock value is more important than the truth.

      • thorn

        only because all localstations acrosst he country most are fox affiliates.. while msnbc is only cable.. on cable itself msnbc “news” blows faux lies away

    • Angie G.

      Personally, I think that Olbermann didn’t want to sell out to the head-honchos. All they were gonna do is censor his political rhetoric, while keeping him from being true to himself and his viewers. People don’t whine about O’Reilly’s conservative views, and how at times it can be offensive to others. But, when Keith takes the Liberal approach, he gets fired. *smh*

  • karma

    Hell to the Yeah! He’s a loser and sexist.

  • Asif

    I wonder if Comcast has something to do with this.

    • Uh oh

      What is really scary here is that his firing took place so quickly after the merger. Comcast now has so much power they don’t even have to pretend to play nice anymore… And Obama just sat back and let it happen.

  • Steven

    Wow! That is not a good surprise. In the midst of so many crazy politicians and commentators, from Palin to Limbaugh, Keith was a voice (well, along with John Stweart) on which you could count for intelligent, even insighful commentary, and especially for calling people to task for failure on principles, whether their own or just basic human/humane priciples. So it is a sad day, we all will wonder if the Comcast merger forced him out and where go we from here, but we also have to thank Keith for all he and his staff did and wish him well.
    [MSNBC better think fast before the loyal followers of sane voices in these times flee to other venues. Rachel is good, but it’s better to being following Keith on the air and not alone out there]

    • Amanda Kiwinerd

      Give us a break. Olbermann and Stewart are nothing alike. Olbermann was nothing more than an anti-female bigot.

      • Garry

        Wow, where did you get THAT idea? Out of your @ss?

      • liz green-olsen

        Garry what else do you expect from someone with a name like Kiwinerd?

      • LOL

        Amanda is a clown.

      • Hey

        Except for the fact that clowns can sometimes be fun

      • D

        I love reading the tolerant left at it’s best. Be careful with your comments kids, you never know what crazy person you’re motivating to start a killing rampage.

      • Sam

        Please do yourself a huge service and DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Attention all: MSNBC, CNN and Fox are corporate propoganda news networks. They have agendas. Keep the masses at odds, mostly on social issues, then they won’t notice the important issues – like the Federal Reserve’s and corporate control over our government. This whole Left vs. Right debate is old, manufactured, and distracting.

      • thorn

        olbermann got rachel her start.. how’s that anti female? She’s one of his best friends. and she’s not exactly a stay at home barefoot mom.

    • Rick

      You’re kidding, right? He’s every bit the rabid maniac limbaugh and beck are, but he was claiming to do unbiased news while they admit up front they’re entertainers first. I’d like them all, beck and olbermann off the air. Bring back Cronkite!

      • Lois

        The difference is that Limbaugh and Beck don’t care about the truth, and make no effort to be accurate. Olbermann was responsible enough to make sure he told the truth, and would even make corrections if he got anything wrong. Although he’s a liberal, Olbermann had no problem criticizing liberals and Democrats.

      • Lois

        Olbermann made no claim that he was unbiased. He only claimed that he told the truth, even if it went against his beliefs.

      • kahuna

        Olbermann never claimed to be an entertainer. His stated mission was to deliver the truth as best he knew it in the fashion of his idol, Edward R. Murrow. I find it amusing that so many are commenting about Olbermann, without any factual basis. I guess getting your “newz” from faux news will do that for you.

  • pifr

    One more reason for me to HATE Comcast.

    Keith, wherever you go, this LIBERAL will follow. I suppose Ed and Rachel are next on the chopping block?

    Wake up liberals…FIGHT THE POWER.

    • liz green-olsen

      I am glad I sold my Comcast stock, will not buy @ss hole stock or support those who believe in cutting the free speach of Liberal’s; as far as i am concerned, MSNBC and Comcast are not allowed on my TV.

    • jeff


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