Posted on | January 22, 2011 | 27 Comments
Keith Olbermann, the highest-rated host on MSNBC, announced abruptly on the air Friday night that he was leaving his show, “Countdown,” immediately.
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.
In a closing statement on his show, Mr. Olbermann said simply that it would be the last edition of the program. He offered no explanation other than on occasion “all that surrounded the show – but never the show itself – was just too much for me.”
Mr. Olbermann thanked his viewers for their enthusiastic support of a show that had “gradually established its position as antiestablishment.”
In a statement, MSNBC said: “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.”
I expect Lawrence O’Donnell to get the 8 p.m. spot. Rachel Maddow’s good, but she doesn’t have a Y chromosome and MSNBC is run by greedy sexist pigs.
UPDATE: Background from Howard Kurtz:
A knowledgeable official said the move had nothing to do with Comcast taking control of NBC next week, although the cable giant was informed when it received final federal approval for the purchase that Olbermann would be leaving the cable channel. This official described the dramatic divorce—Olbermann was about halfway through a four-year, $30 million contract—as mutual.
Olbermann, who quit MSNBC once before — in 1998, ripping his bosses in the process—almost single-handedly revived the network by leading it on a leftward march and aggressively attacking the rival operation he called Fox Noise. But his relations with top NBC and MSNBC executives sharply deteriorated when he was suspended for making donations to Democratic candidates, and they began to talk about how the channel was now on solid enough footing to survive without him.
If Olbermann was too much for the suits at Comcast, they’re not going to want Little Miss Lesbian anchoring their 8 p.m. hour. Bet $20 it’s O’Donnell.
UPDATE II: The great thing about Olbermann was, he was so easy to parody, even a kid could do it.
UPDATE III: Professor Glenn Reynolds: “He was a useful idiot for a while. Now he’s no longer useful. Expect to see more of this kind of thing. . . . I was only on Olbermann’s show once, on election night 2004, when he was still more or less sane.” More or less.
UPDATE IV: As might be expected, several huge Memeorandum threads about this story. More from Donald Douglas at American Power, Left Coast Rebel, Jammie Wearing Fool, Ed Driscoll, Sister Toldjah, Gateway Pundit, William Jacobson, Nice Deb, Pamela Geller, Hot Air, Yid With Lid and Michelle Malkin.
UPDATE V: Aaron Goldstein at The American Spectator:
Scarcely a fortnight ago, Keith Olbermann was calling for Sarah Palin’s dismissal from politics.
Now Olbermann has been dismissed from the airwaves.
This is what we call poetic justice.
UPDATE VI: Let me show you the kind of stuff that used to drive me nuts when I was a newspaper editor dealing with Associated Press copy. The AP’s David Bauder:
Keith Olbermann was MSNBC’s most popular personality and single-handedly led its transformation to an outspoken, left-leaning cable news network in prime time. Despite that, he often seemed to be walking on a tightrope with his job. Friday night, it snapped.
“Despite that”? Don’t you mean, perhaps, because of that? Bauder evidently doesn’t stop to think if maybe Olbermann and the anti-Republican agenda at MSNBC had stayed out past their curfew. Once Bush was out of office and Obama became president — elected with the help of gale-force media tailwinds — what was the point of being the anti-GOP network? Where did that make sense from a market-share perspective?
By moving left in 2006 — becoming the raging liberal doppeganger of Fox News — MSNBC pushed CNN into third place. But then what? Where was the audience-growth strategy? They couldn’t go farther left, and the steady diet of liberal indignation had reached its saturation point. Well, never mind the bias. Bauder reports what I’d expected as soon as I heard the news of Olbermann’s departure:
MSNBC announced that O’Donnell, who had frequently filled in for Olbermann before starting his own 10 p.m. show, will take over Olbermann’s time slot starting Monday. “The Ed Show,” with Ed Schultz, will move to 10 p.m. Cenk Uygur of the Web show “The Young Turks” will fill Schultz’s vacated 6 p.m. time slot.
If MSNBC won’t keep Olbermann, Schultz’s days as Cable TV’s Angriest White Man are likely numbered.