Keith Olbermann leaves MSNBC after nearly eight years

January 22nd, 2011 - 2:43 pm ICT by BNO News  

NEW YORK CITY (BNO NEWS) — After nearly eight years, commentator Keith Olbermann ended his show on Friday evening after cable news channel MSNBC ended their contract.

The announcement came unexpectedly, just before Friday’s show and nearly three months after the network had suspended Olbermann for giving money to three Democratic candidates. It was not immediately clear if the incident was related.

“MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract,” said MSNBC President Phil Griffin when making the announcement. “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.”

Griffin did not provide any background as to why the contract was suddenly ended and neither did Olbermann during his last show. “This is the last edition of ‘Countdown’,” he said.

“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 Sports Center,” Olbermann added. “With God as my witness, in the commercial break just before the emotional moment, the producer got into my ear-piece and he said: ‘Um, 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.”

‘Countdown With Keith Olbermann’ first premiered on MSNBC in April 2003 and was broadcast live from MSNBC studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. It aired Monday through Friday from 8 p.m. ET until 9 p.m. ET.

Olbermann is well known for anchoring ESPN’s “SportsCenter” from 1992 to 1997, when his inimitable style made the blend of pop culture and sports a hallmark of the modern television sports reporter. While at ESPN, Olbermann helped launch ESPN2 and ESPN Radio network and wrote the critically acclaimed book “The Big Show” with Dan Patrick about his experiences working on “SportsCenter.”

Olbermann, who was named one of the Top Ten Most Powerful People in TV News for 2007 and 2008 by Television Week, began his NBC career in 1997, when he was anchor for NBC Sports, hosting the World Series and Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, and contributing to pre-game coverage of the Super Bowl.

During that time he was also host of two primetime news programs on MSNBC, “The Big Show” and “White House In Crisis.” Olbermann returned to MSNBC in 2003 as a substitute host on “Nachman” and an anchor for MSNBC’s coverage of the war in Iraq before launching “Countdown” in April of 2003. Previously, Olbermann provided twice-daily commentary, “Speaking of Sports” and “Speaking of Everything,” for ABC Radio Network. Prior to that, he was a regular contributor covering news and sports on CNN.

In addition to television work, Olbermann has written for dozens of publications, including The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, Sports Illustrated and Playboy. His first book, “The Major League Coaches,” was published when he was 14. He also published “The Worst Person in the World,” based on the popular segment within “Countdown.”

In November 2010, Olbermann was suspended for several days because he had given money to three Democratic candidates. “After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night’s program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night,” Griffin said in November 2010.

MSNBC had originally suspended the host of “Countdown” indefinitely, without pay, citing a violation of NBC ethics policies against allowing its personnel to donate to political campaigns. It was not immediately known if the incident was related to the end of the show.

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