Abruptly, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann told his audience on Friday night’s “Countdown” that he was “told this is going to be the last edition of your show.”
He told his viewers that he was hosting “Countdown” for the last time.
Olbermann’s sudden announcement and departure left more questions than answers.
Most importantly, who told Olbermann that this was going to be his last show?
Did the orders come from Comcast executives, despite denials from MSNBC, a mere three days after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the merger between NBC and Comcast?
Or did the orders come from MSNBC’s top executive Phil Griffin (?), who has butted heads with Olbermann numerous times before.
In a statement, MSNBC did not offer any clues:
MSNBC released a statement stating “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.”
As Senior Editor Emily Miller reported, Griffin suspended Olbermann last year when it was revealed that he made campaign donations to three Democrats without first getting approval from MSNBC’s executives.
Though Olbermann ironically “thanked his staff” during his announcement, it has been widely rumored that Olbermann was despised by his staff, other on-air talent, and MSNBC’s management. His executive producer left “Countdown” for Lawrence O’Donnell’s “Last Word.” And Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and Griffin ally, often could not hold back his disdain for Olbermann on the air.
According to reports, in 2008, MSNBC signed Olbermann to a four-year contract worth $30 million. They also made him the centerpiece of their most recent “Lean Forward” campaign. But NBC, MSNBC’s parent company, has been wary of the leftward lurch that Olbermann started at MSNBC.
In recent years, NBC anchors such as Brian Williams have not appeared on MSNBC for fear that they would be associated with MSNBC’s radically liberal political leanings. In addition, NBC also has tried to disassociate itself from the popular news site “MSNBC.com” to not be associated with what it must have viewed as five tainted letters.
MSNBC also released a statement saying Lawrence O’Donnell’s “The Last Word” will take over Olbermann’s time slot at 8 p.m., effective immediately, followed by “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Ed Schultz, according to the release, will now move to the 10 p.m. time slot.