Behind the Keith Olbermann Firing: What Went Down? What's Next For Host?

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In the 36 hours since the surprise announcement that MSNBC fired Keith Olbermann, his abrupt exit from a network he helped transform has raised questions.

Why fire a guy with such undisputed value to the network, a figure who - love him or hate him - became one of the best-known figures of the cable news era?

Insiders say no single event got him axed, but for all his eloquence, on-air presence and broadcasting skill, Olbermann was just too difficult to work with.

According to the Washington Post, Olbermann often clashed with his employers, condemning - often publicly - directives with which he has disagreed.

Comcast's recent takeover of NBC merely marked the final straw in a long-brewing deterioration between the top brass and the iconoclastic, mercurial pundit.

Neither side was talking about the events that led Olbermann to announce his exit on his show Friday, but a divorce appeared to be long in the making.

His short-lived and bizarre suspension in November for campaign contributions that violated company policy was perhaps a harbinger of things to come.

So what's next for him now?

Olbermann and MSNBC are operating under an exit agreement, the product of lengthy negotiations, that limits, first off, each side from commenting publicly.

Sources say Olbermann's agent went to NBC looking for a raise for Keith, claiming he was underpaid (compared to his counterparts) at $7 million per year.

NBC would not pay more money and made clear they felt he was "a loose cannon that could not be controlled." At that point, it was just a question of when.

According to a person with knowledge of the discussions, the agreement also ties Olbermann to a "non-compete" provision but pays his salary through 2012.

He won't be allowed to appear on a competing TV network for an undisclosed period, but how long that is (three months, six months, a year) is unclear.

The long and short of it? Keith Olbermann saw the writing on the wall with the new owner of NBC and cut a deal for his exit to give him money and options.

Sources say Olbermann may reappear soon "with a presence on the Internet," and may return to sports broadcasting or commentary in some capacity.

Don't expect a return to ESPN, with which Keith parted on terms as bad as these if not worse. But the avid baseball fan could resurface elsewhere.

As for a return to TV, you have to imagine it's just a matter of time. When the non-compete runs out, someone will take a chance on the lightning rod.

Wherever he ends up, a legion of supporters will surely follow, while a fair number of detractors will continue to delight in his toppling from MSNBC.

Here's Keith's final Countdown signoff on Friday night ...

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It's unfortunate that someone who tells it like it is can be so quickly eliminated. I just wonder who was threatened by someone who tried to present a different perspective on the "news". Main Stream Media is even worse than I thought...Keith, you're the man! We'll be watching for you..

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miss KO. Rachael is all that is left. need a new hobby. MSNBC is no longer what it was.

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Keith Olbermann was one of a kind. As a progressive, liberal there are too few progessive, liberal voices on the air, especially on AM radio, which is virtually controlled by conservatives. Yes, I am sure many right wingers have already opened up the champagne bottle, celebrating Olbermann's exit. But not me. Keith Olbermann's departure means there is one less voice out there, one less opinon. And we are all losers for it. Besides, Bill O'Reilly really is The Worst Person In The World.

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Oberwho?

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Notorious Rambo, you are an idiot. It's no wonder you like a blowhard like KO. I am glad comedian Jon Stewart is now going to carry the torch for you, you numbskull.

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Keith Olberman was an abrasive moron who was quick to condemn others for speaking their minds while he was doing the same thing. It was reported on ABC radio that Olberman was a sexual stalker who terrorized several women going back to his days at ESPN. Wy was this never reported? Ahhhh...that's right the liberal media. It's great to see Rachel Madcow should her true colors and did not defend Olbie in the slightest.

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spell check people, or better yet, learn how to use a good dictionary.

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Keith was a joke. When he left ESPN I was saddened, because I felt that was where he truely belonged. Not, on MSNBC, where he was touted as a "journalist" but spewed only his personal hate-filled dogmas. Very little based on fact just his own personal opinions that were worse than ANYTHING the the Right has EVER said about ANYONE. Good riddence to bad blood.

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A great knowledgeable, straight shooting, well respected anchor.
A gem in journalist reporting.

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Good move by MSNBC to get rid of KO. Now to continue the house cleaning! Olbermann was paid about 100x what he was worth, maybe 1000x. If America is lucky he will never appear on TV again but I think that is too much to wish for.

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