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

by at . Comments

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 ...


Don't expect the same Keith to be back. No network will let him squeeze them like he did with MSNBC. Radio? Maybe, but for a fraction of the money. Still, can he do 4 hours a day? I don't think he has enough gas in the tank. Listeners may get sick of the same rants.


Kieth Ubermensch has such irrational rantings I expected that he would have been fired long ago. His incessant expressions of hatret and Anti Palin et al expressions makes one think he ought to have psychiatric help.


Just goes to show freedom of speech is in name only. If a great news show host cannot have the freedom of doing his job without consequences what chance do others have?
I wish him well with all my heart and to MSNBC I am sorry to say you have lost one of your very few best.I wish you the best I know I will not be tuning in to your station as often.
You should have learnt something from the feedback received the last time KO was suspended which seemed like no grounds to viewers.


Its a shame that he was shut down Hope to see him somewhere else soon


Good riddance.


Keith O is the reason I understand & follow politics today All other pundints didn't make any since to me I'm sorry he's gone Its a shame that he was shut down Hope to see him somewhere else soon


@MonicaRW: Keith on CNN? REALLY!? I mean, if you wanted to make CNN's ratings disappear faster than a liberal burning a flag, you could just put Parker/Spitzer on for 2hrs! That should do the trick! LOL! @NotoriousRambo: As for Keith being "...a journalist", you have either got to be on some serious pain medication, or just completely hysterically funny! ;) Keith is a "commentator" just like all the other ones in the biz, no matter the channel. It so happens that Keith was bitter because he wasn't getting more money (not like he deserved it in the least bit!) and either got CANNED or QUIT! Say, wasn't he one of the ones that gave Sarah Palin such a hard time for resigning her position as Governor of Alaska!?!?!? I'm tellin' you what, if I find out that this blowhard, dirty windbag of a joke did the same thing, I'm gonna put it on blast SOOOOO HARD, for SOOOOO LONG! LOL! Time will tell the REAL story of his now being rightfully UNEMPLOYED! :)


I will not be watching MSNBC anymore. It is clear that Comcast is behind letting Keith O go. Keith was the one real voice in the wilderness that the left had. Now its just hard line conservatives and left leaning weaklings. This is a sad day for MSNBC.


Much like Chris Matthews, I felt a thrill run up my leg when I heard that gas bag KO was fired. Then when I reflected on KO and the rest of the MSNBC moron hosts...I had to move my bowels.


Guaranteed..those who watched Keith Olberman and watch Rachael Maddow have higher IQ's than the Fox Noise viewers.That explains the viewing ratio.Fox viewers listen to their mindless diatribes and don't bother to verify with the facts.