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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Olbermann is just a narcissistic D-bag! Glad to see him gone and hope he never comes back out of his hole!

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good what an ass,next madcow diesease,then fuzzy feeling up the leg, mush mouth,fathead matthews,maybe we can watch msnbc again.

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The real shame is that there are folks who honestly think Fox is telling the truth and that Olbermann was lying. There is some recent study showing that conservatives have a part of the brain that is the location of the fear impulse, and a lot of what they believe and do is so obviously driven by fear. On the liberal side, the same study showed that the part of the brain that processes information and analyzes it is more developed. Regardless of how many right-wing lemmings follow the money people over the cliff, we libs can at least know we are the smart ones. Geeze, just imagine a world where everyone could think clearly and progress humankind, instead of living int he past, spouting ridiculous and hateful rhetoric, and drinking the military/drug/insurance/industrial complex kool-aid. Have a good time with Keith's departure as you are participating int he downfall of America, and yo don't even realize it.

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Why do people here no longer listen to people they disagree with? How can intelligent conversation be had when one side decides the other side is not worth listening to? I too get tired of ranting from the side I disagree with but at least I know where they stand becasue I'm listening to what they are saying. To all you haters out there I know you want to polish up your weapons and carry them on the streets so people can see just how tough you are. Maybe you need to serve in a war and see what gunfire is really all about since you see it as the only way to get your way.

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Thank God and Greyhound he's gone. Enough of this arrogant opinionated bloviator. How could Americans be so dumb as to be sucked in to his self important drivel. I fear this doesn't speak well of our country but it does speak well of Comcast. Excellent decision!

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Just a great loss for liberals who are constantly bombarded by Right wing nuts, such as Beck, Hannity, and Limblow. Someone will pick him up soon. Good luck comstat, who is going to carry you now. Oh yea I forgot O'riley was an a**.

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I missed you Keith ,hope I will see you on some other net work soon, I cant exist without you.

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Olbermann was difficult to deal with. Period.
Ratings: pay attention, O'Reilly has about 2.8 mil, Olbermann had about 1.2 mil, Maddow 1 mil, Shultz now at 1.4 mil - not good for prime numbers, but good numbers for cable shows.
The issue is Comcast. Last week there was an article showing 104 senators writing FCC in support of the merger - 88 of them recieved campaign support from Comcast. Dem or Tea-pub, it is the nature of our political system.
Who do you really think they work for?

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if fox is so fair and balanced maybe they offer a show

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I am a 66 year old Black woman who found that Keith Olberman was the only person bold enough, honest enough to say what needs to be said, who was a perfect counter to fox noise's Keith and Rachel are, to me, the only ones worth watching. Too bad you wanted to clip his wings.