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 hard to believe that they would fire a guy like Keith. The man is what America needs. I will be here to support you Keith. I will not no longer watch MSNBC anymore. I can't believe it. Your story has to washed down the corporate who owns this country and Keith was not for and will never be. Keith, I am ashamed by this. I can't seem to comprehend this world that we live in.

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I REALLY DON'T CARE

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If he could comment with at least a little truth he could still be on. However, his personal beliefs just won't let him quit drinking the cool-aid

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Joe, Joe, Joe... You're repeating the same right wing mash up every time you post. Even with all your anti-Olbermann and anti-liberal rhetoric, you haven't made one compelling point worth reading.

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This guy's elevator does not go the top floor and is alway two quarts of oil low. He couldn't compete with ratings. I see Comcast cleaning house and getting Mess MSNBC back to a fair news channel. I see Mad Dog Matthews next and Madam High Testerone Maddow next on the chopping block, then people may start watching Mess MSNBC again. Wonder what Motor Mouth Scarborough is thinking about now?

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I happened to hit my XM channel 120 Friday at the split second Keith announced his departure: with details after the break. I had mentioned to my wife that week that by Keith's voice, I felt something was amiss. Keith's untethered presentation is his greatest service to stimulating people like Bob Carr. For you Keith, Thank you. Just so you know, today a former State Wide office holder and I have decided to go forward with a current events radio show. We too, want to be part of a team that inspires just as you have shown. 'Inspiration' surely is the path to replacing the harsh rhetoric in our 50 state families. Keep on keeping on! Lead on! Bob

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Bob, Frank and Tom. Wow ~ such inspirational thoughts you all have... lol, consider the source. Y'all are tools. Good Luck Keith, look forward to hearing from you again. :-)

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Olbermann is a blow-hard whose chlild like analysis and antics eventually wear thin. Just how valuable is he when the King of Blow-Hards...Bill O'Reilly has 4 times is audience?

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This just Sucks!!!

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Looks like bob d. got his feelings hurt. Poor child.