The Keith Olbermann last show announcement came from nowhere. Once the Keith Olbermann last show news spread, followers and enemies scrambled to figure out what happened. Friday night started with just another normal “Countdown” episode on MSNBC, and ended with massive controversy. Without warning, and without much of a detailed explanation yet, MSNBC’s biggest symbol stepped down. Of course, since there’s no official word on why it was Olbermann’s last show, no one knows if it was really his choice.
At the end of every show, the “Countdown” host gives a Special Comment, yet the one last night was more special than others. To everyone’s surprise, it would be his last, as he only explained that “all that surrounded the show” was too much for him.
Olbermann’s announcement serves as a major blow to MSNBC. The network had established itself as the left-wing alternative to Fox’s right-wing approach, with “Countdown” as its flagship show. For years, the former ESPN anchor was cable news’s greatest symbol for the progressive left, while drawing the frequent ire of right-wing blogs.
Of course, his tactics and attacks often drew as much controversy as those on the right. His “Worst Persons In The World” and Special Comment segments went after everything right-wing related, including his Fox News competition. But he abandoned the “Worst Persons In The World” bits just over two months ago.
This and other recent events have made Olbermann’s decision suspicious. Months ago, he was suspended for making campaign contributions to several Democrats, which drew a lot of backlash. He briefly went off Twitter in December, after drawing ire for his criticism of Julian Assange’s rape charges.
Most recently, the forthcoming merger between NBC and Comcast has inspired fears over MSNBC. Although the cable channel has a left-wing reputation, Comcast chief Brian Roberts is a heavy Republican donor. Therefore, some wonder if MSNBC will shift more to the right when Comcast takes over.
As such, Olbermann’s news has made some of his fans blame Comcast, and accuse the new regime of forcing him out. Comcast already had to issue a statement of denial, saying it would not interfere with NBC Universal’s new operations.
All MSNBC said was it and the host had “ended their contract” although his most recent contract extension went up to 2012. Instead, with “Countdown” over, it will put Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word in its old time slot, with Ed Schultz’s “The Last Show” on the 10 p.m. slot.
Friday night may have been Olbermann’s last show on MSNBC. But given his reputation, and the unanswered questions around this move, it will be far from his last word.
Countdown with Keith Olbermann- “Keith Olbermann signs off”
New York Times- “Olbermann Leaves Countdown on MSNBC”