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Keith Olbermann's MSNBC Exit: Latest in Long Line of Messy Divorces

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jan 22nd 2011 1:00PM
Keith OlbermannKeith Olbermann, former host of MSNBC's 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann' is no stranger to battles with the talking heads.

From his spirited -- but mostly friendly -- bet with Fox News' Sean Hannity to make good on Hannity's promise to be waterboarded to prove it wasn't torture to his pet names for right-wing pundits Ann "Coulter(geist)" and Glenn "Lonesome Rhodes" Beck, Olbermann wasn't afraid to step on toes.

His shots at Fox News' Bill O'Reilly were legendary and led to a series of back and forths that made the battles between the Black Spy and the White Spy from MAD Magazine look like a backyard snowball fight.

However, nothing matches the heated shouting matches and unnecessary vitriolic rhetoric than the debates he's had with his former bosses. And while his latest departure from a TV screen near you may feel like a shock, it's not the first time he's had to suddenly clean out his desk and jump ship.

The former ESPN 'Sportscenter' anchor may have gotten his first big break on the national stage by making up clever catchphrases for big plays on the highlight reel, but his departure grabbed just as many eyeballs. He scored his first high profile suspension when he appeared on Craig Kilborn's 'Daily Show' to promote a book without the proper authorization. He probably would have just walked away with a warning if he hadn't called the ESPN studios a "godforsaken place" in response to one of Kilborn's questions.

Years later, he apologized for his ranting ways in a Salon.com column. He said the high pressure of the sporting news life got the best of him and created a self-destructive pattern of behavior, the old Billington J. Bulworth routine, if you will, only without the self-hired hit man.

"It was me trying to give myself an excuse to get out from under the pressure of working in an environment of my own creation in which I daily expected the blame ax to fall," he said. "It was prepackaged sour grapes."

It wouldn't be the last time he got his bare feet dirty in a vat of the sour stuff.

After joining MSNBC, but prior to hitting the air, Olbermann generated controversy when he named his news program 'The Big Show,' the same name of the book he penned with fellow sports anchor Dan Patrick.

News of Monica Lewinsky's affair with President Bill Clinton changed the nature of the game and Olbermann's show, a career note that gave him "dry heaves," and led to his first departure from the network.

Believe it or not, Olbermann had a very short stint with the parent company of his big political rival, Fox, with his own sports show on their cable sports network. It lasted two years. His former boss, Rupert Murdoch, said that he fired Olbermann because he was "crazy." Olbermann denied being "crazy" and said he was fired for a ruckus he caused when he heard his boss was thinking of selling the Los Angeles Dodgers.

That brings us full circle to Fri., Jan. 21 and Olbermann's "sudden" announcement. Olbermann helped the struggling network carve out a niche in TV news by being the counter to Fox News' constant "liberal media bias" news blather. How? By creating an alternative form of news blather. But, unlike his previous stint at the network, he had an ace in the hole: NBC chief Jeff Zucker. The former NBC boss went on record saying he was "comfortable" with Olbermann's program.

Olbermann's 2011 exit wasn't without controversy. In November, Olbermann face an indefinite suspension for donating money to the campaigns of Democratic candidates Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords. However, Olbermann went back to work days later and his return response didn't include an apology to MSNBC or his superiors for violating company policy, a sure sign that, as they say on 'Behind the Music,' "that's when things fell apart."

Is the NBC Universal-Comcast merger to blame for Olbermann's exit? Could be. With Zucker's departure Olbermann lost one of his biggest supporters in his never-ending fight with TV executives. According to Deadline Hollywood, Olbermann can't move to another broadcast or cable news network right away thanks to the dangling time in his contract. However, he can return to sports.

Suddenly, Bristol, Conn. doesn't seem so "godforsaken" after all.

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jonestimmss

There is a reason Keith attacted such a large following.....and it dosent have anything to do with all these happy naysayers and poo poo people. Really, listening to these p[eople badmouth a show they should not have even been viewing (according to them) is a wast of time on this blog. Keith Olbermann is a great American and can out debate any of the fools on this board disparaging him or his show. He is talented. They demonstrate thier, well, lack thereof.

January 26 2011 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
derschlingle

I blame his departure on the spineless management of msnbc. This is a victory for Fox news. All the best Keith, greetings from Saarbrucken,Germany

January 26 2011 at 6:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tumblrforya

poor keith--he still gets to collect the other half of his $30million dollar contract as he finds a way to kill two years doing nothing--perhaps he'll travel the world, write a book, make a new blog--
point is, he's ego may be hurt, but his pocket isn't. he can always cuddle his money if he gets too upset...I don't see him going back to conn any time soon

January 23 2011 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mstew10034

Sportsannouncer to Pundit see how FREAKIN' EASY IT IS TO FOOL THE AMERICAN PUBLIC??? THIS WASTE OF AIR LASTED YEARS ON TV, PASSING HIS GAS AS ENTERTAINMENT, GOOD RIDDENCE MR SELF ABSORBED.
WHAT A JOKE, NOW HIS FAMILY SEE'S WHAT A FAILURE DADDY IS

January 23 2011 at 12:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GGinPA

THANK GOD KEITH IS GONE.......NEXT IS THE ED SHOW
JUST AWFUL.........

January 23 2011 at 9:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
meenxeen

Adios and good riddance is all I can say :)

www.total-anonymity.edu.tc

January 23 2011 at 8:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
calibronbon

i saw Keith Olbermann on http://www.dizimfilm.com reality show

January 23 2011 at 6:47 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
scallywag

In the end the media and its pundits will continue their game, beef up their cheering squad team and come up with the occasional human interest story while a comatose America sits home and wonders to itself why the country is going to the dogs and there is no one left to offer a subjective discussion, irrespective of idealogical dogma of what is actually going on in this nation, what it means and how we arrived at that moment.

Instead we will all be resigned to pointing fingers, applauding Hollywood stars who resemble action heroes with perfect haircuts and jawlines and the commiserating the continued liberties of this nation and those brave enough to inspire and engender said discussions. What a bloody shame.

http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2011/01/the-lynching-of-american-media-and-keith-olbermann/

January 22 2011 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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