MSNBC and anchor Keith Olbermann abruptly part ways

Fri Jan 21, 2011 11:31pm EST
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. cable news television network MSNBC and its top anchor, Keith Olbermann, abruptly parted ways on Friday, less than three months after the liberal broadcaster was suspended for campaign donations to Democrats.

Olbermann, who had two years left on his contract, signed off for the last time on his "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" political affairs program on Friday night.

"This is the last edition of "Countdown," Olbermann said on the program, which drew over 1 million viewers a night.

"MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract," the network said in a statement. Neither Olbermann nor MSNBC gave a reason for the move.

His departure came just over two months after MSNBC briefly suspended Olbermann for giving money to three Democratic politicians during the congressional election campaign, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was coincidentally shot and wounded in an assassination attempt on January 8 in Tucson, Arizona.

"MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors," the network statement said.

Olbermann, whose talks with MSNBC management about his future at the company had been going on for some time, seemed to suggest during his signoff that the decision to leave MSNBC had not been entirely his own.

"I think the same fantasy popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I have been told, this will be the last edition of your show," he said.   Continued...