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Posted at 9:06 AM ET, 01/22/2011

Keith Olbermann out at MSNBC

By Greg Sargent

So Keith Olbermann is out. As best as I can tell, none of the news accounts about his departure have gotten to the bottom of what happened here. But Olbermann himself offered enough clues in his final broadcast for us to reasonably speculate that he abruptly got the ax, perhaps even as late as last night.

A "knowledgeable official" at MSNBC told Howard Kurtz that the separation was "mutual." But it's hard to see how that squares with this, from Olbermann's last words on Countdown last night:

"I think the same fantasy has popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I have been told, that this is going to be the last edition of your show. You go directly to the scene from the movie 'Network,' complete with the pajamas, and the raincoat, and you go off on an existential, otherworldly journey of profundity and vision...

"When I resigned from ESPN 13 and a half years ago, I was literally given 30 seconds to say goodbye at the very end of my last edition of "Sports Center." As God is my witness, in the commercial break just before the emotional moment, the producer got into my earpiece and he said, `uh, can you cut it down to 15 seconds, so we can get in this tennis result from Stuttgart? So I'm grateful that I have a little more time to sign off here."

Between this and the shell-shocked look Olbermann had last night, it seems clear that he may have been abruptly informed that he was history, perhaps even during last night's show. That would also square with the experience of Josh Marshall, who was actually on Olbermann last night and had no sense that anything was amiss.

We already know that MSNBC president Phil Griffin had been gunning for Olbermann for some time now. MSNBC was reportedly close to firing Olbermann on several occasions. Recall that during the ridiculous flap over Olbermann's political donations, in which he responded to his suspension with a show of public defiance, Griffin flatly told Olbermann's representative: "We are at war."

Soon enough we'll have a clearer sense of why this happened, and we can deal with it then. But for now, let's thank Olbermann for all his hard work. He's rich, popular and has a huge following that's likely to follow him to his next endeavor. He'll be just fine.

What of Olbermann's legacy? There's a great deal of crowing on the right about Olbermann's apparent ouster. But let's be clear on what he accomplished: He helped clear a huge space on the airwaves for "unapologetic liberalism," as Steve Benen puts it, when it remained anything but certain that such a space could be created with any measure of success.

The unexpected popularity of Olbermann's show early on cleared the way for MSNBC to stack its nighttime lineup with pugnacious lefty hosts. Indeed, it was Olbermann who invited Rachel Maddow on repeatedly as a guest, raising her profile to the point where she got her own show. Olbermann, followed by Maddow, proved in the face of enormous skepticism that there's a huge audience out there for real liberal talk-show hosts to adopt the sort of take-no-prisoners approach once monopolized by the right. Only they accomplished this without descending into the crackpot conspiracy mongering and all-around ugliness of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

Indeed, there's already talk that CNN might be interested in picking up Olbermann. While that seems unlikely, given CNN's more staid air, the mere fact that it's being discussed at all shows how much he helped change the landscape.

Olbermann may be gone, but the space he did so much to help create is here to stay.

UPDATE, 9:20 a.m.: Edited slightly from original. Also: Marshall was actually on the show last night and had no hint that anything was up; I've added that above.

UPDATE, 10:59 a.m.: The New York Times has this interesting detail: "NBC executives said one term of his settlement would keep him from moving to another network for an extended period of time."

So maybe settlement talks had been going on for some time, though that doesn't necessarily mean Olbermann wasn't effectively pushed out. As noted above, we know MSNBC president Phil Griffin had been gunning for him for some time. And Olbermann seemed to want to leave the impression last night that he'd been abruptly axed. I for one would be relieved to hear that the decision was mutual.

By Greg Sargent  | January 22, 2011; 9:06 AM ET
Categories:  Political media  
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Who is stopping the job creation and the Economic Growth is the democrats and the liberals

The unions are too expensive, the local democratic government budgets are jammed-packed with democratic programs and massive government programs

THAT is what is choking off Economic Growth - its the liberals.

You really do not understand economics

Sorry, but after reading what the liberals write over a long period of time, I can see all the liberals want is a fantasyland - the major FLAW in their thinking is they rarely consider the costs of what they want, or who is going to pay for anything.


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 22, 2011 9:13 AM | Report abuse

If you want to talk about Jimmy Carter - it was the impact of the high cost of the Great Society programs and the impact of the Nixon price controls which LED to the state of the Economy in the late 70s.

Jimmy Carter actually deserves credit for Paul Volcker and a good chunk of the Economic improvements which happened under Reagan.

One can blame Reagen for the bank crisis, which in part led to the election of Bill Clinton.

Bill Clinton is responsible for the Free Trade deals, which have destroyed small towns all around the country.

Clinton is responsible for the Deregulation of derivatives.

Clinton is responsbile for the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act.

Clinton is responsible for the Sub-Prime Mortage programs. Clinton stacked Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with his OWN DEMOCRATS, INCLUDING RAHM EMANUEL.

You want facts - I give you FACTS AND ANALYSIS.


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 22, 2011 9:15 AM | Report abuse

"given CNN's distaste for feisty political personalities"

That's snark, right?

You've got to be joking.

Posted by: shpilk | January 22, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Three letters: H-B-O

Posted by: Douglas D | January 22, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning.

I imagine KO's release was primarily economic. He was paid 14 million but performed poorly in the time slot.

It will be interesting to see where KO lands next. I'm not one of his viewers but he has about 1.1 million of them and that's not nothing.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 22, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

shpilk, I agree that was imprecise. I've edited it to be clearer.

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 22, 2011 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch! ....... Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up - sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed. ......Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead...... He's gone where the Goblins go, ....Below - below - below. Yo-ho, let's open up and sing and ring the bells out !!!!! . ...Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low. ..Let them know .... The Wicked Witch is dead! LMAO !!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: delawarejack | January 22, 2011 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Is it possible the Comcast people took a look at the Political Discourse BS from the democrats - took it seriously - and ended up FIRING Olbermann.




Posted by: RainForestRising | January 22, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Olbermann's legacy is defined by the moment he broke down and cried that Senator Scott Brown is an "irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, sexist, ex-nude model, tea bagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees."

And you have the audacity to say he adopted a take-no-prisoners approach
"without descending into the crackpot conspiracy mongering and all-around ugliness of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck."

Posted by: Somnambulate | January 22, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Keith was the "worst person in the world" and his pompous arrogance finally caught up with him. He was no journalist..he was a sarcastic pitchman! Let's hope he never resurfaces from the bowels of the Earth!

Posted by: my4653 | January 22, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Good job MSNBC. How about Matthews and Maddow next.

Posted by: 2manycats | January 22, 2011 9:39 AM | Report abuse

pikers, pikers all. For sheer brilliance of analysis, please witness:

Thank you, thank you so much!

Posted by: iDoGiveaFlip | January 22, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

As a staunch believer in Democratic Socialism, I have to say that America must stop pussy footing around with it's love affair with libertarianism. It's time for America to get off the fence and jump into the deep end of the pool.

Many of you on this thread continue to rail against government. Well, it's time, America...stand up and shout to the hills "Dismantle the entire government!" Keep the military but nothing else. Let the free-market reign supreme in Americans everyday lives. No more more public schools....privatize all aspects of our lives such as police, fire, EMT, roads, bridges, water, electricity...don't even have courts since the market could come up with various ways to settle disputes.

So c'mon,'re like the teenage girl who secretly yearns for the "bad boy" (libertarianism) but refuses to leave the nice guy (regulated markets) who always forgets their anniversary. You must take the next step and embrace libertarianism. Man up and do away with the Constitution and go back to the Articles of Confederation. Let the states and regions rule their own lives. Embrace social darwinism openly..."Survival of the fittest", right? "I've got mine, so screw you all", right?

Let people buy and sell anything they want. No rules. No regulations. If people die it's because of bad choices and those people will teach others while weeding themselves out of the herd.

So, stop the BS. Stop talking about "minimal government". That's not what you really want. Don't be shy...let's give it a try. Who knows, maybe it will usher in an American Paradise, a true "Pax Americana". We won't know until we try.

Posted by: LeanForward | January 22, 2011 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Shucks. A blow to vibrant newscasting. (Keith may be rich & popular so he'll land OK, but how about his excellent crew? What a shock it is to "the little people" who are unsung. Been there.)

For Keith, that we may "establish Justice": Ridding our beloved community of 30-bullet-clips that can murder or maim 20 people in less than a minute might clearly be required under the notion of "insure domestic Tranquility"?

For Keith, that we may "establish Justice": Medicare-for-All might remind us of our national promise to "promote the general Welfare"?

Posted by: wendyf | January 22, 2011 9:41 AM | Report abuse

"Olbermann...proved in the face of enormous skepticism that there's a huge audience out there for real liberal talk"

Er, have you ever compared Bathtub Boy's audience numbers to O'Reilly his main competition?

"Huge audience"???

Greg, if you are a REAL journalist, you need some help with your fact checking... b/c you are clearly out in left field with that comment.... then again, you work at WaPo - don't let facts get in the way of liberal spin!

Posted by: 1hughjass | January 22, 2011 9:44 AM | Report abuse


Your rants today are unnerving, and you seem really unhinged.


Perhaps you should take two aspirin and please STAY AWAY from Safeway today.

Thank you very much.


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 22, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Soon enough we'll have a clearer sense of why this happened, and we can deal with it then. But for now, let's thank Olbermann for all his hard work. He's rich, popular and has a huge following that's likely to follow him to his next endeavor. He'll be just fine.

What of Olbermann's legacy? There's a great deal of crowing on the right about Olbermann's apparent ouster. But let's be clear on what he accomplished: He helped clear a huge space on the airwaves for "unapologetic liberalism," as Steve Benen puts ...


A huge following? A huge space? Wow, I guess that's one spin!

Posted by: sagedutch | January 22, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

KO's release should be putting a chill up the spine (and a proper shiver down the leg) of Chris Matthews.

Hardball only has 700,000 viewers and has been at the bottom of the cable news/opinion show ratings for a long time.

CM's contract was renewed in 2009 but there is likely a performance or early buyout clause that Comcast could use if they want to turn a profit in that timeslot.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 22, 2011 9:51 AM | Report abuse

This is war. If the #KOCH #COC #GOP #AmericanTaliban think they've scored another #Pravda for their kkkoolaide IV drip ~ they have another thought coming.

From the other comments, I would say my call for war is completely justified.

If it WALKS like a #fascist duck and QUACKS like a #fascist duck ~ IT IS one.

Posted by: mommadona | January 22, 2011 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Cable News/Opinion viewership
Thurs Jan 20, 2011

FOXNEWS SHEP 1,786,000
FOXNEWS BECK 1,780,000
CNN PIERS 1,025,000
CNN COOPER 740,000

Posted by: TominColorado | January 22, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Removal of the nutjob Olbermann is a victory for the American People.

Rachel Maddow and her pro-gay agenda, and her pro-teach young children the gay agenda views - she is probably next.

It is SCARY to watch the Ed show. That guy really should move back to North Dakota where he belongs on a large piece of property with few neighbors.


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 22, 2011 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Chris Mattews is really not that bad - if he cuts out the worst partisan stuff he could actually have a good centrist show with good analysis.

Rachel Maddow is completely out of her mind - and Ed is worthless.

NBC has enough talent to fill these slots. They don't have to have the nuts running the liberal asylum.


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 22, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse


If you're around, here's a few more tidbits of factual information to help you facedown the right's subversion of facts. I'll let you do it, I don't have the time. Trust me, you'll like it.

Posted by: lmsinca | January 22, 2011 10:00 AM | Report abuse


Great idea, give rukidding some homework

that will help him understand economics.

and perhaps it will calm him down and deter him from getting violent today.


Posted by: RainForestRising | January 22, 2011 10:01 AM | Report abuse

A world without Olbermann would be like a world without bedbugs.

Only better!

Posted by: battleground51 | January 22, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

"Soon enough we'll have a clearer sense of why this happened, and we can deal with it then."

Too bad you journ-O-lists didn't take this approach after the Giffords shooting.

TominColorado (and maybe even rukidding7) knows that "performance or early buy out" clauses typically include "confidentiality or non-compete" clauses. Hopefully, we've heard the last from Olbermann for a while.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 22, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

You Cons really kill me. You think Olbermann didn't have this planned for a while? He has more intelligence in his left testicle than Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck and Palin combined. Fox spews fears, lies and rarely has any hard core foes on for debate. Olbermann will return and return with a vengence. You Con's said Ed Shultz wouldn't make it on radio for a year, it's been 7 and the audience is growing. He now has a show on MSNBC. Same for Maddow. My theory for ratings are simply this, FOX has an audience that has a void between their ears and need something to be inserted daily so they have some kind of thought process whereas the liberals don't necessarily need this direction or brainwashing but a lot like to see what is going on with politics. We read to keep up with the "news" of the day and tune in when we can to see what Olbermann, Maddow,Shultz, Matthews or O'Donnell have to say. However overall the audience both radio and tv are growing and are a hell of a lot more than it was a few years ago.
So whine and pop off all you want, put Keith down watch and see if it isn't part of a larger plan down the road to make even stronger liberal talk and television. Laugh it up good now you pathetic brainwashed cowards while your hero's like Hannity, O'Reilly, Palin, Beck and Limbaugh go on daily to spread the hate and fear you embrace so much. This will be equivalent to Vader striking down Obi wan kenobi he will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine. Thanks Keith for taking up for middle class America and the righteous that are cut down daily by the likes of the cowards and imbeciles of FOX SPEWS. You were out manned but never out gunned not all the hypocritical cowards on FOX combined could come close to your profound impact. We are going to have our answer to FOX and I can see where Olbermann will be the nucleus of it and it's about time. You kool aid drinking cowards better get your fill whilst you can, the day is coming you hypocritical cowards!

Posted by: rakemaker | January 22, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

"Tomorrow's yakking will have a large Olbermann component, of course. Here's my thoughts... 1) It's in corporate's interests to deny that the Comcast aspect is irrelevant. There's no reason to believe those statements."

Why did Obama's FCC permit the Comcast merger? More to the point: Is the goal getting Obama re-elected or doing what is right for country? It appears to be the former, though no doubt Democrats convince themselves that the two are the same and believe that getting Obama re-elected is good for the country NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES. I'll leave the wisdom of that position for others to ponder, especially those who maintain it.

But I'll just note this: the Democrats have plainly moved into re-elect-Obama mode and, whatever he proposes to cut -- Social Security included -- will be accepted by Democrats, both on the Hill and in the blogosphere. Obama knows that the only people he actually has to satisfy are the Congressional Republicans. More, Obama sees his popularity increasing as he placates the Right by doing what it wants and since Obama is more in re-eclect Obama mode than anyone we can expect much much more of that. Which returns us to the beginning: Is the goal getting Obama re-elected or doing what is right for country?

One final point re: Olberman: KO's replacement, Lawrence O'Donnell, is a DLC Centrist all the way. Is it a coincidence that one of the Administration's gadflies is being replaced by a Third Way sycophant just as Obama plunges fully into corporate Republicratism to boost his popularity?

Please excuse the rhetorical questions.

Posted by: wbgonne | January 22, 2011 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I cant stand it when conservatives use articles like this to bash democrats. Stick to the topic. Unless you're a gun owner. I'd rather you vent here than shoot someone. Anyway, I will miss KO. His show was well researched. His comments were backed by facts unlike Rush, Palin and Beck. We all know that unlike conservatives, liberals are all about personal freedoms and liberties. That means liberals are all over the place and very difficult to bring together into a cohesive political group. But KO was able to tap into the very core beliefs of liberals and remind us of what's important. KO will be missed and I hope he makes it back to either TV or Radio soon.

Lastly, how was this a good financial move on the part of MSNBC? It must of been politically motivated. Hmmm....

Posted by: anthrogirl | January 22, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Immelt to the administration. Keith O gone.


Posted by: sold2u | January 22, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Depending on the state, some non-compete clauses are hard to enforce.

Often a good lawyer finds a way around it on the basis that previous employer can't keep his client from making a living in his occupation.

Just speculating here but, for example: The clause will keep KO from going to CNN and competing against MSNBC in a political talk format, but not stop him from radio, blogging or returning to broadcast sports journalism.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 22, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

The "space" that Olbermann created was a very destructive one. He posed as a newsman and used that forum for the kind of hate speech that has been rejected by the President and most intellegent and thoughtful persons. Good Riddence to KO the country does not need that "space" any longer.

Posted by: Mebakdr | January 22, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Lol. I love the Immelt Olbermann speculations going on.

Maybe Forrest here was responsible!!!!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | January 22, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

As I said, I hope that we've heard the last from Olbermann for a while. That actually would fit right in with the DLC-conspiracy theories, though, to help get Obama re-elected. Good to see wbgonne back!

Speaking of dramatic changes, Greg still hasn't given us details of the new comment system he promised / threatened.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 22, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

To WHACKINGOFFINARAINFORREST, I hope you are simply a hater of Cable News and not just attacking MSNBC vs FOX. The MSNBC lineup of Pundits blow FOX away with intellectual thought all of them from Matthews to O'Donnell. If you are insinuating that FOX is fair and balanced you are a complete jiz filled right winged moron. Fox backs nothing up with fact at all, it spews hate, fear and lies daily. The only real journalist and voice of reason on FOX is Sheppard Smith.
Rachael Maddow backs up what she asserts as well as Schultz does. I hope all 3 of them leave MSNBC and land at a place they can take a no prisoners stance like Fox does. Fox is pure BS, it's audience pure cowards and pure mindless sots that are begging for someone to insert blabbery into their empty brains. It's amazing how many mindless, moronic, cowards are in this country and it takes something like FOX and someone like Limbaugh to bring em out of the woodwork. So for this I am grateful at least we know now how many cowards and morons are harbored in our midst. Fox is a group of cowardly, chicken hawk wombs of Americans broadcasting to receptacles that are the same.

Posted by: rakemaker | January 22, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

What is scary is that the FCC said YES to Comcast's buyout of NBC allowing for further monopolization of the US media. Comcast played a big part in destroying the Dixie Chicks' careers by instructing all its radio stations (virtually all radio in the US) to ban their music for criticizing President Bush. Now KO is ousted immediately after their takeover of NBC. Anyone read 1984? Big Brother is here!

Posted by: royst1 | January 22, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse


KO was paid $14m but had about 1/3 the viewers as O'reilly and 1/2 of Hannity.

Advertising minute sale prices are directly set by audience share ratings in the timeslot.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 22, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I'm one of KO's biggest fans who never missed a show since 2003. But first I'm a proud American who believes that the more outlets for discourse and differing philosophies the better. It's called freedom of speech in the way our founders envisioned it ... the venue changing with the times. So before those of you with differing philosophies crow at the demise of KO with MSNBC, think about the fact that an extremely popular political voice has been silenced on a major political commentary station. This should worry every American. As a German immigrant born during WW2, I can attest to what happens when you allow the silencing of political discourse. Political media diversity should be guaranteed and protected and no media monopoly should be allowed to exist. We need the return of the Fairness Doctrine.

Posted by: sunnystarr | January 22, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

TominColorado, I can't see him going to FoxNews either (or that most of his audience would agree to even tune in). Would it be worth the headache to open up shop somewhere only to have you and your new employer sued. Blogging may be his only alternative, but why not just go enjoy your millions now?

At least he didn't get shot through the brain (even though you probably couldn't tell the difference).

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 22, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

As the Right Wing posts prove, the Right has nothing to offer the world but bile, and vile hate spawned of the Devil himself.

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | January 22, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Very bad news to let Keith go. Phil Griffin has to be out of his mind to be at odds with Keith. MSNBC, you just lost your super star. Wherever Keith goes that's where I'm going. Keith is a Godsend, he holds no punches, and tells it like it is in spite of Phil Griffin. Now,
what is MSNBC going to do to counter the ugliness of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the Republicans in light of the Gabby Gifford incident. This is absolutely terrible to let Keith go. God be with you Keith, we love you and are looking forward to your next show wherever it will be. I am a loyal follower. Thanks for the memories and your courage to speak your peace and do the right thing. Shame on Phil Griffin and his vendetta with Keith. Phil, MSNBC is bigger than you!

Posted by: rrcrosby | January 22, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

"hat is scary is that the FCC said YES to Comcast's buyout of NBC allowing for further monopolization of the US media. Comcast played a big part in destroying the Dixie Chicks' careers by instructing all its radio stations (virtually all radio in the US) to ban their music for criticizing President Bush."

It was ClearChannel radio that shut down the Dixie Chicks (and issued the often nonsensical "no play" list after 9/11). Despite their proximity in an alphabetical listing, they're separate companies.

Although the general point about the concentration of media ownership still stands.

Posted by: zimbar | January 22, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Are Chris Matthews' inner thighs still tingling over his homo-erotic crush, Barack H. Obama??

Matthews is a genetic, dyed-in-the-wool, deep-blue liberal. The tingles prove that.

Olbermann was an opportunistic parasite looking for a host to feed on. He found it in the vacuum that was MSNBC.

The de-lousing of MSNBC may be underway.

Maybe the network honchos are sick and tired of being crushed by FOX NEWS.

It's a testament to Olberman's character that he is being dumped even though he has MSNBC's highest rating. Olbermann must be a world-class stinker.

Posted by: battleground51 | January 22, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

sunnystarr, so who are YOU calling a Nazi now?

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 22, 2011 10:34 AM | Report abuse

What uttered nonsense you rightwingers are spewing. Liberals and unions expect that American workers earn a livable wage; corperations and conservatives simply want to pay workers as little as possible, and move jobs to countries with dirt cheap wages and no labor or evironmental laws. The economic crisis in the late seventies was caused by rising oil prices (which unexpectedly plummeted in the eighties). The Reagan economic legacy is marked by three barometers: huge debt, the widening gap between rich and poor, the beginning of our jobs sent overseas. The programs of the Great society cut poverty in half during the sixies, the expense was funding the Vietnam war. Get your fact straight: conservativism is the root cause of all that ails this country!

Posted by: raylcsw | January 22, 2011 10:35 AM | Report abuse

If MSNBC wants true credibility they will next fire Chris a tingle up my leg Matthews and Ed big fat angry Schultz. The Keith, Ed, Chris trio have taken bias to a new level.

Posted by: topgun97365 | January 22, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Without the ugliness? Are you kidding me?!?

The man called Scott Brown: "an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, Tea Bagging supporter of violence against women, and against politicians with whom he disagrees" on the air. He throws around "fascist" the same way Hannity throws around "socialist." I could add countless more examples of how he is no better than any other "popular" talking head on TV. He is NO better than Limbaugh -- maybe less of a crackpot than Beck, though even that's debatable and it's not saying all that much.

Posted by: itsbrucewillis | January 22, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

MSNBC dumps Olbermann and keeps Schultz?

Posted by: weightweight | January 22, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Is it really a matter of dispute on the right now that Olbermann and Maddow have big audiences?

Wow, that's amazing.

Posted by: sargegreg | January 22, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

thomasmc1957, you are one to talk.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 22, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

sargegreg, what's up with the promised new comment system?

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 22, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

thank you for the RainForestRising blog. It is almost as entertaining as listening to Sarah. It is quite an education in psychology.I hope to someday understand where the desire to foster hate and divisiveness comes from.

Posted by: nuanced | January 22, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

weightweight, one step at a time.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 22, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse


"If the bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

Barack H. Obama, Jr.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 22, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I love it that keith Olbermann if finally off the air. The hate that use to come out of his mouth and his untruth or lies. He couldn't tell the truth if his life depended on it. Maybe that Comcast is going to buy NBC we can get rid of all of the rift Raft at NBC and do some real reporting of fair and balanced news for a change yaaa the wicked witch is gone.

Posted by: justiceforall1954 | January 22, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse

As I said above 1.1m viewers are not nothing, yet that is about 1/3 O'Reilly's and 1/2 Hannity's yet KO was very highly paid.
Looks like a straight economics decision by Comcast, we'll see.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 22, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Everyone crowing about audience numbers of Fox News shows vs. MSNBC shows needs to educate themselves beyond what Fox tells them to think (unlikely, I know). Fox is on the FREE tier on every cable company, while MSNBC is on the PAID tier for many. Pump your insane propaganda into everyone's homes for free, of COURSE you're going to have a bigger potential audience.

So long, Keith. We know you'll be back, but we'll still miss ya until then.

Posted by: laurieny2 | January 22, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Fresh open thread for regulars:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | January 22, 2011 11:09 AM | Report abuse


Fox News and MSNBC are not on the basic cable Comcast package here in Denver, nor were they on the basic cable package I had from TimeWarner that I had before. Both are on Extended Basic subscription in my experience.

CNN is usually included on basic package, so that would reflect on thier poor ratings.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 22, 2011 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Looks like a lot of you are getting it and understanding That it was time for him to be off the air Its the old saying of you Ying and yang and you rep what you sow. it all cameS back at you, Trash in Trash out. Thank god that Americans are wakening up !!!! lets take back are government Government is not going to tell us what we want we are going to tell government WE ARE N'T GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE AND WE ARE MAD AS HELL

Posted by: justiceforall1954 | January 22, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

clawrence, see the new thread.

Posted by: sargegreg | January 22, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Hear, hear, rakemaker!! and amen!!
I sent a major nastygram to msnbc last night telling them they'd made a grave error. I also call on everyone to boycott GE. Let them know we have no use for incandescent lightbulbs OR bad cable in the 21st century!

Posted by: ahlibbie | January 22, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

justiceforall1954, Olbermann was thinking about that same movie too.

Posted by: clawrence12 | January 22, 2011 11:31 AM | Report abuse

hear hear rakemaker!

I totally agree!

Posted by: ahlibbie | January 22, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Tell MSNBC you don't approve of their decision. go to and find the contact us page. I did!

Boycott GE! Let them know we have no use for incandescent lightbulbs OR bad cable in the 21st century!

Posted by: ahlibbie | January 22, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Good ridance to that "garrulous gasbag" (NY POST)and his virulent gutterspeak nightly. He was an angry man who had no boundaries in criticizing the conservatives/Republicans while loving up to any lefty whacko he could find. We owe him for popularizing Rachel maddow and other far left wing nuts. So, SEE YA, You big bad of angry wind!

Posted by: denniscopson | January 22, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

@sunnystarr: Here is what the founders envisioned for freedom of speech:

Posted by: JASinAZ | January 22, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

It's alright to cry, Greg.

Posted by: jimtreacher | January 22, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile in Londonistan

UK: Brother of Harry Potter star gets six months jail for attempted honor killing

"She was punched, dragged around by her hair and strangled by her brother Ashraf Azad, 28, who threatened* to kill her after he caught her talking on the phone to her Hindu boyfriend on May 21 last year, the court was told..."

[*"Marry a Muslim or you die!"]

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | January 22, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm mad as hell that Keith gave us no warning and no explanation of what happened. He could have used the time he was reading the Thurber story to explain that either he was fired, decided to quit or whatever it was that caused his sudden departure. I will really miss him. He had his faults. He was over the top sometimes on showmanship but I think he really tried to get to the bottom of what was going on in politics. I enjoyed his commentaries and it was always great to see him poking fun at the Fox commentators. If anyone should be canned at MSNBC, I think it should be Mathews. He is the most annoying interviewer on TV with his constant interruptions.

Posted by: Southlake | January 22, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, is there any place conservatives won't gather and make complete boobs of themselves? I don't troll conservative sites and post snarky comments -- why do they come here? Are they children?

Posted by: LynnDee227 | January 22, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@TominCo Thanks for the ratings numbers.
Facts are always appreciated. As a former broadcaster however you've neglected some very very important attributes of ratings.
First Demographics...Fox's audience is beyond 85 year old mother loves them as do a preponderance of those over 70.
Not a good demographic from a marketing addition there are quarter hour ratings and cumulative. Quarter hours reflect the number of folks actually listening or watching at any moment in time. The higher your quarter hours the longer your audience has stayed with your programming...not an insignificant fact for advertisers...the numbers you quote Tom are cumes...the number of people who tune in for even five seconds or five hours.

Having said all of that Tom Fox does get the blue hairs in enough quantity to make a living...and again in fairness the bluehairs are doing better than any other segment of our society...they've already got their social security and their Medicare (keep your gov't hands out of my healthcare)...and so they are too selfish to understand the concept of taxing young people to pay for THEIR healthcare while the young people have much for fairness eh...but I digress...

My point is not to disagree with you Tom.
You basic observation is correct...there is enough audience for MSNBC and Fox for both Comcast and Rupert the foreigner who now dominates America's turn a tidy profit...just pointing out that the difference is not as great as it might appear from your "raw" numbers.

Still I close again in gratitude Tom. I love posters who bring links and facts.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 22, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Lost in the "micro" discussion of K.O.'s departure is the macro.

Like him or hate him K.O. was merely a symptom of our time. A response to the bombast put out daily by Bill O.

Before K.O. MSNBC tried Phil Donahue. Donahue quickly lost popularity because he had the temerity to point out the folly of Bush's plans to invade Iraq. Remember when it was nigh traitorous to question what history will surely judge as one of the dumbest decisions EVER made by a President. If anybody thinks history is going to judge Bush/Cheney right and Donahue wrong I've got some stock in the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to sell you.

But Donahue committed a more egregious sin as identified by Tom. In an era of bombast, shrill partisanship, much of it without any basis in fact or without the first iota of journalistic integrity, thoughtful broadcasters like Donahue and Moyers became dinosaurs.

We now live in an age where local TV Newsrooms operate under the protocol.."If it bleeds it leads". Networks...broadcasting and cable have resorted to political pandering and screaming food fights for entertainment.

Do I blame the networks, blogs, papers, radio for this...ABSOLUTELY NOT. We have met the enemy and it is US!!! A nation that devotes so much attention to "Snooki" and the latest American Idol is not exactly serious. A nation that listens to Sean Hannity is guilty of what Bernie talked about on the last thread...conservatives especially...some on the left as well...have reached conclusions and they simply want every narrative to fit those pre determined conclusions. Hence the popularity of a complete joke like Hannity...who at least makes great fodder for John Stewart.

As sybil might say...seriously folks..
Hannity actually posed in a Question? Sister Sarah...paraphrasing closely...The left hates you for some reason GOVERNOR...(do half term quitters still get to keep the title?) the left and the media are out to get you Governor and you never complain about it".

You have to be a total idiot to make that statement...someone so completely disassociated with reality as to be frightening..perhaps in need of help.

Like Sarah..or hate her...agree with her that the "lamestream" media is out to get her or believe she is guilty of projection...argue those points but any moron who would say the lady who elevated the term "lamestream" media into the popular lexicon...whose repeated strident attacks against the left and the media over the past two years..whoever says that Sarah Palin hasn't complained has sh&t for brains. Sorry to be so graphic but this is soooo offensive to anyone who give a squat about the truth.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 22, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

@RFR You sick puppy you have absolutely crossed the line.

"By the way, your rant is a little unnerving. Please don't go to Safeway today."

The fact that you do not even realize how despicable and tasteless that comment is is not worthy of response or reading. Other than to post this on the next two threads so people get an idea of what kind of human being you are I shall be happy to block your pathetic sorry mind. Honestly RFR I genuinely feel pity for you not contempt.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 22, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

"Only they accomplished this without descending into the crackpot conspiracy mongering and all-around ugliness of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck."

This is how you lose all credibility, Greg. Or maybe you've never actually heard Limbaugh or Beck for comparison to the wild-eyed, eliminationist vitriol of KO.

Just start with his seething, purple-prose "aopolgy" and "resignation" harangues against Bush and Cheney and his outlandish smear of Scott Brown. Sarah Palin a "clear and present danger to the safety and security" of the country -- even as a private citizen? Yeah, he spent every night venting crazed condemnations and conspiracy theories like that.

What you need more than anything, Greg, is to grow up. Write an adult blog that doesn't insult everyone's intelligence, and maybe you'll attract a more intelligent crowd. Pandering to the liberal sheep and insulting the intelligence of everyone else isn't the way to do it. And I mean that in the kindest, most non-eliminationist way.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 22, 2011 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Lol, some of the garbage posted by liberals is just too much, like this absurdity:

"Fox spews fears, lies and rarely has any hard core foes on for debate."

Apocalyptic hysteria and panic, conspiracy mongering, and terror were virtually all KO shrieked for years. It would be dignifying his claptrap to say most of it even rose to the level of lies.

I'm not aware of his ever having any guests for "debate" who disagreed with his psychotic leftwing obsessions. His guests were always reliable echo partners. Fox, in contrast, has liberal guests on every day on virtually every show.

You folks need counseling, really.

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 22, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Keith Olbermann will be greatly missed by people needing a balance of information from the mis-named "liberal media" that long ago acquiesced to using Drudge's and Fox's talking points as the starting point every day. He did go over the top a time or two, but only in response to some flagrant untruth or horrible deed spewed upon the public by right-wing ideologues. Truth. Facts. They DO matter. Keith presented them daily.
--- to tominColorado above(or below): thank you for the viewer stats. They do look probable. But, RESEARCH why MSNBC's are about 1/2 of the others': Millions and millions of homes do not have ACCESS to MSNBC; it is often on only the higher-tier Cable channels. Fact. You can also do your own check: airports, hospitals, hotels, other public places--NO MSNBC; CNN & FOX--ubiquitous.
---I look forward to wherever Keith lands, and IF it's available to me, I'll definitely watch/listen. Rachel, Ed and Lawrence will hold up the fort until--dare I hope for it? They bring back Phil Donahue!!! OR a Stephanie Miller Show!(I can dream, can't I?)

Posted by: bgarciabaca | January 22, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Cable news died the day that CNN got rid of Aaron Brown if you ask me. It's basically a slum; TV's answer to AM radio and has been for years. Now I will say that when Countdown first came on, it was the best thing I'd seen on a cable "news" network in years and one of the few shows on TV that I made a point of watching regularly. But Olbermann started becoming so full of himself after he saw "Good Night and Good Luck," I finally just couldn't take him anymore, though I generally agreed with him on most issues.

His downward slide was actually the final straw that finally prompted me to swear off cable news completely, coming up ot three years ago now (and counting). Perhaps Olbermann's demagoguery, paranoid indulgences and all-around gratuitous name-calling may have never ascended quite to the level of a Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh or Ed Sshultz, but frankly anyone who thinks he never went there at all either hasn't been paying attention or is beyond the reach of reason themselves, IMHO.

Posted by: CalD | January 22, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Quarterback1 | January 22, 2011 12:55 PM:

Yikes! I actually agree with you. It's a little unsettling.

Posted by: CalD | January 22, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

@bgarciabaca "Phil Donahue!!! OR a Stephanie Miller"

I'm afraid you are dreaming...but I share your dream. Perhaps Oprah can add a little political programming to OWN. I'd like to see folks like Donahue and Moyers have a show from the progressive point of view...along with a companion show featuring thoughtful conservatives..ala Will, Krauthammer, Frum and others who respect facts and eschew the use of demagoguery. I don't agree with those three guys but I do respect them.

I don't need to agree with somebody to respect them...obviously I'm 180 degrees out of sync with Scott and Q.B. but I still respect them and their thoughtful posts.

Posted by: rukidding7 | January 22, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

How about a show for Keith on Oprah's new network?

Posted by: mercerreader | January 22, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse


You are obviously in deep trouble. Probably a mistake to admit your deviationism sort of "publicly." ; )

Posted by: quarterback1 | January 22, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

To Rainforestrising and all the other Neo-Cons out there, you are very confused and misinformed. Stop watching Fox News for a moment and do your homework. The Liberals and the Democrats are NOT stopping job creation and/or economic growth, the Corporations who control business and industry are. Who's in bed with corporate America helping to destroy business and industry? The Neo-Cons and the Republicans, that's who. Unions currently comprise only 7.6% of the private sector jobs and only 36.8% of the public sector---that's Fed.,State, and local govt jobs. If you do the math, it's next to impossible for unions to control anything today. Consider the fact that all union contracts are approved by BOTH parties involved---the union AND the employer. Union concessions over the years have severely reduced the power of the working class, which affects all middle class workers. When all the unions are finally gone, which is the dream of all Neo-Cons and Republicans alike, everyone who works for a living will be at the mercy of their employer---exactly where the employer wants them.
Another thing you might want to consider, when Clinton was our President, we enjoyed one of the top 5 all time best economies this country has ever had since 1776--- literally the best economic time since the end of WWII. We even had a governmental budget surplus! Amazing. Then G.W.Bush and the Neo-Cons come along and systematically dismantle the rules and regulations that were put in place after the Great Depression to keep something like that from ever happening again. From "95-'07 the Neo-Cons controlled Congress & the Presidency from '01-09. They destroyed our economy, our banking system, the housing sector, and every other institution except the military---which was used to attack, invade and occupy two foreign countries in the Middle East that had nothing to do with the events of 9/11, further destroying our reputation and our image around the world.
What you don't know because Fox won't tell you, is that George W. Bush INCREASED our federal deficit by over $1.5 trillion while increasing the gross public debt over $6 trillion---And remember, he started with a budget SURPLUS. He raised federal spending over $1.6 trillion, defense spending over $427 billion to $794 billion, and WELFARE spending went UP by $224 billion to $407 billion, the highest in American history. How did he expect to pay for all this? Deficit spending of course. This is the way Neo-Cons of the Republican party try to pay for all of their expenses. By borrowing against the future of this nation and using the country as if it were a giant credit card with no limit on spending. Reagan once quipped that the deficit was "big enough to take care of itself. "Dick Cheney was quoted as saying "Deficits don't matter." Of course they matter---our country has been crippled by debt from borrowing against our future and our great, great, great, great grandchildren's future. Don't blame liberals, blame the Neo-Cons.

Posted by: freethinker2112 | January 22, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

re: ratings fox v. msnbc

i will grant you that hannity & o'reilly get (roughly) double what olbermann got, but in terms of the big overall pictue, you rightists are basically saying "your guy only got one three-hundredth of the population to watch him? well, our guy got two three-hundredths! suck on that!"

Posted by: skippybkroo | January 22, 2011 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Do FOX News and MSNBC have the same number of customer's served? Anecdotally, I've been to hotels that only have Fox so I wonder if their reach drives their numbers.

MSNBC proved that making money is only one decision criteria for its programming. I like Laurence O'Donnell but how long will it take him to an audience similar in size to Keith's?

The timing makes sense for MSNBC. They couldn't have done this in the fall during election season or even right after election season. They couldn't do it a year from now when the Presidential Primary Season will be in full swing. They had to do it now to limit the scrutiny.

Olbermann going off the air for a while is troublesome.

Posted by: matt_ahrens | January 22, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

FYI - the gay military network - provides a supportive environment for active gay servicemen and women and their supporters.

Posted by: 1millionbumperstickers | January 22, 2011 9:34 PM | Report abuse

What freethinker just said. If only rainforest and the rest of the bumper sticker crew would learn to think in complete sentences, they, too, would be able to make logical connections using real facts from this universe.

Posted by: dkmjr | January 23, 2011 1:44 AM | Report abuse

As a Speech Coach, losing Olbermann is equal to the loss of Paul Harvey. Both of these public speakers were exquisite users of the English language. While Olbermann may return is some form, Paul Harvey is gone forever. Their politics not withstanding, their popularity was due in large part to say in exquisite form what their followers were thinking. The ability to express ourselves through thought and speech, rather than violence, is after all, what differentiates us from forest animals. Both of these speakers are missed and we are all the worst for it.

Posted by: drofspeech | January 23, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

As a Speech Coach, losing Olbermann is equal to the loss of Paul Harvey. Both of these public speakers were exquisite users of the English language. While Olbermann may return is some form, Paul Harvey is gone forever. Their politics not withstanding, their popularity was due in large part to say in eloquent form what their followers were thinking. The ability to express ourselves through thought and speech, rather than violence, is after all, what differentiates us from forest animals. Both of these speakers are missed and we are all the worst for it.

Posted by: drofspeech | January 23, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

As a Speech Coach, losing Olbermann is equal to the losing of Paul Harvey. Both of these public speakers were exquisite users of the English language. Their politics not withstanding, they had the ability to use the human quality of speech to express what many of us are thinking. It is speech , after all, that differentiates us from forest animals. We will miss both of them. We are all the worst for it.

Posted by: drofspeech | January 23, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Journalism lives.

Posted by: RexRange | January 23, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

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