Report: Olbermann Made The Decision To Leave Himself

Here’s a report that seems to contradict the TMZ speculation that Keith Olbermann’s departure was essentially a firing at the behest of soon-to-be NBC parent Comcast:

“This was all Keith’s choice. He has several times over the years said that he wants out of his contract. He never meant it until this year. He started lawyers negotiating twice this year. He stopped them in the spring. Then, about a month ago with the guidance of his new ICM team and a new LA manager (who were making zero $ on his current deal), he once again said he wanted to leave and this time they negotiated the full package.

“Because of all the false threats in the past, it was impossible for the network to know if he was really going to sign the final document yesterday. That’s why promos for his show were still running after he quit on the air. The network couldn’t really believe it or act on it until he said it on TV. They couldn’t tell the promo people to pull Keith’s show out of the cycle until they were sure. His staff learned he was quitting when they heard him say it on TV.

“Comcast has had no impact at all on MSNBC [yet]. Phil Griffin has complete authority. He makes deals without having to consult with anyone. He has made proposals over the years on the fly and in high-speed contexts where he is acting alone and with full authority. MSNBC is Phil Griffin’s network and no one at NBC thinks they have a better idea than Phil about what to do next.”

There have been reports for years of friction between Olbermann and not only his bosses at MSNBC, but also much of the staff at the network. This really doesn’t come as a surprising when you take that into account.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. I need to remind people of the same thing that I always do when it comes to Keith having friction: he had major issues with ESPN when he was there, and reportedly with Fox Sports as well. He’s Richard Dawson-like in regards to how hard he is to work with, and even he admits he’s burned some bridges with his crippling lack of ability to get along with almost anyone.

  2. PD Shaw says:

    This interpretation seems to correspond with Josh Marshall’s impression during the last show that there was nothing unusual going on that he observed.

  3. Hello World! says:

    This sux, I hope he returns in some form.

  4. anjin-san says:

    So much for the far right glee over his “firing”…

  5. Dodd says:

    So, Olbermann’s position is that he decided to leave his job with 2 years left on his contract?

    I can think of one former elected official who shall not be named who probably finds that incredibly amusing.

  6. anjin-san says:

    > I can think of one former elected official who shall not be named who probably finds that incredibly amusing.

    Yes, the difference between an elected official who has sought and received the public’s trust and sworn to uphold it and a private citizen who is making a career choice is probably a bit to complex of a concept for her to wrap her brain around.

    Better just to sing a few choruses of “I am victim, hear me roar”…

  7. Dodd says:

    I just wonder when all the lefties who were calling for mass protests over the fascist corporate silencing of one of their most vital voices will retract their comments now that they know KO himself says that it was really just that he wanted to make more money….

    Not really.

  8. anjin-san says:

    Dodd you aren’t tired of talking about Palin’s “amusement” are you?

    Let’s compare the situations. Palin runs for Gov. of Alaska. She asks for, and receives the trust and support of voters in that state. She swears, hand on Bible, I presume, to carry out her duties to the best of her ability. But that’s not what she does, is it?

    Then you have Olbermann. A private citizen with a TV show. He has a contract with his employer. Apparently, (I don’t think we have much more than speculation at this point) he wants out, for whatever reason. You can break a contract in a business relationship. There are consequences, but I don’t think Olbermann ever swore a sacred oath to host a specific number of shows.

    I guess I can see why you want to move on…

  9. Brett says:

    I’m interested in what’s going on, even though I haven’t consistently watched Olbermann’s show since early 2008. I stopped watching after he started putting on the rage in Special Comments over trivial campaign matters.