Broadcast blowhard Keith Olbermann's countdown has finally come to an end.
The liberal lip of MSNBC was unceremoniously dumped by the peacock network last night in a major shakeup that set tongues wagging across the broadcast world.
Olbermann, in the middle of a four-year $30 million contract reportedly set to last until 2012, announced that last night's edition of his prime-time "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," would be his last.
Sources said network brass basically paid the pontificating pundit to scram by working out an agreement in which he would give up his show and continue to be paid. The garrulous gasbag will likely also have to stay off the air at least until fall under the agreement. Last night, the unemployed Uberdork -- who was suspended from the network in November for making political contributions -- bid his farewell to fans in a long-winded segment at the end of his show, touting his program as a progressive platform that he felt spoke truth to power.
"The show gradually established its position as anti-establishment, from the stagecraft of 'Mission Accomplished' to the exaggerated rescue of Jessica Lynch in Iraq . . . the program grew and grew, thanks entirely to your support, with great rewards for me and I hope you, too," he blabbed.
Olbermann then took his message a step further, painting himself as a sort of liberal Joan of Arc.
"There were many occasions, especially in the past 2½ years, when all that surrounded the show . . . was just too much for me," he said. "But your support and loyalty . . . ultimately required that I keep going."
After bidding adieu, the self-styled champion of the little guy, was spotted dining late last night at the posh Gramercy Tavern on East 20th Street with four guests.
As he left, a patron offered condolences, and Olbermann said: "At least I had one nice meal since it happened."
Sources said talks between MSNBC and Olbermann about his departure had been going on for weeks, but it's not clear when the final decision to boot him was made.
The exact reason for his departure was not announced, but the network last night in a statement said "MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract," and added, "We wish him well."
Starting Monday, Olbermann's show will be replaced by "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell," the network said.
"Keith will be feeling, ironically, like the 'Worst Person In The World' tonight," said CNN's Piers Morgan, referring to Olbermann's regular segment that lambasted his political enemies. "But as my grandmother always says, 'One day you're the cock of the walk, the next a feather duster.' "
Olbermann's ouster comes just three days after government officials gave clearance for Comcast Corp. to take over NBC Universal. Last May, Comcast Chairman Brian Roberts was asked what he would do, once he took over, if Olbermann badmouthed any Republican members of Congress.
"Let's have that conversation in 12 months, when we're playing with live ammo," he said darkly.
The 51-year-old Olbermann's 8 p.m. show drew about 1 million viewers a night last year, according to The Wall Street Journal, but regularly got pasted in the ratings by Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. Still he was the top-rated evening anchor on MSNBC.
Despite his success, last November Olbermann was suspended for a short time for making political contributions. This reportedly led to weeks of turbulent conflict between the host and his immediate bosses at the network.
COUNTDOWN TO OBLIVION
Over the course of Keith Olbermann’s career at MSNBC, the host kept putting his foot in his mouth:
‘That woman is an idiot.’— May 13, 2010, referring to Sarah Palin
‘I accuse you, Mr. Bush, of lying this country into war.’— July 3, 2007
‘You saved no one, Mr. Cheney. All you did was help kill Americans. You were negligent before 9/11.’— May 19, 2009
‘Reagan’s dead, and he was a lousy president.’— June 5, 2004