In a surprising and abrupt turn of events, Keith Olbermann announced that last night would be his final time hosting MSNBC’s highest rated primetime program, Countdown with Keith Olbermann. No, it wasn’t a gag or a publicity stunt. NBC News said on Twitter that MSNBC has decided Olbermann’s contract would not be renewed. Friends such as Luke Russert and Shannyn Moore immediately tweeted goodbyes and good lucks to Olbermann. Olbermann’s colleague, Rachel Maddow, also openly talked about Olbermann leaving the network on Friday night’s Real Time w/Bill Maher on HBO (click here to view the clip).
As for our opinion on what’s next for the liberal anchor, don’t be surprised if Olbermann ends up on CNN sooner than later. Their ratings are in the tank, their new Parker/Spitzer series is a disaster (with Kathleen Parker reportedly not very happy being there) and is a poor lead-in to the new Piers Morgan Show. The entire evening lineup needs a makeover, and fast. Olbermann reportedly still has two years on his contract and will get paid his annual salary of about $7 million. However, what is not known at this point if he has a non-compete clause in his contract that would prohibit him from appearing on a rival station until his two-year contract is over.
The decision to fire Olbermann was reportedly one of the first decisions made by Comcast, who recently became the majority share holder of NBC and NBC Universal. You’d think they would have started making drastic decisions with the struggling mother network, NBC, first. Are we now going to expect Comcast to cancel NBC’s top series Law & Order: SVU or The Biggest Loser? They did cancel MSNBC’s top-rated program, after all.
As for the post MSNBC line-up now that Olbermann has been canned, the network announced almost immediately after he made his statement that Lawrence O’Donnell, host of The Last Word, will move to 8 PM EST, while The Ed Show with Ed Schultz will air at 10 PM EST. Rachel Maddow’s program will remain at 9PM, which won’t be time shifting.