With the announcement this evening that host Keith Olbermann has done the last edition of his MSNBC program Countdown, what is most striking is that the show was undone, not by poor ratings or viewer apathy, but by fractured relationships between Olbermann and his bosses at MSNBC. Now both sides no longer have to deal with each other, but the real losers are the loyal viewers of Countdown.
Earlier tonight MSNBC released a terse statement announcing that that the network and Olbermann had agreed to part ways, “MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC’s success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Here is the video of Olbermann saying farewell:
Back in November when http://www.politicususa.com/en/keith-olbermann-suspended>Olbermann was suspended for making political contributions without permission a few related factors made it possible toforesee this type ending ahead for Olbermann/MSNBC relationship. The biggest factor working against Olbermann was his ratings. Countdown had been in ratings decline for over a year. Olbermann was the network’s highest paid host/anchor, but his total viewership numbers were a bit ahead or even with Rachel Maddow’s.
It is has been really obvious for a while that MSNBC views Maddow as their future. Keith Olbermann wasn’t getting invitations to be a part of the panel on Meet The Press for a reason. The future face of MSNBC was going to be Rachel Maddow’s, and with the news tonight, we now know that the future will be starting a lot earlier than anyone else expected. In management’s eyes the strengthening of the entire MSNBC lineup made Olbermann less necessary. Ed Schultz was the only MSNBC host to see his ratings grow in 2010, and The Last Word has been a big hit. Olbermann might have built the new MSNBC, but the structure no longer needed him to hold it up.
The Olbermann/MSNBC relationship had always been rocky, and looking back on it, his suspension should have probably been the final showdown for both sides, but they both gave in to fan pressure and accepted a compromise that neither one of them really believed in. Olbermann did apologize on the air, but he did not apologize to the network. My best guess is that we will find out someday that Keith Olbermann and Phil Griffin simply could not coexist, and because of this a show that was beloved by millions will no longer be on the air.
Ideally MSNBC and Keith Olbermann could have worked through their problems, but human emotions often get in the way of the ideal. I don’t think that there is a hero or a villain here. The situation is sad, because Olbermann is not going to find a better outlet for his views than MSNBC, and the network lost a powerful voice, who did some great liberal humanitarian things especially with raising money for those in need. Any cable talking head can bluster, but I thought Keith Olbermann was starting to use his show to help people from those without healthcare to patients in need of organ transplant who are being victimized by Jan Brewer’s tyranny.
The Olbermann/MSNBC marriage had gotten to the point where both parties were likely miserable and it had to end. MSNBC will be fine, and I can imagine that CNN will be on the phone with Olbermann’s agent the minute his no compete clause end, but this is such a shame because publicly MSNBC and Keith Olbermann were the perfect couple. The fans of the show have to be hurting the most, and my sympathy rests with them. They didn’t deserve this. I have seen their passion and in some cases wrath up close and they were a passionate and loyal bunch indeed. They deserve better than to be dumped on a Friday night. Now that a troubled professional marriage has ended, here’s hoping that it works out for the best for both Keith Olbermann and MSNBC.