Saturday, January 22, 2011

Keith Olbermann leaving MSNBC's 'Countdown': Bill Maher tells Rachel Maddow that it's 'bulls--t"

Saturday, January 22nd 2011, 10:45 AM

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, left, announced the end of his show 'Countdown' on Friday. HBO host Bill Maher questioned the notion that the decision was 'mutual.'
Sherwood/AP; Sykes/AP

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, left, announced the end of his show 'Countdown' on Friday. HBO host Bill Maher questioned the notion that the decision was 'mutual.'

Keith Olbermann's abrupt exit on Friday night has at least one of his fellow liberal allies fuming.

HBO host Bill Maher immediately asked guest and Olbermann's fomer MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow why Olbermann was leaving.

Maddow, one of Olbermann's closet allies, said she knew "very little about" the decision on "Real Times With Bill Maher" but said it was mutual.

"Well that's always bulls--t," Maher responded.

"I know very little about it," insisted Maddow. "All I know is it was between Keith and the company and didn't involve any of the rest of us." She said the 51-year-old was "very gracious and nice" during his exit.

Maher said the show started to go "downhill' in November when Olbermann toned down segments of show like "World's Worst."

"Stop organizing life around the people who don't get the joke," Maher said, seemingly to the network. "F--k them if they don't get a joke."

Other hosts, like rival CNN host Anderson Cooper, devoted 20 minutes to the news of Olbermann's abrupt exit, even pointing out that MSNBC ran promotional ads that included the host's face after he announced he'd be
leaving.

The liberal host, who was the highest-rated evening anchor on MSNBC, surprised viewers on Friday saying he had "been told" it was his last show after nearly eight years with the network.

"There were many occasions, particularly in the last 2 years, where all that surrounded the show - but never the show itself - was just too much for me," Olbermann said in attempt to explain the decision.

Olbermann caused a brief firestorm in November after reporters uncovered his donations to the campaigns of two Democratic Congressional candidates in Arizona and one in Kentucky. He was briefly yanked off the air, but eventually returned weeks later in his prime time 8 to 9 p.m. slot.

MSNBC confirmed Olbermann was leaving in a terse statement issued minutes after he announced his departure.

A network spokesman said Olbermann's exit had nothing to do with Comcast's purchase of NBC Universal, the cable network's parent company.

But The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz said MSNBC staffers believed it was only a "matter of time" before Olbermann would "bolt or be pushed out."

"If Olbermann concluded that he would no longer have the independence he craved in the more buttoned-down Comcast era, it is unlikely that anyone in the NBC executive suites tried to talk him out of it," wrote Kurtz.

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