It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that Keith Olbermann is gone from the MSNBC lineup because of the recently approved Comcast/NBC merger. Both the timing and the politics involved are suspicious, to say the least. It’s also not clear what Olbermann will do next — as much as many of us would like for him to jump to another network, he’s got a pesky little thing called an anti-competition clause in his contract. (Let me for a moment descend into a rant against these things — so much for the vaunted conservative worship of the “free market” when they appear to make the most use of such future limitations on someone’s work and try the hardest to create monopolies.)
Anyway, here is Keith Olbermann’s farewell:
Transcript (thanks to Hissyspit):
OLBERMANN: “I think the same fantasy has popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what I’ve been told: that this is going to be the last edition of your show. You go directly to the scene from the movie ‘Network,’ complete with the pajamas and the raincoat. And you go off on an existential other-worldy verbal journey of unutterable profundity and vision. You damn the impediments, and you insist upon the insurrections, and then you emit Peter Finch’s gutteral resonant … ‘So…’ And you implore, you WILL the viewer to go to the window, open it, stick out his head and yell…
Well, you know the rest.
In the mundane world of television goodbyes, reality is laughably uncooperative.”
When I resigned from ESPN 13 and a 1/2 years ago, I was literally given 30 seconds to say goodbye at the very end of my last edition of Sportscenter. As God is my witness, in the commercial break just before the emotional moment, the producer got in my earpiece and said ‘uh, could you cut it down to 15 seconds, so we can get in this tennis result from Stuttgart?’
So I am grateful that I have a little more time to sign off here. Regardless, this IS the last edition of Countdown. It is just under eight years since I returned to MSNBC. I was supposed to fill in for the late Jerry Nackman for exactly three days. Forty-nine days later, there was a four-year contract for me to return to this nightly 8 p.m. time slot, from which I had fled four years earlier.
The show gradually established its position as anti-establishment: from the stagecraft of ‘Mission Accomplished,’ to the exaggerated rescue of Jessica Lynch in Iraq, to the death of Pat Tillman, to Hurricane Katrina, to the nexus of politics and terror, to the first Special Comment, the program grew and grew thanks entirely to your support, with great rewards for me, and I hope for you, too. There were many occasions, particularly in the last 2 and 1/2 years, where all that surrounded the show, but never the show itself, was just too much for me. But your support and loyalty, and if I may use the word, insistence, ultimately required that I keep going.
My gratitude to you is boundless, and if you think I’ve done any good here, imagine how it looked from this end, as you donated $2 million to the National Association of Free Clinics, and my dying father watched from his hospital bed, transcendentally comforted that his struggles were inspiring such overwhelming good for people, he and I and you would never meet, but would always know.
This may be the only television program, wherein the host was much more in awe of the audience then vice versa. You will always be in my heart for that, and for the donations to the Kranick family in Tennessee, and these victims of governmental heartlessness in Arizona, to say nothing of every letter and email and Tweet and wave and handshake… and online petition.
Time ebbs here and I want to close with one more Thurber story – it is still Friday. So let me thank my gifted staff here, and just a few of the many people who fought with me and for me: Eric Sorenson, Phil Alongi, Neil Shapiro, Michael Weismann, the late David Bloom, John Palmer, Alana Russo, Monica Novotny, my dear friends Rachel Maddow and Bob Costas – and my greatest protector and most indefatigable cheerleader, the late Tim Russert.
And now let me finish by turning again to this ritual of reading Thurber stories to you… This one is called The Scottie Who Knew Too Much.
– snip –
‘Moral: It is better to ask some of the questions, than to know all the answers.’ The Scottie Who Knew Too Much by James Thurber.
Chris Hayes filling in for Rachel Maddow on The Rachel Maddow show is next. Again. All of my greatest thanks.
Widen the shot out a bit so we can do one of these one last time. Thank you, Brian.
Good night. And good luck.”
Rachel Maddow’s reaction:
She says at least in part: “Yeah, it’s been a big day at MSNBC…at least it’s been a big 15 minutes…I know very little about it, all I know is that it was between Keith and the company and it didn’t involve any of the rest of us and he was really gracious and nice when he left.”
More here: Breaking: Keith Olbermann Out at MSNBC [UPDATED] and here: So Why Did MSNBC Just Dump Keith Olbermann? Hint: COMCAST. JMG has been covering this too: Keith Olbermann Resigns From MSNBC