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Video: Keith Olbermann signs off

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    >>> i think the same fantasy popped into the head of everybody in my business who has ever been told what i have been told. this will be the last edition of your show. you go to the scene from the movie network complete with the pajamas and the rain coat and go off on a verbal journey of unutterable vision and you insist upon peter finch 's gutteral resonance and you will the viewer to go to the window, open it, stick out his head and yell. you know the rest. in the mundane world of television goodbyes, reality is laughably uncooperative. when i resigned from espn 13 1/2 years ago, i was given 30 seconds to say goodbye at the end of my last edition of sports center . with god as my witness, in the commercial break before the moment, the producer got into my earpiece and said can you cut it down to 15 seconds so we can get in the tennis result? i'm grateful that i have more time to sign off here. regardless, this is the last edition of countdown. it is just under 8 years since i returned to msnbc. i was supposed to fill in for exactly three days. 49 days later, there was a-year contract for me to return to this 8:00 time slot that i fled years earlier. the show established its position as anti-establishment with the stage craft 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 and grew entirely to your support and great comments if are me. i hope for you too. there were many occasions where all that surrounded the show and never the show itself was too much for me. with your support and loyalty if i may use the word insistence required that i keep going. my gratitude to you is boundless and you think i have done good here, imagine how it looked as you donated $2 million to the national association of free clinics and my dying father watched from his hospital bed and comforted that his struggles were inspiring such good for people, he and i and you would never meet, but would always know. this may be the only television program where in the host the much more in awe of the audience than vice-versa. we will also be in my heart for that and the donations to the family in tennessee and these victims of governmental heartlessness in arizona to say nothing of every letter and tweet and wave and hand shake and online petition . time ebbs here and top the close with more story. it is still friday. let me thank my gifted staff and a few of the many people who fought with me and for me. eric sorenson, neal shapiro , michael weiss . david bloom , john palmer , alana russo. rachel maddow and bob costas and my greatest protector, the late tim russert . let me

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/22/2011 12:17:51 AM ET 2011-01-22T05:17:51

Commentator Keith Olbermann signed off his msnbc cable television show Friday night after nearly eight years.

"Msnbc and Keith Olbermann have ended our contract," Phil Griffin, president of msnbc, said Friday.

"Msnbc thanks Keith for his integral role in msnbc's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors," Griffin said.

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(Msnbc.com, a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft, is the online home for msnbc TV programming.)

Olbermann announced his departure before closing his show with a reading from a James Thurber novel, a Friday night tradition.

Recounting his move to msnbc after departing ESPN, Olbermann said, "I was supposed to fill in for the late Jerry Nachman for exactly three days. 49 days later there was a four-year contract for me to return to this nightly 8 PM time slot which I had fled four years earlier."

He noted that the show gradually established an anti-establishment position.

"The program grew thanks entirely to your support with great rewards for me and I hope for you," Olbermann told viewers.

"There were many occasions particularly in the last two and a half 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."

Olbermann did not explain why he was leaving.

"Starting Monday, “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” will move to 8 p.m. ET/PT and “The Ed Show,” hosted by Ed Schultz, will move to 10 p.m. ET/PT on msnbc, Griffin said. "The Rachel Maddow Show” will continue to air live at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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Video: Keith Olbermann signs off (on this page)

Also starting Monday, Cenk Uygur, msnbc contributor and host of the popular web show “The Young Turks,” will be filling in as host of the 6 p.m. ET hour.

Msnbc spokesman Jeremy Gaines would say only that the acquisition of NBC Universal by Comcast, which received regulatory approval this week, had nothing to do with the decision.

Comcast said in a statement it did not yet have operational control of msnbc.

"We pledged from the day the deal was announced that we would not interfere with NBC Universal's news operations," Comcast said. "We have not and we will not."

Olbermann was suspended without pay from the network for two days in November for donating to three Democratic candidates, which violated NBC News' policy on political donations. Olbermann complained that he was being punished for mistakenly violating an inconsistently applied rule that he had known nothing about.

The host apologized to fans.

On Friday, Olbermann thanked viewers for donating $2 million to the National Association of Free Clinics, supporting other causes and for showing his dying father that there is good in people.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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