Provocative liberal commentator Keith Olbermann is leaving MSNBC, the cable network for which he has been a top draw in recent years.
“MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract,” the cable channel said in a statement. “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.”
Olbermann is said to have ackowledged his departure on his program.
The surprise announcement comes as telecommunications giant Comcast is said to be near to closing its deal to acquire control of MSNBC parent NBC Universal from General Electric.
In a closing statement on his show, Mr. Olbermann said simply that it would be the last edition of the program. He offered no explanation other than on occasion, the show had become too much for him.
Mr. Olbermann thanked his viewers for their enthusiastic support of a show that had “gradually established its position as anti-establishement.”
MSNBC announced that “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell would replace “Countdown” at 8 p.m., with “The Ed Show” with Ed Schultz taking Mr. O’Donnell’s slot at 10 p.m. Mr. Olbermann did not discuss any future plans, but NBC executives said one term of his settlement will keep him from moving to another network for an extended period of time.