This evening my friend Keith Olbermann announced that he is leaving MSNBC and that Countdown will end this week. His departure will be a great disappoint for millions of viewers but I have little doubt that Keith will continue his unique brand of commentary and coverage in a different forum. I will personally miss our conversations on and off the program. Keith has been a unique voice in our society and I trust that we have not heard the last of that voice on myriad of issues confronting this nation.

I have known and worked with Keith since the 1990s and his first news show, The Big Show with Keith Olbermann. He has held a number of positions on different networks — all with equal success. The public has always connected with Keith’s wit and often wacky style. He is one of the smartest individuals I have ever known. He also genuinely cares about the issues addressed on his show.

In an age of blow-dried, robotic anchors, Keith gave the public something different and magnetic. He invented his own genre in news — a style later mimicked by others in their own programs.

Keith’s career has always been as unpredictable as his style. The public has always been drawn to him by his refusal to compromise and his fierce independence. Those characteristics that are so central to his success with viewers often led to conflicts with his respective networks. He is the ultimate lone wolf in an industry known for its pack mentality.

There are certain classics in American culture. They include the 67 Mustang, Wrigley Field, and every John Wayne film. For many news junkies, they also include Keith Olbermann. Intense, irreverent and insightful, Keith is unique. For that reason, his fans and friends will not allow him to be gone from the airways for long.

Thanks, Keith, and Godspeed.

Jonathan Turley

121 thoughts on “FAREWELL KEITH”

  1. I’d never heard of Current TV.


    Maybe he’d have more editorial control there–but if nobody’s watching his show–does it really matter?

  2. Nal,

    It’s a step down in exposure and a step up in editorial control would be my guess.

  3. Olbermann Said to Be Going to Current TV

    Keith Olbermann, the former top-rated host of “Countdown” on the news channel MSNBC, will announce his next television home on Tuesday, and people familiar with his plans pointed Monday to a possible deal with the public affairs channel Current TV.

    Neither Mr. Olbermann, his representatives, or executives from Current TV would comment on the move, but they did not deny that the channel, which counts former Vice President Al Gore as one of its founders, will become at least one partner in Mr. Olbermann’s future media plans.


  4. Thanks, Nal. I still think this is going to be a good thing for both Keith and MSNBC. I’m curious to see what tomorrow’s news will be…

  5. Nal,
    Thanks for the heads up on Olbermann. I would think that it has to be a TV gig, but it will be interesting to see what’s next.

  6. The first voice that I heard publicly expressing the complete shock of, and intelligent commentary on, the Bush Administration was Jon Stewart. The second voice was Keith Olbermann. Where Jon’s voice is satirical and quite brief, Keith’s voice was mostly serious and full of new information, with commentary from other intelligent voices, and moderated by Keith’s very grounded foundation. I CAN NOT believe that MSNBC would allow their cash-cow/Headliner to fall off the network!!! WHAT ARE THEY THINKING!!! While I highly respect many of the other voices on the network, most of the stories come from Jonathan Turley’s blog, here, and the Huffington Post. I thank all of these sources for their information, but my reverent compulsion to watch Keith/Rachel/Ed/ and others on MSNBC has been replaced with a much more passive, “If I happen to be on that channel because there is nothing else to watch… then OK”…

    There are many more stories for Keith to report on (with help, of course). I WANT KEITH BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Mr. Turley,

    Thanks for the lovely tribute to Keith. Like someone mentioned in here, I have been following Keith since he was a sportscaster on Channel 2 CBS in Los Angeles and I remember his last day at the station when at the end, he turned around with his usual smirk and his bomber jacket said,”Going to ESPN”. Like many other ultra talented people, there is a bit of lively craziness they carry with themselves which is neither to harm or hurt others but kind of flying towards some new unknown horizons which they are not even aware of. I always enjoyed your commentary when you were on Countdown.

    I am sure this talented person will come out from his forced hibernation and surprise us once again with his wit,insight and offering his hand where needed without asking anything in return like the free medical clinics. That is what goodness is all about. It is to pass on to those who are in need. It is like the scent of a flower which emits itself in all directions sans bias and Keith is one of those flowers.

  8. Are you serious, Turley?

    Olberman is an inflammatory tool. I like Maddow, but Olberman never stopped the facts from getting in the way of a good story and did it in the most perniciously aggressive way as possible. Keith Olberman is a symbol of what is wrong with this country. Why not Beck? Because Beck is an idiot that just thinks aloud. Olberman has actually put thought into the crazy vitrol. I hope he never broadcasts again.

  9. Like many others on this site, I first learned of Prof. Turley through his appearances on Mr. Olbermann’s show. I very much regret MSNBC’s decision. Although Mr. Olbermann could sometimes approach issues with an intensity beyond what was appropriate, the targets of his criticisms were well chosen and almost invariably well deserving. I will miss his instincts and his ability to cut to the chase.

  10. It’s a shame to see Keith go, but I thought his show lost it’s luster after Obama took office. I had great respect for his willingness to go after the Bush administration, however I thought his tone should have remained the same with Obama. As a Canadian with an outside perspective it is difficult to see the difference between the two administrations, other than rhetoric.

    However Keith was a great voice and I will miss his show, great post Mr. Turley.

  11. I too discovered Prof. Turley via watching Keith. To measure the magnitude of his hopefully temporary loss we should look back to Edward R. Murrow the brightest star in the broadcast news pantheon. With his “Special Comments” Keith equaled Murrow in his courage to speak out in the context of a media kept docile by the needs of its corporate masters. If we’re honest with ourselves we would admit that we all had the fear that this would happen one day, simply because Keith didn’t play the game.

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