ESPN, Keith Olbermann Part Ways

Keith Olbermann Suspended from ESPN
Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

ESPN is cutting ties with the outspoken host Keith Olbermann, in the latest set-to between the Walt Disney-owned sports-media juggernaut and prominent members of its talent pool.

Olbermann’s program, which is simply titled “Olbermann” and runs on ESPN2, is expected to wrap up sometime this month, the company said.

“Keith is a tremendous talent who has consistently done timely, entertaining and thought-provoking work since returning to ESPN,” the company said in a statement. “While the show’s content was distinctive and extremely high quality, we ultimately made a business decision to move in another direction. We wish Keith nothing but the best and trust that his skill and ability will lead him to another promising endeavor.”

ESPN executives were pleased with the quality of Olbermann’s program, according to a person familiar with the situation, but felt the show was not attracting a level of viewership required to keep it on the air. “Olbermann” started in 2013 on ESPN2 running for an hour at 11 p.m., but it was often preempted or delayed due to event coverage. In September 2014, executives made the decision to move the show to 5 p.m. and cut it to half an hour.

Olbermann and ESPN had been discussing a new contract, this person said. His pact with ESPN was slated to end at the end of July.

ESPN has in recent months acted to curb a number of its better-known sportscasters. The company recently parted ways with the exceedingly popular Bill Simmons, who founded Grantland, its sports-and-culture digital outlet. Simmons had at various times criticized ESPN and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and ESPN suspended him on a few occasions. In July of last year, ESPN suspended Stephen A. Smith in the wake of controversial remarks the popular host made about women and domestic violence.

Olbermann was suspended by ESPN for part of a week in February after mixing it up on Twitter over a pediatric cancer benefit slated to be held at Penn State University.  He later apologized, saying his remarks were “stupid and childish.” That incident did not have any bearing on ESPN’ s decision, according to the person familiar with the matter, who said Olbermann had been a model employee during his run at ESPN, his third tenure with the company.

Olbermann has enjoyed a storied career, but has also been involved in some famous conflagrations with his employers. He rose to greater fame while serving as an anchor of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” between 1992 and 1997, but left in controversial fashion a few months after being suspended for appearing on the Craig Kilborn-hosted “Daily Show” on Comedy Central. A stint at Fox Sports ended when Olbermann clashed with none other than Rupert Murdoch, the longtime head of the company then known as News Corp.

Despite a seeming penchant for confrontation, Olbermann is a proven draw. He helped transform MSNBC from a middle-of-the-road cable-news outlet into an edgier success by pushing the network into political coverage with a progressive lens. He even co-anchored election coverage for the network, sparking criticism that he and others at MSNBC were too partisan for mainstream news events. Olbermann even feuded with Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly.

But Olbermann would earn a suspension in early 2011 after making donations to political candidates, in violation of network policy. Though he returned quickly, Olbermann decided to leave for Current TV, a progressive news network aimed at younger viewers. He clashed with owners there as well, and was eventually dismissed.

No decision has been made about what sort of program might replace “Olbermann,” the person said, and ESPN has not yet determined the final date for Olbermann’s current show.

 

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  1. Vince Carbone says:

    First Simmons, then KO, now Cowherd. What the hell ESPN. Don’t you like your on-air personalities to be smart, funny and interesting??

  2. Jack Ward says:

    KO is by far the most intelligent and entertaining personality on TV. Not just sports shows, all shows. OK, maybe it’s a tie with Jon Stewart but it is a rarified group.
    I will follow Keith to whatever channel he chooses and cannot wait to see him again at his new post.

  3. rhughsirius says:

    Keith, why does a sack of excrement need to wear glasses? What do you need to see?

  4. Dennis hodges says:

    Olbermann is probably the main reason I rarely if ever watch ESPN. Good to see him go.

  5. Kinda sad, but the bottom line is that he’s just not the draw he was 15 years ago. I really can’t imagine what his next step could be, other than to swallow his pride and take an anchor or sports job at a top-5 market O and O. The $$ is still pretty good, and maybe he could re-establish a niche in the right place…

  6. Jordan says:

    Thank god, Olbermann was horrible TV. He didn’t transform MSNBC, that channel is a walking disaster.

  7. RogerJ says:

    Who wrote this article. Olbermann’s mother?

  8. Da'Man says:

    Olberman sux..that’s why he can’t keep a job…he thinks making smartass juvenile remarks makes him a news/sportscaster….He’s an idiot. I hope the SOB never gets on the air again….he obviously isn’t very good at it..

  9. Cody Elliott says:

    Poor dumb guy. He cant hold a job anywhere.

  10. Al says:

    Bout Flippin Time

  11. Is he still around? I thought he smugged himself out long ago.

  12. Best Host Msnbc, and ESPN ever had , and his “brief dismissal” from MSNBC was over doing what joe Scarborough had done for 10 years, fact that one of the three who received the contribution was two weeks later shot in the head (Congressman Gabbie giffords) A little better editing could go a long way in this artical . (WO)

  13. Dannyd says:

    While I’m not shocked at all they this clown has worn out his welcome….again, I AM shocked that he keeps finding work in the first place???

  14. Ron P says:

    How about KO going into politics and running as the VP on the ticket with Trump. Both are pompous egomaniacs and would complement each others outrageous behavior.

  15. Scott Leahy says:

    Olbermann, needs to be fired by CBS to complete the “Quadfecta”. He has already been fired by Fox, NBC, and ESPN-ABC.

  16. Radar Blip says:

    too bad. KO had the only show worth watching on ESPN. I guess crap like Sports Nation with that idiot Marcellus Wiley and reruns of Screamin’ A. Smith are a better fit for this dumbed down network of has-been jocks.

  17. Bill Poindexter says:

    According to this source, ESPN shot-callers say Olbermann’s show was “not attracting a level of viewership required to keep it on the air.” OK, if that’s accurate, I find it difficult to believe then that the hot-air morning show with Bayless and Smith, plus PTI, plus Around the Horn, do attract that level of viewership needed to keep them on the air.

  18. Rich Bailey says:

    ESPN finally made a good decision and i can halt my boycott of ESPN for hiring Olbermann. Olbermann is the scum of broadcasting.

  19. Tom Fleming says:

    Another brilliant decision by ESPN. They fire Olbermann who would give his uncensored opinions on topics(his JOB), and give an AWARD TO A MAN FOR COURAGE FOR WEARING MAKEUP AND A DRESS(Jenner on the ESPY awards later this summer). What the HELL is going on in this world!!!!!!

  20. john says:

    who really gives a crap about this guy? he’s old news; no talent and a big mouth

  21. rabnjb says:

    I see they left the barn door open and all the right wing wacko’s loose!!!

  22. Ornello says:

    Loathe the man, never watch TV anyway. Who cares?

  23. Eddie says:

    maybe he can go back to msnbc and he and Sharpton can get engaged!

  24. ED Green says:

    The truth is, Olbermann has never been good at reporting or making comments about anything, especially Sports, where his personal knowledge of any Game is nil. In Politics he is opinionated to the point of absurdity. Let him go back to the graveyard of Media, MSNBC, where he can join all the other Idiots and Nit Wits there.

  25. Gary Tyson says:

    If everytime you get a job you cannot keep it because you get into an argument with the boss, maybe the problem is not the boss. Maybe the problem is you. Just a helpful tip, maybe try to just once, see the other persons point of view. Smart people try to see both sides of an issue whether they agree or not. If you are 100% positive that you are right and everyone else is wrong, without even trying to see their point of view, you are probably the less intelligent one. Good luck Keith. You made enough money to retire someplace nice where you will not be a threat to yourself or anyone else.

  26. BillUSA says:

    I think KO should be locked in an underwater habitat with someone just like himself for a few months.

  27. Ron Morales says:

    The guy’s an arrogant, narcissistic jerk who isn’t half as smart as he thinks he is. He suffers from O’Reilly Syndrome: Being insuffeerably condescending but without the intellectual weight to back it up.

  28. Personally, I can’t stand the guy. The problem with hiring a “personality” is that not everyone is going to like that person’s personality. Oh well.

  29. Carl White says:

    I have always been intrigued by this guy, he is obviously talented, very smart, funny with a quick mind. He also suffers from Iamsmarterthanuitis which makes him obnoxious at times.
    I find it charming that he is both a narcissist and has a giant heart but I sometimes wonder if that big heart he often displays is just based on being smart enough to know that without it he does not offer much to like him as a human being.

  30. Aida O'Reilly says:

    Will follow Obberman

  31. Kahuna says:

    Such a jerk off. Will never shut up. Glad he’s off to the eternal dust bin with Maddow, Matthews and the rest hahaha

  32. bob says:

    His was the only ESPN show I watched regularly . Reporting is to much for ESPNs audience .

  33. JE Vizzusi says:

    Are not Network Chief’s getting sick to death of making up excuses to hire and fire this guy? Where next?.. his own Cable Channel?

  34. cadavra says:

    Okay, MSNBC, put on your grown-up pants and get him back.

  35. Greg says:

    He can go back to MSNBC and co-host a Douchebag Power Hour with Rachel Maddow

    • I wish he would go back to MSNBC. He was one of the most passionate, well spoken hosts they had. Whatever the story was behind the camera, spoke to his relationship with the head of the company. Once that changed, he decided to move also. When he moved to Current, it again, it was the heads that didn’t know what to do with his show and kept pulling stuff away. Had they known what they were doing, they would have made Gore more money and he might not have sold it. MSBNC would benefit greatly if they took him back. Viewers have been clammering for his return since he left.

  36. wahhhha says:

    back to msnbc with lying brian

  37. Kris says:

    Dude *cannot* hold a job. Considering the high tolerance for narcissistic assholes in the media, he must be off-the-charts hard to work with.

  38. Aida O'Reilly says:

    I will follow Keith wherever he goes

    • missy k says:

      Just looking at Olbermann screams he’s another total liberal, socialist democrat DOUCHEBAG. Why they keep hiring this imbecile is beyond reason.

      • scott says:

        Yes James, socialism is working SO WELL in Europe. UP on the news at all? Does Greece, Spain or Portugals’ problems come to mind?

      • bob says:

        what James said !

      • Shouldn’t you understand what socialist means before you use it? I mean, really…who uses that term these days except for rightwing morons that hear Sean and Rush use it. You really must be a charmer to be around. As if socialist was an insult. Earth to Missy K…the cold war is over…no one cares about socialism, since most of the successful countries in Europe are some form of socialism. You’d know that if you got your head out of your butt. How do you equate Olbermann being fired from ESPN with politics? Just ‘cus he had a political show has nothing to do with this situation now. The man is informed and passionate. Apparently the heads up chose to go in the opposite direction and cater to morons like yourself.

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