Keith Olbermann Leaves MSNBC's 'Countdown'

Olbermann gave his viewers a big surprise Friday night.

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By Paul Farhi

Keith Olbermann, the combative left-leaning anchor of MSNBC's most popular program, Countdown, surprised viewers Friday night by announcing that the show would be his last. Olbermann said he had been told by MSNBC that the cable network was ending his contract.

Although neither the network nor Olbermann publicly cited a reason for his abrupt departure, the relationship ran into trouble in November when MSNBC suspended Olbermann for two days for making campaign contributions to three political candidates, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was severely wounded in a Jan. 8 shooting.

During the campaign-contribution flap, the network said it was acting under an NBC News policy that prohibits political contributions by its employees without prior approval. But Olbermann was publicly unapologetic about his behavior, expressing his disdain for MSNBC's decision when he returned to the air after his suspension -- which was the culmination of several run-ins between Olbermann and MSNBC's President Phil Griffin.

Sources at the network wouldn't discuss Olbermann's departure in detail Friday, but they shot down speculation that it was related to the pending takeover of MSNBC's parent company, NBC Universal, by Comcast, the cable and Internet giant. The takeover was approved this week by federal regulators.

Watch his farewell video and read the rest of this story at the Washington Post.