No real clues what this is about, but Keith Olbermann announced, at the end of tonight's show, that it would be the last edition of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's top-rated program.
MSNBC, the nation's #2 rated cable news channel in primetime (behind Fox "News" and ahead of CNN), quickly released this terse announcement after the show:
The announcement comes at the end of the same week that the FCC & Dept. of Justice approved Comcast's takeover of NBC. Writing at Daily Beast, media critic Howard Kurtz reports, however, that "A knowledgeable official said the move had nothing to do with Comcast taking control of NBC next week, although the cable giant was informed when it received final federal approval for the purchase that Olbermann would be leaving the cable channel. This official described the dramatic divorce-Olbermann was about halfway through a four-year, $30 million contract-as mutual."
New York Times' Bill Carter similarly reports that "NBC executives said the move had nothing to do with the impending takeover of NBC Universal by Comcast."
However, TMZ reports tonight, that Olbermann "was fired" according to "MSNBC sources" and that "it had everything to do with Comcast's acquisition of NBC." Their sources said that "Comcast honchos did not like Keith's defiance and the way he played in the sandbox," whatever that means.
[Update: Comcast issues statement denying they had anything to do with any of this. More details in full UPDATE now posted at bottom of story after the video.]
At the beginning of his announcement, posted below, Olbermann suggests that he had been "told that this is going to be the last edition of your show." Few other clues are offered for the sudden departure in his closing statement.
Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall, who had been a guest at the top of tonight's show, says that he was "stunned" and "didn't sense anything different in Keith's manner or affect" during tonight's broadcast or inside the studio itself.
"There were a few more people than I'm used to seeing in the studio --- maybe two or three, seated, who seemed to be there to watch. (Something I don't remember seeing before)," he writes in an item tonight titled "What the hell was that about?" but says he saw "nothing that made me think twice that anything odd was going on."
The Times' Carter says that Lawrence O'Donnell, host of MSNBC's recently-added 10pm show The Last Word would take over the 8pm slot, Rachel Maddow would continue at 9pm, and progressive radio talker and host of MSNBC's 3pm The Ed Show, Ed Schultz, would take over O'Donnell's 10pm slot to fill out the new prime-time line-up.
Olbermann's announcement and final sign-off follows below...
UPDATE: Mediate reports that office politics had more to do with the departure than anything, and Comcast issues a statement to say they had nothing to do with it. See below...