MSNBC fired Keith Olbermann after eight years at the network. The move comes as a bit of a surprise. Countdown was MSNBC’s highest-rated show. Olbermann had weathered previous controversies, including a suspension for political donations he made to Democratic candidates. He had signed a four-year $30 million extension in 2008. It was probably not a coincidence his firing coincided with Comcast’s takeover of NBC being approved.
As a cable distributor, Comcast does business with News Corp. and has fired its own employees for public criticism of Bill O’Reilly. Olbermann is an avowed critic of O’Reilly and Fox News. He was also fired by Fox in 2001, allegedly at Rupert Murdoch’s behest, for reporting from an outside source that the company was selling the Los Angeles Dodgers. If you google “Keith Olbermann Suspended,” three of the first four links that pop up are Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal.
Presumably, Olbermann will be off the air for a while with a non-compete clause. Here are three plausible places he could end up afterward.
CNN: Olbermann worked for CNN before joining ESPN. He also did freelance and fill-in work for them in between his stints at Fox and MSNBC. The bridges seem to be still intact. Working for Time Warner, would give him flexibility. He could go back into his old time slot at 8pm to give Piers Morgan a better lead-in. He could do baseball for TBS. He could also do stuff with Sports Illustrated and old pal Dan Patrick.
ESPN Radio: He “napalmed” bridges when he left Bristol in 1997, but that was 13 years ago. His past may preclude him from TV or editorial work. However, they did let him back on radio to co-host with Dan Patrick in 2005. They have hired and parted ways with Max Kellerman multiple times and fostered controversial personalities, such as Cowherd and Kornheiser. If he didn’t have to appear in Bristol, this could work.
MLB Network: Olbermann butts heads politically, but he’s a benign baseball fan. He writes romantic panegyrics to obscure players from his childhood. He already blogs for MLB.com. Some part time studio work where he could still be based out of New York could be an option.