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January 24, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The sudden departure of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC became the subject of TV columnists and a topic of discussion on television talk shows over the weekend, even as Olbermann and MSNBC declined to respond to questions about it. In his parting statement Olbermann remarked cryptically that anyone who has “been told what I have been told, that this is going to be the last edition of your show” would have reacted the way Peter Finch’s TV anchor character did in the movie Network. He did not, however, quote Finch’s famous line in the movie, which was “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.” It was not clear, then, whether MSNBC had fired him, whether executives had told Olbermann something that had made him angry enough to quit, or whether his departure was triggered by something else. Appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources on Sunday, former MSNBC anchor David Shuster, said that while he had not spoken to Olbermann about his departure, he had spoken with MSNBC staff who supposed that last month’s to-do over the revelation that Olbermann had contributed to the political campaigns of some Democratic contenders was the proverbial last straw — “not so much in terms of how MSNBC and MSNBC executives viewed Keith but in terms of how Keith viewed his own following.” MSNBC had reportedly received more than 250,000 messages from viewers supporting Olbermann, which, said Shuster, had “mesmerized and flattered [Olbermann] beyond belief” and led Olbermann and his agents to conclude, “let’s take this base of support, let’s take this loyal fan following, and let’s take it to a forum where I’ll have the kind of following where I’ll have the kind of independence that I’ve always wanted and where I’ll be able to do the kind of reporting and analysis without having my wings clipped by NBC News.” Shuster speculated that Olbermann was concerned that under the new reorganization of NBC News, “his special commentaries and scripts might have to be approved by somebody else other than by somebody on the show, that they might have to be run by someone at management level.”