ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Monday, January 24, 2011

Keith Olbermann and MSNBC Part Ways

Two years ago, we asked where Keith Olbermann would go if MSNBC did not offer him a juicy contract.  As we put it back in 2008:

No offense to Keith; I enjoy a slightly unhinged political rant as much as anybody, but it's as if MSNBC believed that viewers became hooked on "Countdown" during the election season and will be unable to shake the addiction. I started watching the show occasionally during the last weeks of the campaign and I haven't thought about going back there since election day. $7.5 million a year! That's extraordinary! Where do they think Keith Olbermann will go if they don't pay him more than the $4 million a year they agreed to in February 2007? CNN? Fox News?

Well, it appears we will now get an answer.  As CBS News reports here, Keith Olbermann announced on Friday that he was calling it quits.  Quotemeister Robert Thompson of Syracuse University is quoted as stressing Olbermann's importance to MSNBC's brand, but how much of that brand is a product of Olbermann himself and how much was it the product of, well, branding?  It seems we'll find out.  In any case, Rachel Maddow seems to have taken over as the face of MSNBC some time ago.

Reports say that it is unclear why Olbermann left in the middle of a four-year, $30 million contract, but are the reasons really that unclear?  CBS News raises the question of whether Olbermann's contract included a non-compete clause.  If it did, we would expect that Olbermann negotiated that away before he left MSNBC.

In the meantime, happy trails and thanks for the memories.



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