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Olbermann Goes Down for the Count

In a move that caught almost everybody by surprise Keith Olbermann announced tonight that this would be his last show on MSNBC.

Olbermann one of MSNBC’s unabashed liberals was suspended back in November for violating the network’s ethics policy after it was revealed he had made political contributions to three Democrats seeking federal office.

MSNBC released a short statement on the matter.

“MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC’s success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

They then followed it up with a longer statement announcing the programming changes without acknowledging the departure of Olbermann.

NEW YORK – January 21, 2011 – Starting Monday, January 24, “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” will move to 8 p.m. ET/PT and “The Ed Show,” hosted by Ed Schultz, will move to 10 p.m. ET/PT on MSNBC. The announcement was made today by Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC. “The Rachel Maddow Show” will continue to air live at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Since its debut in October 2010 at 10 p.m.ET, “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” has been a strong addition to the MSNBC primetime line-up. In the forth quarter of 2010, the show’s first full quarter on the air, “The Last Word” ranked #2 among A25-54 and total viewers beating CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” in all key demos and had MSNBC’s strongest A25-54 performance in the 10 p.m. time period since the first quarter of 2009.

“The Ed Show” launched in April 2009 at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC. 2010 marked the best total viewer performance in the 6 p.m. ET hour ever for MSNBC, with “The Ed Show” ranked #2 in both A25-54 and total viewers for the full year. “The Ed Show” averaged 643,000 viewers in 2010 and 158,000 among viewers 25-54, while CNN’s “Situation Room” averaged 542,000 total viewers and 149,000 in the 25-54 demographic. Ed was up 8% in A25-54 and up 20% in total viewers, while CNN has dropped –28% in A25-54 and –29% in total viewers.

Also starting Monday, Cenk Uygur, MSNBC contributor and host of the popular web show “The Young Turks,” will be filling in as host of the 6 p.m ET hour.

Olbermann consistently finished a distant second to The O’Reilly Factor and it isn’t expected that moving O’Donnell into the 8 p.m. slot will change things at all except that the network will have a less controversial host in that time slot from now on.