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About (Late) Last Night: Keith Olbermann on what went wrong at MSNBC [Video]

May 19, 2011 |  9:08 am


Did Keith Olbermann resign, or was he pushed out at MSNBC? Since his abrupt departure in January, the question has fueled much speculation among media prognosticators.

On Thursday, Olbermann stopped by "The Late Show" to promote the new incarnation of "Countdown," which launches June 20 on Current TV. As always, David Letterman was there to ask the question on everyone's mind.

"The last we knew of you, you were at MSNBC, you had 'Countdown with Keith Olbermann,' the most successful show on MSNBC, kind of the prime-time keystone," said the host in his distinctive, sputtering fashion. "Not only that but you also brought us Rachel Maddow. Things seemed to be going along well. The next thing we heard, you're announcing that you're leaving MSNBC. So fill in some blanks for us here."

"Well, how much time do you have?" Olbermann joked. But then he struck a more serious note, claiming that his real motivation for leaving MNSBC was to escape the strictures of working for a corporate conglomerate.

"It's occurred to me that the best place to start doing the news ... would be at a place that's just in the news business, that doesn't also own an amusement park in Orlando, or doesn't have outdoor advertising or, you know, beet plantations in the Azores. Just a company that just did news, and we could make every decision relying on that."

"And in what condition are these bridges that you've left behind?" Letterman asked. 

'Well, some people have said that I did not burn the bridges, I have napalmed them," Olbermann replied, before once again defending his record. "I've had nine full-time employers, ... and three of them have later hired me back."

What do you think?

-- Meredith Blake