Media Writers on Keith Olbermann’s Departure

By Molly Stark Dean 

After Keith Olbermann’s departure from MSNBC last week, media writers have been busy writing their take on it. There is a noticeable pattern of respect for his talent and rumors of his uncooperative temperament.

TIME‘s Joe Klein:

Keith is a brilliant writer, and presenter; I always enjoy watching him, even when he’s occasionally wrong. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to do so again soon.

The New York TimesBill Carter and Brian Stelter:

Even some of those at MSNBC who acknowledged being spurned or insulted by Mr. Olbermann said they remained in awe of his productivity and the effect he had on the network.

The Washington Post‘s Paul Farhi:

For all his skill as a broadcaster and his undisputed value to the network, the Olbermann quality that appeared suddenly most relevant was this: He can be difficult to work with.

The Wall Street Jounral‘s Sam Schechner and Lauren A. E. Schuker:

Friday’s announcement that Mr. Olbermann would leave capped months of internal tension, during which Mr. Olbermann’s representatives sought at least twice to be bought out of his contract, and MSNBC laid the groundwork to replace the man who had juiced its audience but rankled its executives.

The New Yorker‘s Peter J. Boyer

…the one constant in Olbermann’s broadcasting career has been his ability to exasperate the boss; he is a true original, who brought to the job rare talent and a singular disagreeability, in nearly equal measure.

“The Daily Beast”‘s Howard Kurtz:

The relationship with management kept deteriorating to the point that divorce became inevitable. Even those sympathetic to Olbermann came to believe that his deep well of anger, the secret of his box-office success, often got the best of him.

TIME‘s James Poniewozik:

…with enough hosts to fill primetime, if MSNBC management felt Olbermann had become more trouble than he was worth, maybe they felt comfortable enough at this juncture to rip the Band-Aid off now—or maybe soon-to-be-new-NBC bosses Comcast did.

The Kansas City Star‘s Aaron Barnhart:

Perhaps he had let ego overrule commonsense, but he had believed his bosses when they told him he would be their Brit Hume as well as their Bill O’Reilly.

Los Angeles TimesMelissa Maerz:

Olbermann has clashed with his bosses for some time now, and tensions have been heightened since November, when Olbermann was suspended for making unauthorized campaign contributions to three Democrats.

Orlando Sentinal‘s Hal Boedecker:

Olbermann certainly has a legacy. He put MSNBC on the map, a difficult feat in the cable universe. And his anti-George W. Bush commentaries were audacious and passionate.

Some media writers weren’t as quick to compliment the former MSNBC anchor.

The Baltimore Sun‘s David Zurawik:

Olbermann smeared countless people over the years, and MSNBC let him get away with it. If the arrival of Comcast has contributed to getting this reckless figure off the airwaves until his no-compete clause ends, then I have at least one reason to celebrate the takeover of NBC-Universal.

The New York Post‘s Michael Shain and Todd Venezia:

Sources said network brass basically paid the pontificating pundit to scram by working out an agreement in which he would give up his show and continue to be paid. The garrulous gasbag will likely also have to stay off the air at least until fall under the agreement.