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Keith Olbermann signs off from MSNBC

By the CNN Wires Staff
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Olbermann out at MSNBC
  • NEW: Olbermann was suspended in November for making political donations
  • MSNBC has announced in a statement the end of Keith Olbermann's contract
  • Friday was the last broadcast of "Countdown"
  • Olbermann discussed the situation at the end of his show Friday night

(CNN) -- After eight years together, MSNBC and Keith Olbermann are parting ways.

A statement from NBC Universal revealed the move late Friday. "MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract," it read, "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."

At the end of his show Friday night, Olbermann announced his departure in typical deadpan style, evoking scenes from the film "Network" and thanking viewers for keeping him on the air for eight years.

"In the mundane world television goodbyes, reality is laughably uncooperative," Olbermann said before launching into a story about his exit from ESPN 13 years ago.

"As God as my witness, in the commercial break just before the emotional moment, the producer got into my earpiece and he said, 'um, can you cut it down to 15 seconds so we get in this tennis result from Stuttgart,'" he said, half-smiling, pausing for composure.

"So I'm grateful I have a little more time to sign off here. Regardless this is the last edition of 'Countdown.' "

Olbermann thanked his crew and co-workers, with special praise for the man he called "my greatest protector and most indefatigable cheerleader," Tim Russert, the host of NBC's "Meet the Press" who died in 2008.

Olbermann was suspended for two days in November of 2010 after the news website Politico revealed donations made to to three Democrats seeking federal office. One of them was Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded earlier this month in a mass shooting and attempted assassination in Tucson.

He gave $2,400 -- the maximum individual amount allowed -- to Giffords' campaign, and the campaigns of Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway and Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva. Conway lost his bid, while Grijalva and Giffords eked out wins.

NBC said the donations violated a policy that requires employees of the news organization to obtain permission ahead of any political donations or activities that could be deemed as a conflict of interest.

Olbermann complained publicly about his frustration with NBC's management. He made it clear that he resented the insinuation that he was attempting to hide his actions.

"When a website contacted NBC about one of the donations, I immediately volunteered that there were in fact three of them; and contrary to much of the subsequent reporting, I immediately volunteered to explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired," Olbermann also said in a statement released during the time.

He also accused NBC of "inconsistently"applying its policy and suspending him without first hearing his side of the story.

CNN's Emanuella Grinberg contributed to this report.