I'm sure most of you have already heard that Keith Olbermann was fired by MSNBC. The network suits are claiming that it wasn't a firing and had nothing to do with Comcast's purchase of NBC but if you believe that there's a domed stadium on Poydras Street I'd like to sell you. Business Insider isn't buying it either:
Okay. Wow. That was shocking.
But now that we've had a few minutes to contemplate a MSNBC world without Olbermann let's indulge in some speculation.
Bill Carter reports at the NYT that Olbermann "came to an agreement with NBC’s corporate management late this week to settle his contract and step down."
"Late this week" suggests yesterday or today.
If that's the case there has to be some buyout arrangement because Olbermann signed a four year contract back in 2008. Update: Bill Carter just told Anderson Cooper that part of whatever deal they struck will likely keep Olbermann off TV "maybe not for two years" but for an extended period of time.
So again: Why now?
It likely has everything to do with this:
Comcast officially takes over on Monday.
Today is also Jeff Zucker's last day; earlier today he sent out his farewell memo to staff.
There has been speculation dating back to Olberman's suspension in October that the powers that be might not be that comfortable with the amount of unquestioned clout Olbermann wielded at MSNBC (even with somewhat diminished ratings it was a lot).
Combined with his legendary ego and unreliable temperament (anyone who follows him on Twitter can attest to both) it's quite possible Olbermann's strong ratings looked slightly less appealing. Especially with Rachel Maddow and now Lawrence O'Donnell in the wings, both of whom make strong showings in the ratings.
Next question: Is Comcast cleaning house? And if so, will Olbermann enabler MSNBC president Phil Griffin be next? And if so who will replace him?
Update: NBC execs tell the NYT Bill Carter that "the move had nothing to do with the impending takeover of NBC Universal by Comcast." No. All just a big coincidence.