While many viewers were shocked that last Friday, January 21, 2011 MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann announced on-air that that night’s show was the last for the network, the decision came after years of tension and near terminations, reports The New York Times’ Bill Carter and Brian Stelter.
Olbermann had been protected by his boss, Phil Griffin, as well as Jeff Zucker, the head of NBC Universal, and Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, the story notes. But staff members at MSNBC grew troubled about Olbermann’s behavior, such as days on which he threatened not to come to work and a substitute anchor needed to be on standby, the article notes.
Olbermann was also close to being fired in November for making political donations to Democratic Congressional candidates in violation of MSNBC policy, it adds. Olbermann threatened to appear on ABC’s "Good Morning America" to protest his suspension, with Zucker prepared to fire him if he did so, the article notes.
According to TMZ.com, "The exit deal, we’re told, gives Keith much more than $7 million, though our sources would not be more specific. And we’re told … Olbermann agreed as part of his exit deal not to do television, but our sources say he’ll be benched for less than 4 1/2 months. Conan O’Brien had to sit out twice that amount of time."
Furthermore, the TMZ article says Olbermann’s exit took seven weeks to negotiate, and that attorney Patty Glaser, who was one of O’Brien’s point people on his departure from NBC, was also on Olbermann’s team.