Keith Olbermann Nets New Deal with MSNBC

November 11, 2008

keith-olbermann.jpgKeith Olbermann has made a name for himself flaming the Bush administration on his nightly MSNBC series – and it has paid off with a hot new contract.

The “Countdown” host has signed a new four-year deal, which replaces a previous four-year deal that had a couple of years remaining.
“This makes a lot of sense,” Olbermann said yesterday, adding that the deal was reached before the election. “I’m going to be in place for at least four years, rather than say, ‘Let’s wait two years and talk.'”
The agreement keeps Olbermann as the anchor of his own show, as well as continuing on NBC’s “Football Night in America” pregame show. He’ll also be part of the network’s coverage of major news events.
“Keith Olbermann is at the core of MSNBC’s current success,” Phil Griffin, the network’s president said in a statement. “‘Countdown’ is our signature program, and I’m thrilled that we’re going to be able to bring it to Keith’s loyal viewers for another four-year term.”
The contract came after a year in which “Countdown” earned in its highest ratings ever, even as Olbermann was at the forefront of a controversy inside NBC News over MSNBC’s decidedly pro-Democratic tone in prime time.
Former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw, asked about having analysts anchor news coverage – as Olbermann and Chris Matthews did for a time – said: “I think Keith has gone too far. I think Chris has gone too far.”
MSNBC then took Olbermann and Matthews out of the anchor slots, appointing David Gregory chief anchor and making them analysts, in what was largely a symbolic move.
“At 11 o’clock, when we called the states for Obama, I was the one who said that,” Olbermann said. “It [the anchor switch] had ultimately no practical impact on anything.”
He also said his skin has gotten tougher over the years.
“This is a business in which you’re going to be criticized and you’re going to be a lightning rod,” he said. “If it doesn’t sit well with you, seriously, go and be a forest ranger.”
There has been a flurry of contract signings recently as the networks prepare for life after a heated election cycle.
For instance, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity recently signed new contracts as well. CNN’s John King said his deal is up at year’s end, but expects to stay put, too.
Olbermann declined to comment on his financial terms. The New York Times reported his annual take-home pay with the new package at $7.5 million a year.
He’s in his second tour of duty at MSNBC, and said this time around he found a high level of trust from the people behind the scenes. “When I get treated like that, I behave in a more circumspect manner,” he said.
Looking ahead, Olbermann said there will be plenty of issues to be passionate about, adding that he didn’t like everything President-elect Obama did during the campaign.
“The people who watch this show came in not because they wanted to sit on the sidelines and cheer at familiar talking points,” Olbermann said. “They like the world-view, the point of view, the take on it.”
Source: NY Daily News

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