Keith Olbermann

Once again, Keith Olbermann is gone from ESPN, but he’s not napalming any bridges this time. Olbermann has worked at ESPN on and off since 1989, joining the network full-time in 1992 and working there until 1997 before leaving for MSNBC, then spending time at Fox Sports Net. He wound up back with ABC Radio (in 2001) and ESPN Radio (in 2005), but was mostly working for MSNBC during that time, and continued his news and politics duties there even after adding a Football Night In America role with NBC in 2007.

Following sports stints with NBC and TBS, Olbermann returned to ESPN in 2013 for his own show (which featured the regular “Worst Person In The World” segment he started with MSNBC in 2003; a 2014 one on Mike Francesa is pictured above) but left in 2015. He then returned again in 2018, (after finishing a 2016-17 political commentary run with GQ’s YouTube channel) and even co-hosted a reunion SportsCenter with Dan Patrick last year. Now, he’s heading out again, as he relayed on Twitter Tuesday:

This is a parting of the ways that probably makes some sense for both sides. As Olbermann notes, ESPN has pushed for its talent to stay away from “purely political” commentary (even on social media platforms), so it wouldn’t make sense for him to do a YouTube show focused on politics while working there. And while that ESPN approach has its downfalls, it’s also seemingly worked out okay for them so far; while there are still occasionally flare-ups over particular comments, there’s far less discussion about ESPN and “culture wars” these days than there was a few years ago. And plenty of ESPN personalities who want to discuss news and politics more have been able to move on to other outlets where that can be more of a focus (including Jemele Hill with The Atlantic and Vice, Cari Champion with Vice and Turner, and now Olbermann with YouTube).

For all his prominence as a sportscaster, Olbermann is also very well-known on the political side, especially with his work for MSNBC. And if he’s going to launch a daily political commentary show, a month before a much-discussed U.S. presidential election is certainly a good time to do it. And it makes sense that ESPN wouldn’t necessarily want him doing that while still working for them, but it’s good that the sides were able to come to a resolution that let him out of his ESPN deal early to go and do this. It’s another twist in Olbermann’s career, but it fits with what he wants to do right now, and he’s found a platform that’s eager to have him doing that.

[Keith Olbermann on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.