MSNBC never had any doubt about what it was getting when it made Keith Olbermann the face of the network in 2003: a highly talented broadcaster, a distinctive and outspoken voice and a mercurial personality with a track record of attacking his superiors and making early exits.
Even his own boss, Phil Griffin, offered this assessment in 2008, when Mr. Olbermann was being heavily criticized by supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton because he was urging her to drop out of the race to become the Democratic presidential candidate.
For Mrs. Clinton’s supporters, Mr. Griffin said in an interview with The New Yorker magazine, “It was, like, you meet a guy and fall in love with him.” But, he said, “then you commit yourself to him, and he turns out to be a jerk and difficult and brutal.”
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Still, the news of his abrupt departure from “Countdown” — delivered by Mr. Olbermann on Friday night — came as a shock to his many fans, some of whom accused Comcast, the incoming owner of MSNBC’s parent, NBC Universal, of forcing out the host for political reasons.
Read More: By BILL CARTER and BRIAN STELTER, NYT