MSNBC has a big ratings night with Keith Olbermann's return

MSNBC says Keith Olbermann will be back on the air Tuesday, ending his suspension for violating NBC's rules against making political donations after two shows. (Nov. 8)
By Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Had I known that all this would happen, I would have done this years ago!" MSNBC star Keith Olbermann said Tuesday night as he returned to the cable news network after having been suspended for two days over political contributions he made during this year's election.

MSNBC was thinking exactly the same thing the next morning, upon hearing the boffo Nielsen numbers coughed up by Olbermann's return from the doghouse.

Olbermann's first show back attracted 1.5 million viewers -- about 50 percent more than usually come to his prime-time show. And after that, his lead-out, Rachel Maddow, snagged more than 1.3 million viewers -- a nice spike relative to her October average of 953,000. As if that weren't enough, Lawrence O'Donnell's MSNBC show bagged nearly 1 million viewers at 10; he'd averaged about 784,000 in October.

All in all, a big night for MSNBC.

"I'd like to close tonight by discussing something that I'm sure has happened to you dozens of times in your own life," Olbermann simpered modestly at the close of his triumphant return Tuesday. "You know, when there is a petition supporting you and it winds up being signed by 300,000 people and you get 21,000 tweets in [a] 72-hour period, and then you are invited to be on television because you aren't on television, because they want you to be the lead story on 'Good Morning America' and 'Larry King' and 'Letterman,' and you break the traffic records on the Huffington Post, and you're on the front page of the New York Times without being dead or in jail or Charlie Sheen or something."

Added Olbermann: "Well, maybe you are used to it, but for me it was kind of a surprise. All I can seriously say is, I'm stunned and grateful and it still feels like a universal hug."

That said, he apologized to viewers for "not having known by observation, since it is not in my contract, that NBC had rules about getting permission for making political donations, even though any rule like that in any company is probably not legal."

Dobbs heads to FBN

One year ago, Jonathan Klein, president of CNN/United States, said in a statement that Lou Dobbs was leaving the network, effective immediately, because the commentator "has now decided to carry the banner of advocacy journalism elsewhere."

"Elsewhere," turns out, is Fox Business News, which Wednesday announced that it had signed Dobbs to develop and host a daily show that will start in the first quarter of 2011 -- no other details -- and will appear across other FBN programs to provide analysis and commentary on business news of the day.

"Teaming Lou with managing editor Neil Cavuto will make FBN a tough network to beat," Kevin Magee, the network's executive vice president, said Wednesday in a statement.

Whether that's true is hard to know, since the network is not yet fully rated by Nielsen.

Oh, and Klein? After he made that statement, he lasted 10 more months at CNN before getting the heave-ho.

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