MSNBC has suspended Keith Olbermann, indefinitely and without pay for donating $2400 each to three Democratic candidates.
NBC has a policy against straight news journos making political contributions, but didn’t enforce the policy against MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough when he made a $4200 contribution to a Republican candidate in 2006, commenting that Scarborough is an opinion journo and as such is not expected to conform to standards of impartiality. Scarborough also contributed $5000 in 2010 to Republican Alabama State Senate candidate John Merrill. In other words, IOKIYAR (it’s OK if you’re a Republican).
Gawker notes that MSNBC has been exempt from the formal NBC ethics rules for years.
Think Progress reports that Olbermann’s suspension comes after a major GW Bush supporter took over MSNBC.
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) comments: If Olbermann’s Donations Are Bad, What About GE’s?
Media Matters for America remarks: Does NBC’s ethics policy apply to CNBC anchor Larry Kudlow and MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough?
Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has issued a statement condemning MSNBC’s suspension of Olbermann:
“It is outrageous that General Electric/MSNBC would suspend Keith Olbermann for exercising his constitutional rights to contribute to a candidate of his choice. This is a real threat to political discourse in America and will have a chilling impact on every commentator for MSNBC.
“We live in a time when 90 percent of talk radio is dominated by right-wing extremists, when the Republican Party has its own cable network (Fox) and when progressive voices are few and far between.
“At a time when the ownership of Fox news contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Party, when a number of Fox commentators are using the network as a launching pad for their presidential campaigns and are raising money right off the air, it is absolutely unacceptable that MSNBC suspended one of the most popular progressive commentators in the country.
“Is Rachel Maddow or Ed Schultz next? Is this simply a ‘personality conflict’ within MSNBC or is one of America’s major corporations cracking down on a viewpoint they may not like? Whatever the answer may be, Keith Olbermann should be reinstated immediately and allowed to present his point of view.”
Frequent MSNBC guest commentator and Rachel Maddow Show fill-in host Chris Hayes has declined to fill in on Countdown for Olbermann, saying on Twitter:
OK: I’m not filling in on Countdown tonight because I didn’t feel comfortable doing it given the circumstances.
I call bullshit, MSNBC- and so does Twitter, with ‘Keith Olbermann’ being the second or third top worldwide trending topic for the last several hours.
MSNBC would do well to swiftly correct this massive brainfart.
UPDATE: Rachel Maddow comments:
Rachel’s contention is that unlike F*x Noise, MSNBC is not a political spruiking and fundraising organisation- and MSNBC management has made that point with Keith. I agree, but I don’t think it was wise or productive to suspend him to make that point. Olbermann, while covered by the ‘no donations without management approval’ clause, remains an opinion journo. Suspending him for donating to the side of politics that he obviously supports proves absolutely nothing about the objectivity not required for his role. It does, however, prove that MSNBC’s Griffin is a heavy-handed manager who wants to win a dick-waving match at the cost of the viewing public’s good-will toward his firm.