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Keith Olbermann suspended over political donations

Msnbc TV host Keith Olbermann was suspended indefinitely on Friday for making campaign donations to three Democratic congressional candidates, apparently in violation of NBC News ethics policy.

The announcement came in a one-sentence statement from msnbc TV President Phil Griffin: “I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.”

The donations were first reported by the Politico website earlier in the day.

Olbermann acknowledged the donations in a statement to Politico, saying he gave the maximum legal donation of $2,400 to Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who waged an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate against Tea Party standard-bearer Rand Paul.

Like most news organizations, NBC News, parent of msnbc TV, prohibits political contributions by its journalists without prior approval of the president. (, a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft, also has a policy against its journalists contributing to political campaigns.)

What do you think? Is it fair to ban journalists from donating to political campaigns, or are there better ways to (try to) ensure a lack of bias?

([personal profile] treesahquiche, can we get a pundit: keith olbermann tag?)

Date: 2010-11-06 03:57 am (UTC)
juliet316: (DW: Dalek Exterminate!)
From: [personal profile] juliet316
Journalists, yes. Technically it's an unwritten code where they don't do something like this so that they appear to remain impartial (From what I understand many old - school journalists chose not to vote for this same reason). But Keith is not a journalist, he's a host and a commentator, and he's never hid what his bias is. As has been pointed out on other comms and media outlets, other commentators such as Keith's more conservative counterpart on MSNBC Joe Scarborugho and Fox's Sean Hannity have also made contributions to campaigns and they haven't gotten the same treatment as Keith has. Suspension is stupid, end it now.

Date: 2010-11-06 04:29 am (UTC)
juliet316: (DW: Ten brainy specs in BW)
From: [personal profile] juliet316
I haven't read his statement yet, but it's been pointed out that he's stated this is the first time he's made political cash contributions so maybe with all the Tea Party nonsense, he thought this time around he need to make more of a difference than simply talking and actually doing something? I don't know, still think the suspension is stupid.

Date: 2010-11-06 06:35 am (UTC)
amadi: A bouquet of dark purple roses (Default)
From: [personal profile] amadi
I think Rachel Maddow's response is really all there is to be said. 3 donations, within the legal limits, made off the air, without reference on air or effort by Olbermann to influence the outcome of those particular races is not only within Olbermann's constitutional rights, there is no impact whatsoever on his work. He violated a company policy, now everyone knows about it, and it should be done as of now because the response is utterly disproportionate.

Interestingly, this policy that he allegedly violated applies to NBC & MSNBC employees, but not CNBC employees, where of course we have Rick Santelli's frothing on-screen lies creating the Tea Party "movement."

And, as Rachel further illustrated, let this put paid once and for all to the hoary lie (reinforced by a certain pair of comedians and their false public equivalencies) that MSNBC and Fox News are opposite sides of the same coin, when Fox as a network is a major contributor to the Republican party and Fox commentators are freely donating to candidates/PACs, hosting fundraising events, soliciting donations & allowing candidates to solicit donations on air, all for Republicans and only Republicans.

Date: 2010-11-06 07:42 am (UTC)
juliet316: (DW: Ten brainy specs in BW)
From: [personal profile] juliet316
This, this all of this.

Date: 2010-11-06 03:21 pm (UTC)
mistersandman: (SHAME)
From: [personal profile] mistersandman
And on top of all that, they have several prominent Republican *politicians* on their payroll, which is as close to directly funding a political campaign as a news outlet can get.

Date: 2010-11-06 11:21 pm (UTC)
amadi: A bouquet of dark purple roses (Default)
From: [personal profile] amadi
Including the new governor-elect of Ohio, John Kasich. And when/if Tim Pawlenty is able to leave office in Minnesota, I'd bet dimes to donuts he's going to end up a commentator or host on Fox as well.


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