MSNBC announced today that Countdown host Keith Olbermann has been indefinitely suspended by the network for making political donations to three Democratic congressional candidates. Olbermann said that he didn’t encourage other to donate, but the network suspended him for violating their policy against political donations. This once again proves that MSNBC is not Fox News where the money flows freely to the GOP.
In a statement msnbc TV President Phil Griffin announced, “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.” Politico first reported this morning that the donations were $2,400 max donations to Democrats Jack Conway, Raul Grijalva, and Gabrielle Giffords.
Olbermann acknowledged the donations and said, “I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns, nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level.” If he had never done it before, why did he donate to this one? Olbermann had to have known NBC News’ policy against employees making political donations. He also had to have known that due to candidate disclosure and reporting requirements, he would get caught.
The contrast between MSNBC and Fox News is striking. News Corp and Fox News openly raise and donate funds to the Republican Party. Fox News lets their contributors, like Dick Morris solicit donations on the air. This isn’t including how Sean Hannity acts an on air ATM for Republican candidates and Glenn Beck holding fundraisers for Republican candidates.
The difference between the two networks could not be clearer. MSNBC is a legitimate news organization. When one of their employees crossed the line, he was suspended. Over at Fox News crossing the line in encouraged, and is considered being a team player and helping the Republican cause. It is no surprise that Olbermann was the MSNBC on air talent to cross the line. No one can say that his objectivity was compromised by making the donations, because he was never objective in the first place.
I hope one of the outcomes will be that MSNBC will rethink having Olbermann anchor their election night coverage. Olbermann, Matthews, Maddow etc. are not journalists. They are opinion based hosts. MSNBC should feature all of the analysis that their on air talent can provide, but the coverage itself should be anchored by a journalist. The fact that MSNBC’s Election Night anchor was caught donating to Democrats makes the situation appear even worse.
Unless they want to go down the Fox News route of zero credibility, journalists should not donate to political candidate. Keith Olbermann should have been suspended. It is unethical for him to donate, when he is also an opinion maker. For all the people who claim that MSNBC is just like Fox News, their handling of Keith Olbermann should serve as the biggest reminder yet that the two networks have nothing in common.