On her MSNBC program tonight, Rachel Maddow explained that Keith Olbermann was suspended for breaking a rule that forbids hosts from making political donations without prior approval, but she urged that Olbermann be put back on the air. She thought Olbermann should be held to the rule, but “I also personally believe that the point has been made and we should have Keith back hosting Countdown.”
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Maddow cleared up a lot of the confusion about NBC’s policy by explaining the rule, “The reason for Keith’s suspension is that here at MSNBC, there is an explicit employee rule against hosts making contributions like that. You can do it if you ask in advance and management tells you it’s OK. That’s what I understand happened with our morning-show host’s political donations in 2006, under previous management. But if you don’t ask in advance for an exemption from the rule, you’re bound by the rule. (For the record: the rule applies to us here at MSNBC and to NBC News staff. CNBC isn’t under NBC News, so they’re not bound by the rule.)”
She also explained why people at Fox News can do it, but MSNBC can’t, “They can do that because there’s no rule against that at Fox. Their network is run as a political operation. Ours isn’t. Yeah, Keith’s a liberal, and so am I. But we’re not a political operation — Fox is. We’re a news operation. The rules around here are part of how you know that.”
Maddow clearly differentiated between MSNBC and Fox News, “Here’s the larger point, though, that’s going mysteriously missing from the right-wing cackling and old media cluck-cluck-clucking: I know everyone likes to say, “Oh, cable news, it’s all the same. Fox and MSNBC — mirror images of each other. But if you look at the long history of Fox hosts not just giving money to candidates, but actively endorsing campaigns and raising millions of dollars for politicians and political parties — whether it’s Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck or Mike Huckabee — and you’ll see that we can lay that old false equivalency to rest forever. There are multiple people being paid by Fox News to essentially run for office as Republican candidates. If you count not just their hosts but their contributors, you’re looking at a significant portion of the entire Republican lineup of potential contenders for 2012.”
A big thanks from all of us is due to Rachel Maddow for clearing up all of the confusion surrounding Olbermann’s suspension. As I have been trying to point out all day, MSNBC is not Fox News. They have different rules than Fox. They are a news organization, not a propaganda network disguised as a news operation. Olbermann broke a rule, and deserved to be punished. As the highest profile host on the network, he had to be punished, but I agree with Rachel Maddow, if this is all there is to the story, Olbermann should be back on the air.
Maddow also pointed out that Joe Scarborough had prior permission for his activities, so those who are pushing the MSNBC allowed conservatives to do it, but Olbermann can’t line are wrong, but MSNBC fueled the viewer outrage by handling this matter in such a heavy handed way. Something tells me Olbermann’s viewers would not have been nearly as upset, and a lot of erroneous guesswork would have been avoided, if the network had told everyone what Olbermann did wrong, and avoided the phrase indefinite suspension.
More than ever, I believe that Olbermann will be back on the air very soon. It looks like the network used Olbermann’s actions to make the point that they are not the same as Fox News, and they would like the comparisons to stop. This wasn’t necessarily about punishing Olbermann, but shattering a false comparison. Olbermann did the crime, so he should do the time, but that sentence should be very short.
H/T: The Maddow Blog