Olbermann Suspended For Political Contributions

NEW YORK (AP/CBSNewYork) — MSNBC has suspended prime-time host Keith Olbermann indefinitely without pay for contributing to the campaigns of three Democratic candidates this election season.

Olbermann acknowledged to NBC that he donated $2,400 apiece to the campaigns of Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway and Arizona Reps. Raul Grivalva and Gabrielle Giffords.

NBC News prohibits its employees from working on, or donating to, political campaigns unless a special exception is granted by the news division president — effectively a ban. Olbermann’s bosses did not find out about the donations until after they were made. The website Politico first reported the donations.

“I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night,” Phil Griffin, MSNBC’s chief executive, said Friday. “Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.”

Olbermann was not immediately available for comment.

His “Countdown” show, which airs at 8 p.m. ET, is MSNBC’s most popular program. His on-the-air transformation from the host of a straight news program to a liberal commentator led the network itself to go in the same direction, filling its prime-time lineup with left-leaning hosts and doing better in the ratings than anytime since its 1996 launch.

The rise in opinionated cable news programming has called into question whether the traditional rules of news organizations to preserve the appearance of impartiality should apply to people who have their jobs in part because of a clear point of view.

Sean Hannity, a conservative radio talk show host with a popular hour on Fox News Channel each weeknight, donated $2,400 to the congressional campaign of New York Republican John Gomez in May. In August, he donated $5,000 to Michelepac, or Many Individual Conservatives Helping Elect Leaders Everywhere, according to the Federal Election Commission. The PAC is associated with Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Fox’s Bill Shine, senior vice president of programming, told the Twin Cities Pioneer Press after the Bachmann donation that “it’s always good to remember that he’s not a journalist; he’s a conservative TV host. If he wants to donate to a candidate, he certainly can.”

Fox’s parent company, News Corp., gave $1 million this summer to the Republican Governor’s Association, which helps elect GOP gubernatorial candidates nationally. Fox host Neil Cavuto paid $1,000 in 2002 for a ticket to a dinner benefiting the Republican senatorial and congressional campaign committees.

MSNBC’s own Joe Scarborough, who hosts the “Morning Joe” program, is listed in campaign records as donating $4,200 in 2006 to Derrick Kitts, a failed Republican congressional candidate.

Grijalva was on Olbermann’s show twice in the weeks leading up to the election, once on Oct. 22 because the congressman’s office in Tucson had received a suspicious envelope containing powder in the mail, and on Oct. 28 to talk about the state’s tough new immigration law, spokesman Adam Sarvana said. Grijalva did not ask for a donation and Olbermann did not say he was giving one.

“I assume that Olbermann decides on his own who to give his money to,” said Sarvana, adding that the campaign was surprised when the check arrived.

A spokeswoman for Giffords also said Olbermann’s donation was unsolicited. Her race against a Republican tea party candidate was still too close to call on Friday afternoon.

Olbermann was a co-anchor of MSNBC’s election coverage this week. The network’s performance drew some criticism, particularly with Chris Matthews’ contentious interviews with Republican Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn.

Olbermann was seen laughing following Matthews’ conversation with Bachmann. Matthews had criticized the congresswoman for failing to answer his questions.

“Are you hypnotized tonight?” Matthews said. “Has someone hypnotized you? Because no matter what I ask you, you give the same answer.”

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, interviewing Fox’s Chris Wallace the day after election day, said MSNBC was like “double-A ball” in comparison to Fox.

“You can’t defeat Fox by becoming what they say you are,” Stewart said. “The only way you can defeat them is by an earned credibility, not an earned partisanship. They’re making a mistake by becoming an equivalent to Fox rather than a brand new journalistic organization.”

There has been discomfort in the past at NBC News over the roles of Matthews and Olbermann on newsy nights. For part of the 2008 campaign, the two men anchored MSNBC’s prime-time political coverage, but when the general election campaign started, they were replaced by David Gregory and given the role of commentators.

Olbermann, 51, has a volatile work history, feuding with management at ESPN, where he came to prominence as a “Sportscenter” host. He had a different prime-time show for MSNBC in the late 1990s, but said he quit because he was angry that management compelled him to spent a lot of time on the scandal that led to President Clinton’s impeachment.

Because Olbermann is a polarizing figure, his suspension set different sides of the political spectrum aflame. Brent Bozell of the conservative Media Research Center called Olbermann “the worse hypocrite in the world” for complaining about News Corp’s political donations while making similar ones himself, while the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee started an online petition demanding that MSNBC put Olbermann back on the air.

“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?” asked Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent. “Whatever the answer may be, Keith Olbermann should be reinstated immediately and allowed to present his point of view.”

After initially saying Chris Hayes would fill in for Olbermann on Friday, MSNBC changed its mind but wouldn’t immediately say who would do it.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/01/21/keith-olbermann-leaving-msnbc-ends-countdown/ Host Keith Olbermann Leaving MSNBC And Announces He Is Ending 'Countdown'CBS New York

    […] He was suspended without pay from the network for two days in November for donating to three Democratic candidates, which violated NBC News’ policy on political donations. Olbermann complained that he was being punished for mistakenly violating an inconsistently applied rule that he had known nothing about. […]

  • http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/11/19/msnbc-suspends-joe-scarborough-for-gop-donations/ MSNBC Suspends Joe Scarborough For GOP Donations CBS New York – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of NY

    […] Related Story: Keith Olbermann Suspended Over Campaign Donations […]

  • Dale

    Don’t care who they support politically. Unfortunately NBC reporters often lets their personal opinion taint their reporting. A few years ago NBC was my local news channel. I don’t waste my time with them anymore

  • christie2012

    Only NBC could consider this rabid ferret a journalist. The real truth is its MSNBC. Who could possibly care?

  • Bob Forsberg

    WIlliams or Lou Dobbs might be in the market to balance MSNBC reporting.
    Don’t hold your breath, neither walk the walk.

  • Bob Forsberg

    Has he made similar contributions to the university he said he graduated from but never attended?

    This is the most publicity he’s ever seen in his life. Maybe at best a handful of people will missed him.

  • Sarah Sheads

    Those of us who are well read and informed understand most newscasters and commentators on CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN are Democrats, and we find it laughable to suspend one of their own for what they all do – give to Democrats and taut them as saviors every day on all their shows.

  • nathan

    The guys’ a jerk and the rules are the rules. Seems an overreaction tho. Then again look at some of the hate posted here.

  • Patricia Griffin

    Please put Olberman back on the air immediately. Thank you

    • Gym Beaux

      MSNBC you say…are they still on? I heard they folded and a couple of the hosts got guest spots on the remake of Gilligan’s Island. Kind of a reality show for them.

  • tertiumquid2you

    He couldn’t possibly match the MILLIONS of dollars Faux Noise doled out to help the outside-crafted astroturfing you call Tea Party. Should your professional Reichwingnut CONnies over there be donating to the DNC? Just asking because sane people know that you have no balance to your fairness…

  • ProFromDover

    Typical of stodgy NBC…

  • JJinCO

    Olbermann has a Democratic bias? Shocking!

    Pretending that NBC is a news organization make sense, but not MSNBC. Put Keith back on the air and make him donate equal sums to the RNC.

  • Malik

    Keef will be fine.

    After all, he has that oh-so-impressive BA in communications from an ag college to fall back on.

    He should have no problem communicating with his new “audience”…….”Would you like fries with your sandwich, sir?”

  • Unibrowser

    Who really cares? I don’t, however, the 25 people that watch his show might!

  • Big B

    What, you mean there might be something to this “liberal Bias” in the main stream media rumor…who knew?!!!

    • me

      moron, there is no liberal press. that’s a lie you bought along with the other total fiction you believe

  • 19702

    Hahahaha! A new Congressional Majority and this jerk gone! What a great week! Looks like the far left bit the big one! hahahaha

  • ingon123

    First off, I despise Olbermann!! He’s is a dispicable person and just a plain rotten individual. Full of hate and himself. That being said, I can also see NBC suspending him and then moving on to full termination. I’m not sure the length or type of contract he has, but he sucks, his show sucks and his ratings suck. That being the case, NBC will be able to fire with cause and get out of the contract with minimal damage and move on to a bigger and better replacement. Remember, as much as they try to prove otherwise with the decision making, NBC is in the business of making money. Good-bye Keith! We won’t miss you because we never watch you!!

  • Coleto

    Typical liberal. They think the rules don’t apply to them.

    • Dave

      Now if they could possibly take that sorry excuse for a man Chris “I’ve got tingly feelings running down my leg” Mathews off the air, MSNBC might get their ratings up.

      Those two hosts were very obviously too biased, too sarcastic, too hateful, too hyprocritical. Pretty much whiny wimpy acting boys.

  • Michi

    Every host from every station across the political spectrum should be investigated
    for their donations. Or do they all not have the same policies and standards as MSNBC??

  • JustMe

    If he stuck to his pundit type show I don’t have a problem with it. Instead MSNBC puts him on pure news show as the anchor/host such as the election night results. That’s where the rub is. Other networks don’t have this rule…but they don’t let their pundits do the hard news/anchors either.

  • Georgia

    Olberman KNEW the rule of his employer, and he broke it. Typical of a lib — do as I say, not as I do. The rules don’t apply to ME — I’m above the rules (or law)

    Good riddance to a hypocrite.

    “NBC’s ethics policy generally bars political activity, including contributions, without the approval of the president of NBC News, Steve Capus, according to a 2007 story on MSNBC.com.”

  • thacrusha

    Waht a steaming pile Olbermann is with his righteous indignation that anyone even slightly right of him can express an opinion or actually run for an office. What a gutless gasbag he is. Now he’s an hypocritical hot air ballon as well.

  • Ellen O'Day

    Anybody else think he is getting a bit puffy around the face – too many dinners with his lib pals instead of giving the money to the poor and having a sandwich.

    The fat has got to his brain too.

  • Barbara Walters

    Geez, lookit that pic…dude’s wearing more makeup than a corpse.

  • goodforhim

    This is the big problem with these alledged “media” show hosts. They have an agenda and use there programs to influence the auidences for political benefit through idiology. Now they need to get Stewart and that other yoyo Maher.

  • JimAKAblue

    Maybe Obberman shoulda read the employee manual.

    It’s laughable that NBC thinks that any of their clowns have ethics.

  • C, Heard

    MSNBC has no ratings and he’s a joke. No one will ever notice that he’s gone.

  • Devenio

    Keith Olbermann, you are my Hero!!!! You are the thinking mans Rush [Tubby] Limburger.

    • Unibrowser

      Actually, Olberman is the tubby one. Ever seen the him? He looks like a pear with stubby legs.
      Rush has trimmed down over the years and is an active golfer.
      Devinio, you need to come out from you’re mother’s basement and get some fresh air. Blogging with the Midia Matter Morons will cause you to get pail leaving you easy to burn.

  • Roger

    I think MSNBC was just waiting for an excuse to get rid of him His show is pathetic and in the dumps for ratings

  • starzzguitar

    Look Keith could have been suspended for many, many things he has SAID before. Now he is suspended for something he DID. Keith is a prime example of a crazy eyed liberal commentator, and always good for a laugh, so he will be missed. Next, that other guy Rachel Maddox (spelling?). Funny name for a guy…

    • cojo

      LOL. His real name is Rocky.

    • S,L.

      Get a life, then get an educatuion at least she’s a Rhodes Scholar keep watching Fox

  • Bill Dee

    Olbermann is completely biased so it’s no surprise that he contributed to Democratic candidates. But, if he didn’t flaunt it, he shouldn’t be penalized for personal contributions. It’s not like he pretended to be impartial politically and, wow, he supports Democrats. But, if MSNBC’s policy prohibits contributions, then, KEITH OLBERMANN IS TODAY’S WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD!

  • Bradford Keller 3rd

    So we have a liberal that we like ,to oppose the likes
    of Rush Limbaugh and Anne (remember her?) Coulter and this
    is what we get? …Olberman removed.
    Of course we must now investigate the conservative commentators
    and have them taken off the air if they contributed financial aid to for
    their political causes as well . Don’t hold your breath!.
    A new MaCarthyism is returning ,not in Congress as in the 1950’s but in our media.

    • Steve C

      MaCarthyism is returning? ITS ALREADY HERE !!! Any person with a conservative viewpoint on any topic is banned by media and academia. Child Please!!

  • joann

    fire the bum

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