MSNBC has suspended Keith Olbermann after learning he donated to three different Democratic candidates in Tuesday's election. The disclosure of Olbermann's donations -- which are prohibited by MSNBC's ethics policy -- was first made on the website Politico on Friday morning.
Olbermann donated the legal maximum of $2,400 apiece to Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky, and two Arizona congressmen in tight reelection races: Gabrielle Giffords and Raul Grijalva. The money to Grijalva was donated the very same day he appeared on Olbermann's show, October 28.
Olbermann and his boss Phil Griffin have been vituperative critics of political donations made by News Corp., the parent company of MSNBC rival Fox News. (They were conspicuously less noisy on the subject of donations by GE, the corporate parent of MSNBC.) At one point Olbermann even appeared to demand that Congress take action against News Corp. and Fox News.
“Is there a legislative response to the idea that there is a national cable-news outlet that goes beyond having a point of view and actually starts to shill for partisan causes and actually starts to donate to partisan groups of one party?” Olbermann asked House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) last month.
Griffin, MSNBC's president, said Friday he had suspended Olbermann indefinitely without pay, but offered few other details.
The suspension came on the heels of another tough swipe at Olbermann from the Philadelphia Daily News, where columnist Stu Bykofsky Thursday offered up the results of a study comparing his fairness to that of Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, a frequent Olbermann target. Bykofsky's conclusion: Olbermann's guests are almost always white males and always left of center, while O'Reilly's guests were much more balanced in terms of ethnicity, gender and political leanings. "If you never want to hear anyone challenge liberal views, lock in on Olbermann," Bykofsky wrote. Not exactly news, but well-said.
UPDATE: Here's an interesting take on the Olbermann situation from the lefty media critics at Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting which wonders why the donations of employees threaten a news organization's objectivity but donations by their corporate bosses don't. As FAIR notes, this issue breaks across Democrat/Republican or liberal/conservative lines.