The news wires are abuzz this afternoon with the news that MSNBC has suspended ultra-liberal prime-time host Keith Olbermann indefinitely without pay for contributing to the campaigns of three Democratic candidates this election season. The acerbic commentator admitted 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.
Olbermann apparently failed to disclose these contributions to his employers, and violated NBC policy which essentially prohibits its employees from working on, or donating to, political campaigns. 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.”
Amazingly, journalists on the right seem be flying to Olberman’s defense. National Review’s Jonah Goldberg argues that rules against journalists giving money to political campaigns actually does more to hide media bias than to prevent it:
So Olbermann gave money to some Democratic candidates. Ostensibly the rules against this are intended to prevent journalists from giving the appearance of bias. Whether or not such rules make sense for actual reporters, such rules are silly for someone like Olbermann. Does anybody, and I mean anybody, suddenly trust Olbermann’s opinion less because of this news? I’m waiting. Does anyone think he’s less biased? More biased? Un-biased?
Bill Kristol, writing in our sister publication, the Weekly Standard, cries: “Keep Keith!”
Perhaps Olbermann violated NBC News “policy and standards.” But NBC doesn’t have real news standards for MSNBC—otherwise the channel wouldn’t exist. It’s a little strange to get all high and mighty now. But there’s now a Republican House, and perhaps GE is trying to curry favor by dumping Olbermann? Republicans of the world, show you believe in the free expression of opinion! Tell the crony corporatists at NBC—keep Keith!
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