MSNBC announced Friday that it is suspending Joe Scarborough, host of “Morning Joe,” for two days after he acknowledged giving eight $500 contributions to friends and family members running for state and local offices, a violation of NBC’s ban on political contributions by employees without prior permission.
Scarborough’s suspension comes just two weeks after the network suspended and subsequently reinstated Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” for three $2400 campaign contributions to Democratic candidates in the 2010 mid-term elections.
“I recognize that I have a responsibility to honor the guidelines and conditions of my employment, and I regret that I failed to do so in this matter,” Scarborough said in a statement. “I apologize to MSNBC and to anyone who has been negatively affected by my actions,” he said. Scarborough said that he called MSNBC President Phil Griffin after “being made aware” of the donations, “and agreed with Phil’s immediate demand of a two-day suspension without pay.” Griffin said in his statement that the Olbermann situation prompted a discussion with Scarborough about political donations, in which the host said he originally did not recall the Florida contributions.
Olbermann’s suspension provoked anger and an outpouring of support from many of his supporters, including the creation of an online petition that gained over 300,000 signatures the weekend after he was pulled off the air. Olbermann was faced with the uncertainty of his return, and the suspension leading to a firing was considered a possibility at the time. It would appear unlikely that a similar scenario will develop with Scarborough’s suspension, as his return to Morning Joe the Wednesday before Thanksgiving was announced along with the suspension.
The donations, first reported by the website Politico, came between 2004 and 2008 and were all made since Scarborough joined MSNBC fulltime in 2003, hosting the popular show “Scarborough Country.” The eight contributions include two checks to Scarborough’s brother, George Scarborough, an attorney who ran for state office, as well as five state legislative donations.
The suspensions have placed a renewed focus on the political ideology of reporters, anchors and news show hosts across all forms of media, as well as newsroom policies on campaign contributions. MSNBC is largely considered to be a liberal counterpoint to the conservative FOX News, and its popular hosts Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck. Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District, is considered MSNBC’s conservative star who provides balance to the network’s left leaning political reporting. Many believe Scarborough’s suspension, so quickly on the heels of Olbermann’s, is the network’s attempt to show it to be ideologically neutral in its reporting and delivery of the news.
Joe Scarborough and Morning Joe can be seen weekdays from 6-9 AM, ESTon MSNBC.
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