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MSNBC suspends Keith Olbermann indefinitely over political contributions

By DOUG THOMPSON
November 6, 2010

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

MSNBC Friday suspended Keith Olbermann, the volatile host of “Countdown,” indefinitely and without pay because the “news anchor” contributed to three Democratic candidates.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin said he became aware of Olbermann’s contributions late Thursday and suspended the anchor because the contributions violated NBC‘s “news policy and standards.”

Olbermann expressed no regret and did not offer any apologies for his actions.

“I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns, nor to any others in this elections or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level,” Olbermann said.

Olbermann contributed the maximum allowed by law for individual donations — $2,400 — to Kentucky Senate Candidate Jack Conway — who lost to Rand Paul — and to Arizona Democrats Paul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.  His donations to the Arizona candidates came on Oct. 28 — the day Grijalva appeared on “Countdown” as a guest.

NBC prohibits contributions by employees to political campaigns without prior approval. Most news organization prohibit contributions outright while Fox News allows its talking heads to give without restrictions.

Olbermann was also one of MSNBC’s anchors for election night coverage — a choice that has come under fire not only from network critics but also from employees within NBC.

Olbermann has openly criticized Fox News owner Rubert Murdoch for his political contributions.

While some at the network expressed shock over Obermann’s suspension, others say it is long overdue. NBC insiders tell Capitol Hill Blue that Olbermann has been “cruisin’ for a brusin'” because he thinks he is above the rules of the network.

It is widely known within the network that Olbermann and MSNBC President Griffin clash often and some view the suspension as a move by Griffin to try and bring his stars ego under control.

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15 Responses to MSNBC suspends Keith Olbermann indefinitely over political contributions

  1. WayneKDolik

    November 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Personally I think Olbermann should be able to give his money to any candidate he wishes to. As an aside, Olbermann has given a great deal of his money to Charities too. Is that forbidden by the minions of MSNBC. I am boycotting the show until I hear Olbermann is back. I am no big fan of Keith because I think he should give it to Obama just like he gave it to Bush. I really don’t see any difference between Bush or Obama. They are both Unitary New World Order presidents!

  2. woody188

    November 6, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    What would have been surprising was if he gave money to Republicans.

  3. bogofree

    November 6, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    The corporate policy was clearly stated and he was aware of it. He violated that policy so he had the consequences. Policy is subject to corporate review so maybe or maybe not it will be changed.

    • woody188

      November 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm

      But if it’s a free speech issue, as the courts have made it, isn’t illegal for MSNBC to practice that policy?

      • bogofree

        November 6, 2010 at 5:57 pm

        I’m sure their legal department has control of that issue. Maybe Keith can check with the ACLU to cover his back – providing he made a donation.

  4. libhomo

    November 6, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    FAIR already has exposed the fact that GE and Comcast have given money to the Republicans.

  5. b mcclellan

    November 6, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    I see only, that there will be no Murrows alas,
    Edgar R, or otherwise.

  6. Doc_Holiday

    November 6, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    I see no issue in a man donating to a cause that he believes. However, Keith did sign a work contract that stated he was to gain prior approval to donate money to political parties or persons there in.

    Doc

    • b mcclellan

      November 6, 2010 at 11:18 pm

      All volunteer should be ample message in any human reaction to wrong.

    • WayneKDolik

      November 7, 2010 at 2:41 am

      If the corporate hoes made you sign an agreement to jump off a bridge, would you jump?

  7. WayneKDolik

    November 7, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Is it possible that the Neocons at MSNBC were not happy with Olbermann’s rants on Bush? Or, are/were there some ramblings on the web about Obama that cost Olbermann his spot? Just a little food for thought. I believe there is more to this than the hoes from media are telling us.

  8. bogofree

    November 7, 2010 at 9:31 am

    The “Failed Sports Reporter” has his own flock of advisers, agents and posse who knew the fine print and – presumably – made their client aware of it. If KO didn’t like it then attempt to negotiate off it. If that was not to his satisfaction then seek employment elsewhere. The corporate policy was quite clear and it differs from that of similar businesses but it is stated and he did sign off on it. Maybe he should follow Juan to Fox where he can get a nice ratings bump.

  9. woody188

    November 7, 2010 at 10:04 am

    What if it was corporate policy to pay women less and not hire minorities?

    Is this just a big stunt by Olbermann to prove donating money doesn’t equate to free speech?

  10. bogofree

    November 7, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Some would say an unwritten policy exists to pay women less but to put it in writing? Do you seriously think that would pass a challenge in court? This is an entirely different issue. This has everything to do with perception in the news biz with all that being impartial BS. My assumption is that is why it is in place along with making tenuous connections while representing the company with government officials.

    If this was a flawed corporate policy all those legal types would have been all over it from the get-go. Sometimes one has to sign off on non disclosure and non competitive agreements before getting employment and those agreements carry over to post employment. I had to sign one decades ago with a brief tenure at IBM.

  11. Mary Sorrin

    November 7, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    OK. OK. Point made. We know MSNBC is not ethically-challenged like Fox but some of us need Keith for our sanity. It is because he cares about us that we watch him. And how does a corporation deny it’s employees making personal contributions that they do not tout on the air? Don’t they have the same rights as every other citizen and the Chamber of Commerce? Doesn’t seem very democratic to me. Hope the ACLU steps in quickly because there is no MSNBC for me without Keith’s Primetime lead-in. Love Rachel and Lawrence but Keith is my antidote to despair.