Updated: Rachel Maddow Addresses NBC’s Suspension of Olbermann

Filed in Gather Politics News Channel by on November 5, 2010 0 Comments

Keith Olbermann, the host of MSNBC’s hit show “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” has been “suspended indefinitely without pay” after it was revealed Olbermann donated to three Democratic candidates.

Yesterday night, Rachel Maddow used the final segment of her show to illuminate why Olbermann was “temporarily suspended” (which seemed to indicate Olbermann will be back on air sometime soon). She used the moment to reveal how Fox News functions as a political operation and MSNBC does not so critics and viewers should stop suggesting MSNBC is a left-wing version of Fox News.

“Here’s the larger point, though, that’s going mysteriously missing from all the right-wing cackling and the Beltway old media cluck-cluck-clucking about this,” Maddow stated. “Let this incident lay to rest forever the facile, never-true-anyway, bullpucky, lazy conflation of Fox News and what the rest of us do for a living.”

Maddow also put to rest all those allegations from media watchdog groups that Scarborough and Kudlow would somehow be allowed to get away with donations and Olbermann would not.

Watch the clip. And see below for what the post that appeared before this update.


General Electric, NBC Previously Allowed Larry Kudlow, Joe Scarborough and Others to Make Donations


POLITICO reported that Olbermann donated $2,400 to Arizona members of Congress, Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords, and Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway. NBC President Phil Griffin became aware of the donations and issued a suspension.


In 2007, it was revealed that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough made a $4,200 contribution to Republican candidate Derrick Kitts in 2006. But, MSNBC said Scarborough “hosts an opinion program and is not a news reporter.” It was brushed off and ignored.


MediaMatters.org reports, “If NBC News’ policy extends to CNBC, the network may have a problem with Larry Kudlow, the anchor of CNBC’s primetime show Kudlow & Company and co-anchor of the noon show The Call.” Kudlow donated $1,000 to Christopher Shays for Congress (R-CT) in May 2009. And, as Salon.com’s Alex Pareene notes, “Unless Kudlow got explicit permission from the president of NBC News, this places him in direct violation of the NBC News ethics policy that led to the indefinite suspension of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann today.”


Employee policy states, “Employees who take part in civic or other outside activities, including participation in political campaigns or public events such as speeches, marches and political rallies, or who publicly espouse controversial positions, may find that these activities jeopardize their standing as objective journalists.” One would think Olbermann had already violated parts of this as he has in the past taken what could be construed as “controversial positions” on air.


MSNBC allows employees to “report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain the prior approval of, the Editor in Chief or his designee,” if they intend to go ahead and participate in campaigns or public events. It does not appear that Olbermann sought prior approval from Griffin or anyone at NBC.


Recently, NBC has been taking bold steps to assert its authority over the news corporation’s talent. sending a stern memo warning hosts to not publicly fight with each other, suspending David Shuster indefinitely for filming a CNN pilot, suspending Donny Deutsch after using Olbermann in “a montage of angry news personalities,” banning Markos Moulitsas from the network, and reprimanding Ed Schultz for threatening to “torch” the network.


Olbermann is an opinion journalist. Moreover, as much as one may like to contend that members of the media and journalists understand they are not to make political donations, the reality is many journalists and media executives really do not follow some credo like, “Journalists know they aren’t supposed to do this!”


The popularity of Keith Olbermann should make it difficult for the news corporation to not let Olbermann ever host another edition of “Countdown.” And, the fact that the news corporation probably has allowed other employees to violate the policy before should make it even harder for the news corporation to make Olbermann an example.

About the Author ()

Kevin Gosztola is a multimedia editor for OpEdNews.com. He follows media & activism, religions and their influence on politics, and sometimes writes movie reviews for OEN. His work can be found on Open Salon, The Seminal, Media-ocracy.com, and a blog

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