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Keith Olbermann suspended for donating to Democrats


MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely without pay after POLITICO reported that he made three campaign contributions to Democratic candidates.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement Friday: “I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.”

Olbermann made campaign contributions to two Arizona members of Congress and failed Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Olbermann, who acknowledged the contributions in a statement to POLITICO, made the maximum legal donations of $2,400 apiece to Conway and to Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords. He donated to the Arizona pair on Oct. 28 — the same day that Grijalva appeared as a guest on Olbermann’s “Countdown” show.

NBC has a rule against employees contributing to political campaigns, and a wide range of news organizations prohibit political contributions — considering it a breach of journalistic independence to contribute to the candidates they cover.

I find myself in the strange position of defending Olby.

He is a citizen and has the right to support candidates just like everyone else. It’s not like his political leanings were a secret.

There are plenty of other reasons that MSNBC could cite for suspending or firing Olbermann, like the many sexist statements he has made on the air.

More discussion at Memeorandum

99 Responses

  1. HuffPo:

    Griffin’s statement underscores that it was Olbermann’s failure to obtain approval, and not the actual political donations, that prompted the suspension.

    • “failure to obtain approval”???

      I have to agree I’m on KO’s side on this. Scary when you have to get your boss’s OK on what to do with your paycheck.

    • Ah, so it was a disciplinary problem, not an ethical one.

      Well, of course, how else could MSNBC guarantee its corporate overlords that it will faithfully broadcast in accordance with their interests if it doesn’t have control over its troops?

      I can’t really defend Olberman here, if there was a rule and he broke it. Don’t you remember all the bleating about how disenfranchising two whole states in the primaries was ok because of Teh Rulz! Teh Rulz! Live by the sword, die by, I say.

      • There’s a certain poetic justice to this.
        That being said, it’s an absurd rule. Did anyone think KO was an “objective journalist” before this earth shattering revelation?

    • PoliticalTicker

      “Biden sought Olbermann’s advice on anger” – http://bit.ly/9zE5ow

      Gosh, that made me laugh and laugh… 😆 and LAUGH!

  2. The story I read this morning said that it was because he interviewed the candidates without revealing that he’d donated to them?

    I wish I could remember where I read that….

  3. LOL, LOL, LOL. I don’t care why he’s off the air. His being off the air is a total gift!

    • I would rather see his ass canned for the right reasons.

      Like his statement about somebody taking Hillary into a room and only one comes out.

      • It’s true. He should have been canned for his Hillary/superdelegate statement.

        However, it’s like OJ. He deserved to do time, so you have to relish that he’s doing time for something.

        And…you and I have to follow our employer’s rules. Why shouldn’t he?

        • We don’t have to follow their rules when we’re on our own time and using our own money.

          • Where I have worked there are rules like yearly disclosure requirements of potential conflict of interests, such as owning a competitors stock outside of a mutual fund. You don’t disclose and they found out may be cause for termination. If you are self employed what you do with your own dime on your own time is your business. Otherwise if you are “working for the man”, disregard the rules at your own peril.

          • If you sign a contract that allows for it, you do.

          • Totally untrue. If you’re participating in a conflict of interest with your employer you could b fired even if what you’re doing is on your own time with your own money.

            I have no problem with Olbermann donating money, but he signed a contract dictating how he would handle matters like political donations.

            He signed up for this. He deserves to go down for not abiding by it.

            Olbermann deserved to go down a long time ago. Maybe this was just a final straw.

          • And it’s very likely that policies pertaining to political donations are very unevenly policed. However infrequently, there are repercussions sometimes for being so infamous.

      • HONK.

      • Keith Olbermann wants Hilary to go into a Room, and not come out.

    • Concur with your analysis Teresa, both here and below. They got gangsters on tax evasion, why not dipshits on unethical political contributions.

  4. OH, HAPPY DAY, I’m going to get the Irish Whiskey out.

  5. MSNBC policies require employees to make the network aware of, and seek prior approval for, any political activity that could pose a conflict of interest. Its rules specifically mention campaign contributions as reportable activity.

    MSNBC President Phil Griffin’s statement and actions today seem to suggest Olbermann had not informed Griffin of the contributions.

    Olberman gave his employer grounds for the suspension. Thus Olby does not have the right to support candidates just like everyone else.

  6. Can you smell that ? Its the sweet smell of payback.

    I have no sympathy for dear ole Olby.

    Schadenfreude FTW !

  7. I am SO happy he is gone and I hope he stays gone. I bet Hillary is smiling to herself about this if she got the news yet. It’s just too bad Jeff Imelt doesn’t have to follow the same rules.

    There is a big difference between corporate donations and an individual journalist donating. GE the parent of NBC donates to candidates and Jeff Imelt is on an Obama advisory committee.

    One of the funny things is that they were holding Olberman to the standards of a journalist with this?? They never have before, I thought that was to do with him just being a bawling head.

  8. OT, but, I went to the Draft Hillary Clinton link that was posted on the last post, and isn’t this funny, it’s at a site called Change.org.

    For “change you can believe in,” here it is:

    Petition to Draft Hillary Rodham Clinton as the 2012 Democratic Presidential Nominee
    Targeting: U.S. State Department, Democratic National Committee, Hillary Rodham Clinton (U.S. Secretary of State), see more…U.S. State Department, Democratic National Committee, Hillary Rodham Clinton (U.S. Secretary of State), and Tim Kaine (Chair, Democratic National Committee)
    Started by: Steven Rosinski

    The following is a Petition to Draft Hillary Rodham Clinton as the 2012 Democratic Presidential Nominee. Our mission is to communicate our message to everyone we know that Secretary Clinton is the most qualified candidate to be the next President of the United States in 2012. Please sign this petition if you feel the Secretary of State needs to be our Commander-in-Chief and Leader of the Free World.

    It is our goal to show Madam Secretary that the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling she spoke of in 2008 are still with her and are ready, willing, and able to support her once again. Our hope is to take these numbers to Mrs. Clinton and turn this into a “Draft Hillary Campaign” by encouraging her to seek the Democratic Nomination, while ideally discouraging the current President from seeking re-election.

    Forty-four men have been elected President thus far. If you really want change you can believe in, help elect Hillary Rodham Clinton to be our forty-fifth!

    • Would I have to use my real name?

    • That Draft-Gore thing was one of Obama’s early strengths. If millions of wishful-thinking liberal/progressives hadn’t wasted a year or more dreaming of Gore, then it’s possible the Obama thing could have been nipped.

      If Hillary announces, I’ll be on her side. But, I’m not holding back support from someone (god knows who) else.

  9. Olbermann must have been precariously on the edge and all MSNBC had to do is push him off. It’s a chicken shit way to get rid of him, but not unusual. People that are on the edge should watch their steps. I don’t feel sorry for Olbermann, but I think that the rule is ridiculous, and should be changed. Proper disclosure from journolists should be all that’s required.

  10. I despise Olbie, but I think this was a bit of a Juan Williams moment. Yes, his contract technically says he can’t donate without clearance. But I’m sure plenty do and haven’t gotten dinged. Just like plenty of NPR analysts “opinionate” on other venues and don’t get dinged.

    I think they were looking for a reason, so they found one. I really don’t like this kind of sneaky thing. Opinions are fine, until you get some heat, then it’s chop them off at the knees on a trumped-up thin excuse? If you think they are too incendiary for your programming, then have the guts to SAY that, publicly.

    Feh. I say let all the opinions have their say. Even Olbie. Even *gasp* Beck. Have at it. The more the merrier. Neither of them claim to be “news”. They’re opinion.

  11. Political Wire

    ”He came back and said ‘I never met in my life such an arrogant man.'”

    — Rupert Murdoch, recounting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s description of President Obama.


    “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” — Obama to Patrick Gaspard

    • Bloomie said that? It takes one to know one!

      • You can say what you want about Bloomberg, but he is smart, savvy and has a vision. NYC has improved under his leadership. My hubby and I were saying we wish he would run as an Indep in 2012.

    • Just for fun and interest, here are the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

      The essential feature of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (either in fantasy or actual behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of situations and environments.

      In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following symptoms:

      * Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
      * Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
      * Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions).
      * Rarely acknowledges mistakes and/or imperfections
      * Requires excessive admiration
      * Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
      * Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
      * Lacks empathy: is unwilling or unable to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
      * Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
      * Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitude.

      Without knowing him personally, and only observing him on the political stage, I think he has 5 solid criteria, and probably 2-3 more.

  12. OT Here’s that headline
    ‘Hillary voters’ abandon Democrats

    Only 29 percent of blue-collar men support Democrats in 2010, down from 41 percent last cycle, according to the survey of 1,000 2008 voters, of which 897 voted on Tuesday.

    Of course, left unsaid is that 2008 number is also lower than Hillary’s original support

  13. Erica, I used to live with someone who was eventually diagnosed with anti social personality disorder…all of them are narcissists. I pegged Obama back in 2008 as one of that club. The man is textbook. It’s so easy to pick out if you’ve ever known one. The hilarious thing is that they ALL think they are SO special yet their behavior is boringly predictable once you know the signs.

    No you can’t reliably diagnose from afar and you shouldn’t but, you should be careful. If it walks and quacks like duck it probably is a duck and you should act accordingly because these people are dangerous. They do nothing but wreak havoc and whine when people don’t love them for it.

    In this case millions went nuts over his over the top “charm” another red flag. If people keep criticizing him he will end up on meds for depression because they cannot stand not to be worshiped. He is a sick man.

    • Agree on all fronts. I dated a narcissist, briefly. Breaking up took months (for her) because she was incredulous and full of rage over the fact that I could make such an outlandish, idiotic, ill-informed decision to abandon her in all her wonderfulness. Oh well.

  14. Long break ups are typical with N’s. You cannot get away from them except to just totally cut them off and do not respond ever to them because they take that as a sign. They think you MUST mean you are dying to take them back. The word salad and pretzel logic is amazing and crazy making. *shudder* be glad your encounter was brief. The longer they are around the bigger a mess they make like a bull in a china shop. Too bad we have one running the whole damned country. Terrifying really.

    • The break up was long on her part, that’s for sure. I had to do exactly what you said. Total cut off. But narcissists can’t quit, they keep pounding–ugh, does that mean he’ll run again in 2012?

      Actually, that experience was very useful to me in my medical training and later relationships, too.

  15. Network:

    Howard Beale: [arms outstretched to the heavens] Edward George Ruddy died today! Edward George Ruddy was the Chairman of the Board of the Union Broadcasting Systems, and he died at eleven o’clock this morning of a heart condition, and woe is us! We’re in a lot of trouble!

    Howard Beale: [calmly strolling toward the audience] So. A rich little man with white hair died. What has that got to do with the price of rice, right? And *why* is that woe to us? Because you people, and sixty-two million other Americans, are listening to me right now. Because less than three percent of you people read books! Because less than fifteen percent of you read newspapers! Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn’t come out of this tube! This tube is the Gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break presidents, popes, prime ministers… This tube is the most awesome God-damned force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls in to the hands of the wrong people, and that’s why woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died. Because this company is now in the hands of CCA – the Communication Corporation of America. There’s a new Chairman of the Board, a man called Frank Hackett, sitting in Mr. Ruddy’s office on the twentieth floor. And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome God-damned propoganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth on this network?

    Howard Beale: [ascending the stage] So, you listen to me. Listen to me: Television is not the truth! Television is a God-damned amusement park! Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, storytellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, side-show freaks, lion tamers, and football players. We’re in the boredom-killing business! So if you want the truth… Go to God! Go to your gurus! Go to yourselves! Because that’s the only place you’re ever going to find any real truth.

    Howard Beale: [laughing to himself] But, man, you’re never going to get any truth from us. We’ll tell you anything you want to hear; we lie like hell. We’ll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer, or that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker’s house, and no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don’t worry, just look at your watch; at the end of the hour he’s going to win. We’ll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in *illusions*, man! None of it is true! But you people sit there, day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds… We’re all you know. You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here. You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even *think* like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God’s name, you people are the real thing! *WE* are the illusion! So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off! Turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I’m speaking to you now! TURN THEM OFF…
    [collapses in a prophetic swoon as the audience erupts in thunderous applause]

  16. Network is simply wonderful! So scarily on target in this era too. Who needs horror movies? With the way the teevee “newz” controls what so many believe these days. Olberman is just another actor like all the rest of them.

    • Warning! Warning! Warning!
      You’ll be directed to the orange website if you click the link.

    • Boo-hoo. If Scarborough can’t call Olbermann crazy, Olbermann can’t have guests who talk about Joe’s dead interns. Griffin made up rules to protect his 8pm host, he has to enforce them.

  17. I’m even more cynical. I think this is because of the election. They know with people like Olbermann and Ed Schulz declaring war on the administration for not being liberal enough, their Obot base is going to divert over to Comedy Central or some other place.

    When the country turned rightward in 2002, so did MSNBC. Olbermann was gone from his first run and people like Scarborough and Michael Savage had shows. This channel does whatever it can to be relevant.

    • Murdoch dictates the mission of Faux News. It’s the only one that consistently stays on message.

    • MSNBC pounded the Clintons relentlessly throughout the 1990 s.

      • That’s true. At first MSNBC tried to copy CNN. Then when folks there saw the success of Fox, they turned conservative–firing Phil Donahue and bracketing Olbermann with shows hosted by Tucker Carlson and Joe Scarborough.
        When they realized they couldn’t out-“Fox” Fox News, they then lunged left, moving Scarborough to early morning and bringing in liberals for prime time.

  18. I cannot believe Kos …lol every time I think he cannot get anymore delusional he proves me wrong. I’ve dealt with drug addicts who were more grounded in reality than some of these Kool aide consumers. God, it’s the new meth!

    • Alice, nodding……it’s the second coming of how they
      share, barter, and sell the crap.

  19. They canned Olbermann for many reasons but they got him on the petty campaign contribution rule. MSNBCs ratings are in the sewer so look for more firings to come. Of course the ratings are low because he is a raving sexist pig but all GE cares about is ratings and money.

  20. Olbermann shouldn’t have done it. But it’s accepted practice at Fox News: http://mediamatters.org/research/201010270005

  21. William Saletan is a complete boob … Pelosi’s Triumph

    Democrats didn’t lose the battle of 2010. They won it.

    People used to be committed for being less insane than this 😉

    • Pelosi said Republicans went after her because she was effective.

      Actually, they used her in ads because it was effective to pick off blue dogs.

  22. I supported NPR getting rid of Juan Williams because he violated their policy, and I feel the same way about this item.
    Didn’t Olbermann know? I don’t believe that he did not know. So….he’s off the air…..

    Now, can we get five hundred other asshats off the air?

  23. We don’t expect politicians to adhere to any type of ethics….why should we expect it from the media that hires out to be their propaganda machine?

  24. Well, I’m not going to defend KO — sure he’s an American citizen blah, blah, blah — but the conditions of his job (of which I am sure he was well aware and for which he gets paid a boatload of $$) are that he not contribute to political campaigns. If he didn’t like that, or felt it interfered with his rights as a citizen, he can quit. I myself once worked as a law clerk for one of the Justices on my state’s supreme court & we were not allowed to make political contributions or even have a sign for a candidate in our yard. That was the condition of my employment — I lived with it while I worked there & I got paid a heck of a lot less than KO.

  25. The political contributions were not the real reason for his suspension. It was a series of outrageous incidents. Let’s not forget his misogynist rant against a conservative female columnist and then Jon Stewart mocking him for that and for his over-the-top rant when Scott Brown won Massachusetts.

    I think what finally did it, though, was the election coverage on Tuesday. I have never seen such unprofessional, juvenile, sneering coverage than what took place on msnbc Tuesday night. I’m guessing that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. (I’ve read several reviews which agree with my assessment.) And I couldn’t help but notice that none of the NBC anchors showed up on their sister network that nite. There’ve been reports that the nbc anchors and reporters want to distance themselves from msnbc.

    (Olbermann’s been fired from just about every media job he’s had, an indication that he’s a loose cannon and probably not quite right in the head.)

  26. This is NOT the same thing as FOX “News” – KO is not a network and he didn’t give $1 million to a political organization, he’s never raised money on his broadcast nor suggested his viewers give money to a political party or candidate. I don’t see why journalists are not allowed to make personal donations. They are not robots. They only things I would object to would be shilling for personal monetary gain, such as Glenn Beck selling gold coins, or shilling for the Dem party coffers, as the Fox guys do for the GOP, neither of which are the case.

  27. Fuck Olberman! You lay down with dogs…

    MSNBC has never been a liberal organization. The only reason Maddow and Schultz have shows on MSNBC is that they trashed Hillary. MSNBCs phony support for liberals only went as far as working to keep Hillary out of the White House.

    If a rational Republican candidate gains traction for 2012, Maddow and Schultz will go the way of Phil Donohue. Matthews and Olberman will do what they are told.

  28. I can’t imagine that this is news – NBC and Olbermann are two distinct entities, it is true that he works for MSNBC but he is also a citizen of the United States of America and should be allowed to contribute to candidates. It might be a policy of NBC to require permission(?) of its news personalities before they do and it’s up to NBC on how they want to deal with him but it’s he cannot be judged by us. First of all he is not there to report news, he is there to comment and open dialog – anyone who watches his show knows his leanings (for better or worst). Fox itself gave a million dollars to the republicans and half their staff was touring the country stumping for candidates – let’s get real. NOT A STORY – I am sure CNN staff cares enough about the country to support candidates who they feel will do better for it.

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