UPDATE: Olbermann returns to the air Tuesday night. MSNBC really showed him.
This just in: After Politico broke the news that MSNBC host Keith Olbermann contributed money to three Democratic politicians, we can now safely report that Olbermann is a left-wing commentator.
MSNBC on Friday afternoon suspended Olbermann for making the maximum allowable contributions of $2,400 to the campaigns of Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, as well as failed Senate candidate Jack Conway of Kentucky, who lost to Rand Paul despite Olbermann’s generous donation.
Olbermann may or may not be out of a job entirely, though according to the New York Times, “one NBC executive privately suggested this was not a step toward firing him.” The true irony of the situation lies in the fact that Olbermann will be replaced at least tonight by The Nation’s Chris Hayes…who, according to the Village Voice, two years ago donated $1,500 to Democrat Joshua Segall and $250 to Democrat Thomas Howard Geoghegan (and, for good measure, another $250 to Josh Segall again last December). MSNBC argues that Hayes is not an NBC employee, but the ironing is not lost on anyone reading the story at home.
Bloggers and Twittererers have reacted with scorn towards MSNBC, though someone should tell them this suspension is exactly what MSNBC needed to do to prove that Fox News is not a real journalism organization. Fox, a division of News Corporation, earned similar scorn from the left (and from Olbermann) when it donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. This is a perfect time to revisit your mother’s famous war cry of “If Rupert jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it, too?” Fox’s nonexistent standards does not give Olbermann license to do the same.
We already know that Keith Olbermann is not a “journalist,” and the lines are so blurred these days this shouldn’t exactly matter. It’s pretty obvious to everyone where he stands on the political spectrum, so people might be asking “What’s the big deal?” It doesn’t come as a shock that he donated money to three Democratic candidates. But Olbermann knew then and knows now that he’s an employee of a news organization, and as such, basic guidelines prohibit his actions. Whether or not the issue is proper disclosure or all-out prohibition remains to be seen. But MSNBC President Phil Griffin really had no choice but to shelve Olbermann without pay.
Rules are rules. And if MSNBC wants to rail against Fox News for advocating on behalf of one political party over the other, then their hands should be clean while they throw their stones.