MSNBC Suspends Keith Olbermann for Contributions to Democrats

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely, without pay, for not disclosing contributions to the campaigns of three Democrats:

Olbermann "'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,' MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a statement."

Politico reported, earlier:

"MSNBC host Keith Olbermann made campaign contributions to two Arizona members of Congress and failed Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway ahead of Tuesday’s election — a potential violation of NBC ethics policies. 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."


  1. says

    Hmm… So Fox News and its parent company (which owns about a gazillion newspapers, too), can literally donate well over a million dollars to the Republican Governor’s Association — one of the biggest, if not the biggest, corporate donations to the organization — and Keith Olbermann can’t make a donation to a few candidates?

    Don’t get me wrong… It was pretty stupid on his part, he must have known he wasn’t allowed in his contract… but I just think the day and ages of looking at places like MSNBC and Fox News as straight news has loooooong since passed. It’s advocacy journalism on MSNBC and full-on propaganda on Fox News. Let’s just be honest with ourselves.

  2. says

    I wonder whether it would still be a big deal is he had contributed to republicans…

    I understand that MSNBC tends to be more liberal/progressive/democratic, but aren’t they still owned by General Electric? And isn’t GE run by conservatives/repugs?

  3. says

    PS: Pat Buchanan has given a half-dozen political contributions, while maintaining his position on MSNBC.

    As KOS gets on Daily Kos — this is all political kabuki by the head of MSNBC News who a) dislikes Olbermann and b) is jealous of Olbermann’s sway at (MS)NBC News.

  4. Jon Mitchell says

    I agree with Ryan. And I think that this will be resolved without Olberman having to find another outlet.

  5. ravewulf says

    I hate “indefinate suspension.” Either set a time limit, set some conditions that he has to meet in order to come back, or fire him (although I do not wish for the last option).

    I wonder if Cenk can pick him up for an interview (or possibly a position) on The Young Turks.

  6. just bill says

    i’m sorry this happened, but i have to admit it was inevitable. perhaps a temporary rather than indefinite suspension would be more appropriate under the circumstances.

    one would only wish that faux news had similar standards instead of hiring future and past elected officials to be fair and balanced news commentators.

  7. says

    I don’t like skewed news shows, and I consider Olbermann the Bill O’Reilly of the Left. While Olbermann has violated a company rule, it seems clear that that rule was intended for journalists who at least make a show of objectivity in their reporting. The Countdown has never made any pretense of its favoring Democrats, so faulting the show’s host for backing his opinions with the money he earns from them seems silly. Condoning biased reporting and punishing the actions that result from it sends a mixed message.

  8. Lane says

    I think this makes MSNBC look really stupid. Keith Olberman is one of the few news people who tell it like it is. I can’t stand FOX NEWS and if Keith is gone I will probably stop watching the news all together.

  9. IAN F says

    I think it’s a good policy to have. It just looks bad when he’s ridiculing fox for their contributions even though it’s not even close to being the same thing.

    Even if everyone knows MSNBC is left leaning, they have an integrity to their reporting that Fox does not and I don’t want them to become the Fox of the left.

    Fuck, he may be sort of an arrogant ass at times, but we need his voice out there.

  10. tony x says

    uh Andy dont contribute to the misinformation … he was suspended for not disclosing the contributions to his bosses – not for making them.

    Making them is ALLOWED.
    He donated $5.5 Thousand.

    Do you know how many thousands there are in a MILLION DOLLARS ???

    That is how much the Owner of Fox News gave to Republicans.

  11. dave says

    Agree with Tony X — other sites are reporting that MSNBC employees are allowed to donate so long as they get notify their bosses first. Your info/headline seems misleading.

  12. mike says

    @TONY X Thanks for clarifying that. Olbermann failed to disclose that he made contributions to his employer, not that he actually made the contributions. Of course, the right-wing-nut media universe is going bananas over this, jumping on it like a duck on a June bug. Keith Olbermann was combative, confrontational, opinionated (factually opinionated), and one of the few voices during the height of the Bush horror show to speak out loudly and forcefully against Bush, Cheney and the rest of the republicon criminal class. I don’t know what “indefinite” means to MSNBC, but they will be cutting off their nose to spite their corporate face if they leave Keith off the air for too long. It was a great triple-play: Olbermann, Maddow and O’Donnell. And, then, it was off to work, with a small sense of comfort that at least three people in the increasingly rightist media world were not afraid to tell the truth.

  13. Brian in Texas says

    Yes, it was the fact that he didn’t disclose. It would be fine since he is an opinion commenter/pundit and not an objective journalist. Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe) donated money to a candidate in 2007 and was not suspended.

  14. TANK says

    Bad business decision. And it’s not that “we” need his voice–it’s that msnbc has nothing to fill the airtime with. Of course MSNBC is trying to ham handedly play catch up in distancing itself from fox news as a propaganda machine as per its marching orders from the faux middle of the aisle, but one wonders if that’s not just an excuse to play out a personal conflict at the expense of the network.

  15. TANK says

    What would be hilarious is if msnbc fired olbermann because they wanted to replace him with a more conservative pundit. It’s like watching a cripple on wet ice.

  16. Bobby says

    Good for Keith for doing what’s right and contributing to the correct party. Fuck MSNBC and their hypocritical bullshit.

    Keith, go rogue and expose them for the assholes they are.

  17. luis says

    he should not be suspended indefinitely…if he did something wrong he should pay a price but WE WANT HIM BACK!!!.. do we have to start a campaign for his reinstatement???? Should we investigate all the Fox News anchors??? lets be real! I smell something fishy here!!

  18. Christopher says

    This is why I thought the Rally to Restore Sanity was a dumb idea from the start. Fox News and the Republicans are playing gutterball with fuck-em-hard-and-fuck-em-fast street rules and MSNBC, the Pres and little Stewie are debating whether its cricket to use the digest version of the revised Cambridge rulebook.

    Power and naked aggression, not politesse, win in politics. Which is why, as soon as the hope and change afterglow wore off, the Rethugs were positioned to take it all back.

  19. Tom says

    That MSNBC spectacle on Tuesday night went beyond the pale. Unlike Fox, which had news anchors covering the election and invited commentators to speak, MSNBC showcased four commentators as their sole coverage.

    I’m sure Mathews, Madow and the other guy are all letting messages go to voicemail today.

  20. Bob R says

    In the world of broadcasting, “indefinite suspension without pay” means clear out your office and as soon as the lawyers are done covering the network’s ass, you’re gone.

    Seems Scarborough did the same thing. As did Buchanan. But they are Republican’s and friends of Griffin. I’m sure an investigation would turn up other contributions by other MSNBC personnel that violate their “code”.

    Griffin is a right winger and has been out for Olbermann’s head for ages. Griffin’s aim is to have him gone before ComCast takes over. I think he might have been afraid Olbermann would get his job.

    Any way, I’m done with MSNBC. I’m sure Schultz will be next (he’s already been reprimanded and threatened by Griffin). I think Griffin wants to become FOX-lite, so watch for more “indefinite suspensions” or staff turnover in the not too distant future.

    Sadly, we on the left are now pretty much left without a voice except for possibly Stewart on Comedy Central. The GOP coup is in motion.

  21. anon says

    Interesting that this happened just after the election. It could be a cover story for other problems, but seems too specific. Anchor positions are held to different standards than guest commentators, so contributions by Scarboro or Buchanan would be okay. However, to be fair to other reporters they require all the regular “objective” staff to hold the line.

  22. jj says

    I agree with Keith being the Bill OReilly of the left. dont be fooled, hes not a newscaster. hes pandering to his audience and lookin to make a buck

  23. Jason (the commenter) says

    This is the story going around on the right-wing sites:

    Olbermann has a huge salary, and MSNBC has shrinking ratings.

    Olbermann is being suspended without pay.

    GE is selling its television properties to Comcast.

    Olbermann’s boss is showing the new owners that he’ll take care of the bottom line.

  24. says

    Yellow Journalism is off and running. At least three media outlets (Hitfix, IMdB, and Mediate (Politico)) are suggesting that Olbermann was suspended for the donations, and not for getting permission to donate. The donations themselves are permitted by MSNBC.

    If I were Olbermann, I would sue them for libel and promoting sensationalism.

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  26. manhattanvince says

    He sat on his show and condemed Rupert Murdoch for donating to repulicans, then donates to democratic candidates, and covers the elections of said democrats on election night. Can anyone say Pete Rose. The guy is not only a boob, he is a hypocrite.

  27. Vince in WeHo says

    I never considered MSNBC a news sources, anymore than I do FOX or Comedy Central. Though, I tend to get a lot out of Comedy Central news-wise. But, since there are those that get their “news” from FOX, you have those that do the same with MSNBC.

    Sean Hannity made political contributions, but FOX claims he isn’t considered part of their “news” division.

    I don’t see what the big deal is. MSNBC is like an extension of the Democratic party. I would have actually been shocked if Olbermann WASN’T making contributions.

  28. says

    Olbermann not only didn’t contribute, he didn’t VOTE in 2008 because he wanted to stay neutral. These donations are something WAY out of character for Keith-he’s a big believer in journalistic ethics and neutrality. I suspect he made these donations on purpose, so MSNBC would fire him and he’d avoid a breach of contract lawsuit. Griffin wants him gone, and was afraid to fire him out right-for damn good reason.
    Keith will be fine-rumor has it that he’s already got a job lined up with Showtime.


    @manhattanvince: Hmm… you can’t even spell the name of your own political party correctly, and you presume to call Keith Olbermann a “boob”? Olbermann can be really obnoxious at times and he may be at fault in this case, but he still has ten times as much intelligence as Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and all those short-skirted blonde newsbabes at Fox News Channel combined!

  30. says

    I think it’s pretty disturbing any corporation can have any sort of “code” or rule that says employees must clear their political activities through their bosses. The fact that a “policy” like that is allowed in any corporation in these United States is pretty scary, “news” business or not. I think it’s payback for all his coverage of the hundreds of millions of dollars corporations poured into the elections through the Chamber of Commerce. After all, MSNBC is a corporation. See also:

  31. joe says

    Olberman was not suspended for donating to Democrats. He was suspended violating MSNBC policy which requires pre-clearing his political donations.

  32. manhattanvince says

    To Larry Craig…Relax, it was a typo, and I am not a R-E-P-U-B-L-I-C-A-N…And I stand by the boob comment.