MSNBC has suspended Keith Olbermann “indefinitely and without pay” for making financial contributions to three Democratic congressional candidates. Per MSNBC.com:
The announcement came in a one-sentence statement from msnbc TV President Phil Griffin: “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.”
The donations were first reported by the Politico website earlier in the day.
Olbermann acknowledged the donations in a statement to Politico, saying he gave the maximum legal donation of $2,400 to Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who waged an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate against Tea Party standard-bearer Rand Paul.
Olbermann’s donations are a violation of company policy, and obviously MSNBC has the right to deal with personnel as they wish. But nobody is confusing Olbermann for a nonpartisan reporter, and the network knows that. They’ve made a pile of money by positioning themselves as the liberal foil to FOX, an effort in which they’ve made Olbermann arguably the central figure. New York mag’s Dan Amira sums up the hypocrisy well:
Olbermann is a political commentator and demonstrates his liberal and Democratic bias every night on his show. Why should his employer hold him to a standard of impartiality in his personal life when they encourage partiality on his nightly broadcast?
Update: Greg Sargent wonders whether Olbermann, who makes no pretense about being an “impartial journalist,” even violated company policy.