Olbermann suspended from MSNBC for Grijalva, Giffords donations
MSNBC has suspended Countdown anchor Keith Olbermann for making camapaign contributions to Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords, and to Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway.
Olbermann donated the maximum $2,400 to each candidate.
"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 Friday.
Olbermann, in an earlier statement, said: "I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level."
Olbermann made the donations to Grijalva and Giffords on Oct. 28, the same day the Southern Arizona congressman appeared on Countdown.
"We are grateful to all of the 8,649 individuals who donated to our campaign," said Giffords' spokeswoman Anne Hilby. "We understand that members of the press must work to balance their personal opinions with the policies of their news organizations."
Grijalva said he is "personally distressed and saddened by the news of Mr. Olbermann’s suspension" in a statement. "If there were any way to undo what has been done, I would do it in a heartbeat. Mr. Olbermann is a respected media voice who has done good work at MSNBC for seven years, and I feel the network has overreacted with such a severe penalty."
"I welcome and appreciate his support, and the fact that his contributions were made as a private citizen — not as the host of Countdown — should be taken into consideration before MSNBC or the wider media make any final conclusions," Grijalva said.
Grijalva won a tough race against Republican novice Ruth McClung. Giffords finally pulled out a narrow victory over Tea Party favorite Jesse Kelly as provisional ballots were counted Friday. Conway lost his race against Rand Paul.
NBC News has a policy against employees making poltical donations without prior approval.
The alledged violation of the network's ethics policy and Olbermann's suspension was first reported Friday morning by Politico.
The New York Times reports that NBC "appeared to be trying to differentiate itself from the Fox News Channel" in suspending Olbermann:
NBC executives privately said that they saw a chance to draw a distinction between the journalistic standards of their news division and the standards of Fox, a favorite of Republicans. Media Matters, a liberal media monitoring group that opposes Fox, noted on Friday afternoon that two Fox News hosts, Neil Cavuto and Sean Hannity, had given money to Republican politicians in the past.
The News Corporation also came under scrutiny this year for a $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association — a donation that Mr. Olbermann has been sharply critical of.