Keith Olbermann's suspension: Did MSNBC overreact?

The "hypocritical" MSNBC host has been suspended indefinitely without pay for donating to three Democratic Congressional candidates. How big is this mess?

Keith Olbermann donated to Arizona Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva's campaign the same day the candidate appeared on his show.
(Image credit: Getty)

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has blasted Fox News for helping Republican candidates financially, calling it "the fundraising limb of the GOP." Now the tables are turned. Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely for donating to the campaigns of three Democratic congressional candidates, violating parent network NBC's ethics policy. Olbermann hosted one of his beneficiaries, Arizona Representatives Raul Grijalva, the same day he made a donation to the politician's re-election campaign. Have Olbermann's bosses, as some suggest, overreacted?

Olbermann's suspension makes no sense: "MSNBC is a left-of-center news network. Keith Olbermann is a left-of-center anchor," says Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. We're all well aware of Olbermann's biases. If MSNBC's strategy is "to provide a left-of-center destination for news and analysis," why does NBC require the "'appearance' of impartiality"?

"Keith Olbermann's suspended for donating to Democrats, but why?"

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Olbermann's hypocrisy has been exposed: The germane point here is that Olbermann shrieked about Fox's contributions while making his own, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. His failure to disclose his own donations at the time "does look questionable in terms of journalistic ethics."

"Did Olbermann violate NBC ethics code by contributing to Democrats?; Update: MSNBC suspends Olbermann 'indefinitely without pay'"

Olbermann's donations and Fox's are not analogous: The hypocrisy charge doesn't quite wash, says James Poniewozik in Time, "Olbermann's donations reflect on his political interests — which again are pretty obvious — whereas an entire corporation's donations reflect on that entire corporation's political interests."

"BREAKING: Keith Olbermann proved liberal"

NBC is milking this for P.R. value: The suspension is partly a publicity move, say Brian Stelter and Bill Carter in The New York Times. Privately, NBC execs have said that they don't intend to fire Olbermann, and that they see this as "a chance to draw a distinction between the journalistic standards of their news division and the standards of Fox."

"Olbermann suspended from MSNBC for campaign donations"

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