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Keith Olbermann Suspended by MSNBC for Donating to Democrats

Olbermann gets suspended for funding political candidates. Why is on-air support for candidates OK, but not financial support? For a few reasons.

MSNBC has suspended Countdown host Keith Olbermann for donations he made to Democratic candidates last week. One of them, Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, appeared on Countdown the same day Olbermann donated to his campaign.

In a statement to Politico the liberal host explained his donations:

“One week ago, on the night of Thursday October 28 2010, after a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona, I donated $2,400 each to the reelection campaigns of Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords,” Olbermann said. “I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky.”


What stands out about this situation is that Olbermann has in the past railed against Newscorp's donations to Republican groups. It is also curious that someone who's so adamant about not voting in elections "as a symbolic gesture of journalistic objectivity" sees it fit to fund political candidates. But, so what if he does?

Does his donation warrant the suspension? If his daily on-air efforts to help the Democratic party are OK, why doesn't a financial effort fly? This might start a debate about obsolete notions of media bias and the appearance thereof—he's a personality, remember, not a reporter. Though he did anchor MSNBC's election coverage. Rules, like the one he broke of not donating, are vestiges of media that want to remove the appearance of impropriety and bias, but his whole show is built on point of view. If that's the case, who cares what he does with his money?

Image (CC) by Flickr user srqpix.

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