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Following revelations that he made political contributions in what’s apparently a direct violation of MSNBC’s Code of Ethics, Keith Olbermann has been indefinitely suspended from MSNBC. If there’s any other way to react to a media bombshell like this other than “Wow,” we’d sure like to know.
Politico’s Simmi Aujla reported this morning that Olbermann contributed the maximum donation of $2,400 to three political races during the midterm elections:
At least two of them won! That leaves Olbermann’s pick percentage rate at 66.6 percent, which is better than most people do in their football pools. Hysterically (and shadily), Grijalva was on Countdown on October 28, the same day Olbermann made his contribution. And the statement from MSNBC 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.
This isn’t the first time this has happened on MSNBC, or even Olbermann’s program! In fact, way worse shit has happened before this. Remember the time Olbermann let Richard Wolffe on his show as he was working a lobby? And on other NBC networks, remember the time CNBC dirtbag Dennis Kneale told the world that he’d rather sell out to corporate interests than serve the public? Hamilton Nolan at Gawker puts all of this in perfect perspective, asking what MSNBC is thinking:
1. Olbermann shouldn’t have given those donations. It’s blatantly against his employer’s rules. Come on, man. Use your noodle.
2. But, uh, have they ever watched his show? He’s clearly a vocal, partisan liberal. One could argue that a ban on political donations is a farce given his open opinion-mongering each and every night. Such bans make sense for ostensibly objective reporters, but not for people like Olbermann.
3. Pretty funny how Olbermann gets smacked down for this, but News Corp will give over a million bucks to Republicans and then tell the world to fuck off. Not exactly equivalent. But funny enough for Jon Stewart to make a joke about.
4. Olbermann will be back after a suitable period, with an apology, and everyone will carry on normally.
5. MSNBC has not yet demonstrated any ability to Lean Forward.
Now here’s what about to happen: Media columnists are going to begin to wonder where the line of objectivity should be redrawn, and hardliners will say that they should be pushed back even further, because the world is going to shit. “Forward-thinking” media critics will say that there should be no lines, because entertainment-as-news (see: all cable news networks) serve to only reinforce perspectives, whether you’re MSNBC, Fox News, and cable-news networks who think they’re doing anything differently are lying to themselves. Both sides will be correct, though this would also be the point at which we note that “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” was recently shown to be even less balanced in perspective than The O’Reilly Factor by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky.
But Hamilton’s right. Olbermann will not be fired, and in the not-entirely-but-mostly-impossible event that he is, he’s gonna get a job somewhere else. Or as Slate’s Jack Shafer giggled: