Accuracy in Media

Keith Olbermann has been suspended from his throne at MSNBC for giving political donations to three Democrats. Now who does the network have who’s going to set his hair on fire every night?

The idea behind the suspension is based on NBC (and MSNBC) policy on such matters, as described in the MSNBC article on this matter: “Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest. Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial positions.  You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the president of NBC News or his designee.”

Come on. These activities didn’t jeopardize his standing as an impartial journalist. He has no standing as an impartial journalist. Never has.

If MSNBC cared about the appearance of impartial journalism, would they have had as their correspondents covering election night the line-up of Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell, along with Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, as I pointed out recently? And it’s not just election night, it’s every night.

As AIM Chairman Don Irvine pointed out in his blog, “Olbermann should have known better that if he was going to rail against Fox for their political contributions that any donations he made would come back to bite him since they are a matter of public record.”

MSNBC.com reported back in 2007 on the different policies various news organizations have regarding outside political activities by their employees. An article following that report identified numerous journalists who had given money to candidates, and the different ways they were treated by their companies.  It showed that nearly nine out of ten donations were to Democratic candidates or groups.  I wrote a column about it at the time, pointing out how it wasn’t some shocking revelation, rather just one more bit of evidence among the overwhelming body of evidence that the mainstream media have a liberal bias.

You have to wonder how Olbermann’s fellow hosts are feeling, perhaps eyeing that 8 p.m. time slot against ratings king Bill O’Reilly. Olbermann is halfway through his $30 million four-year contract. Shortly after Olbermann signed his new deal, Chris Matthews took a major pay cut from around $5 million a year, to something closer to $2 million a year, according to the Post’s Howard Kurtz.

The only explanation for this is Olbermann’s arrogance, to think he didn’t have to live by the rules laid down by his employer. But Keith has often had trouble playing by the rules. That can be an admirable quality, however, not in this case.

TV Newser, the respected blog on the industry, speculates that he likely won’t be back: “Insiders we’ve talked to say Olbermann won’t be back. The question is whether he’ll leave or MSNBC keeps him off the air.”




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