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

posted at 10:10 am on November 5, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Would it shock anyone to know that Keith Olbermann donated thousands of dollars to three Democrats in the midterms?  Two House incumbents from Arizona and Jack Conway, the Senatorial candidate fro Kentucky who lost after running the notorious “Aqua Buddha” attack ad, received the maximum donation from Olbermann in the final days of the general election season, a fact discovered by Politico when reviewing FEC filings.  The donations violate NBC’s stated ethics code for its journalists, and it may apply even more since one of the recipients appeared on Countdown at the same time Olbermann made the donation:

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann made campaign contributions to two Arizona members of Congress and failed Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway ahead of Tuesday’s election — a potential violation of NBC’s ethics policies.

Olbermann, who acknowledged the contributions in a statement to POLITICO, made the maximum legal donations of $2,400 apiece to Conway and to Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords. He donated to the Arizona pair on Oct. 28 – the same day that Grijalva appeared as a guest on Olbermann’s “Countdown” show. Grijalva, a prominent liberal who was only declared a winner in his race Thursday night, was in a tight contest against tea party-backed candidate Ruth McClung when he appeared on Countdown – one of several appearances he made on the show.

NBC has a rule against employees contributing to political campaigns, and a wide range of news organizations prohibit political contributions – considering it a breach of journalistic independence to contribute to the candidates they cover.

Three years ago, MSNBC stated categorically that the rule applies to both the traditional NBC network and its opinion cable network:

NBC and MSNBC TV require permission of the president of NBC News. (MSNBC.com is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft.)

“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.”

The question then becomes whether Steve Capus approved of Olbermann’s contributions, or whether he was asked at all about it.  The rule does allow NBC to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to enforce the ethics code or not.  If Capus gave the green light, then one has to wonder whether he has ever been asked about donating to Republicans in House and Senate races and whether he allowed those contributions or not.  If waivers only come for Democrats, then that speaks to NBC’s approach to politics in general, and not just MSNBC.

However, let’s not pretend that this somehow proves Olbermann’s bias.  Despite NBC’s insistence on calling Olbermann a news anchor, he’s one of the most obvious opinionaters in the cable news industry.  The disastrous election coverage at MSNBC helmed by Olbermann proved that beyond doubt for those few who ever doubted it.  And to be fair, Olbermann himself doesn’t seem terribly concerned about pretenses of objectivity or fairness.

That doesn’t mean that Olbermann and his network haven’t been hypocritical on this issue, however:

Olbermann, who has become of the most prominent liberal commentators on cable television, has been a critic of the political donations made by Fox News’ parent company, News Corp., which contributed $1 million each to a pair of organizations trying to defeat Democratic candidates.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin also tweaked rival network Fox over the contributions. “Show me an example of us fund-raising,” Griffin told The New York Times last month.

Well, putting Grijalva on while Olbermann makes contributions to his campaign may not quite be fundraising, but the failure to disclose it at the time does look questionable in terms of journalistic ethics.  On MSNBC, that’s hardly news, either.

Update: Just to make my point clearer — there seems to be some confusion about it in the comments — I don’t think that Olbermann’s contributions mean too much on their own.  We all know from watching his broadcasts that he dislikes Republicans and cheerleads for Democrats, so these contributions do nothing for his credibility in any direction.  The question here is whether NBC will hold MSNBC to its ethical standards, and the hypocrisy of shrieking about Fox’s contributions while donating his own.

Update II: Jonah Goldberg offers some wisdom:

So Olbermann gave money to some Democratic candidates. Ostensibly the rules against this are intended to prevent journalists from giving the appearance of bias. Whether or not such rules make sense for actual reporters, such rules are silly for someone like Olbermann. Does anybody, and I mean anybody, suddenly trust Olbermann’s opinion less because of this news? I’m waiting. Does anyone think he’s less biased? More biased? Un-biased?

Second, the larger problem with these kinds of rules is that they do little to prevent media bias and a great deal to hide an important form of evidence of it. Banning liberal journalists from giving money doesn’t prevent them from being liberal, it just gives them a bit more plausibility when they deny it. Now, I can see the argument that someone who makes a donation would be more interested in protecting their investment, as it were. So I don’t think the policy is completely misguided. But at a certain level banning donations is like NPR barring staff from attending the Jon Stewart rally. It doesn’t fool anyone, but gives the accused a lawyerly rebuttal to accurate accusations.

Wouldn’t it be better to check Open Secrets to see where the journalists put their money?  And frankly, wouldn’t that be utterly redundant in Olbermann’s case?

Update III: Looks like Olbermann didn’t get permission after all:

MSNBC president Phil Griffin released the following statement Friday following the news that Keith Olbermann had donated to three Democratic candidates this election cycle:

“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.”

I’d be surprised if it lasts longer than the weekend, but it looks as though MSNBC felt it had to act.

Update IV: The more I think about this, the more ridiculous it gets.  MSNBC offers the most ridiculously biased televion coverage of politics possible, crowning it with Election Night coverage that had people wondering if NBC needed to hire grief and anger counseling for the entire on-air staff.  And now, because Olbermann contributed to three Democrats last month, suddenly Griffin suspends him because “these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest”?

For this, Griffin gets the Captain Louis Renault Award for his shock, shock! at finding that Olbermann may have jeopardized his standing as an impartial journalist:


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Ethics????? NBC?????????

labrat on November 5, 2010 at 10:12 AM

MSNBC: Ethics are for the great unwashed.

kingsjester on November 5, 2010 at 10:13 AM

I think he violates the human code…

dangitt on November 5, 2010 at 10:13 AM

How can Olbermann and ethics be used in the same sentence?

DeweyWins on November 5, 2010 at 10:13 AM

NBC and Olby need to possess ethics in the first place to be affected by an Ethics Policy.

SeniorD on November 5, 2010 at 10:13 AM

Aqua Buddha blesses you for your contribution….

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 10:14 AM

shocka

toenail on November 5, 2010 at 10:15 AM

Donations? Pfft. He has bigger issues.

He is one of the angriest, meanest, craziest individuals walking the planet. Someone should really run his fingerprints.

sherry on November 5, 2010 at 10:16 AM

NBC has an ethics policy?

John Deaux on November 5, 2010 at 10:16 AM

MSNBC has an ethics code? It must be weird.

In all seriousness any financial contribution would be far less than his nightly “in kind” contributions.

Blaise on November 5, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Since Olbermann clearly structures his interviews to be in-kind contributions to political candidates, he probably saw no difference.

What a wacky world we live in. Juan Williams publicly confesses to a fleeting thought and gets sacked by NPR. Keith Olbermann shamelessly campaigns for and contributes to his supposed “news subjects” but apparently sees nothing wrong.

This is a test case as to whether MSNBC takes its ethics policy seriously. A golden opportunity to shed themselves of Olbermann, frankly. But if they don’t sack him, they should at least pubicly admit that they have no such ethics policy.

Chuckles3 on November 5, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Isn’t dnctv just an in kind contribution to the D-rats? Plus, keith’s weird giggling isn’t doing them any favors.

lizzie beth on November 5, 2010 at 10:17 AM

NBC Rule No. 16, Section I, Paragraph 2, Ethical Standards:

“Don’t get caught contributing to Democrats.”

fogw on November 5, 2010 at 10:17 AM

When has MSNBC (Mentally Sick National Bigot Corporation) ever had any ethics. Not having ethics is a prerequisite for being there.

volsense on November 5, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Ethics are to NBC what deodorant is to a Mullah.

NoDonkey on November 5, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Of course it’s a violation. But do you actually expect NBC to do anything about it? They gave the guy a $7.5 million annual salary in his latest contract. They’re stuck with him til it runs out at which point one hopes that Comcast tells him to get lost.

Doughboy on November 5, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Olbermann’s creepy and I have no doubt he deserved every wedgie he’s ever gotten, but this is the same network where Matthews stated unequivocally that it was his job to make Obama’s presidency a success. Not to state his opinion or report the news, but to make Obama a success. By the way, how’s that going, Chris?

trubble on November 5, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Deeply closeted and extremely lucky in his employment, yet he is so angry. Sad.

SurferDoc on November 5, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Even if he did, he’ll still be on tv spewing his BS so, this is a non starter.

milwife88 on November 5, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Well, putting Grijalva on while Olbermann makes contributions to his campaign may not quite be fundraising, but the failure to disclose it at the time does look questionable in terms of journalistic ethics.

Well, in defense (partially) of Olbermann the timeline seems to indicate that he made the contribution after Grijalva appeared on his show.

Still, Olbermann should have disclosed the contributions (if that is MSNBC allowed it, which given their silence on the matter indicates to me they didn’t).

And there is simply no way he should have been allowed to “anchor” their election coverage.

But we’ve known that for about 5 years and MSNBC still allows him to do it.

They have no standards over there but I think even this will make them respond.

He’ll be suspended for a month or so. And, of course, he’ll be humbled by the experience.

Humble and Olbermann. Two words that have never been used in the history of the English language.

SteveMG on November 5, 2010 at 10:20 AM

“Can’t stop me….. I do what I want!”

joe btfsplk on November 5, 2010 at 10:20 AM

“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

Well, since Keef is not now and never has been a journalist, he’s off the hook.

Del Dolemonte on November 5, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Actually, Olbermann’s schtick has gotten so tired, even for all but the most foaming-at-the-mouth liberals, than every time he shows up on MSNBC, it’s like an in-kind contribution to Republicans…

jon1979 on November 5, 2010 at 10:21 AM

The rule does allow NBC to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to enforce the ethics code or not.

Would it be contentious to suggest that the case-by-case basis is more likely a party-by-party basis?

Vashta.Nerada on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Is this really a big deal?
Yes it is Ed, we don’t need to give clowns like this passes anymore. Those days I hope are over. We have some momentum now. Let’s use it.

Hummer53 on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

If so, is Palin being a Fox contributer a conflict of interest?

That’s a bigger deal than a private donation.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Worst ethics in the world.

Akzed on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

I was a TV Reporter and Anchor for years (much smaller market than NBC News :-) and a News Director for a national radio ministry. I stayed out of politics until I started my own business because yes, ethically you don’t want to have the appearance of partiality when you report the news. At least that is the way I felt about it.

My opinion is changing somewhat on that. We know reporters and anchors have opinions. Perhaps full disclosure is the answer. Still, if I was to get back into news I will probably have to stop making Tea Party videos.

Ordinary1 on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

I can’t get too worked up if somebody he just interviewed sent a tingle up his leg. That’s between him and his employer and they can discuss the novel concept of ethics all they want.

Drained Brain on November 5, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Yes it is Ed, we don’t need to give clowns like this passes anymore. Those days I hope are over. We have some momentum now. Let’s use it.

Hummer53 on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

I disagree. They are free to support anyone they wish when they are in their private lives. We have no business even paying too much attention.

Besides, he doesn’t even pretend to NOT have a partisan leaning.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:23 AM

This would be a big deal if a single person on earth thought Qweefie was a journalist.

angryed on November 5, 2010 at 10:23 AM

I don’t get some of the arguments here. You surely don’t believe that just being in the media business means you have to abandon your own political interests, do you?

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:24 AM

If so, is Palin being a Fox contributer a conflict of interest?

That’s a bigger deal than a private donation.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Was Plain running for anything? No. Therefore your question is moot.

angryed on November 5, 2010 at 10:25 AM

That guy’s ethics are so twisted he’d even violate a zip code.

DrAllecon on November 5, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Crucify him! Crucify him!

wait…er… uh…

Okay, how about just having him name himself worst person?

Skywise on November 5, 2010 at 10:27 AM

Was Plain running for anything? No. Therefore your question is moot.

angryed on November 5, 2010 at 10:25 AM

That’s a weak argument. She’s being touted as an analyst while really being given airtime for her own personal political agenda, and everyone knows it.

That’s a great deal more on the “EDGE” of violating journalism ethics than making a private donation.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:27 AM

I don’t get some of the arguments here. You surely don’t believe that just being in the media business means you have to abandon your own political interests, do you?

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:24 AM

You’re right, people can’t just turn off their political views because they work in the news bidness. I wish all news stopped with the pretense of impartiality. It would be a lot better if every newspaper, TV station, cable station just said outright we’re liberals or we’re conservatives and we will give you the news with that spin.

It’s how it is in most of the world.

angryed on November 5, 2010 at 10:27 AM

I presume NBC’s code only applies to their straight reporters, not to their opinion people, anyway. I doubt he’s in violation of the company code in reality.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:28 AM

If so, is Palin being a Fox contributer a conflict of interest?

That’s a bigger deal than a private donation.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

Why? Political figures appearing on news outlets and giving opinions and analyses is a well-established practice. Virtually every televised roundtable and guest appearance is built on that foundation.

We’re not talking about the Sarah Palins, Bob Beckels, and Donna Braziles of the world here. We’re talking about the election night anchor.

Chuckles3 on November 5, 2010 at 10:28 AM

That’s a weak argument. She’s being touted as an analyst while really being given airtime for her own personal political agenda, and everyone knows it.

That’s a great deal more on the “EDGE” of violating journalism ethics than making a private donation.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:27 AM

So anyone who has any intention of ever running for political office should never be on TV?

angryed on November 5, 2010 at 10:28 AM

I don’t get some of the arguments here. You surely don’t believe that just being in the media business means you have to abandon your own political interests, do you?

Well, you obviously don’t know much about the standards that news organizations enforce on their employees.

As Ed points out, the network forbids such contributions.

Whether they should or shouldn’t is secondary to the question of whether Olbermann violated their rules.

Second, if a journalist – even a commentator – makes contributions he or she should disclose that if they’re writing or covering that person.

It’s called conflict of interest.

SteveMG on November 5, 2010 at 10:28 AM

I support his right to donate and spend his money wherever the heck he wants….
I know who he is and don’t contribut 1 dime to his stash… :)

On the other hand, I oppose with all my heart public unions money laundering of our tax dollars to finance Democrat campaigns. THIS MUST STOP and is the REAL issue!

Olbermann’s nothing, except to himself and a very few others.

golfmann on November 5, 2010 at 10:29 AM

If so, is Palin being a Fox contributer a conflict of interest?

That’s a bigger deal than a private donation.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

You’re comparing apples and pig vomit.

fogw on November 5, 2010 at 10:29 AM

You’re right, people can’t just turn off their political views because they work in the news bidness. I wish all news stopped with the pretense of impartiality. It would be a lot better if every newspaper, TV station, cable station just said outright we’re liberals or we’re conservatives and we will give you the news with that spin.

It’s how it is in most of the world.

angryed on November 5, 2010 at 10:27 AM

Well, I personally see the news editor as setting the tone. There’s definitely a tone, particularly today. But I’d guess there’s more than a few die-hard liberals working at Fox and not having a bit of trouble with that tone, either. It’s their job. And that paycheck feels really good.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Well, I think this really calls into question Keith Olbermann’s journalistic integrity.

Proud Rino on November 5, 2010 at 10:29 AM

ethics among people such as this is akin to honor amongst thieves. The premise of the argument is all wrong. Let the MSNBC ratings stand as a testament to how NBC regards the truth–that is, they disregard it. Since they disregard the truth, there can be no standards…no standards means no code…no code means no code violation.

dats my two cent.

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 10:29 AM

I don’t get some of the arguments here. You surely don’t believe that just being in the media business means you have to abandon your own political interests, do you?

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:24 AM

You’ve obviously never taken any journalism training.
You should go to work for the New York Times.

Del Dolemonte on November 5, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Even without knowing, I could have guessed the two AZ Dim scumbags Olberman gave money to. Grijalva is the douche who called on people to boycott AZ in retaliation for passing SB 1070. He was willing to hurt his own state, including the people who live and work in the district he supposedly represents, because he was so offended by the notion of having U.S. immigration laws actually enforced in AZ. Grijalva, BTW, reportedly has a large organization of illegals in his district who were . . . instrumental . . . in getting out the vote for him.

Giffords is almost as bad. She was a loyal little footsoldier in Nancy Pelosi’s war on America’s economy — voting yes on the stimulus, all the bailouts, Obamacare, etc., despite the vocal objections of her constituents. She also found time to attend a local rally, where she called local Tea Partiers racists and claimed they had threatened her life. She ran t.v. commercials here non-stop (which she could afford to do, thanks to donors like Keefy), lying outrageously about her Republican opponent Jesse Kelly: He’s going to take away your Medicare! He’s going to add a 23% sales tax to everything you buy!

They’re both scum, so it’s no surprise Olberman supported them.

AZCoyote on November 5, 2010 at 10:30 AM

The donations violate NBC’s stated ethics code for its journalists, and it may apply even more since one of the recipients appeared on Countdown at the same time Olbermann made the donation:

I am sure media matters will be tripping all over themselves spinning and defending this hypocrisy.

Giving money to candidates,putting them on your show, and pushing their agenda is a lot more proof of bias than anything liberals have been able to slander FOX with.

Baxter Greene on November 5, 2010 at 10:30 AM

We’re not talking about the Sarah Palins, Bob Beckels, and Donna Braziles of the world here. We’re talking about the election night anchor.

Chuckles3 on November 5, 2010 at 10:28 AM

Well, I agreed with Ed’s piece on that one. There was absolutely no pretense that there was an anchor at all this election on MSN. It was a snark-fest. I suppose Chuck Todd played the role of just reporting the returns.

They had no anchors.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:31 AM

She’s being touted as an analyst while really being given airtime for her own personal political agenda, and everyone knows it.

Right. But she’s identified as a commentator.

There are lots of people promoting their political agenda who are on TV or who appear on radio or the op-ed pages of newspapers.

Should they all be banned?

If you don’t like Palin, fine (I don’t care for her much). But let’s not make up a new standard just because you want her silenced.

SteveMG on November 5, 2010 at 10:31 AM

Really, does it matter with him? Would you expect anything different?
A little deal about literally nothing…he is meaningless except to a few dozen people who watch him. Glad he threw his money away…

right2bright on November 5, 2010 at 10:31 AM

“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.

Hey! The statement only says “…activities MAY CREATE THE APPEARANCE of a conflict of interest.” That’s because you stupid teabaggers can’t understand that Herr Olbermann is simply exercising his Constitutional right to free speech. And rules don’t apply to elites. And besides, its not like he contributed money to a Republican. And all of you people are just too stupid to appreciate what a genius Herr Olbermann really is. And anybody who disagrees with a Leftist is just stupid. And all of you people are stupid. And look at what Fox News did!

There. I’ve saved you the time of reading all the press releases that will result from this story. You can thank me later.

oldleprechaun on November 5, 2010 at 10:32 AM

NBC has a rule against employees contributing to political campaigns, and a wide range of news organizations prohibit political contributions – considering it a breach of journalistic independence to contribute to the candidates they cover.

Hahaha! I wonder how many at NBC (and the rest) would have to be fired if the MSM enforced such “ethics” policies?! Even the CEOs donate to liberals! Audit themselves?!?! Self-policing?!?!

Hahaha! Can’t. Stop. Laughing.

DINORight on November 5, 2010 at 10:33 AM

This is the same argument used against Fox, when it was discovered how much they donated to some conservative group. I forget the details.

Like we don’t all know that Fox leans GOP and MSN is the Dem voice these days?

Much ado about nothing, in my opinion.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:33 AM

I don’t get some of the arguments here. You surely don’t believe that just being in the media business means you have to abandon your own political interests, do you?

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:24 AM

Well, for starters it would depend on whether expressing your political interests involves making campaign contributions, and whether your employer’s policy forbids that.

Also, there is such a thing as recusal. It’s inappropriate for an interview of a news subject to be conducted by a financial supporter of that news subject, at least without simutaneous disclosure of the relationship. That is, in theory, why we have independent journalists conducting these interviews, rather than the PACs that support the candidates.

Chuckles3 on November 5, 2010 at 10:33 AM

I don’t get some of the arguments here. You surely don’t believe that just being in the media business means you have to abandon your own political interests, do you?

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:24 AM

We never expect you would…so sit back and learn…

right2bright on November 5, 2010 at 10:33 AM

Speaking of ethics and elections, does anyone wonder if there has been massive levels of voter fraud going on in CT??? I do…

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 10:34 AM

Voter fraud video evidence in CT
http://www.wfsb.com/local-video/index.html?grabnetworks_video_id=4405211

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 10:34 AM

Right. But she’s identified as a commentator.

Precisely. And he’s touted as an opinion show host, not a neutral journalist.

That’s my entire point. BTW, I like Palin a lot and enjoy her appearances, but fair is fair, too.

It is a lot closer to pushing the envelope than a private donation is, in my opinion.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:35 AM

Aren’t there campaign election laws being violated here? Isn’t free air time also a campaign donation???

Ohio Granny on November 5, 2010 at 10:38 AM

these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Well then – no problem. No one in their right mind would ever consider KO an impartial journalist and since he’s a blatant Obama waterboy these donations reflect his obvious “interest.”

katiejane on November 5, 2010 at 10:38 AM

We’re not talking about the Sarah Palins, Bob Beckels, and Donna Braziles of the world here. We’re talking about the election night anchor.

Chuckles3 on November 5, 2010 at 10:28 AM
Well, I agreed with Ed’s piece on that one. There was absolutely no pretense that there was an anchor at all this election on MSN. It was a snark-fest. I suppose Chuck Todd played the role of just reporting the returns.

They had no anchors.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:31 AM

This is a big dodge. MSNBC markets Olbermann as a newsman, not as a Donna Brazile or Sarah Palin. If MSNBC promoted Olbermann as “Democratic party supporter Keith Olbermann,” and presented him in the way they would Karl Rove or Ed Gillespie, this would not be an issue.

They either need to treat him as a newsman, which means he can’t make these contributions, or present him as a party operative. It’s the coy double-talk that creates the problem — presenting him as a newsman on the one hand, while relying on the “well, everyone KNOWS he’s biased” on the other. That makes a mockery of any ethics policy.

Chuckles3 on November 5, 2010 at 10:39 AM

NBC has an ethics code?

Besides pushing the far-Left’s Oppressive agenda,that is.

Chip on November 5, 2010 at 10:39 AM

think he is bucking for a gig on Fox? Ala Juan Williams. Because I am sure he will be fired, Right?

pgrossjr on November 5, 2010 at 10:39 AM

If so, is Palin being a Fox contributer a conflict of interest?

That’s a bigger deal than a private donation.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

crr6 does the same thing. Sets up the moral equivalency argument. It is a weaker argument. Unlike crr6, anninca won’t tell you that you’re dumb ad nauseum.

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 10:40 AM

Bathtub boy is a slithering ethics violation.

csdeven on November 5, 2010 at 10:40 AM

‘“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…’

Well, that could be his out… Olbermann definitely isn’t impartial.

sadatoni on November 5, 2010 at 10:42 AM

Speaking of media, Lawrence O’Donnell was really interesting on Morning Joe. He’s a socialist, and he went after the “progressive” in a big way.

He was laughing at him for thinking that it was good news that Blue Dogs who lost signify that if the party moves left, they’ll win bigger.

Anyone catch that exchange? I thought he was spot on with poking fun at that theory.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:42 AM

It is a lot closer to pushing the envelope than a private donation is, in my opinion.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:35 AM

What envelope? NBC has rules that Olbermann is violating — PERIOD. Which ethical code is Palin violating? She is not. In fact, she has argued, right or wrong, that ethical considerations were why she resigned her governorship. Try again.

gryphon202 on November 5, 2010 at 10:43 AM

Aren’t there campaign election laws being violated here? Isn’t free air time also a campaign donation???

Ohio Granny on November 5, 2010 at 10:38 AM

You mean like the hour ABC gave Obama to push his Health Care Bill lies without allowing any dissenting rebuttal.

Baxter Greene on November 5, 2010 at 10:43 AM

Glad he threw his money away…

right2bright on November 5, 2010 at 10:31 AM

The results aren’t official yet, but it looks like both Grijalva and Giffords won.

Grijalva is currently ahead in the count by about 5%; Giffords has a slimmer lead (48% to 47% for Kelly — a Libertarian candidate siphoned off about 10,000 votes (thanks, buddy)). Giffords had a lot more money than Kelly and was able to run her lying t.v. ads pretty much non-stop — thanks to generous donors like Keefy. Scumbag got what he paid for.

AZCoyote on November 5, 2010 at 10:44 AM

From Opensecrets.org:

MEYER, RONALD
UNIVERSAL CITY,CA 91608 NBC, UNIVERSAL/PRESIDENT & CEO 4/23/09 $1,000 Boehner, John (R)

COTTON, RICHARD
NEW YORK,NY 10128 NBC UNIVERSAL/GENERAL COUNSEL 4/15/09 $1,000 Boehner, John (R)

WATTERS, JAMES B
SIMI VALLEY,CA 93063 NBC UNIVERSAL/PRESIDENT & GENERAL M 5/7/09 $500 Boehner, John (R)

ECK, JOHN W
FAIRFIELD,CT 06824 NBC TV NETWORK/PRESIDENT 7/20/09 $1,000 Boehner, John (R)

Interesting.

strictnein on November 5, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Conway, the Senatorial candidate fro Kentucky who lost after running the notorious “Aqua Buddha” attack ad, received the maximum donation from Olbermann in the final days of the general election season

He donated to Conway AFTER the Aqua Buddha ad… and ad that should qualify Conway as “the worst person in the world.” Thus making a joke of that segment… but you already knew that.

mankai on November 5, 2010 at 10:46 AM

He is one of the angriest, meanest, craziest individuals walking the planet. Someone should really run his fingerprints.

sherry on November 5, 2010 at 10:16 AM

Actually, Sherry, that dubious distinction goes to his fellow foaming at the mouth MSNBC colleague in All Things Maniacal, Ed “Crazy Eddie” Schultz.

pilamaye on November 5, 2010 at 10:46 AM

I disagree. They are free to support anyone they wish when they are in their private lives. ….
AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Actually they aren’t. Their employer has made this activity a matter of employment policy.

Three years ago, MSNBC stated categorically that the rule applies to both the traditional NBC network and its opinion cable network:
NBC and MSNBC TV require permission of the president of NBC News. (MSNBC.com is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft.)
“Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities……You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the President of NBC News or his designee

katiejane on November 5, 2010 at 10:46 AM

I want to Thank Ed and Allah for keeping track of what’s going on – on MSNBC.
Because whenever I flip over to the channel to see what’s going on, I wonder where is their “Interventionist” That’s why they are all there right? Someone called for an Intervention at MSNBC….where’s the Interventionist?

Does Dr Phil go on MSNBC anymore? Hey Keith Olbermann, what color is the sky in your world SNARK.

Dr Evil on November 5, 2010 at 10:46 AM

Precisely. And he’s touted as an opinion show host, not a neutral journalist.

That’s my entire point. BTW, I like Palin a lot and enjoy her appearances, but fair is fair, too.

It is a lot closer to pushing the envelope than a private donation is, in my opinion.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:35 AM

First of all, you don’t know Fox’s policy is.
But then you would exclude Juan William from contributing, and all the democrat strategists from contributing to their campaigns, or any of the other hundreds of commentators…Sarah is there for her Republican commentary, Juan is there for his liberal…both I would imagine give to the causes they support.
Why is that so confusing? It’s the anchors that are usually bound by these policies…not their commentators.
Sheeesh…you guys are not real bright…
Please learn the word “discernment”…

right2bright on November 5, 2010 at 10:47 AM

I think you guys are elevating him with this argument. He’s not remotely close to being a reporter. He’s just a talk show host.

He is on par with Joy Behar.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:48 AM

katiejane on November 5, 2010 at 10:46 AM

We both just wasted our time trying to educate her…I do it because I pity her, but then realize it is fruitless.

right2bright on November 5, 2010 at 10:49 AM

If so, is Palin Palin’s being a Fox contributer contributor a conflict of interest?

That’s a bigger deal than a private donation.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:22 AM

What? You’re comparing someone who is doing the interviewing (Olberman) with someone who is being interviewed (Palin)–you know, the Fox contributer contributor. As someone said above, you’re comparing apples to pig vomit.

BuckeyeSam on November 5, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Why is that so confusing? It’s the anchors that are usually bound by these policies…not their commentators.

And I can’t restate my observation again without getting into some silly fuss here. He’s not an anchor! LOL*

There WERE no anchors on election night. It was a free-for-all snarkfest that only the miserable who were losing would enjoy.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:49 AM

For AnnInCA and the others who wonder why this is such a big deal, allow me to illuminate you: it’s not. This is totally a dog-bites-man story. What is at stake here is simply whether NBC will enforce its own internal policies viz-a-vis “impartiality.” Juan Williams was fired for far less [granted, from a different organization] in the name of “journalistic integrity, and if there’s any justice in this at all, Olbermann’s numbers will go even farther into the crapper.

gryphon202 on November 5, 2010 at 10:50 AM

AZCoyote on November 5, 2010 at 10:44 AM

In the sense that he is supporting the dems who were massive losers…

right2bright on November 5, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Interesting.

strictnein on November 5, 2010 at 10:44 AM

I just looked up Cotton… he gave a lot, mostly to Dems. And he gave to Boehner in April of ’09… did he actually expect his to be Speaker in ’11?

His biggest gift was one month before his donation to Boehner, a $5000 gift to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte.

mankai on November 5, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Ed’s update has it right, imo. Olbermann is an ethically bankrupt liberal, of course, and MSNBC is the electronic media/PR (left)wing of the DNC, and everyone understands this.

So who cares that an unhinged lefty opinion commentator gave money to the people that he supports on the air? Not me. If MSNBC management is suffering under some sort of illusion that they are a journalistic enterprise, God bless ‘em. They make their own rules, and they are entitled to enforce them as they see fit.

But no one with a brain will feel cheated by this news.

Jaibones on November 5, 2010 at 10:51 AM

But, but Hannity contributed to Republicans Gomez and Bachmann so it’s a wash!!!/

Seriously, the “violation” was that MessNBC had their opinion journalists as anchors on election night.

Brat on November 5, 2010 at 10:52 AM

I disagree. They are free to support anyone they wish when they are in their private lives. ….
AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Yeah! Screw my employer’s rules, I’ll do what I want!

mankai on November 5, 2010 at 10:52 AM

But no one with a brain will feel cheated by this news.

Jaibones on November 5, 2010 at 10:51 AM

Thank you. I’ll take that as a compliment.

gryphon202 on November 5, 2010 at 10:52 AM

We both just wasted our time trying to educate her…I do it because I pity her, but then realize it is fruitless.

right2bright on November 5, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Spare us all the snark. My point is really simple, it’s not hard to follow, and either you agree or disagree.

I think Fox actually has handled the Palin commentator deal pretty well. But that was a very iffy move. The way they have used her has been orchestrated well, and she is sort of a Donna Brazille type. In fact, I’d say the person who is now on more slippery ground is Rove.

He can’t keep pretending to be an objective analyst when he’s actually raising money for a specific group in the GOP. Talk about free advertising time.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:53 AM

MSNBC has ethics?

I don’t know that this is important in regards to punishment, but it is important to note the hypocrisy from the Left on this issue.

Asher on November 5, 2010 at 10:53 AM

I think the only reason this is news is simply because Olbermann shouted from the rooftops that Fox contributed to Republican campaigns.

That’s the only reason I would shout this from the rooftops.

therightscoop on November 5, 2010 at 10:54 AM

The MSNBC Ethics Code applies to “journalists”. Olberman is a gossipist.

paulsur on November 5, 2010 at 10:54 AM

He is on par with Joy Behar.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Defending him didn’t work, so now you’re mocking him.

Get a backbone, or think before type.

fogw on November 5, 2010 at 10:54 AM

Unlike crr6, anninca won’t tell you that you’re dumb ad nauseum.

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 10:40 AM

Hey, the actual thread question is boring. I’m just spicing it up. LOL*

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:55 AM

NBC has an ethics code? who knew?

Willie on November 5, 2010 at 10:55 AM

NBC will probably issue a harsely worded letter and let it drop.

They are hopelessly biased. I almost gagged when I read the phrase “objective journalist” in their quoted text.

dogsoldier on November 5, 2010 at 10:55 AM

I just looked up Cotton… he gave a lot, mostly to Dems. And he gave to Boehner in April of ’09… did he actually expect his to be Speaker in ’11?

His biggest gift was one month before his donation to Boehner, a $5000 gift to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte.

mankai on November 5, 2010 at 10:50 AM

Yeah, I think in general those guys gave a lot to Dems and to the GE Political Fund (or whatever it’s called), and it’s easy to guess where most of that money goes (hint: GE makes lots of windmills). I was wondering the same thing about their expectations for Boehner in 2011. They were hedging their bets at the very least.

strictnein on November 5, 2010 at 10:55 AM

NBC will probably issue a harsely worded letter and let it drop.

They are hopelessly biased. I almost gagged when I read the phrase “objective journalist” in their quoted text.

dogsoldier on November 5, 2010 at 10:55 AM

I would guess they will point out that Keith’s show/role is not covered under that clause. He isn’t even asked to appear impartial, so obviously, that rule wouldn’t apply to him.

AnninCA on November 5, 2010 at 10:57 AM

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