Groan: MSNBC suspends Joe Scarborough for two days over old campaign donations

It’s the cable news equivalent of TSA’s security protocol. The rule may be unpopular and horribly ineffective at preventing the evil it’s aimed at, but hey — at least it’s being applied equally to everyone. If Olbermann’s junk got touched, then darn it, Scarborough’s junk is getting touched too.

“I recognize that I have a responsibility to honor the guidelines and conditions of my employment, and I regret that I failed to do so in this matter,” Scarborough said in a statement. “I apologize to MSNBC and to anyone who has been negatively affected by my actions,” he said, adding that after he was made aware of some of the contributions, he called MSNBC president Phil Griffin “and agreed with Phil’s immediate demand of a two-day suspension without pay.”

POLITICO had sought comment from the network after finding evidence that Scarborough gave at least five separate previously unknown $500 contributions while serving as an MNBC host – all to Republican candidates to whom he was close who were running for state legislative seats in or near Scarborough’s hometown of Pensacola, Fla. After being contacted by POLITICO about the donations, Scarborough voluntarily disclosed three other $500 contributions to a friend running for county office in Florida…

At the time of Olbermann’s suspension, Griffin said he had a conversation with Scarborough about political giving. “In my conversation with Joe two weeks ago, he did not recall these contributions,” Griffin said…

“These are bulls — local races that mean nothing to Joe,” the friend told POLITICO. “Anybody who knows Joe’s life wouldn’t be surprised by the fact that these small, local donations were not top-of-mind. Once again, no good deed goes unpunished.

Follow the link up top if you happen to remotely care about the details of his donations. (Hint: Two of them were to his brother.) Three differences here with l’affaire Olby. First, unless I missed it, Olbermann never publicly apologized to MSNBC for putting them in an awkward spot the way Scarborough did in his statement. He did apologize to viewers, both in a written statement and on the air, and in his return show he acknowledged that he should have known what company policy was even though it wasn’t in his contract and “even though any rule like that in any company is probably not legal.” But as for an explicit “sorry for the hassle, boss,” nope — and frankly, given Howard Kurtz’s account of how he first learned about the suspension, I can’t say I blame him.

Second, Olby can credibly plead that he didn’t know the policy on donations until after he had violated it. Scarborough can’t, given the recent media attention to his colleague. In which case, why didn’t he go through his records right away and disclose before Politico started asking questions? Remember, as soon as the Olby suspension was announced, lefties were already targeting him for his own prior contributions. Might have been worth his while to phone his accountant at the time to check, no?

Third, Scarborough’s getting docked two days’ pay. That was initially Olbermann’s punishment too, but if Kurtz is to be believed, MSNBC ended up reducing its wrist slap to a wrist tap by reinstating his pay for the two days he missed. Whether that’s because MSNBC felt badly for suspending Olby before talking to him or just a reflection of the fact that Olbermann’s much more of an 800 lb. gorilla inside the network than Scarborough is, only Phil Griffin knows.

Exit question: Which fake scandal is lamer, this or the heavy breathing over tea partiers voting for Bristol Palin on “Dancing With the Stars”?