Saturday, November 6, 2010

Inconsistent Ethics: MSNBC suspends Keith Olbermann

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann-- host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," the network's highest rated show-- is temporarily without a paycheck after the network suspended him indefinitely for making contributions to three political candidates. Traditional ethics prohibit news employees from giving money to political candidates. It compromises objectivity. But, let's be real-- these aren't traditional times in the news business.

At first glance, Olbermann's suspension is a no-brainer to people who understand the importance of maintaining journalistic integrity and objectivity. But many news operations have decided that objectivity-- or, at least, the appearance of objectivity-- doesn't matter much anymore. Though, they give lip service like it does.

"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,” NBC News policy reads. Really?!?! What about professional, inside activities? Nobody in their right mind would think Olbermann is impartial after he spent years railing on then-President George W. Bush on a nightly basis.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin issued a statement saying "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." Wow! Politico broke this story and Griffin found out about Olbermann's contributions two nights after he had co-anchored MSNBC's election night coverage. I'm wondering how Olbermann was even given that assignment. In my mind, his clear lack of objectivity, based on liberal bias, disqualifies him to sit in, what should be, the objective position of anchor. Commentator or analyst, yes. Anchor, no.

I am not condoning the political contributions of $2,400 each to Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, who lost a U.S. Senate campaign to Tea Party candidate Rand Paul. But, it seems quite inconsistent for the network to allow Olbermann to host "Countdown" from a painfully obvious liberal point of view, then come down hard on him for putting his money where his mouth is and writing checks to liberal candidates.

What do you think? Chime-In!

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