Keith Olbermann, you are having the worst week ever.
Olbermann, who has been described as a “top anchor” on MSNBC, was unfavorably cited by Jon Stewart at the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” leading to his decision to remove the “Worst Person in the World” segment on his show. However, politics blog Politico then fingered Olbermann as a donor to the election campaigns of three Democrats in two states, leading to his ‘indefinite’ removal as a host for MSNBC. In a statement, president Phil Griffin chided:
“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.”
The New York Times said folks at MSNBC’s parent company NBC were tight-lipped about the popular, openly liberal host’s future at the network, but say the move is not one on the path to axing Olbermann. Some see the very public wrist slap as an indirect critique of Fox News’s bald-faced bias, and as an attempt to differentiate itself from the highly criticized, mostly conservative network’s variant journalistic standards.
The Times quotes Michael Moynihan of Reason magazine, who wonders why Olbermann can’t make official what he says nightly on television:
Mr. Moynihan asked, “Isn’t it unfair to hold Olbermann, who is one of the most partisan people on television (if not of Earth), to the same standards as, say, Brian Williams? Countdown exists to promote Democratic candidates and liberal policies, which is just fine by me. So why shouldn’t Olbermann, as a private citizen, be allowed to donate money to those candidates he plumps for on television?”
In a statement made after the existence of the donations was made public, Olbermann admitted to donating the money, but indicated that he did not use his influence inappropriately to sway voters:
“One week ago, on the night of Thursday October 28 2010, after a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona, I donated $2,400 each to the reelection campaigns of Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords,” Olbermann said. “I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky…. I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns, nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level,” Olbermann said.
UPDATE: Ooh, the Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard makes an impassioned plea to get Keith back on the air, and suggests the move is a political one by parent company GE to “curry favor” with a newly Republican House. Burn.