MSNBC has suspended host Keith Olbermann indefinitely and without pay, after Politico revealed the primetime host contributed to the campaigns of of three congressional candidates, a practice which violates an NBC News policy.
This morning, as the story was unfolding, an MSNBC insider called Olbermann’s move “stunning.” Another told TVNewser, “a lot of people are watching how this is going to be handled because it has far-reaching implications.”
That decision came down a short time ago when MSNBC president Phil Griffin released this statement: “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.”
Olbermann confirmed the donations via a statement to Politico last night:
“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. I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky.”
The network policy states, “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.”
The NBC policy goes on to add that employees “should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the president of NBC News or his designee.”
As Griffin states, Olbermann didn’t.
> Update: The Nation‘s Washington DC editor Chris Hayes will be filling in tonight.
> Update 2: MSNBC now says Hayes will not be filling in, after reports came out that he, too, has donated to Democratic campaigns this cycle.
> Update 3: MSNBC says news anchor Thomas Roberts will fill in for Olbermann tonight.
> More: Who’s Tweeting about Olbermann?
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