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Friday, November 5, 2010

Phil Griffin suspends Keith Olbermann from MSNBC for making donations to Democrats

This morning, MSNBC president Phil Griffin made the shocking announcement that he has suspended the network's most popular personality, Keith Olbermann (who hosts Countdown at five o'clock Pacific Time) for making donations to three Democrats, which Griffin claimed was in violation of NBC News policy.

The suspension is indefinite, although Griffin did not say MSNBC was firing Olbermann, who remains under contract for several years.

By kicking Olbermann off the air, Griffin is effectively using his parent company's policies to censor and silence America's best known liberal broadcaster. His actions are especially outrageous considering that morning host Joe Scarborough donated to a Republican candidate in 2006, and faced no repercussions.

In fact, he was defended by his network:
Joe Scarborough, host of the "Morning Joe" talk show and the evening newscast "Scarborough Country," $4,200 in March 2006 to Derrick Kitts, Republican candidate for the House from Oregon. ... A spokesperson for NBC, Jeremy Gaines, replied to questions sent to Scarborough. "Yes, he did make a donation to Derrick Kitts. Kitts is an old friend of Joe's. Joe hosts an opinion program and is not a news reporter."
Griffin's inconsistent application of his network's "standards" suggests that he has a vendetta against Olbermann and has been itching for an opportunity to hurt Keith. Griffin may not be stupid enough to want Olbermann gone — he hosts the network's highest-rated show — but he's not smart enough to realize that what he's done is to empower his critics to expose his hypocrisy.

Initially, it looked like The Nation's Chris Hayes was going to be Keith's replacement for tonight, but MSNBC has clarified that it will be somebody else. Hayes — who regularly guest-hosts for Rachel Maddow — has also contributed to Democratic candidates, though not since becoming an MSNBC contributor.

You can protest Keith's suspension and give Phil Griffin a piece of your mind (just remember to be polite, and be respectful... keep that moral outrage restrained!) by sending him an email at phil.griffin@nbcuni.com. You can also call 212-664-4444.

UPDATE: It was obvious already, but it's become even more apparent that Griffin's justification for suspending Olbermman was contrived:
[A]ccording to one NBC News insider, it's common knowledge within the organization that MSNBC's increasingly left-wing programming and personalities aren't required to abide by NBC News' exacting rules — if they were, it would be a much less bombastic and politically charged network. So while Olbermann's donations may have run counter to the NBC News brand and Griffin's wishes, there doesn't appear to be a chapter-and-verse policy applying to MSNBC employees barring them.

"The standards department has told us that MSNBC doesn't answer to NBC News standards," the insider said. "They don't have coverage over MSNBC. They used to, back before MSNBC went political, but at some point it became too hard and MSNBC was taken out of their portfolio. As far as I know, there are no ethical standards at MSNBC. And if NBC says MSNBC is supposed to be living up to the NBC News standards, that's a preposterous lie."
That makes Griffin a preposterous liar. Good to know there's somebody at NBC News who dislikes Griffin as much as Griffin dislikes Olbermann.

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