November 6th, 2010
10:42 AM ET
3 years ago

Maddow: MSNBC is no Fox

(CNN) – News that MSNBC Anchor Keith Olbermann donated to three Democratic candidates last month is proof to many that the network has once and for all shown itself to be the liberal equal of Fox News.

But not so fast, says Rachel Maddow, a fellow MSNBC anchor.

On her show Friday, Maddow said any attempt to equate Fox News to MSNBC is disingenuous, especially in light of the swift actions MSNBC executives took in suspending Olbermann compared to the activities Fox News hosts often engage in without repercussions.

"If you look at the long history of Fox hosts not just giving money to candidates, but actively endorsing campaigns and raising millions of dollars for politicians and political parties - whether it's Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck or Mike Huckabee - and you'll see that we can lay that old false equivalency to rest forever,” Maddow said Friday.

“There are multiple people being paid by Fox News to essentially run for office as Republican candidates. If you count not just their hosts but their contributors, you're looking at a significant portion of the entire Republican lineup of potential contenders for 2012,” she continued.

First reported by Politico and confirmed by Federal Election Commission filings, Olbermann gave $2,400 – the maximum individual amount allowed – to each of the campaigns of Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway, and Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.

The donations apparently breached NBC’s policy, which requires employees to seek permission before donating or engaging in political activities. CNN has a similar policy.

"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," MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement Friday.

Maddow agreed Olbermann deserved repercussions for violating a stated policy, but added that the incident's true value is its exposition of the differences between MSNBC and Fox, not the similiarites.

"Their network is run as a political operation. Ours isn't. Yeah, Keith's a liberal, and so am I. But we're not a political operation - Fox is. We're a news operation. The rules around here are part of how you know that," she said.


Filed under: Keith Olbermann
soundoff (248 Responses)
  1. me

    You just lost a long time, loyal watcher/listerner, MSNBC...I like you, too, Rachel, but bye. And the Teabaggers are crying Socialism.

    November 6, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  2. Martin

    Nice way to try to spin it Rachael, but you really believe that MSNBC is anything other FoxLeft, you're deluding yourself.

    November 6, 2010 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. Johnny

    It is okay for Fox to give a million dollars to the GOP. Olbermann gives around 7500 and he is suspended. What is wrong with this picture. Reinstate Olbermann immediately. Do not listen to the right wing nutjob wacos especially at Fox. They are slimeballs........

    November 6, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  4. RJ

    I have turned off MSNBC until Keith is re-instated. MSNBC was my #1 station. I like Rachel and Chris Mathews and The Last Word. But Keith was the anchor. Until he is back on the air MSNBC will not be turned on on my TV. Put Keith back on and STOP THIS FOOLISHNESS!!!

    November 6, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. gtbdave

    Neither are that liberal. Both support amnesty, and illegal immigration, which is about the same position as the Chamber of Commerce, not exactly a liberal group. It's really a neoconservative position, corporations and cheap labor are not hindered by such economic barriers as laws and borders. They may hold some liberal position on some minor issues, but on big ticket items they are just as conservative as republicans, or neoconservatives. Groups like the Chamber of Commerce should be upset, they are losing on of their big spokesmen, a strong advocate for their position on major, macro, economic policy.

    November 6, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  6. Therese

    The problem with MSNBC's action is that they violate Olbermann's Constitutional right to speak for himself. Each of us has the right to give (up to $2400) to each political candidate of our choice in support during elections; and each of us is guaranteed by the first amendment the right to freedom of speech. MSNBC strangled Olbermann's right. I hope they reinstate him soon!

    November 6, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. kevin

    I find it amusing that MSNBC keeps harping on the million dollar RGA political contribution from the OWNER of Fox News. If you do your research (it's public information people), the companies that partner in the ownership of MSNBC (NBC – General Electric and Microsoft) have donated MILLIONS (plural) to the Democratic party!!

    Fox could resort to the same level of hypocrisy as MSNBC but, hasn't for some reason. I don't think Fox is the best but, MSNBC is for sure no better.

    November 6, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  8. roro

    Good for you, Rachel. At least what you report is actual fact-based truth. The ditto heads on Fox are totally slanted and sometimes liars and exaggerators to boot. Whenever the people on MSNBC make statements, they back them up with proof, either written or oral, which their listeners can read on TV and/or listen to. I don't care if it's Republican or Democrat – I JUST WANT THE FACTS. I can form my own opinions.

    November 6, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. Dr. Flammel

    Give me a break. "Saying" you are fair and balanced is not the same thing as "being" fair and balanced. Fox News is as extreme as it gets. Watch it if you want, but stop kidding yourselves.

    November 6, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. marge

    Go Rachel!
    Unfortunately, 2010 Midterms let the "If I repeat it often enough, it becomes 'true'" side snookered the general public. Continue to speak truth and support the truth with facts. Thanks for your insights.

    November 6, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. jota

    and, exactly how do your points about Fox make MSNBC any less liberal?

    November 6, 2010 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. marty

    First, Fox news didn't give any money-the organization that owns them did. Second, O'Reilly, Hannity, Beck are not on as news journalists but are commentators. Same as Maddow and Olberman. Except Fox looks from the right and MSNBC looks from the left. No difference. Both crazies. The truth is somewhere in between the two, not on one side or the other.

    November 6, 2010 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. Drew

    Name me one MSNBC personality you might well be seeing on the 2012 presidential ticket, ONE, and then those who actually try to compare Fox and MSNBC will have a defense. Fox is an infomercial for the GOP masquerading as some sort of news. How can they possibly be objective when they've got current and former Republican political operatives both behind the scenes and in front of the camera?

    November 6, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. pw

    If fox news is fair and balanced; why did they hired a crazy loon like glen (glenda) beck?

    November 6, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Maddox doesn't pretend to be anything other than a liberal and her show is commentary, not news. Fox pretended to be "fair and balanced" but have finally discarded that pretense. What I like about Maddow is that, when I check her facts, they are usually correct. When I check Hannity, Beck, or O'Reilly, their information is usually exaggerated or completely false. Maybe they are simply bad at researching their subjects but I cannot trust their information. That said, I have never confused "news" with commentary. Fox presents commentary but claim that it is news with the exception of Shepard Smith, who is a real journalist.

    November 6, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. Al Hurra

    MSNBC not a political operation? MSNBC is basically the broadcast arm of the Democratic National Committee. To say Rachal Maddow or Keith Olbermann are journalists is like me saying my Daschund is an Astronaut.

    November 6, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  17. Diana

    I agree with Rachel. First of all, FOX is not a real reporting agency. When you have people reporting such as palin, glenn beck and other crazies, it makes sense that they would contribute. They don't hide the fact they are not fair and balance. A conversation with Keith and Rachel is way over Fox's head. These are two highly intelligent human beings that can not be mistaken for the likes of FOX fake newscasters. I don't care that their are more people watching FOX. Those people are retarded when they believe FOX is speaking the gospel. When you keep telling people the same thing over and over they are going to believe it. The fox news watcher are like sheep that need to go over a cliff.

    November 6, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  18. gazelle79

    The difference between MSNBC and Fox News which Maddow points out is on the mark...Fox News hosts clearly make financial campaign contributions to candidates and their hosts are putting themselves out there as candidates themselves. You can't compare the journalism of Keith to Glen Beck...in fact, Glenn Beck has publicly states that he does not check his facts when he makes assertions on his show (similar situation caused the firing of Dan Rather on CBS)...that is a huge breach of professional journalism, which is obviously foreign to many Fox News hosts. Keith should be disciplined for breach of his employment policies but I think the lesson is learned and helps distinguish MSNBC from Fox News.

    November 6, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  19. Chipster

    @great move :) You apparently missed the point of what Maddow said. She pointed out the fact that MSNBC has rules about contributing to political campaigns and that Fox News does not. She said that she was aware of and followed the rules of her employment. She did not excuse Olbermann's conduct but hoped he would be returning soon. She did support the network so you missed the point. She should not be fired for speaking against her employer because she did not. MSNBC hired her for her commentary. Her show is commentary, not news. Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly, and most everything else on Fox network is commentary, not news. Maddow pointed out that Fox has no such requirements for their employees so they cannot violate rules that don't exist. That was an observation, not criticism, of MSNBC.

    November 6, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. NC

    Fox News = fair and balanced......all other networks should be ashamed of their reporting style...

    November 6, 2010 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. Lousy Biased Coverage

    I agree MSNBC is no Fox and thank goodness. At least Fox doesn't spew the vile commentary that the likes of Maddow, Olbermann and Schultz claim to be news reporting. Olbermann broke his company's rules – plain and simple. All he had to do was tell them he was going to do it but instead perhaps decided he was above the rules of everyone else – who knows? Funny though he contributes to one in Arizona in the morning then interviews him in the evening with no disclosure, then contributes to Conway all the while lampooning Paul for weeks and weeks. He deserves some time off to consider what his responsibilities are to those who employ him. As for comparing him to Fox – there is no comparison in making donations. Keith has every right to do so just as Fox does but Keith was supposed to disclose it to his superiors and he didn't. He was not fired for the contribution but the secrecy.

    November 6, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. Chuck Anaheim, Ca

    Right on Rachel! I saw this commentary last night and she could not have been more on the point.

    November 6, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. Steve in Denver

    How quaint. A News organization enforcing ethics rules.

    After the coward Hannity had Angle and O'Donnell on anytime they needed money, at which time they prominently asked for donations and gave their web site.

    MSNBC starts with news and adds opinion. Fox starts with lies, innuendo, and half truths, then distorts it from there. Anyone remember the LA police buying $100 million worth of jet packs? A half hour on their fox and friends morning news, then a few segments later, just a quick "LA isn't buying jet packs." The $200 million a day, they actually did a half hour segment on how al quaeda was planning to hack our computer systems and divert sewage into the drinking water supply (maybe joe the plumber could enlighten them that sewers aren't computer controlled and there aren't any valves that connect the two systems).

    Bring Keith back!

    November 6, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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