(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.