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. Indiana Voter

    Sounds from the comments that a lot of people are jealous that Fox News is so successful and so they are spewing hate by trying to trash Fox rather than face the facts that he broke his company's own rules. Rather than accepting that it was Olbermann's fault for breaking the rules, they try and trash others who have nothing to do with MSNBC. Much like the elections, where they were responsible for passing unpopular legislation, Democrats tried to blame Republicans for trying to stop the unpopular legislation, but the American people were smarter than the Democrats lies.

    November 6, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. Rules Are Rules

    Gee, MSNBC had some rules that actually were in place and KO knowingly broke them. Let's see...liberal Maddow defends fellow traveler Olbermann for breaking those rules because Fox does it all the time. It's the old liberal themen of we can break the rules that we don't agree with and everyone else can just go to hell if they don't like it. It's the liberal idea that the person is not responsible for their errant ways; the mean old network along with the competition...

    Wake up...if Maddow and Olbermann are to maintain their so-called objectivity, then they need to understand that they need to follwo the networks rules; it makes MSNBC look biased otherwise...as for Fox, they need to clean their act up also, but I doubt that will happen. Both networks need to regain their objectivity in news reporting or just give up and become entertainment venues...

    November 6, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    It is funny Rachael can go to the White House and receive her talking points then point her finger at everyone else that they are bias. She loves being a shrill for the democrats and is a most useful idiot.

    November 6, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  4. Joe

    LOL, Maddow thinks she works for a "news" organization? Talk about clueless. Maddow, Olbermann, Matthews are nothing more than rabid, left-wing, disrespectful clowns. I can't wait for the day they're all off the air - and given how their ratings are in the toilet, it won't be long.

    November 6, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  5. Paul

    Removing Keith Olberman to me looks like "silencing dissent", especially in light of the recent take over the house by Republicans. He may have broken the rules at MSNBC, but his contribution is the tiniest drop in the bucket compared to what goes on over at Fox News all the time. Keith Olberman is a much needed voice on the left to help counterbalance the many voices on the far right. Most of what Keith Olberman does is point out the lies and hypocrisy on the right. Lies and hypocrisy that often go unchallenged. I enjoy listening to Keith Olberman and hope he is back at MSNBC soon.

    November 6, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. Chip

    Not one person supporting Fox has responded to the point that a boat load of republican candidates are on their payroll. what say you. Oh, ask Rush and then respond.

    November 6, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Cora & Kathy

    Gosh! Did cable giant Comcast have to buy out CNBC in order to silence Keith Olbermann? Could this be the reason MSNBC has suddenly adopted such a high and mighty agenda? Food for thought!

    November 6, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  8. Emile Zola

    As I see it, two wrongs don't make a right. NBC is not necessarily the Snow White of journalism and this phony outrage sounds more like a three dollar bill than good journalism. Where were they when Bush was trying to take us to war under false pretenses and they went with the flow, knowing well that Bush and the boy who ceeid wolf were one and the same. Aren't we free to contribute, express our opinions as we see fit? It's call freedom and our civil, human rights should prevail over office rules. Bush and his cronies violated 35 articles of the Constitution and where was NBC asking for his head? AWOL, just like all the media. Olbermann is one of the few voices in the desert that still believe in the Constitution and here lies the problem. In these trying times where fear, war mongering are our beacons thanks to a coward from Texas, what Olbermann did doesn't register as an error. He saw this frail democracy of ours going down the tubes and he did what he had to do. A regular slap on the wrist should have been sufficient. Democracy needs more Olbermanns and less Becks, Limbaughs, Coulters, et al. We have to many fear, slogan peddlers, shouldn't NBC erred on the side of democracy for a change? Hell, yes!

    November 6, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Carol

    Everyone would be happy on the Republican Right side to see the end of everyone who would bring their nonsense to the American Publics eyes and ears. That said, please bring Keith Olberman back when you are finished punishing him. I miss his dry humor, his good sense, and friday nights reading of "Thurber". Please?

    November 6, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. Terry - Indiana

    Frankly, whether you are watching Fox News or MSNBC, both are loaded with people who make me laugh. Both networks are better than any reality show, because the things they say cannot be written or rehearsed. At the top of best of list, Glen Beck and Keith Olbermann. Some of my best satirical comedy comes from watching these guys. Please let the goofball Olbermann come back. I need someone to offset the goofball Beck.

    November 6, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. BobR

    When you count the value of free publicity a guest slot on his show is worth he should be fined by the FEC also.

    November 6, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  12. TOTUS FOR PRESIDENT

    PMSNBC is No Fox?? Absolutely correct, Madcow! Compare the two networks' coverage of the recent election: Fox was led by several objective new anchors and had 6 Dem commentators but no Beck. In contrast, PMSNBC was ANCHORED by whacked out loony libs Chris "Obama gives me a thrill up my leg" Mathews and Keith "Bush is the worse person in the Universe" Olbermann. The PMSNBC crew had NO conservatives and sat around all night like a bunch of immature school kids getting drunk for the first time.

    November 6, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  13. len

    I'm a fan but I think the difference here is degree, not kind. MSNBC, FOX, CNN, ABC and CBS are all practicing advocacy journalism. When I was a journalism student, this was the polite term for yellow journalism. FOX is the most extreme followed by MSNBC and CNN. Olbermann has been the most assiduous practicioner at MSNBC, Candy Crowley at CNN.

    After an election where the power shifts, it is not atypical of major news organizations to realign the forward slots given the need for journalists to be close to the powers in power to get the freshest reporting. I don't know if Olbermann is part of that, but I expect to see more changes in assignments. Typically, the reporters assigned to a campaign are pushed forward as they have the deeper relationships. I say that because those reassignments may be cast as 'the conspiracy' when in fact, they are common and possibly more prevalent now that broadcast news has shifted from journalism to entertainment in focus with the accent on activist advocacy reporting a symptom of that shift.

    The suspension of Olbermann is an overreaction, but like Juan Williams, not out of line with the policy. In an age of private jet pundit salaries, I'm less upset about this and don't see a serious breach of responsibility. I do sense a bit of Spy vs Spy in Maddow's reaction.

    November 6, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. huey1

    Rachel and Keith are the reasons why I blocked MSNBC on my TV two years ago. I just got sick and tired of listening to their hatred filled rants.

    November 6, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. car1944

    Thank you Rachel for saying the truth while not defending Keith's breaking your network's rules. Now we will see if the network (MSNBC) will in turn slap Oberman's wrist and bring him back to work?

    Fox News has the audacity to look upon this issue with Keith Oberman and have anything to say about it. They present political bias everyday 24/7.

    November 6, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. normajean

    I don't understand why you people that don't like these shows, watch them and then take up time and space to complain about them. If you don't like them ,don't watch. GOOOD GRIEF!!. I don't like Limbaugh and Beck , don't watch them.,so can't comment . Does this make TOO much sense for you? As to this debacle, It is ludicrous. The Repubs get millions of dollars from undeclared sources and nobody says anything.This thing with Olbermann is a joke!!!. This world has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous!!!!

    November 6, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Itsyourfault

    What his getting suspended have to do with Fox News??? Own up, take responsibility for your actions..... Maddow is a wind bag... worthless

    November 6, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Jeanne

    Rachel....you are next and I can't wait to watch you fall....I have NEVER seen anyone so mean spirited in all my life and on TV at that....I haven't watched your show since the first few days you were on...even then I couldn't watch the entire show...people like you are what gives the left a bad name....you call yourself a journalist...give me a break...yes we have freedom of speech but you are suppose to report the news and let us decide what we believe...instead you see just one side...I will NEVER vote democrat again because of people like you and Ken...get off TV....Walter Cronkite, Huntley/Brinkley would be ashamed at what the news media has become. You give journalist a bad name. Shame on you.

    November 6, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. Emilio Dumphuque

    For a man as passionately, righteously indignant as Keith is, I would EXPECT him to contribute to certain candidates! As a private citizen, who's show expresses his OPINION, rather than news, he should be allowed that right!

    November 6, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. KO

    MSNBC has lots of opinion shows with a clear Democratic/progressive slant. However, there's no comparison to FOX. FOX opinion shows are hosted by a bully (O'Reilly), a Republican Party hack (Hannity), and a lunatic (Beck). They have presumptive Republican presidential candidates (Huckabee and Palin) hosting shows. They regularly put loony birds like Michelle Bachman on the air, giving them free air time, and then never challenge the wacky things they say. Even their "news" shows have a strong bias. They are not a news network–they are a Republican Party propaganda network.

    November 6, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Joshua College Station TX

    The president of MSNBC is right to do what he did. Rachel is right too. This action by the president keeps MSNBC legitimate and clearly separates the network from FOX. Hopefully after the suspension, Keith learns from his mistake and comes back on air.

    November 6, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. tony

    the issue isnt fox anchors and what they contribute. we all know they do and they dont try to cover it up either. the bottom line is MSNBC has a policy that Fox doesnt. so to sit around and talk about olbermann being suspended and then relate it to the activities of fox is stupid. maddow wants to talk about how mad she is but does it from MSNBC itself; just quit then or ask MSNBC to review it policies.

    November 6, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. TOTUS FOR PRESIDENT

    @Sgt Joe: "Fox News is a total GOP funded charade."

    Please give us even one tiny fact where the GOP has funded Fox, directly or indirectly. Otherwise stfu, go away and never come back.

    November 6, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. Marco555

    And we're not supposed to think MSNBC is the Liberal equal of FOX News when she's donning that female Hannity look.

    November 6, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. Jeanne

    Rachel....you are next and I can't wait to watch you fall....I have NEVER seen anyone so mean spirited in all my life and on TV at that....I haven't watched your show since the first few days you were on...even then I couldn't watch the entire show...people like you are what gives the left a bad name....you call yourself a journalist...give me a break...yes we have freedom of speech but you are suppose to report the news and let us decide what we believe...instead you see just one side...I will NEVER vote democrat again because of people like you and Keith...get off TV....Walter Cronkite, Huntley/Brinkley would be ashamed at what the news media has become. You give journalist a bad name. Shame on you.

    November 6, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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