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. WTF???

    MSNBC and Fox are exactly the same. Fox=conservative and MSNBC=liberal. For Rachel Maddow to claim otherwise os completely and utterly disingenuous. So she's either lying or delusional.

    Regardless, Olbermann is a total joke (what he said about Scott Brown when Mr. Brown should have gotten him fired immediately as it was complete slander) who has been fired by every network that's employed him.

    November 6, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  2. indy

    The pundits on Fox don't work the election coverage. MSNBC chose to have you on, that make Keith, Chris and Rachel news people. Apparently no one at MSNBC has explained the difference to their news people. Also, I only heard a replay of the Matthews and Backman exchange and from what I heard, he sounded rude. Not a shock, she's not a Democrat. A local columnist in Philly watched both Olbermann and O'Reilly and tracked guests, male, female, ethnicity and political leanings and discovered that O'Reilly had considerably more people on with contrary opinions that Olbermann. Shocking when they claim how fake the conservatives on Fox are. Glad he's been suspended!

    November 6, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. DemoPundit

    This entire story is odd. The contributions were small in the sense that they could not have swayed the outcome of an election. The best way for a TV pundit to influence an election is through broadcast content. It makes me wonder why Olberman would have risked consequences in order to make such tiny gestures of support. My best guess is that he did it deliberately as a protest against the policy or that he somehow was not aware of the "ask for permission" process (which sounds ludicrous itself). I hope that upon his return he will explain the rationale for this very minor incident. As for a comparison with Fox News, Maddow need not waste her breath making the distinction. With respect to Fox, you have either drunk the kool-aid or you are perfectly aware that nothing reported on that channel is trustworthy.

    November 6, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. That's what happens in the real world too

    Rachel should play QB in the NFL.It is called the "misdirection play". It doesn't matter what Fox does. And all of your unproven allegations do not matter. What matters is that the network, MSNBC, has a set of rules. All Employers do. Duh! Ubermeister broke them. He got lucky and got "suspended', not fired. And that is the way FOX is reporting it, because that is what happened. All the rest is just noise.

    November 6, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Greg

    Hah! Listen to these people trying to defend FOX News(?). FOX is nothing but the propaganda arm of the Republican party. It's pretty simple. How many Democratic Presidential candidates have a show on MSNBC or does regular commentary? Zero! How many Republican candidates are on FOX? All but Romney. Because Romney is to mainstream for the rest of the FOX far right crazies. Yes MSNBC is liberal. The rest of the networks are moderate. What you nuts call liberal is what us normal people call factual news. You people are tools for Murdocks right wing agenda of Corporate controlled America. He is the Third Reich, telling you lies about your fellow citizen so you will turn against them. Just like Hitler did towards the Jews. The man is pure evil. And you people lap it up.

    November 6, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. enough already

    MSNBC's policy exists only so that the actions and opinions of their staff do not conflict with General Electric's.

    There is no unbiased reporting in the media, whether from MSNBC, FOX or CNN. All are controlled by corporate interests. People need to read from multiple sources, and determine the real facts for themselves.

    November 6, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. Clyde E. Burgoon-Clark

    FAUX "News" (NOT!) is doing everything in their power to facilitate a reich (sic) wing fascist takeover of the United States. Keith broke the rules and deserved to be punished; but most of the people at FAUX belong in PRISON for sedition, treason, libel, slander, etc. And what's with a foreign national owning part of FAUX?

    November 6, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. Joanne

    The higher ups need to realize there is no longer much to watch on MSNBC. Keith, Rachel & Laurence are the mainstays. Please put Keith back on the air, the sooner the better. There was a time when our family watched MSNBC almost all the time, but no more. You either listen/watch /Chris Matthews waving his hands and interrupting his guests constantly. Or, talking over them. The daytime 'news' features females with skirts high up and total air heads. You pray they don't stray from what is written on the teleprompter. BRING KEITH BACK.

    November 6, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. Oregon Dem

    Wow
    all you that hammer Kieth, yet smile when Faux News and Rush spread lies and fear are showing your collors. You say nothing when Faux campaigns for a for a Tea Party person, or when the company gives 1 million to the Republican party. Yet if Kieth gives a legal amount and yes violates the company rules, you want to treat him like scum.

    Faux news should be fined or the Repubs getting support should have to declare that they are getting millions in donatiopns. The Fraud is Faux and their hand picked people.

    You are validating the notion that Democracy is no longer what we have, rather you cherish Elections purchased by the highest bidder. Get ready to really lose your country.

    November 6, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. harleydavidson

    rachel is just sour that she does not have the ratings...their low ratings unequivocally proves that there are less people who trust and like msnbc than fox news. any more questions?

    November 6, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. Guess Who

    The people who are taking ownership of MSNBC are actually Republicans? The Comcast family is GOP’ers. I suppose they are about to slowly transform the station to be like FOX. This might be good. It will be a competition for Fox and maybe give CNN a chance to pick up Maddow, Olbermann and the rest. Should CNN try to stay neutral(as they correctly are) then we will have a blasting of right-wing media subjecting CNN of being left-wing anyway. CNN can be strengthen because the Progressive will need a voice somewhere.

    November 6, 2010 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. Tom

    News channels just don't get very high ratings in this country.
    The only channel consistently having higher ratings than Fox 'news' is the Disney channel.

    November 6, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  13. Ks

    I support keith, his actions should not be identified as being onesided. Thank you keith, rachel, laurence, chriss and ed for giving us a forum from which news is given and reported uniquivocally without bias nor a sense of separation. giving us the straight talk on issues that fight to bring a moral judgement on bettering this country through common sense approach and allowing the viewer to make that distinction thru jurnalistic debate and facts. thank you for standing on issues that matter and for giving middle america a voice.

    November 6, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. Brent Streisand

    "Disingenuous"????? U r kidding, right? MSNperpC is beyond the left hash mark, and is clearly a tool for the Libdog left. In fact, while on the subject, the DNC might as well move their offices to Rockefeller Center into the NBC news offices and get it over with. After all, they've played their card. 2008: the year journalism died.

    November 6, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. Ken from FL

    And I'm sure the ten people who watch Maddow's show were shouting "right on." She and Olbermann are two peas in a pod.

    November 6, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. joe

    Madcow is one to talk. Nothing but a trash talker herself, maybe .01% journalist, 99.9% democratic hack and slash spin doctor.

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

    News channels just don't get very high ratings in this country.
    The only channel consistently getting higher ratings than Fox 'news' is the Disney channel.

    November 6, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. See Novak

    You can't have it both ways. Either MSNBC is a consortium of non-objective, liberal Trotskyites espousing socialist views, or Keith Olbermann is just as corrupt as all the conservative PAC groups he relentlessly whines about. Or Both!

    November 6, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. bobcat1a

    You Fox apologists need to tell us what candidate for office is on the payroll at MSNBC or any other NBC station. Don't have to look far to see one on Fox. How much money has Sean Hannity given to Republican candidates? How much advocacy has Fox donated to the Tea Party. How much did Rupert give to the Republican Party and other Republican PACs? Compare that to what has been given by NBC to any political organization? Answer: there is no comparison. Fox never stops shilling for the TEApublican party.

    November 6, 2010 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  20. E_V

    Ms. Maddow should be angry that the state of the US "News" (both MSNBC, FOX, and a variety of other sources) is beginning to show a distinct similarity to "news" in places like China, Cuba, etc., where the 'news' also has obvious political bias and facts take a back seat. Add to this Youtube's agreeing to remove content at the request of a government official and it is striking similar to Google's agreeing to China's censorship rules.
    Watching these channels (or reading them) makes me feel physically ill. It's all political propaganda and it flies in the face of what America is all about. It's disgusting.
    Kieth should be fired. Fox news should enact and enforce a similar policy if they don't have one already. If they're not interested in offering unbiased news, then they should be required to call themselves entertainment. Period.

    November 6, 2010 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. jellymon

    Cry me a river Rachel. Time for MSNBC to get Air America'd!

    November 6, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. julie

    Rachel Maddow is the only actual journalist on television.

    November 6, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. Peter

    Maddow is correct. MSNBC, while certainly leaning left in their selection of commentators (as Fox leans right with their selection of commentators), MSNBC (partent companyu NBC) has a rule against political contributions by talent. Fox not only (evidently) does not have this rule, but has hired Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee (active Republican political figures) and has them on the payroll as regular Fox "personalities". Very different.

    November 6, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. mesamick

    When I read the comments that say ClusterFOX is not the official mouthpiece and propaganda tool of the right wing looneys in the country I now know why this country is in such dire straights. The term for these people that think ClusterFOX is "fair and balanced" that immediately comes to mind is "Idiot Americans".

    Read the book of the same title and if you are a fall-in-line conservative that can read AND comprehend at the same time you'll know why.

    As for KO, he's is a true American treasure right up there with Mark Twain for saying things like...We must defend de"moc"racy from conservatives one “mock” at a time.

    November 6, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  25. Jenk

    Ms. Maddow's claim that Fox News is a political operation and that her show is not is disingenuous. I have watched her show and she is extremely political–on the left. If she were really intellectually honest she would acknowledge that yes, Fox does promote the agenda of the right, and that yes, her show promotes the agenda of the left. I wonder if she'd be so indignant about the Olbermann firing if he'd given money to a candidate on the right. Come on Rachel. You lose your credibility with such silliness.

    November 6, 2010 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
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