November 5th, 2010
01:45 PM ET
12 years ago

Olbermann suspended for Dem contributions

(CNN) - Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's primetime firebrand host, has been suspended indefinitely for violating the ethics policies of his employer earlier this year when he donated to three Democrats seeking federal office, MSNBC announced Friday.

"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.

First reported by Politico and confirmed by Federal Election Commission filings, the primetime television host 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. (View PDF's of FEC filings for Conway, Grijalva, and Giffords)

Conway lost his bid to Republican Rand Paul while Grijalva eked out a win over Tea Party-backed candidate Ruth McClung for a fifth term. Grijalva found himself in an increasingly competitive race after he announced his support of a boycott of Arizona businesses in response to the state's controversial new immigration law and often appeared on Olbermann's show where he found a sympathetic audience. CNN, meanwhile, has yet to declare a winner in Giffords' race, but the Democrat currently holds about a 3,000-vote lead with all precincts reporting.

The contributions may have violated an NBC policy that requires employers of the news organization to obtain permission ahead of any political donations or activities that could be deemed as a conflict of interest. CNN institutes a similar policy.

In a statement to Politico before the suspension was announced, Olbermann defended the contributions:

"One week ago, on the night of Thursday October 28 2010, after a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona, I donated $2,400 each to the re-election campaigns of Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords," he said in the statement. "I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky."

Olbermann, as well as MSNBC executives, was a vocal critic of the $1 million donation by Fox News' parent News Corp. to the Republican Governor's Association earlier this year, saying at the time, "We now have another million reasons Fox News is the Republican news channel."

In a subsequent show, Olbermann also pressed House Majority Whip James Clyburn if there was a "legislative response" to a networks that "starts to shill for partisan causes."

A News Corp. spokesman defended the donation when it was first reported in August.

"News Corporation believes in the power of free markets, and the RGA's pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy," the spokesman said.

-  CNN's Alexander Mooney and David DeSola contributed to this report

Filed under: 2010 • Keith Olbermann
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. larry

    my only complaint with this story is maybe CNN should find out if it was a violation before they print this story. This reads as sour grapes for CNN to not find out if this is a violation first....this is not fox that just makes stuff up is it.

    November 5, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. Olbermann is crazy

    I love having Olbermann on the air. Sure he spreads misinformation and hate, but it is so obvious that only the real kooks will watch him. Actually, I sometimes turn on MSNBC when I need a real laugh.

    November 5, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. Patrick

    Olberman is a hypocrite and a liar. Fire him, immediately

    November 5, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. FreedomFirst

    Keith is the consumate worstest person ever. Undiluted hipocrate.

    November 5, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. Right Leaning Independent

    Who cares if Olberman donates to his liberal candidates? His ratings are plummeting because he is a biased liberal moron!! Like most Liberals, he is foaming out of his mouth because people do not worship him and what he stands for..... It is just a matter of time before he implodes over the rise of conservatism!

    November 5, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  6. Mark

    If you watched their election coverage attack flap you will understand why.

    November 5, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  7. JOhn

    Keith Olberman is not a network.

    November 5, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. PalmReader

    ALL news pundits from ALL news media, be it television or print, take themselves way too seriously. The world neither shines nor sets on any one of them .. yet ... in listening to or reading their comments and opinions, one gets the impression THEY at least think otherwise.

    November 5, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. ken

    Olbermann is an individual, Faux news is a network and almost news, big difference.

    November 5, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. stufit

    A raving, raging, demonizing, demeaning, left wing nut job is nothing but a common hypocritical criminal. Gee there is a surprise.

    November 5, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. DIANA

    What's the big deal. FOX not only donates to their political organizaiton, they promote their candidates as well as false propaganda on their "news network". Keith Olberman has donated to lots of worthy charities. I love the one where he donated to the Special Olympics every time Sarah Palin would say or do something that was typical of her, he ended up donating a lot of money thanks to her.

    November 5, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |

    its all a double standard when the liberals / progressives get caught...............nothing new here

    this guy is a hard-on, beat him down or beat him off so he goes away................he is just another angry left wing nut job
    Maddow is marginally better but just as useless...............nobody watches these quacks, infact I'll bet that nobody even reads this article because it has to do with MSNBC..............see the connection?

    November 5, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Anonymous

    I would think giving money in his own name would be OK- given thta he could have done it through someone else and truly been unethical.
    And , do we honestly think these men and women don't have a leaning one way or the other?

    November 5, 2010 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  14. camper

    NBC should have canned this arrogant schmuck long ago. He is the ONLY reason I never watch MSNBC.

    November 5, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  15. phoenix96

    This is typical of NBC and why they are no longer considered a credible news organization. Olbermann has never had any ethics (nor talent), now we see that he is corrupt as well. Only NBC would hire this guy.

    November 5, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. phoenix96

    However, since NO ONE watches him, his donation probably didn't do anything either.

    November 5, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  17. Debra

    Keith Olbermann should be able to give what he wants to give, why don't you report what fox news is doing, which is stealing elections, or even buying elections.

    November 5, 2010 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  18. gt

    this left wing whacko is a non player ... his show is just silly and stupid,,,, let him throw his money away who cares,,,,

    November 5, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  19. bigdoglv

    I have a dog that is more of a journalist than the hack Olberman. MSLSD is a joke and their ratings prove it.

    November 5, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. Jill American

    Ah ... Fox says it's a NEWS show, Olbermann's show is OPINION, there's a difference.

    November 5, 2010 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. Indiana Voter

    Of course he broke the rules. Liberals are the worst in keeping any rules or laws. Olbermann is a sad, angry individual who should lick his wounds and shut up for a change.

    November 5, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. Indie Woman in Denver

    This is NOT the same thing as FOX "News" – KO is not a network and he didn't give $1 million to a political organization, he's never raised money on his broadcast nor suggested his viewers give money to a political party or candidate. I don't see why journalists are not allowed to make personal donations. They are not robots. They only things I would object to would be shilling for personal monetary gain, such as Glenn Beck selling gold coins, or shilling for the Dem party coffers, as the Fox guys do for the GOP, neither of which are the case.

    November 5, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  23. TangledThorns

    In Olbermann's defense he is slime which is compliment against slime 🙂

    November 5, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. g.n. walls

    I did not realize msnbc had rules pertaining to democrats

    November 5, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  25. KeithSucks

    ....but its only wrong when the Republicans do it...

    November 5, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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