Keith Olbermann Suspended Without Pay for Donating to Arizona Congressional Campaigns

Since our earlier post about MSNBC's most obnoxious liberal commentator, Keith Olbermann, and some controversial donations he made to the campaigns of two Arizona Congressional candidates, MSNBC has suspended the Edward Murrow wannabe indefinitely and without pay.

News of Olbermann's suspension came in a one-sentence statement from MSNBC TV President Phil Griffin earlier this afternoon: "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."

Olbermann donated the maximum amount allowed by law, $2,400, to the campaigns of Democratic Congressional candidates Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.

MSNBC has a strict policy about employees donating money to political campaigns. It basically says employees can't contribute to a campaign without permission from MSNBC brass.

Olbermann released a statement to Politico, which first reported the story, saying he decided to contribute to the campaigns "after a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona."

"I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns, nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level," he said in the statement.

Unfortunately for Olbermann a 2007 story on the MSNBC Web site clearly says that MSNBC employees are not permitted to donate money to political campaigns without the consent of the president of NBC News, Steve Capus.

"Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest," it says. "Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial positions. You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the President of NBC News or his designee."

It's unclear when -- or if -- Olbermann's suspension will be lifted. But it's probably safe to assume the folks at Fox News -- who Olbermann blames for all the ills of society -- are celebrating a brief victory in the war for cable news supremacy.

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James King
Contact: James King