There is a double standard at work with regard to Keith Olbermann’s suspension, not only between other personalities appearing on MSNBC as commentators, but also at the very top level of the food chain.
Comcast now owns is about MSNBC after their acquisition was completed earlier this year is approved (and it will be, I’m sure), despite protestations from many of us. A look at campaign finance disclosures for several organizations shows that Phil Anschutz, chairman of Comcast major shareholder and content partner with Comcast, donated large sums of money to the First Amendment Alliance, one of the largest outside groups targeting Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections.
The Anschutz Corporation, wholly owned by Phil Anschutz, gave $50,000 on 9/24/2010 to the First Amendment Alliance. The two candidates targeted by the First Amendment Alliance? Jack Conway and Michael Bennet.
Keith Olbermann gave to Jack Conway’s campaign along with Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.
In addition, the Anschutz family donated $169,900 to Republican candidates and committees during the 2010 election cycle, according to Open Secrets.
Additionally, Comcast Corporation has contributed $125,000 to the Republican Governors’ Association in the 2010 cycle (as of 9/30/2010).
There’s been a lot of chatter about MSNBC policy, and whether Olbermann should have gotten advance approval for his donations to Jack Conway, Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords on October 28th. The policy I’ve seen reads like this:
NBC and MSNBC TV require permission of the president of NBC News. (MSNBC.com is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft.)
“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. 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.“
That language clearly says “should” and not “must”. Further, anyone who thinks Keith Olbermann is an impartial journalist should have their head examined. He’s not, never has been, never will be, and is not presented as one.
But it leaves this question lingering for me: How is it that the parent corporation of NBC and chairman of that corporation, Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough are accorded First Amendment rights to political speech and Keith Olbermann is not?