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Friday, November 5, 2010

Keith Olbermann Suspended for Making Political Beliefs Clear

Posted by Dominic Holden on Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 1:53 PM

This is absurd:

MSNBC TV host Keith Olbermann was suspended indefinitely on Friday for making campaign donations to three Democratic congressional candidates, apparently in violation of NBC News ethics policy.

The announcement came in a one-sentence statement from msnbc TV President Phil Griffin: “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 has a policy that prohibits its journalists from contributing to political campaigns, because, the article continues, it creates the "appearance of a conflict of interest." I get that media outlets don't want their objective journalists* to reveal their biases to the public by reporting campaign donations, and that Olbermann broke the rule. But it's a dumb rule for pundits. Olbermann's bias is front and center every night—that's the point of his show.

Donating to some Democrats demonstrates that there's no conflict of interest between what he's saying and what he's thinking.

* Truly objective journalists don't exist. Any reporter can attempt to create the appearance of neutrality, but every story is careful selection of facts and quotes taken from a much larger pool of information; what a reporter chooses to include or omit is never a fully objective decision. Wearing your opinion on your sleeve is often more honest. But the thinking from MSNBC et al is that making political donations makes a reporter partisan, when in fact it just reveals the bias that already exists. Furthermore, a reporter following a story is an expert by the time a piece of any size is filed, and sometimes** it makes sense for that expert/reporter to weigh in with his or her conclusions.

** They shouldn't weigh in all the time, just sometimes.

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