The word from MSNBC:
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.”
From NBC’s policy on the matter:
Like most news organizations, NBC News, parent of msnbc TV, prohibits political contributions by its journalists without prior approval of the president. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of NBC News 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,” it reads. “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.”
Will this be temporary? Permanent? Unclear.
UPDATE: Lots of intriguing things going on over this. Bill Kristol comes out in defense of Olbermann (along similar lines as Jonah). Kristol points out that MSNBC’s parent companies make plenty of political donations, and wonders — a bit conspiratorially — whether NBC, in the midst of a potential mega-merger with Comcast, was quick on the draw in an effort to curry favor with the new Republican House.
Also, Olbermann’s replacement tonight? Chris Hayes of The Nation. Josh Gerstein notes that Hayes gave at least $1750 to progressive Alabama congressional candidate Joshua Segall in 08-09, and $250 to Illinois Democrat Tom Geoghegan, who lost a Democratic primary to replace Rahm Emanuel in the House.
UPDATE II: Mediaite: “Insiders we’ve talked to say Olbermann won’t be back. The question is whether he’ll leave or MSNBC keeps him off the air.”