The Keith Olbermann Suspension

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/17094533@N00/365861771/">Stijn Vogels</a> (<a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a>).

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


Keith Olbermann has been suspended from MSNBC without pay, effective immediately. The suspension comes in response to a Politico story that reported that the anchor had made three donations to Democratic congressional candidates last week. Political donations apparently violate MSNBC’s ethics policy—although other MSNBC employees, including Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and commentator Pat Buchanan, have made similar donations in recent years. (Actually, it may be that the NBC rules under which Olbermann was suspended under don’t apply to MSNBCers.)

This situation brings up several interesting issues of journalistic ethics. Like former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie, Olbermann says that journalists shouldn’t vote. Still, his progressive affinities are well known and actually the bedrock of his show. So what’s the point of a donation ban? If Olbermann donates to Democrats, will conservatives realize he’s a liberal? This is just as silly as NPR forbidding its employees to go to the “Rally for Sanity.” 

Media outlets should give up this insane act in which they pretend that their reporters are robots without biases. Everyone knows that’s not true! People have lots of biases. Look, this is incredibly simple. Reporters and journalists and media figures should be judged on one thing and one thing only: whether what they say and report turns out to be true. Why do people not get that? If we had a media culture where people were hired and fired based on their record of truth-telling (or not), the world would be a much better place. 

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate