The pundit at the forefront of a minor renaissance in sane punditry has been suspended by MSNBC news for donating to a couple of Democrat campaigns when company policy says that’s not allowed. Thoughts:
1.) I don’t think any boss has any business telling employees they can’t participate in democracy. I’m in favour of reasonable laws limiting political donations to stop the wealthiest and most powerful from dominating democracy (this is obviously the systems’ huge problem) but this is ridiculous. Olbermann is an adult who can calculate the risks of being seen as partisan for himself. Having said that, I’ve never donated to a political party while I’ve worked here and would feel a little queasy about doing so. Then again if I did, I’d probably write a whiny, neurotic blog post about feeling guilty so you guys could yell at me and make me feel better.
2.) I wonder if the election of all those Republicans spooked the MSNBC brass and now they’re sucking up by making an example of the absolutely-not-a-Republican Olbermann. Like publisher Terry just said when I told him this, “they’re scared because the balance of power just shifted.”
UPDATE: Here’s a shock. There seem to be different rules for pundits who support Democrats and pundits who support Republicans. Talking Points Memo says MSNBC pundits Pat Buchanan (no longer with the network) and Joe Scarborough donated to Republican candidates without being suspended. And Media Matters has an insanely long list of Fox News connections to the Republican Party.
So to recap, Liberal pundit gives cheque to Democrat, gets suspended. Conservative pundits at the same network give cheques to Republicans and don’t get suspended. And pretty much everyone at Fox News activly fundraises for the Republicans.
And right-wingers complain about liberal media bias. It must be tough to be so full of shit you can’t ever wash the smell off.
UPDATE 2: Fairness & Accuracy In Media (FAIR) has an action alert on its website:
If the concern is about how giving money to politicians threatens journalistic independence, then companies like NBC should explain why their parent companies can lavish so much money on political candidates or causes with no concern about conflicts of interest or the need to disclose these donations to viewers. The lesson here would seem to be that some of the workers shouldn’t make political donations, but the bosses are free to give as much as they’d like. Anyone who watches Olbermann’s show knows what his political views are. So what do the far larger contributions from GE tell us?
You can read the entire post here.