Friday, November 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

UPDATED: Keith Olbermann returns to MSNBC on Tuesday

UPDATED: Keith Olbermann returns to MSNBC on Tuesday

That didn't take long:

Keith Olbermann will return to the air on Tuesday after being suspended for two shows (this past Friday and the upcoming episode on Monday).

The host of MSNBC's "Countdown" was given an indefinite suspension last week after his boss, network president Phil Griffin, discovered that Olbermann had made political contributions without seeking prior approval, as per company policy.

Here's a snippet of what Griffin said in a statement:

After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night's program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night.

And now, as promised (not really), Attytood's special comment on what happened here. Some people are shocked by this news -- "Shortest Suspension in the World" is the 72-point headline on the Huffington Post right now -- but I'm not surprised at all. An "indefinite" suspension could last for weeks, which  for some bizarre reason was the instant speculation, along with the rather insane notion that Olbermann was going to quit over this -- or it could be as short as a day or two, as what happened in the reality-based world.

Of course, the beauty part of the "indefinite" suspension was that it allowed MSNBC's Griffin and other higher-ups a chance to gauge the reaction, and the reaction was a) a lot of angry libs and b) media critics who were divided between those who felt Olbermann did nothing wrong and and those who felt he did something wrong but it was not a huge deal. (Me? I straddle both camps....I think if he knew that MSNBC barred political donations and he did it anyway, that was wrong and merited a minor-to-middling punishment, but I also think there should be more media transparency, and less rigidity about these things.)

UPDATE: This won't be as long an update as I'd hoped -- night-city-editing today's Daily News was more involved tonight than normal. A friend and reader emailed me tonight and asked me what my own position is on journalists making political donations. Like they say on Facebook, it's complicated. Personally, I don't think it's a good idea at all. As I've written here in the past, I think that journalists should fall in love with, and be passionate, about ideas and their ideals, but people -- like politicians -- are more problematic. If you believe, for example, that the death penalty is immoral, that can be a bedrock principle, but people are always going to let you down. If you go all out in endorsing a particular candidate  -- and a financial donation is surely a form of an endorsement -- you could be less reluctant to report on a scandal or misstep by the candidate in the closing days of the race.

Having said that. I also feel my opinion on journalists and their opinions is just that -- my opinion, and it could be wrong. In other words, I also want to hear from journalists who think it's OK to give money to a candidate -- what's important is that they disclose that information, so we can evaluate that. Frankly, it's better for readers to know that a journalist gave money to Rand Paul's opponent than to read the work of a journalist who thinks that Rand Paul is the second coming of Satan -- but keeps his mouth shut to maintain his "objectivity." That's called transparency, and it's the one and only thing that makes sense in this muddled media world of ours. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go until we get there.

About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

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