Yesterday, MSNBC suspended Countdown host Keith Olbermann without pay after Politico reported that he made donations to three Democratic candidates during this midterm election cycle. Rachel Maddow took up the topic during her MSNBC program, explaining, "The reason that resulted in Keith’s suspension is that, here at MSNBC, there is an explicit employee rule against hosts making contributions like that. You can do it if you ask in advance and management tells you ‘O.K.’ That’s what I understand what happened with our morning show host’s political donations in 2006 under previous management. But if you do not ask in advance, you are bound by the rule." And then she tore into Fox News:
I understand this rule. I understand what it means to break this rule. I believe that everybody should face the same treatment under this rule. I also personally believe that the point has been made and we should have Keith back hosting ‘Countdown.’ ”
Let this incident lay to rest forever the facile, never-true-anyway, bullpucky, lazy conflation of Fox News and what the rest of us do for a living. I know everybody likes to say, “Oh, that’s cable news. It’s all the same. Fox News and MSNBC, mirror images of each other.”
Let this lay that to rest forever. Hosts on Fox raise money on the air for Republican candidates. They endorse them explicitly; they use their Fox News profile to headline fund-raisers. Heck, there are multiple people being paid by Fox News now essentially to run as presidential candidates. If you count not just their hosts but their contributors, you are looking at a significant portion of the whole lineup of Republican presidential contenders for 2012. They can do that because there’s no rule against that at Fox. They run as a political operation. We’re not.
Yes, Keith’s a liberal, and so am I, and there are other people on this network whose political views are shared openly with you, our beloved viewers. But we are not a political operation. Fox is. We are a news operation. And the rules around here are part of how you know that.
She also pointed out that Olbermann exposed Fox News' "water carrying" for the Bush Administration.
Media reporter Felix Gillette Tweeted, "KO suspension not solely about political donations; Phil Griffin has long been under pressure to discipline KO for a number of things," and "a common complaint you hear from MSNBC people is that management has two sets of rules: one for KO and one for everyone else."
In related news, Bill Maher blasted Jon Stewart for trying to equate the crazies on the left with the crazies on the right.