"Countdown" And Out: Keith Olbermann Suspended Over Political Donations

Not clearing the contributions is the main issue

By Mac Montandon
|  Friday, Nov 5, 2010  |  Updated 2:39 PM CDT
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MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely without pay for failing to get approval from the network on three political contributions he made.

"I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night," MSNBC TV president Phil Griffin said in a statement. "Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay."

Politico reported earlier today that Olbermann contributed $2,400 to the campaigns of Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, and also to Kentucky's senatorial candidate Jack Conway.

NBC News, which also operates this website, prohibits employees from making political contributions without approval of the president. Olbermann, host of "Countdown With Keith Olbermann," apparently did not.

The policy states, "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. 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."

Olbermann defended his actions with a statement: "I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level."

It is unclear at this time when Olbermann will be back on the air.

Selected Reading: Politico, Huffington Post, MSNBC.com.

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