Olbermann’s Indefinite Suspension Ends

November 8, 2010
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to Newsmax.com

Lately MSNBC has been doing its best Donald Trump imitation.

It was only months ago that the network suspended David Shuster for taping a pilot at rival cable network CNN.

Then Donny Deutsch was shown the door for criticizing Keith Olbermann.

Olbermann, of course, was himself recently suspended. Sources at MSNBC told Politico that the reason for Olbermann’s sanction had to do with the host having refused to perform an on-camera mea culpa.

Olbermann had claimed that he was unaware that policy prohibited him from making campaign contributions.

From the point of view of the incoming Comcast management, word on the street was that Olbermann’s $7 million plus a year salary may not be worth paying, especially with the less costly Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell shows scoring respectably in the ratings.

After he slammed Fox News parent company News Corp. for donating to Republican-oriented organizations, Olbermann donated the maximum amount allowed ($2,400) to Kentucky’s losing Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway and Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords. The donation to Grijalva occurred the same day the candidate appeared on Olbermann's show.

A statement from NBC News indicated that “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.”

Impartial journalist? MSNBC’s programming approach has been and continues to be to appeal to the far left. It is an indisputable bastion of partiality.

Using “network policy” seems to have been just an excuse to temporarily get rid of Olbermann. His troubled past provides some insight into why MSNBC may have had mixed feelings about the anchor.

In 1997, Olbermann received a two-week ESPN suspension for making an unauthorized appearance on “The Daily Show” back when it was hosted by a former ESPN colleague, Craig Kilborn. Later that year in an abrupt exit, Olbermann left ESPN.

Olbermann also split from his MSNBC program called “The Big Show” in 1998, reportedly because he was upset over excessive coverage of the Monica Lewinski story.

ESPN execs apparently still carried a grudge against Olbermann. In 2004, the sports network snubbed him from the guest lineup of its 25th anniversary SportsCenter “Reunion Week,” which saw Craig Kilborn and Charley Steiner return to the SportsCenter set.

Olbermann was fired from Fox Sports in 2001. He claims that it happened because he had reported on rumors that Rupert Murdoch was planning to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fox denies that this was the reason.

In predictable fashion, MSNBC brought in another liberal, Chris Hayes, to fill in for Olbermann. Hayes appeared to be perfect for MSNBC since he was the editor of The Nation, a magazine that is slightly to the left of Mao’s little red book, and Hayes would likely have carried on the “Countdown” tradition.

But alas, it turns out that Hayes gave money to two Democratic campaigns in recent years.

Not to worry, other lefties were waiting with biased breath. But it turns out MSNBC won’t be needing them now that Olbermann has been beamed back behind the “Countdown” desk.

Phil Griffin, president of the cable network, said in a statement, “I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night's program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy.”

NBC announced that Olbermann’s “indefinite” suspension will come to an end on Tuesday.