Keith Olbermann, MSNBC’s primetime firebrand host, has been suspended indefinitely for violating the ethics policies of his employer earlier this year when he donated to three Democrats seeking federal office, MSNBC announced Friday.
“I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay,” MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement.
First reported by Politico and confirmed by Federal Election Commission filings, the primetime television host gave $2,400 – the maximum individual amount allowed – to each of the campaigns of Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway, and Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.
It’s hard to imagine this week being any better. Maybe if I’d suddenly become 6’4″ overnight and gotten a starting job with the Cowboys (which given they way they’re playing, what could it hurt?) it could have improved a little. But first a whomping of the Obama agenda, then its most noxious spokesman getting smacked. A good week. A very good week.
If this turns out to be a permanent suspension (a firing, in other words), I suspect, though, that the ethical breach was just the last straw. Ed at Hot Air has more on the ins and outs of NBC’s policy. The fact is, Olbermann’s numbers just haven’t been strong at all. He had been trending downward for most of the past two years. So had everyone else at MSNBC, but Olbermann was supposed to be the flagship guy, the MSNBC answer to O’Reilly and Fox. But most of the time he just came across as the little dog snipping and yipping at the big dog.
Olbermann is notoriously difficult to work with and for, and has a very obvious tendency to center the universe upon himself. That’s tolerable if you’re a winner, less so if you’re not. And in the ratings game, he just isn’t.
It’s been a rough year for Olbermann. He got the ax earlier this year from NBC’s Football Night in America. His liberal agenda, in the person of President Obama, has become about as popular as typhoid. And now this.
Exit question: Given MSNBC’s ratings, what do they do now? Is Chris Matthews the next to run afoul of some policy or other? Is an all-prison-documentary format in their future?
Update: Hm. The phrase “in-kind contributions” may have some relevance to all this.
Update: TV Newsers’ sources are saying Olby won’t be back. As commenter Bertram Cabot Jr. notes, if Olby is gone, then the Devil may get his show. But that’s only if MSNBC is really trying to discover if there’s such a thing as a negative audience share. They’re close enough to finding that out without hiring Alan Grayson.
Update: Eenteresting. It backs up my ratings thoughts above.