MSNBC president Phil Griffin sacks “Countdown” host without pay in wake of Politico report
MSNBC president Phil Griffin has suspended Keith Olbermann, following a report that the “Countdown” host made three campaign contributions before Tuesday's election.
"I became aware of Keith's political contributions late last night," MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a statement Friday. "Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay."
Olbermann's suspension came after Politico reported that MSNBC's election night anchor made campaign contributions to two Arizona members of Congress and failed Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway.
Olbermann donated $2,400 — the maximum amount he could under law — to Conway and Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords, according to Politico. His donations to Grijalva and Giffords were made on the same day that Grijalva appeared as a guest on “Countdown."
MSNBC said Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation, would fill in for Olbermann on Friday night's "Countdown."
“One week ago, on the night of Thursday October 28 2010, after a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona, I donated $2,400 each to the reelection campaigns of Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords,” Olbermann said in a statement to Politico. “I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky.”
“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,” Olbermann added.
Both NBC and MSNBC have a policy barring employees from making political contributions. And both Griffin and Olbermann have been critical of Fox News' parent News Corp., which contributed $2 million during the 2010 election cycle to organizations — including $1 million to the Republican Governors Association — opposed to Democratic candidates.
Last month, Griffin — in a bullet aimed at Fox — challenged the New York Times: “Show me an example of us fundraising."
A number of journalists did find examples, though none as high-profile the one Politico uncovered with Olbermann.
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