Keith Olbermann’s Donations To Democrats: Much Ado About Nothing

Politico runs this morning with the shocking revelation that Keith Olbermann is a Democrat.

Politico is out with a report this morning that, quite honestly, shouldn’t surprise anyone:

MSNBC host Keith Olbermann made campaign contributions to two Arizona members of Congress and failed Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway ahead of Tuesday’s election — a potential violation of NBC’s ethics policies.

Olbermann, who acknowledged the contributions in a statement to POLITICO, made the maximum legal donations of $2,400 apiece to Conway and to Arizona Reps. Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords. He donated to the Arizona pair on Oct. 28 – the same day that Grijalva appeared as a guest on Olbermann’s “Countdown” show. Grijalva, a prominent liberal who was only declared a winner in his race Thursday night, was in a tight contest against tea party-backed candidate Ruth McClung when he appeared on Countdown – one of several appearances he made on the show.

NBC has a rule against employees contributing to political campaigns, and a wide range of news organizations prohibit political contributions – considering it a breach of journalistic independence to contribute to the candidates they cover.

Actually, MSNBC’s rule on donations and other political activity is a little broader than Politico characterizes it:

“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 and MSNBC send the following response to MSNBC:

“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 re-election campaigns of Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords,” Olbermann said. “I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky.”

In his statement, Olbermann said he wasn’t using his influence to solicit any donations for the candidates.

“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 said.

Although it wasn’t specifically stated in the message, one presumes that Olbermann had complied with the MSNBC policy and obtained approval for the donations from whoever his superiors happen to be.

More broadly, though, anyone who claims to be surprised that Keith Olbermann supports Democrats clearly is either lying or just not paying attention. His show is nothing less than a daily hour-long forum for the agenda of the Democratic Party, and specifically its progressive wing.

The fact that Olbermann contributed to a few Democratic candidates is no more surprising than the news, also obtainable through the FEC database, that Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity contributed $ 4,800 to the campaign of Republican John Gomez, who was running for Congress in the Congressional District where Hannity lives, and $ 5,000 to Michelle Bachmann’s Political Action Committee, or that Hannity’s wife Jill (who lists her occupation as “homemaker”) also contributed $ 5,000 to Bachmann’s PAC. In other words — Breaking News: Keith Olbermann is a Democrat, and Sean Hannity is a Republican.

There’s no story here, and I say that as someone who is not in any sense of  the word a Keith Olbermann fan.

Update: Olbermann has been suspended without pay by MSNBC.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Media, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. James Joyner says:

    Well, so long as Glenn Beck keeps his journalistic integrity, I’ll be satisfied.

  2. Interestingly, a quick search of the FEC database this morning didn’t show any donations by Beck, or Rush Limbaugh.

    I couldn’t tell with Bill O’Reilly because it was too common a name to be sure which one was the “right” O’Reilly.

  3. PD Shaw says:

    Weren’t they using Olbermann as a broadcast anchor for the election returns this week? I don’t think MSNBC uses Olbermann the way Fox uses Hannity (as a commentator).

    Or has MSNBC just thrown away the old model. I saw Olbermann, Matthews, Madow, and O’Donnel reporting the returns, snickering at stupid Republicans. On Fox, they had Joe Trippi and Juan Williams, a couple Republicans and a couple of news anchor moderators.

  4. G.A.Phillips says:

    ****Well, so long as Glenn Beck keeps his journalistic integrity, I’ll be satisfied***lol Glenn Beck is a comedian, and a concerned citizen, who say this every show…..


    and alot of shows


    come on man……

  5. Jim Treacher says:

    Anyone who claims that this is merely about whether Keith Olbermann supports Democrats clearly is either lying or just not paying attention.

    Hey, this is easy! I can see the appeal.

  6. just me says:

    Honestly i would rather see the broadcast companies let them donate where they will and just require that it be made public in a disclaimer.

    It would all be more honest that way.

  7. Suzanne O'Dowd says:

    Viewers are going to be unhappy wthout the Olbermann fun. Bring him back. Why do all the good guys get the trouble while the big spenders walk? Think Hannity ,or whateever his name is and the million from fox.

  8. Peggy says:

    Keith, you will be missed. Hurry back!!!

  9. Wayne says:

    Hannity admits he is a bias conservative. Colmes does too but as a liberal.

    The issue is the MSM tries to hide their bias and pretend they are objective when they are not. I am all for any and all of them coming out and admitting their biases. That way it is easier to evaluate their comments and coverage. For example it is easier to know how to take someone’s comment on the Cowboys when you know they are a Cowboy’s fan, Cowboy’s hater, or something else.

  10. anjin-san says:

    I am pretty sure Olbermann is a Kenyan…

  11. wr says:

    Um, Wayne? Have you ever watched Olberman?