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.