This past August, Keith Olbermann called NewsCorp owner and Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch for making more than $1M in campaign contributions to a friend – John Kasich, a former Fox News anchor. Kasich was running for governor of Ohio, and this week he won. It was months before his win that Olbermann went on a rant on his show Countdown with Keith Olbermann and said, “Fox News has put its money where its mouth is.” Olbermann’s head later exploded last month, when he devoted an entire segment to Rupert Murdoch’s $1M contribution to the US Chamber of Commerce (of which Murdoch is a member, making such a contribution a normal thing). Olbermann has been caught in multiple outright lies over the years, and he is as liberal as a bleeding-heart hatemongering liberal can be.
During his show last month with Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), Olbermann asked the following question: “[is there] a legislative response to the idea that there is a national cable news outlet that goes beyond having a point of view and actually starts to shill for partisan causes and actually starts to donate to partisan groups of one party?”
‘Cause, you know, “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” should never be exercised at the same time, right?
Well, today Olby has been suspended by his home network, MSNBC, after being caught giving $2400 each to three political candidates (the maximum individual amount allowed by law). They went to Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) (that guy is a traitorous snake, but that’s a rant for another day) and Jack Conway (Senate hopeful defeated by Rand Paul in KY). MSNBC bars employees from working for or donating to political campaigns unless disclosure is made to the company and a special exemption is granted; Olbermann didn’t tell anyone, so by his employers’ rules, he’s in deep doo-doo.
Twitter is alight with fans of Olbermann’s show going mad over his suspension. They’re complaining about his First Amendment rights. @ericfadden says, “gotta love the new campaign contribution rules. Keith Olbermann donates as a citizen and gets suspended. A corp can give & remain nameless.” Completely aside from the fact that Olbermann has regularly ignored the First Amendment rights of others, what his fans are missing is simple: he’s not being suspended because he donated to political campaigns. He’s suspended without pay because he violated his employers’ rules. MSNBC is not run by the government, and they have every right to set a rule that you must have explicit permission before doing certain things, contributing to political campaigns among them. It’s simple…if I were to blog about an issue that involved one of my employers without permission, I could be fired on the spot. That wouldn’t be a violation of my Constitutional rights, it would be my just punishment for being an idiot.
The Huffington Post isn’t being its usual huffy self. Their heads are exploding. It’s front-page news, in big bold print, along with a link to Media Matters comparisons to Fox News contributors who have also donated to political campaigns. What HuffPo and MM have missed completely is also the employer rules issue. I don’t know that Fox has rules about political contributions, and even if it does if those employees who are making contributions are abiding by those rules (with media organizations, it’s always disclosure and permission), of course they’re not going to get fired. Naturally, HuffPo editors and MM blowhards aren’t going to point that out. It would require the ability to see an issue from a side other than the liberal one.
What they’re all missing is that a good number of Fox News contributors who do all of that stuff host specialty shows – opinion shows. MM also goes after folks like John Bolton, Tammy Bruce, Elaine Chao and Newt Gingrich for their political donations. Trouble is, none of those people are regular employees of Fox – they’re guests of certain shows. Do you think MM is going to point out the political contributions of Olbermann’s guests? I’d like to see them bitch about who Janeane Garofolo gives money to. Will they devote a post to the donations made by Rachel Maddow’s guests? I think not. Since MM touts itself as an anti- “conservative misinformation” outlet (read: Fox News), it’s not surprising that they would conveniently omit the facts about their own side. God knows we wouldn’t want THOSE lies to be pointed out.
Another point I’d like to make is about who does the political commentary on which channel. Olbermann has, for years, been MSNBC’s frontman during elections. He’s always the guy out there covering election news as it rolls in. If you watch Fox on election nights, you’ll notice something: you don’t see specialty show hosts like Greg Gutfield, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly or Geraldo Rivera covering election news. They’ll be on later to give commentary, but it’s actual news anchors who cover that at Fox. Olbermann contributed to three political campaigns right before having those candidates on his show.
When even the New York Times is ripping on you for your rank stupidity and arrogance, you know you’re about half a bubble off plum.