Former ESPN SportsCenter anchor Keith Olbermann’s suspension from his MSNBC post due to political donations has nothing to do with journalistic integrity. In fact, neither does the policy NBC News has against political donations.
First, it’s worth mentioning that Olbermann giving coverage to people he donated to isn’t a conflict of interest. These are donations, and not investments – he really had nothing to gain from two Congressional races and a Senate race in states where he presumably doesn’t live. Arguably, the money he gave was insignificant compared to the airtime allotted. If NBC wants to suspend him, or any host, it should be for the in-kind donations of coverage.
Olbermann admitted to making the financial donations, but he didn’t have to – after all, political donations are public record. So the FEC can tell us exactly who Olbermann wanted to win. Do we know that about Olbermann’s NBC colleague Brian Williams, or Katie Couric, or Anderson Cooper, or anyone else who say they’re giving us “objective” coverage of national issues? The NBC ban on donations means they never have to answer those types of question – which is too bad, because they are worth asking.
You may not like Keith Olbermann, but you know where he stands – and if you tune in, you can take what he says with a grain of salt. It might be nice to have that luxury with other news personalities.