Earlier this week, news anchor Keith Olbermann was suspended for making political contributions to the midterm campaigns of three democratic candidates. It is against the policy of MSNBC to make political contributions due to the fact that journalists are expected to maintain a high level of political objectivity.
MSNBC President Phil Griffin released a statement saying that due to MSNBC’s rules Olbermann was suspended indefinitely without pay as per policy. Olbermann stated that his contributions were private and he did not encourage anyone else to donate to any campaigns and that this was in fact the first time he had ever donated to political campaigns.
Journalistic objectivity is a hard concept to grasp and to abide by. In order to be completely objective it is the duty of the journalist to completely free their mind of any opinion which is virtually impossible for any human being. Because we are a higher level functioning being it stands to reason that it is nearly impossible to free our minds of opinion as we are constantly thinking. The likelihood of someone being completely objective is very small so the idea that anyone must be completely objective is bordering on absurd.
Olbermann did in fact go against the standards and policies of MSNBC but the fact that he did not encourage anyone to do the same makes his transgression less heinous than it could have been. The officials of MSNBC were right to suspend him as it would have been unfair to allow him to continue to work when he knowingly went against the policies of MSNBC. The suspension was completely necessary to uphold the rules and regulations of the network. Olbermann did clearly go against the rules of the network and by suspending him they are only upholding rules that were already clearly in place.
Though officials were right to suspend Olbermann I believe that the network will suffer for doing so. Olbermann has a strong fan base that will likely be upset over his suspension. Also, in the coming weeks there is the job of filling the timeslot that will now be left vacant by his absence. Surely the suspension will not be forever but by making an example of Olbermann it will likely again bolster his fans against the network and its actions. Olbermann will likely come back stronger from his suspension and will no doubt have more viewers from the incident.
Russell Goldman, Olbermann Sidelined From MSNBC for Political Contributions, abcnews.go.com