Olbermann, suspended Friday for making three donations to Democratic candidates, a violation of the network policy, revealed some new details about his suspension in a Monday night statement to viewers.
He began by thanking his backers for their "extraordinary and ground-rattling support." Olbermann also apologized to his audience "for having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama."
Still, Olbermann doesn't seem to think what he did was wrong, regardless of whether it broke the network's rules.
"You should know that I mistakenly violated an inconsistently applied rule—which I previously knew nothing about—that pertains to the process by which such political contributions are approved by NBC," Olbermann wrote.
Olbermann doesn't name names regarding the "inconsistently applied rule." But it's recently been reported that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, gave a political donation in 2006 with the consent of management. Politico also reported Friday that Scarborough gave $5,000 to an Alabama candidate this past April, although there's debate over whether the gift was from the host or his wife.
The Olbermann suspension sparked a debate about whether NBC News' standards against donating to candidates—to be perceived as objective when covering the races—should be applied to MSNBC's opinionated, partisan hosts.
Also, it's clear that Olbermann isn't the only cable host who's advocated for political candidates or organizations. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday how Fox News hosts Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity—in their capacities as radio hosts—along with Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin "are being paid to use their voices and faces to promote politically motivated groups."
Olbermann said: "Certainly this mistake merited a form of public acknowledgment and/or internal warning, and an on-air discussion about the merits of limitations on such campaign contributions by all employees of news organizations. Instead, after my representative was assured that no suspension was contemplated, I was suspended without a hearing, and learned of that suspension through the media."
It's pretty incredible that Olbermann learned of his own suspension only after MSNBC blasted out a short statement to reporters Friday afternoon.
Olbermann's statement also shot down the rumor that he was suspended for refusing to make an on-air mea culpa. He wrote that he "immediately volunteered to explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired."
Olbermann has received a huge amount of publicity the past few days, and it can be expected that Tuesday's "Countdown" will be must-see TV for his fans, critics and anyone curious to see whether the fiery host bashes the network's higher-ups.
"I genuinely look forward to rejoining you on Countdown on Tuesday," Olbermann concluded, "to begin the repayment of your latest display of support and loyalty—support and loyalty that is truly mutual."
- Joe Scarborough
- Rush Limbaugh
- Keith Olbermann suspension
- Glenn Beck