By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

False equivalence at MSNBC

When Politico confronted MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann with campaign donations he’d made, he came clean immediately. Joe Scarborough? Not so much. So why did Scarborough get the same two-day suspension as Olbermann? Shouldn’t he have received — oh, three or four days?

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  1. Steve Stein

    “Enforcer Dan!” – (Joshua Benton)
    BtP Quote of the Year! 🙂

  2. Mike Rice

    Both Keith Olbermann and Joe Scarborough offer their own polarized points of view. So they donated to the candidates of their choice – big deal.

  3. Laurence Glavin

    Phrase of which I’m getting R-E-A-L-L-Y tired? “Not so much”. Time to put it down.

  4. Neil Sagan

    When Olbermann was first suspended, Joe Scarborough defended himself vociferously about other donations, some that he said he had prior permission to make, and some that Mika said were made by his wife and wrongly recorded as made by Joe.

    It’s hard to imagine a circumstance in which Joe would not remember these $500 donations for which he did not get prior permission when Olbermann was under suspension. Wouldn’t you do a little research to find out if you had a liability that could cost you your job? If he was caught as opposed to having come forward to his bosses (Was this suspension triggered by a Politco article?) then he deserves a bigger suspension for being mor arrogant the Olbermann.

    To tell you the truth, this bothers me less than Scarborough convincing Phil Griffin to blacklist Markos as a guest on MSNBC programs for allegedly slandering Joe about the staffer who died in the Congressman’s office. There was no such slander but Joe’s thin skin and Griffin’s lack of journalistic spine knows no bounds.

  5. C.E. Stead

    DK – the whole policy on the issue may be wrong.

    This is the protected activity list from the State of New York labor laws:

    For 4 or more employees; age (18 and older); national origin; disability (physical or mental); HIV/AIDS; gender; marital status; pregnancy/ childbirth; race; religion; sexual orientation; genetic testing; lawful use of any product during nonwork hours; military status; observation of Sabbath; political activities; accompanied by service dog

    New York is unusual in including political activity as protected for purposes of employment law – only about a half dozen states do. But it IS New York law, and MSNBC is headquartered at Rockefeller Plaza. The fines may even be unenforceable.

  6. Heather Greene

    I’ve seen “Morning Joe” and there’s about a zillion and one people at that table at any given time so it’s hard to really miss Joe Scarborough even if you were a fan of his (he must have them, right?).

    But it must be kind of humbling for Joe Scarborough to see all the react to Keith Olbermann’s suspension and next to nothing for him. Almost forgot that he used to have his own primetime cable news show, “Scarborough Country.” Where is Rachel Maddow’s comments on Joe Scarborough’s suspension? Oh right, Rachel Maddow is always the first to point out that Keith Olbermann was her champion for guest hosting “Countdown” and then getting the 9 o’clock slot. While Joe Scarborough and Rachel Maddow have this relationship:

  7. Heather Greene

    Looking around, I didn’t even realize how bad the relationship between Joe Scarborough and Rachel Maddow was…

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Heather: Remember when Scarborough first started? It was a total knockoff of O’Reilly’s show, right down to the talking points at the top of the hour. He’s made it all the way to not-that-terrible, which, given his inauspicious debut, is quite an accomplishment.

  8. Heather Greene

    Never did see “Scarborough Country” but believe you that Joe Scarborough has gotten better. Couldn’t have gotten worst. Actually that’s pretty harsh, but I remember watching him after HCR passed the House and he was going on and on about how HCR isn’t moral and all he did in Congress to project Medicare. Then Lawrence O’Donnell just asked him, “C’mon, there’s a massive amount of uninsured people in this country. When did you ever spend one minute doing anything about them?” Scarborough kept talking about what he did for Medicare and O’Donnell correctly pointed out that Medicare have insurance (federal government insurance at that), but what about the massive amount of uninsured. Then Scarborough just lost it and starts yelling. They just cut to commercials and O’Donnell was gone after the break. It wasn’t Scarborough’s finest moment.

    Quick question, considering POLITICO employs Joe Scarborough as an op-ed columnist, are they going to do anything about Joe Scarborough’s donations?

  9. john stewart

    punishments were not equal, Olbermann’s was WITH pay, Scarborough WITHOUT pay. According to H.Kurtz, Scarborough made a more complete apology as well

    • Dan Kennedy

      @John: I could link to numerous news stories reporting that Olbermann was suspended without pay. Just do a search. Got a link on the with-pay suspension?

  10. Heather Greene

    To quote Phil Griffin’s state: “I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.”

    Actually Joe Scarborough was never suspensed indefinitely and it said from the start it was two days. Also note that “Countdown” had a guest host while “Morning Joe” didn’t bring in anybody new.

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