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MSNBC Violation? Olbermann Admits Donating $7,200 to Dem Candidates

November 5, 2010

“Show me an example of us fundraising,” MSNBC President Phil Griffin told The New York Times last month. MSNBC Keith Olbermann has come close.

In a Politico article on Friday, Olbermann admitted that he gave $2,400 (the maximum single donation allowed) to three different Democratic candidates this election cycle, for a total of $7,200 worth of campaign contributions.

“One week ago, on the night of Thursday October 28 2010, after a discussion with a friend about the state of politics in Arizona, I donated $2,400 each to the reelection campaigns of Democratic Representatives Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords,” Olbermann said. “I also donated the same amount to the campaign of Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway in Kentucky.”

The donations were personal, he told Politico, and he didn’t encourage anyone else to follow suit.

“I did not privately or publicly encourage anyone else to donate to these campaigns, nor to any others in this election or any previous ones, nor have I previously donated to any political campaign at any level,” Olbermann said.

The donations could violate MSNBC’s own rules on contributions. An MSNBC.com story this summer outlined the network’s expectations:

Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest.  Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial positions.  You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the President of NBC News or his designee.

Whether Olbermann reported, or received permission for, his donations is unknown. The network declined to comment to Politico.

Either way, the donations do seem hypocritical. Olbermann has railed against Fox News and its leader Rupert Murdoch for donating to Republicans in the past:

There’s now way to know what the fallout, if any, will be. But Mediaite has a guess: “this act should evaporate any final appearance of objectivity by the MSNBC host.”

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