Friday, November 5, 2010

Free Keith Olbermann

MSNBC has suspended Keith Olbermann, "indefinitely and without pay," after Politico reported that Olbermann donated money to several Democratic candidates in the last election.

This is completely bogus.

Don't get me wrong, I've got no use for Olby, and I'll shed no tears when his clown act finally shuffles off the air for lack of viewers. But NBC's stance that its employees ought to be removed from participating in electoral politics out of an antiquated notion of "journalistic independence" is, as I wrote in a similar vein six years ago, nonsense on stilts.

Olbermann, like any other American, ought to be able to donate to and support anybody he damn well pleases. The only thing I'd ask of him is that he disclose his donations when talking about those candidates or their opponents (which, in this case, he apparently didn't do, but still).

I suppose if NBC wants to discipline an employee for violation of their corporate rules, that's their business. But that doesn't change the fact that the rules in question are at best nonsense and at worst obfuscatory. This rule is in effect, in my opinion, not to protect the chimera of unbiased reporting, but rather the notion that people in the news media ought to actively hide their personal opinions from the populace.

That's a reprehensible and dishonest stance. I'll take an Olbermann who's up front about where he's coming from over a fraud like Katie Couric any day of the week--although I reserve the right to watch neither of them.

So get over yourselves, NBC suits. Free Keith Olbermann.

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