Friday, November 5, 2010

What Happens if You Don't Follow Policy

According to the AP, (P)MSNBC has "suspended" Keith Olberman for making political contributions this year.  A quote from this story goes as follows:

NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC has suspended prime-time host Keith Olbermann indefinitely without pay for contributing to the campaigns of three Democratic candidates this election season.

Olbermann acknowledged to NBC that he donated $2,400 apiece to the campaigns of Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway and Arizona Reps. Raul Grivalva and Gabrielle Giffords.

NBC News prohibits its employees from working on, or donating to, political campaigns unless a special exception is granted by the news division president — effectively a ban. Olbermann's bosses did not find out about the donations until after they were made. The website Politico first reported the donations.
My first thought was that, in light of the fact that Olberman is an opinion journalist, (I think that's what he is, I've never watched him) it was wrong of the network to, effectively, fire him.  He didn't pretend to be a reporter, as far as I know.  However, the key to the situation is in the last paragraph above: he made those contributions in violation of network policy.

Again, this situation boils down to one similar to PBS' firing of Juan Williams; an employer has a right to fire an employee.  NBC is, in fact, apparently in a much stronger position in this case than was PBS in the earlier incident.  This isn't a matter of free speech as far as I can tell.

We should all calm down and determine the facts.

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