On The Rachel Maddow Show last night, Maddow took a minute to point out that by suspending Keith Olbermann yesterday for his allegedly unannounced donations to Democratic candidates, NBC proved it's a news organization, whereas Fox News, which does not suspend its employees for the same offense, is a political organization. She explained:
You may have heard that my colleague and friend Keith Olbermann was temporarily suspended from his job hosting Countdown on this network ... here at MSNBC, there is an explicit employee rule against hosts making contributions like that. You can do it if you ask in advance and management tells you, 'Okay.' That's what I understand happened in 2006, under previous management. But if you don't ask in advance for an exemption from the rule, you are bound by the rule. Here's the larger point: Let this incident lay to rest forever, the facile, never-true-in-any-way, lazy conflation of Fox News, and what the rest of us do for a living. Everybody likes to say, 'Oh, that's cable news. It's all the same. Fox and MSNBC, mirror images of each other.' Let this lay that to rest forever. Hosts on Fox raise money on the air for Republican candidates. They use their Fox News profiles to headline fundraisers. Heck, there are multiple people being paid by Fox News now to essentially run as Republican candidates. There is no rule against that at Fox. They run as a political operation. We're not. Yes, Keith's a liberal, and so am I, and there are other people on this network whose views are shared openly with you, our beloved viewers. But we're not a political operation, we're a news operation, and the rules around here are part of how you know that. [By being suspended] Keith is illustrating the difference between what goes on here and what goes on across the street.
Of course, she added:
I also personally believe that the point has been made, and we should have Keith back hosting Countdown.
While she spoke, the long list of Fox News hosts' contributions to Republican candidates scrolled across the screen, adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's one thing to openly disclose your political leanings on the air, but another to also raise or give money and campaign for those leanings, she seems to be saying. Is the line in the sand now, officially, privately funding candidates?
Of course, by adding that her friend Olbermann should be reinstated, perhaps Maddow's trying to have her cake and eat it, too: A weekend-long suspension seems like a slap on the wrist if the enforcement of this rule proves the network's entire journalistic integrity. Check it out and decide for yourselves! The fun stuff begins at four minutes and twenty seconds in, below: