Two weeks after Keith Olbermann was suspended for donating to congressional candidates without first receiving permission, fellow MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough has received a similar punishment from network chief Phil Griffin: a two-day suspension without pay. It turns out that, despite the Internet’s frantic post-Olbermann search for other anchors who’d made political donations, nobody had found Scarborough’s eight $500 contributions to various Florida state and local candidates over the past few years. Nobody, that is, until Politico, which is particularly awkward because Scarborough writes a column for Politico and hosts its journalists on Morning Joe every day. Way to help out a buddy.
The incident will likely invite even more scrutiny of NBC’s policies, which are meant to prevent the appearance of bias or a conflict of interest in reporting. The candidates Scarborough donated to consisted of old friends and his own brother, running in state legislative races, or, in the case of one friend, a race for the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections — not the type of stuff that would ever be discussed on MSNBC anyway. Still, there’s no reason that Scarborough couldn’t have sought permission for the donations first, as the network’s policy dictates. It probably didn’t help matters that Scarborough “did not recall these contributions” during a recent conversation about the Olbermann brouhaha, according to Griffin.
Scarborough seems to recognize as much. In a statement, he says that while the races “were local and not relevant to my work at MSNBC,” he recognizes “a responsibility to honor the guidelines and conditions of my employment,” and he reportedly agreed with the punishment handed to him.