Keith Olbermann is no fool, I think, though perhaps some of his political leanings are foolish.
But his decision to donate money to political campaigns, prompting today's suspension from MSNBC
, must have been an attempt to bring this issue into the headlines and force some discussion.
The rules are clear, and he violated them. The suspension is right. He wasn't fired (yet?), and his management must decide what to do with him. His push to the left from straight news was more honest, instead of hiding his leanings, and MSNBC has gladly followed his lead. They've enjoyed success, their best ratings ever, according to the AP story. They are still far behind the left-leaning Fox News, though.
So will they fire him? It will be interesting to watch, because he's an asset to them.
That's what makes me think he is forcing this issue. He's protesting the rule, forcing his management to decide what it means.
He could have helped those candidates more by talking about them and encouraging voters (and thus donors) to support them, but he gave them each $2,400. Not much money in the big picture, and not much compared to being featured on a national cable show.
So why donate to them? I could see donating to someone running for city council in your hometown or someone running for a position that would affect your home value, your quality of life. If someone runs on a platform of shutting down your closest high school, or raising your taxes, or cutting your library or your police, I think you should be able to step up and say, Hey, I want to help my horse in this race.
If you give money, that's OK. It's your right.
If you use your program to make them sound right, when in fact, they impact YOUR LIFE, that's wrong.
So Olbermann did the opposite. He gave a small amount of money to people in different states, Kentucky and Arizona.
He's challenging the rules, perhaps even looking for an out on his contract. I don't know. But this seems calculated.
I think it is worth looking at the rules media companies have. We at The Oakland Press cannot work on campaigns, but what if my wife wants a sign up? I do have an opinion and I vote, so could I put a sign up?
I haven't tried, because I haven't cared enough. But I have dreamed of getting one sign for each candidate and changing them out depending who called me last. So when a neighbor would ask, why'd you switch, I'd say, because so-and-so won't leave me alone. I'd be like a one-man poll in the neighborhood. But that would just be me having fun.
I think campaign signs should be treated more like art, such as combining George W. Bush with I Support Gay Marriage on the same yard. Get people thinking, or at least wondering.
But sometimes the rules come off as stiff, and another liberal group (well they don't see it that way but if the shoe fits), Public Broadcasting, went a little too far. Their edict that staffers could not even attend a rally hosted by comedians
, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, was unfair, I thought.
A person, even a journalist, should be allowed to go where ever they want. You know, sometimes people go to things to find out something, even if they are not part of it. Plus, does NPR ban reporters from going to church in case they one day have to do a story about a church issue? And they shouldn't go to football games, in case a story of concussions or public dollars for venues comes through their organization. What about bars? We do lots of stories on alcohol, smoking in public and taxes on booze and food.
Ever person has some bias; it exists. In fact, some bias inside is what makes a reporter say, This is a story; someone may be interested/upset/outraged by this. If there was no bias, then you'd go to the meeting, cover the first agenda item and have your story.
The key is to be fair on the air or in print or online. Be fair in your coverage. Silly bans like these are phony and pointless, simply pretending that something is so. And people are smart enough to not buy it.
Furthermore, banning an opinionated political partisan broadcaster from participating is ridiculous. Plus, don't the owners of these companies make contributions.