MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely for contributing to three campaigns this elections cycle, network president Phil Griffin announced this afternoon. Here’s the statement.
I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.
Politico reported last night that Olbermann sent a statement confirming the contributions — all of them the maximum donation of $2,400.
Such donations are in clear violation of NBC ethics policy, as is the norm for all media organizations. That said, Olbermann is as responsible for MSNBC’s hard-won success as anyone—even if he did apparently lean forward a notch too far.
An MSNBC spokesperson told The Observer that Chris Hayes will serve as Olbermann’s immediate replacement, but that there was no decision about who would be on-air in Olbermann’s time slot next week.
Two shows that may benefit from Olbermann’s sudden absence are CNN’s “Parker Spitzer” and MSNBC’s “The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.” The former, a talk show co-hosted by former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and Pulitzer-winning journalist Kathleen Parker, has been struggling for a toehold in the ratings at the 8 p.m. hour, when Olbermann’s program also aired. Wednesday night, the duo drew just 254,000 viewers in the 25-54 demographic, as compared to the 395,000 who tuned in to Olbermann’s “Countdown” (and 1.2 million who watched Bill O’Reilly).
O’Donnell’s show debuted in late September with two former Olbermann staffers at the helm: senior executive producer Izzy Povich and executive producer Greg Kordick, who both left “Countdown” in July to join O’Donnell’s crew. As he introduces himself further to TV viewers, O’Donnell, a former producer on “The West Wing,” will have more room to breathe now that the stable of MSNBC personalities is smaller.
(Updated 3:05 p.m.)