MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann was suspended Nov. 5 for donating the maximum amount to three Democratic candidates who were running in the most recent Senate and House of Representatives election.
According to a Huffington Post report, Olbermann donated $2,400 each to two Democratic candidates for House of Representatives, Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords from Arizona, and a Democratic candidate for Senate, Jack Conway from Kentucky.
Olbermann’s donations did not violate Federal Election Commission regulations, which state an individual can donate a maximum of $2,400 to each candidate or candidate committee per election, but MSNBC still suspended him.
According to Huffington Post and MSNBC reports on the incident, NBC News requires employees to obtain prior approval from executives before making a donation, and Olbermann failed to get such approval.
While various news outlets focused on the fact that Olbermann, known for his left-wing views, was suspended for donating to three candidates with similar views, they failed to mention the fact that Olbermann did not violate any federal campaign donation laws outlined by the FEC.
The individual’s right to support like-minded candidates is a fundamental trait of modern-day free speech.
Unfortunately more will argue that Olbermann, as a liberal anchor on a liberal network, was simply being biased instead of focusing on the fact that he was actually utilizing his resources in a politically constructive and legal manner to demonstrate support for his party.
Being that Olbermann is a political commentator, he is more knowledgeable about politics than the average citizen. He also has significant monetary resources, as he is an anchor on a major news network.
Although some do not belong to or associate with a political party, those who do should be able to support their respective parties, especially monetarily.
Furthermore, some would argue that an average citizen’s best contribution to politics is not his or her vote, but his or her financial support.
An effective United States citizen is one who utilizes resources and knowledge in a constructive manner to promote democracy, as outlined in the Constitution.
Therefore an individual who contributes monetary resources to an election plays a vital role in political campaigns.
After all, those avid followers of politics who cast educated votes would not be able to do so if there weren’t individuals funding campaigns.
In addition, Olbermann has been surrounded by controversy since his infamous “cold-blooded killers” comment regarding American soldiers, not to mention many a terse commentary portraying Republicans as the “bad guys.”
One would think that since Olbermann has come under scrutiny in the past for his actions, MSNBC would not want to draw this kind of attention to one of its most prominent anchors once again.
MSNBC is only magnifying Olbermann’s mistakes and punishing him inappropriately for his actions in this case. Not only did Olbermann’s punishment not fit the crime, but MSNBC executed poor judgment by publicly punishing one of its more notorious employees.
Wyatt Kanyer is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Yakima, Wash.