In which I defend Keith Olbermann, sort of

Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely, without pay, from MSNBC. Did NBC realize that this unhinged, vitriolic, ultra-leftist was making them look bad? Alas, no.

Olbermann was fired for violating NBC News’s policy forbidding its journalists from making political contributions. That policy is stupid and hypocritical. The reason for the policy is not to ensure fairness in the newsroom, which is clearly does not. If Olbermann hadn’t made those contributions, he would be every bit the same unhinged, vitriolic, ultra-leftist.

The reason for the policy is to give the network deniability. When a journalist gives to Democratic causes, it’s hard to deny that that journalist favors Democrats, but when the journalist’s position is shown only by the slant of his or her work, it becomes disputable. Many people will, with a perfectly straight face, deny the imbalance of the media.

So the policy is hypocritical. Moreover, applied to Keith Olbermann, it’s just stupid. No one could suggest with a straight face that Olbermann is fair. So what does it matter if he gives to Democratic causes?

It does point out that Olbermann is a complete hypocrite, since he attacked Rupert Murdoch, the founder of Fox News, for making political contributions to Republicans. But this doesn’t exonerate MSNBC, because Olbermann wasn’t fired for being a hypocrite.

I’m happy to see Keith Olbermann out of work, but he should have been fired for the right reason. This isn’t it.

UPDATE: As Bill Kristol puts it:

NBC doesn’t have real news standards for MSNBC—otherwise the channel wouldn’t exist. It’s a little strange to get all high and mighty now.

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