Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Legal and Ethical Issues in Suspending Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann's suspension from MSNBC on Friday brought 250,000 people out of the woodwork over this one weekend to sign a petition asking that he be reinstated.

Yesterday in my blog at Open Salon I did an analysis (On the Privacy of Political Campaign Contributions) making the claim that because human contributions are limited to a modest amount ($2400), it’s not realistically possible to unduly influence an election by making them and so they ought to be a private matter, out of the reach of employers to control. I also made the claim that because corporate contributions are potentially unlimited, that disclosure is quite important. It’s not the kind of simple rule people like, but then it comes because of that stupid legal person fiction.

Today I also did a big run-down on the grab bag of other issues I thought this suspension (MSNBC Ethical Theatre 2010). This basically takes the position that MSNBC is using the situation to try to appear more ethical than Fox (who gave $1M to the Republican Governors Association), saying they are strict with their employees about what can and cannot be given. But since the contribution is legal, I assert they’re just creating theatre that makes them look ethical. Which is a little weird since I think they are pretty ethical and have nothing to prove. Commenters on my blog post seem to think there's an internal feud at MSNBC.

Oddly, in a Google search for the Olbermann petition, this shows up alongside another petition that wants him fired for being a "maniac" and has 1316 signatures. See my article The Freedom to Hear if you want a guess on where I come down on that.

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