LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Suspended liberal anchor Keith Olbermann will return to the MSNBC lineup on Tuesday, four days after the cable news network suspended him for giving money to three Democratic politicians.
MSNBC said in a statement on Sunday that Olbermann had been punished enough off for violating parent company NBC News’ policy against making such donations without prior approval.
“After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night’s program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin said.
The controversy arose when Olbermann revealed to the website Politico that he had contributed $2,400 each to Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, and to two members of the House of Representatives from Arizona, Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.
Olbermann is clearly a liberal partisan on his show “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” in which he often takes issue with comments made by conservative media figures such as radio host Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News — often by attempting to imitate their voices while reading back their own words.
But he evidently was subject to the same ethics standards that apply to NBC News journalists, and MSNBC suspended him indefinitely without pay on Friday.
In the November 2 elections, Conway lost to Rand Paul, a Republican backed by the conservative Tea Party movement. Grijalva and Giffords won their tight races. Grijalva said in a statement on Friday that MSNBC had “overreacted,” and that Olbermann had made his contributions as a private citizen.
Olbermann has helped make MSNBC something of a liberal alternative to Fox News, which is decidedly conservative, and MSNBC has featured the former sports anchor in promos.
Olbermann had criticized Fox News’ parent company, News Corp, for donating $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.
NBC News policy says an employee taking part in political activity such as campaign donations “may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist,” according to a 2007 story on MSNBC.com.
MSNBC and NBC News are part of NBC Universal.
Comcast Corp is in the process of buying a majority stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co, which would give it control of the NBC TV network.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta; editing by Mohammad Zargham