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Debate on politics and news doesn't end with Olbermann's suspension

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In response, Olbermann tweeted, “A quick, overwhelmed, stunned THANK YOU for support that feels like a global hug.”

As first reported in Politico, Olbermann made $2,400 contributions to the reelection campaigns of Arizona Democratic congressional candidates Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords. He also contributed $2,400 to Kentucky Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway.

The contributions violated NBC News policy which says that those covering politics cannot contribute to campaigns without prior approval from the news organization’s boss – effectively a ban. Olbermann co-anchored MSNBC’s election night coverage. His superiors did not find out about the contributions until a Politico reporter asked about them.

[The Monitor’s ethics policy requires written disclosure to the editor of financial contributions to any political or public issue campaign. Written disclosure is also required of “any conflict, potential conflict, or appearance of conflict” between the performance of journalistic duties and any outside business, financial, political, or other interest.]

Rachel Maddow, whose program follow’s Olbermann’s, argued on the air Friday that there was a major difference between MSNBC’s approach and the policy at Fox News. Olbermann was disciplined for his political contributions and Fox does not have a similar policy for its hosts or commentators, she noted. For example, Fox News host Sean Hannity faced no adverse consequences for giving $5,000 to the political action committee of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) in August. Fox’s position is that Mr. Hannity is a conservative talk show host, not a journalist.

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