Joe Scarborough Deserved a Warning, Not Suspension By MSNBC

What is about MSNBC anchors and political donations?

The General Electric Co. (GE) cable channel today suspended Joe Scarborough for two days after learning that Scarborough had made eight $500 contributions -- the state's legal maximum -- to Florida political candidates without securing prior permission from MSNBC management, as required by company policy.

According to Politico,
the contributions were to candidates for state office who were personal friends of Scarborough, including his brother George. Keith Olbermann, of course, was suspended "indefinitely" on Nov. 5 for violating the same policy by donating to three Democratic candidates for two days.

Is this a case of the network treating two star anchors fairly or overreacting once again?

Fact vs. Opinion

Scarborough reportedly is fuming. One of his friends snapped to Politico that the races were "meaningless." Others continue to argue that the policy itself is silly, hearkening back to the days when the line between news and opinion was less blurry than it is today.

I don't buy it.

As I've argued before, the policy does serve a useful purpose. It helps to ensure that broadcasters don't hijack MSNBC's airwaves for their own political purposes. That said, the case against Scarborough is much less clear than it was for Olbermann. The host of Morning Joe donated to local races that would be of little interest to the audience of a national cable news channel. He also is a former Republican member of Congress who has earned a lot of respect from people from observers on both sides of the aisle.

Olbermann, as Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast noted, has earned a reputation for being aloof and surly. His missteps were far more serious. MSNBC is fighting the perception that it is in cahoots with the Democrats, and Olbermann did not help change those perceptions. The fact that Fox News has no such restrictions in place does not mean they are right.

Small Contributions to Small Races

Scarborough is hardly blameless. He did not "recall" the Florida contributions during a conversation with MSNBC head Phil Griffin during a conservation about Olbermann's situation two weeks ago, according to Politico. At the time of the earlier dust-up, Politico found that Scarborough made donations to races in Oregon and Alabama which the network said complied with its policy because he sought permission in advance.

Could Scarborough have mistakenly assumed that the state races were not subject to the policy? Easily.

Should he have known better? Of course.

"There is no love lost between Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Scarborough," the New York Times says. "But the two men may now find themselves agreeing about a new approach toward commentators' donations at MSNBC."

Were it not for Olbermann's stupidity, Scarborough would have gotten a warning, which is what he deserved. Instead, he will cool his heels until Tuesday at home without pay.

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105 Comments

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j2begley

Oh no! That means we will have PMS personified, Mika Brzenski, scowling through the interviews and making a hash of the show. Bring back Joe quick!

November 22 2010 at 7:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
drshunlock

Why should they be suspended? The bias is all over their shows anyway, which is why I always opposed campaign finance reform. The press and the entertainment shows(View, Ophra, Letterman, and others) get to push their agenda daily, with no restrictions, and no ablility to counter. As much as I don't like Olbermann, his positions are quite clear, and I think he should be permitted to spend as much as he wants, dito for Joe.

November 21 2010 at 5:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
magginkat

What a welcome break to have two days where Scarborough won't be yapping and interrupting guests and the 'assistant' hostess. Let him fume. Ole Joe has that job as payment for his help in the election fraud in Florida in 2000. No sympathy here. He's a loud mouth fraud.

November 21 2010 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to magginkat's comment
iseeyoulqqkn

didnt joe kill a chick,and left her body in his office?

November 21 2010 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
austinbuss3

This should be an example to all TV shows. Anybody who do something Illegal or say something bad or obnoxiuos should get a punishment or penalty. Joy Behar, The old 70 year old, mean, plastic,ill-manered lady on the view show should have been fired or punished for calling people "bitch", stupid, go to hell etc etc. She said a lot of things below the belt and hide and give an excuse that's its only a joke. She is not even a true comedianne. A disgrase to comedy club. The view can get a better replacement of her with decency or maybe the producers are in the same flock. Hope not..

November 21 2010 at 10:43 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Ron

It's time to fire all from MSNBC / Faux News and the rest of the networks. Behind closed doors they all are low lifes.

November 21 2010 at 10:04 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
spike

The nice thing about Joe is ,you know hes a republican but,hes not a republican of the knuckle dragging,hate slobbering stripe.I like him.

November 21 2010 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Susan

Don't suspend, fire all of them. Their ratings are in the toilet anyway. Time for a new team.

November 21 2010 at 9:41 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Mike G

I find morning Joe to be a palatable option to Fox & Friends or I-Man in the morning. I get a liberal view to think about without the Flames as Joe try's to keep it fair and open. With that said how long can anyone expect a MSNBC anchor with a R behind his or her name not be sucked into the trapping's of New York and their Boss's @ NBC? I wish Joe would give Mika a little more time to finish her comment's. Her Father is brilliant but the Carter Adminitration's policies moved me to vote for President Regan. Mike

November 21 2010 at 8:41 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
daltonustynik

Whats the big fuss? If Oberman got suspended why not Scarborough? Or why any at all?

November 21 2010 at 8:28 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Robert

He doesn't need to be fired. The people can speak by just not watching MSNBC. We spoke by voting a couple of Tuesdays ago. I do not agree with firing people for speaking their mind. You either agree or disagree with them. If ya don't like it, tune them out.

November 21 2010 at 8:08 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply