MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough will be on an unpaid vacation Monday and Tuesday (11- 22 & 23) for violating the NBC News ethics policy on campaign contributions. The two-day suspension is the same punishment handed to Keith Olbermann earlier in the month.
Scarborough is a former United States Representative who served the 1st District of Florida from 1995 to 2001. It would have been big news had the dyed-in-the-wool Republican made a donation to a Democrat’s campaign, but the eight donations of $500 each – first reported by Politico.com – all went to GOP candidates for local/state races in the Florida Panhandle.
Unlike Olbermann, who railed against the network for his suspension, Scarborough was apologetic.
“It was recently brought to my attention that I made political contributions over the past several years that are not consistent with MSNBC’s guidelines. These contributions were to close personal friends and family members and were limited to local races.
Despite the fact that these races were local and not relevant to my work at MSNBC, I have been told they violated MSNBC guidelines.
I recognize that I have a responsibility to honor the guidelines and conditions of my employment, and I regret that I failed to do so in this matter. I apologize to MSNBC and to anyone who has been negatively affected by my actions.
I gave a number of $500 contributions to my brother and three longtime family friends. These contributions were nothing more than simple acts of friendship. I gained nothing personally, politically, or professionally from these donations.
To be blunt, I had no interest in their campaigns other than being kind to longtime friends. Because the contributions involved local, non-competitive races – and were given for personal rather than political reasons – I mistakenly believed I did not need approval from MSNBC. I also apologize for that oversight.
After learning of this situation, I called Phil Griffin and agreed with Phil’s immediate demand of a two-day suspension without pay.
I am proud to work for the NBC News family. There is nothing more important than maintaining the integrity of its highly respected brand.
I apologize to Phil Griffin, Steve Capus, and my colleagues. This will not happen again,” Scarborough said in a statement.
Scarborough’s suspension was announced in a brief statement by Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC:
“This morning Joe Scarborough informed me that he made eight contributions of $500 each to local candidates in Florida between 2004-09. In my conversation with Joe two weeks ago, he did not recall these contributions. Since he did not seek or receive prior approval for these contributions, Joe understands that I will be suspending him for violating our policy. He will be immediately suspended for two days without pay and will return to the air on Wednesday, November 24th. As Joe recognizes, it is critical that we enforce our standards and policies.”
RBR-TVBR observation: No intelligent person would ever believe that either Keith Olbermann or Joe Scarborough was an unbiased “journalist.” NBC News, as their employer, is within its rights to have a stupid rule about political contributions apply to commentators who clearly advocate a particular political philosophy, but it is still a stupid rule.