The Spectacle Blog

NBC News’ Phil Griffin Still Has a Lot to Answer For

By on 11.7.10 | 10:50PM

Well, the news certainly does move fast in the Internet era! Indeed, no sooner had I posted couple of pieces (at both the Daily Caller and FrumForum) arguing that conservatives should support Keith Olberman's right to free speech, than MSNBC president Phil Griffin announced (today) that Olbermann will back on the air Tuesday night.

"After several days of deliberation and discussion," Griffin wrote in an emailed statement obtained by the Huffington Post

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.

As you can surmise from my posts, I'm glad that Griffin has done the right thing and reinstated Olbermann. However, Griffin and his NBC management colleagues still have a lot of explaining to do.

• First, does NBC still prohibit its journalists from donating to political campaigns and to political candidates?

That policy makes little sense, I argue, given a free and open journalistic market in which journalists can be judged -- and, in fact, are judged -- by their work product and work performance. And it makes even less sense at an avowedly partisan and ideological network like MSNBC.

• Second, even if NBC still prohibits its journalists from donating to political campaigns and to political candidates, does this proscription apply to commentators like Olbermann?

Commentators, after all, are paid to have an express point of view; and they are paid, oftentimes, to make partisan, ideological attacks. What sense does it make, then, to prohibit a commentator from putting his money where his mouth and his opinions are?

• Third, was this policy ever applied to Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan, both of whom, it has been reported, gave money to political candidates during the 2010 election cycle, even as they opined about politics while in the employ of MSNBC?

Moreover, did Scarborough and Buchanan report their political campaign donations to NBC; as required; and did NBC approve of these campaign donations? Inquiring minds want to know. Certainly, the public has a right to know! :) Hell, I'd like to know; and I hardly think that I'm alone here!

For these reasons, and to answer these questions, Phil Griffin should, I think, hold a 90-minute press conference.

Come clean, Mr. Griffin. Let the public know what NBC News' supposed journalistic standards are, the rationale for these standards, and whether these standards are applied fairly and uniformly throughout the network.

The public has a right to know.

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