powered by FreeFind

Apple iTunes


Mourning Joe: Scarborough latest to receive brief MSNBC suspension for contributing to political candidates

The suspension merry-go-round took another whirl at MSNBC Friday when Joe Scarborough was informed that his services won't be needed for the next two weekdays.

Upon further review, the moderately conservative Morning Joe host was found guilty of violating the partisan network's policy against making un-approved donations to political candidates.

MSNBC president Phil Griffin, in a statement, said that Scarborough informed him Friday morning that he made eight contributions of $500 each to local candidates in Florida during the years 2004-'08.

"In my conversation with Joe two weeks ago, he did not recall those contributions," Griffin said. "Since he did not seek or receive prior approval for these contributions, Joe understands that I will be suspending him for violating our policy."

Scarborough will get the same two-show, unpaid layoff meted out earlier this month to liberal Countdown host Keith Olbermann, who admitted making three donations to Democratic candidates without telling his MSNBC bosses. So he'll miss next week's Monday and Tuesday editions of Morning Joe, leaving co-host Mika Brzezinski in charge of the waker upper's Starbucks coffee cups.

MSNBC didn't see fit to discipline Scarborough when he appeared onstage in August 2004 at a Florida rally for then Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush. He had a prime-time show on MSNBC back then.

Unlike Olbermann, Scarborough issued a contrite companion statement Friday after noting that he "mistakenly believed" he didn't need permission from MSNBC for making token donations "to my brother and three longtime family friends." He termed them "nothing more than simple acts of friendship," adding that "I gained nothing personally, politically or professionally from these donations."

Nevertheless, Scarborough said he has 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 offended by my actions."

It all serves to make MSNBC an even bigger laughingstock for enforcing a policy that basically makes no sense. Morning Joe's basically balanced approach is an abberation. All of the network's early evening and prime-time hosts are outspokenly liberal, a tack that MSNBC has found to be a financially sound business plan in its war of words with right-tilting Fox News Channel. Scarborough is a former Republican congressman who campaigned for Bush while his network turned a deaf ear at the time. Now MSNBC is reprimanding him for actions taken as long as six years ago. Hilarious.

It would be a different matter entirely if MSNBC made even a pretense of being objective in its overall political coverage. On Thursday's Countdown, Olbermann said of Republicans in the House and Senate: "They don't live in this world. They don't live in this country. And I think we'd better off if they didn't live in this country."

Meanwhile, Fox News Channel head Roger Ailes soiled himself the other day by proclaiming in an interview with The Daily Beast that NPR executives "are, of course, Nazis" for dismissing Juan Williams for his comments about Muslim air travelers on FNC's The O'Reilly Factor. "They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don't want any other point of view. They don't even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda."

Ailes later apologized in a letter to the Anti-Defamation League, saying "I was of course ad-libbing and should not have chosen that word, but I was angry at the time because of NPR's willingness to censor Juan Williams for not being liberal enough."

In hindsight, Ailes said the words "nasty, inflexible bigot" would have "worked better" in describing NPR.

Fox News Channel has no policy against its hosts making political donations. Not that anyone would be surprised by Sean Hannity's acknowledged contributions to Republican candidates.

All in all, we get the media we deserve. And in the current cable news firmament, the right hand (FNC) knows what the left hand (MSNBC) is doing -- and vice versa. It matters not a whit if Olbermann dumps hundreds of thousands of dollars into Democratic coffers while Hannity does likewise on behalf of the Republican Party. It won't make either man -- or either network -- any fairer. It'll just underscore the obvious.