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Back from exile: Olbermann thanks fans, criticizes MSNBC

November 8, 2010 |  4:26 pm

Olby
On Monday night, Keith Olbermann finally responded to his two-day suspension, which MSNBC imposed on him after discovering that he'd made unauthorized political donations to three Democratic candidates. In an open letter to his fans, which his management team sent to the Times and other media, the “Countdown” host  criticized NBC for enforcing a donation policy that was "inconsistently applied" and insisted that he wasn’t aware of the netowrk's standards. While he admitted that he should have discussed his donations with NBC executives, he took issue with the fact that, instead of warning him internally, the network suspended him, leaving him to hear about the suspension through the media.

“You should also know that I did not attempt to keep any of these political contributions secret; I knew they would be known to you and the rest of the public,” he said. “I did not make them through a relative, friend, corporation, PAC, or any other intermediary, and I did not blame them on some kind of convenient ‘mistake’ by their recipients. When a website contacted NBC about one of the donations, I immediately volunteered that there were in fact three of them; and contrary to much of the subsequent reporting, I immediately volunteered to explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired.”

Olbermann credited his fans for getting him back on the air with what he called a “ground-rattling” outpouring of support from viewers. He apologized for “having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama,” though he also said that the public uproar “should remind us of the power of individuals spontaneously acting together to correct injustices great or small.”

The full text of the letter follows:

A STATEMENT TO THE VIEWERS OF COUNTDOWN
by Keith Olbermann


I want to sincerely thank you for the honor of your extraordinary and ground-rattling support. Your efforts have been integral to the remedying of these recent events, and the results should remind us of the power of individuals spontaneously acting together to correct injustices great or small. I would also like to acknowledge with respect the many commentators and reporters, including those with whom my politics do not overlap, for their support.

I also wish to apologize to you viewers for having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama. You should know that I mistakenly violated an inconsistently applied rule — which I previously knew nothing about — that pertains to the process by which such political contributions are approved by NBC. Certainly this mistake merited a form of public acknowledgment and/or internal warning, and an on-air discussion about the merits of limitations on such campaign contributions by all employees of news organizations. Instead, after my representative was assured that no suspension was contemplated, I was suspended without a hearing, and learned of that suspension through the media.


You should also know that I did not attempt to keep any of these political contributions secret; I knew they would be known to you and the rest of the public. I did not make them through a relative, friend, corporation, PAC, or any other intermediary, and I did not blame them on some kind of convenient 'mistake' by their recipients. When a website contacted NBC about one of the donations, I immediately volunteered that there were in fact three of them; and contrary to much of the subsequent reporting, I immediately volunteered to explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired.

I genuinely look forward to rejoining you on Countdown on Tuesday, to begin the repayment of your latest display of support and loyalty — support and loyalty that is truly mutual.

— K.O.

— Melissa Maerz

Photo: Keith Olbermann. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press.

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A STATEMENT TO THE VIEWERS OF COUNTDOWN
by Keith Olbermann
I want to sincerely thank you for the honor of your extraordinary and
ground-rattling support. Your efforts have been integral to the remedying of
these recent events, and the results should remind us of the power of
individuals spontaneously acting together to correct injustices great or small. I
would also like to acknowledge with respect the many commentators and
reporters, including those with whom my politics do not overlap, for their
support.
I also wish to apologize to you viewers for having precipitated such anxiety
and unnecessary drama. You should know that I mistakenly violated an
inconsistently applied rule – which I previously knew nothing about – that
pertains to the process by which such political contributions are approved by
NBC. Certainly this mistake merited a form of public acknowledgment and/or
internal warning, and an on-air discussion about the merits of limitations on
such campaign contributions by all employees of news organizations. Instead,
after my representative was assured that no suspension was contemplated, I
was suspended without a hearing, and learned of that suspension through the
media.
You should also know that I did not attempt to keep any of these political
contributions secret; I knew they would be known to you and the rest of the
public. I did not make them through a relative, friend, corporation, PAC, or
any other intermediary, and I did not blame them on some kind of convenient
'mistake' by their recipients. When a website contacted NBC about one of the
donations, I immediately volunteered that there were in fact three of them; and
contrary to much of the subsequent reporting, I immediately volunteered to
explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired.
I genuinely look forward to rejoining you on Countdown on Tuesday, to
begin the repayment of your latest display of support and loyalty - support and
loyalty that is truly mutual.
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