UPDATE Keith Olbermann finally responded to MSNBC’s Sunday announcement that he would be allowed to return to his Countdown show tomorrow night after serving a two-day suspension. He apologized—but only to viewers, in his open letter to them.
Olbermann asserted he had made a "mistake" and did not know NBC’s political donation rule existed—and claimed it is “inconsistently applied.” He wrote that perhaps his donations should have earned him a "warning" but no more, adding that one of his representatives had been told he would not be suspended—but then he learned about it from the media and "without a hearing."
As Olbermann had done in his only previous comment—in one tweet on Sunday—he hailed viewer support and petitions which “should remind us of the power of individuals spontaneously acting together to correct injustices great or small.” He added: “I also wish to apologize to you viewers for having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama."
He also pointed out, in a thinly-veiled swipe at fellow MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, and perhaps others, that he did not make his donations "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."
Just hours after Politico dug up the fact that MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, a few days ago, had donated to three Democrats running for office, the cable news network suspended the newsman/commentator without pay indefinitely.
After much media commentary and protests, MSNBC announced late Sunday that Olbermann would be allowed to return Tuesday. He has not yet said that he will, in fact, come back then.
"After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night’s program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy," said MSNBC President Phil Griffin in a statement released Sunday. "We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night."
Olbermann has been quiet since Friday, but Sunday afternoon he broke his Twitter silence with this: "Greetings From Exile! A quick, overwhelmed, stunned THANK YOU for support that feels like a global hug."
Friday night the airwaves were filled with reactions.
On CNN’s Parker Spitzer—one of Countdown’s rival shows—Eliot Spitzer blasted the MSNBC move and pointed to Rupert Murdoch’s political gifts this year. Guest Steve Smith agreed. Kathleen Parker defended MSNBC.
A little later, Rachel Maddow tackled the episode, saying that she understands the NBC rules about asking permission before making a donation—as MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough apparently did at least once. But she insisted that the "point" had been made and "we need Keith back." She then profiled the multitude of Fox hosts donating to, fundraising for and outright endorsing Republicans. "We are not a political operation," she said. "Fox is. We are a news operation. And the rules around here are part of how you know that." Here’s a transcript.