MSNBC has suspended morning host Joe Scarborough after he admitted to having made eight previously undisclosed donations to the campaigns of Republican candidates.
Scarborough and MSNBC management agreed to the two-day hiatus after Politico reporter Kenneth P. Vogel asked for comment about five donations Scarborough had made to political candidates. Scarborough admitted to making the donations, as well as three others.
Scarborough apologized for the donations, but said they were not meant to have a political agenda and were simply him “being kind to longtime friends.” Scarborough is a former Republican congressman.
The suspension comes two weeks after MSNBC suspended prime time host Keith Olbermann “indefinitely” over his donations to three Democratic candidates.
Though Olbermann was quickly reinstated, the suspension caused an outcry among Olbermann’s progressive supporters, and sparked a debate over whether news commentators such as Olbermann and Scarborough should be held to the same journalistic standards as straight news reporters.
Under NBC guidelines, reporters can make donations to political campaigns but have to get permission from management first.
“To some, the suspension of Mr. Scarborough will simply underscore the strangeness of a policy that seeks to protect NBC’s journalistic integrity, but does not differentiate between news reporters and political commentators,” notes the New York Times. “There is no love lost between Mr. Olbermann and Mr. Scarborough. But the two men may now find themselves agreeing about a new approach toward commentators’ donations at MSNBC.”
MSNBC.com compiled a list earlier this year of journalists who have made campaign contributions. Scarborough’s previously known donations, as well as those of several other MSNBC staffers, were listed.
Politico’s Vogel reports:
Scarborough gave at least five separate previously unknown $500 contributions while serving as an MNBC host – all to Republican candidates to whom he was close who were running for state legislative seats in or near Scarborough’s hometown of Pensacola, Fla. After being contacted by POLITICO about the donations, Scarborough voluntarily disclosed three other $500 contributions to a friend running for county office in Florida.
In his own statement, Scarborough said that “despite the fact that these races were local and not relevant to my work at MSNBC I have been told they violated MSNBC guidelines,” and that he had agreed to the suspension.
“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.”
Scarborough will be on suspension without pay Monday and Tuesday of next week, and will return to the air Wednesday.