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Ethics vs. Politics: The Keith Olbermann Question

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | November 8, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | November 8, 2010 |

This is a particularly good issue for our readership, which is largely made up of shades of liberal (and libertarian), and though it may seem moot because Keith Olbermann’s indefinite suspension only lasted one show, I think it still reveals a lot about where we fall with regards to ethics and politics. It’s a particularly dicey issue for journalists — or at least those that hold themselves out to be journalists — because many of the hard-line, old-schoolers sided with NBC on its decision to suspend Olbermann for contributing to Democratic candidates, even while their political leanings sympathized with him.

Personally, I think the indefinite suspension should’ve been a little more indefinite. I like Olbermann a great deal, and no one could mistake where his political loyalties lie. And I understand this is an MSNBC vs. Fox issue, and many of the liberals who have sided with Olbermann have argued, “If they can do it, why can’t we?” I think that’s exactly why we don’t do it — because not only is it ethically appropriate not to contribute, but because — even in defeat — ethics and the high-road should trump politics.

Silly idealism?

Collectively, we have the luxury here on Pajiba to have a bright, intelligent and somewhat politically diverse community, one that is capable of creating bright and intelligent commentary if provoked with the right questions. In this week’s installment of Pajiba Debates, we ask: “If Fox can do it, why can’t — or shouldn’t — MSNBC? And do you feel that Olbermann’s suspension was warranted? If so, should he have been suspended for a longer period of time?”

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.