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MSNBC suspends Scarborough for donations to GOP candidates

Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" right discusses the future of the Republican party on NBC's "Meet the Press" in Washington. MSNBC says it's suspending morning host Joe Scarborough for two days without pay for making political contributions.The eight donations, each for $500, violate NBC News policy, MSNBC president Phil Griffin said Friday, Nov. 19, 2010. (AP Photo/NBC, William B. Plowman)

MSNBC said Friday that “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough will be suspended for donating to four Republican candidates in local Florida races, two weeks after Keith Olbermann was suspended for making political contributions to Democrats.

Scarborough said he agreed with the two-day suspension, which is the same duration as Olbermann’s.

The donations, first reported by the website Politico, came between 2004 and 2008. Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, made eight donations of $500 apiece to campaigns for Florida offices being run by his brother, George, former congressional staffer David Stafford and family friends Don Gaetz and his son, Matt Gaetz. All are Republicans.

“Because the contributions involved local, non-competitive races — and were given for personal rather than political reasons — I mistakenly believed I did not need approval from MSNBC,” Scarborough said. “I also apologize for that oversight.”

NBC News bans political donations from its staff members unless special permission is granted by the network president.

Scarborough will be back on the air the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, said MSNBC President Phil Griffin.

“As Joe recognizes, it is critical that we enforce our standards and policies,” Griffin said.

Scarborough apologized three times in a nine-paragraph statement. That’s in contrast to Olbermann, who apologized to his fans — but not to MSNBC — for donating to three Democratic candidates during the midterm elections.

Olbermann called for a re-examination and public debate about the no-donation rule, which he suggested may not make sense during an era of opinionated cable news hosts. NBC News has given no indication that the rule is being reconsidered.

Scarborough promised that political donations “will not happen again.”

“I am proud to work for the NBC News family,” he said. “There is nothing more important than maintaining the integrity of its highly respected brand.”

Scarborough co-hosts a three-hour political discussion program with Mika Brzezinski that airs at 6 a.m each weekday.


AP Television Writer Frazier Moore contributed to this report.


MSNBC is owned by General Electric.



Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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