Olbermann apologizes to viewers, raps boss

Nov. 8, 2010 at 9:01 PM
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NEW YORK, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- TV commentator Keith Olbermann, suspended for contributing to Democratic candidates, apologized to viewers Monday, one day before he is to be back on the air.

MSNBC President Phil Griffin said Sunday night Olbermann would return to his "Countdown" show Tuesday. Olbermann was suspended indefinitely without pay Friday for making donations to three candidates without first getting approval from the head of the news division as required under the policy at MSNBC's parent, NBC News.

Olbermann had anchored the channel's election coverage Nov. 2.

Griffin issued a statement saying he looked forward to "having (Olbermann) back on the air Tuesday night," The New York Times reported.

"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," Griffin said.

MSNBC reported the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's online petition calling for Olbermann's immediate reinstatement had surpassed 250,000 signatures.

Olbermann tweeted his thanks to his supporters Sunday.

"Greetings From Exile! A quick, overwhelmed, stunned THANK YOU for support that feels like a global hug & obviously left me tweetless XO," he said in his online message.

Later Monday, Olbermann issued a statement thanking supporters and criticizing MSNBC's handling of the matter.

"I also wish to apologize to you viewers for having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama," he said.

Olbermann said he had known nothing about the company rule he violated by not getting corporate permission to make the campaign donations -- a rule he said has been "inconsistently applied."

"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," he said. "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."

Olbermann noted he did not try to hide any of the contributions and volunteered to "all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired."

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