... Olbermann's "crime" wasn't donating to political candidates. It was failing to ask permission before making the donation.
After all, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough has donated more money to political candidates than Olbermann, he's headlined fundraisers, and he even campaigned for George W. Bush in 2004 while hosting a program on the network.
Given the case of Scarborough, it's clear that Olbermann would have been allowed to make the donations. So the issue here isn't the donations: it's that Olbermann didn't ask first. The fact that Phil Griffin thought Olbermann's slip-up was something that rose to the level of a suspension (and initially an indefinite one) is rather breathtaking.
Griffin blew this way out of proportion, ultimately making both himself and the network look arbitrary and foolish. Worse, Griffin showed absolutely no respect to Olbermann's audience. Suspending Olbermann for such a ticky-tack HR dispute wasn't just a punishment for Keith O. -- it was a punishment of Countdown viewers. And as any decent network executive will tell you, the last thing you should ever want to do is punish your audience.
Griffin's rapid capitulation almost gives this the appearance of a publicity stunt. It wasn't. It was Phil Griffin making a huge mistake, being called out on it by a quarter of a million of Countdown's viewers in a matter of days, and then backing up quicker than a scared crawdad.
MSNBC is going places in spite of Griffin, and it will go farther and faster if he gets replaced. Fast.