NEW YORK - Msnbc TV host Joe Scarborough was suspended without pay for two days Friday for making eight campaign donations to Florida political candidates, apparently in violation of NBC News ethics policy.
Scarborough, a former Republican member of Congress from Florida and host of the cable network's "Morning Joe" program, said he agreed with the decision by msnbc President Phil Griffin, which was similar to the sanction Griffin imposed two weeks ago on another host on the network, Keith Olbermann.
The suspension was first reported Friday by Politico.com.
When Olbermann, host of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," was suspended Nov. 5 for making donations to three Democratic congressional candidates, Scarborough acknowledged that two political contributions had been made in his name, but he said they had been made by his wife.
Griffin said in a statement that Scarborough informed him Friday that he had in fact made eight contributions from 2004 to 2008 to local candidates in Florida that he did not recall.
"He will be immediately suspended for two days without pay and will return to the air on Wednesday, November 24th," Griffin said. "As Joe recognizes, it is critical that we enforce our standards and policies."
In his own statement Friday, Scarborough he had "recently" been made aware of the contributions and told Griffin about them himself.
Like many news organizations, NBC News, parent of msnbc TV, prohibits political contributions by its journalists without prior approval of the president. (Msnbc.com, a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft Corp., also has a policy against its journalists contributing to political campaigns.)
"Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest," the NBC News policy reads.
"Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial positions. You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the president of NBC News or his designee."
Scarborough said he made the contributions to the candidates — his brother and three family friends — as "simple acts of friendship."
"I gained nothing personally, politically, or professionally from these donations," he said. Nonetheless, he said he agreed with Griffin's decision and said, "I apologize to MSNBC and to anyone who has been negatively affected by my actions."
Scarborough's reaction was in sharp contrast to that of Olbermann, whose suspension ignited a firestorm of protest from supporters who created an online petition that attracted more than 250,000 signatures. Olbermann apologized to his supporters but not to NBC News and broadcast a commentary objecting to having been punished "without a hearing."