In a five-to-one decision, the Federal Election Commission granted comedian Stephen Colbert the right to create a “SuperPAC” to raise money for the 2012 election campaign. This would make him an equivalent to people like Karl Rove who are attempting to influence the elections.
But the FEC also concluded that the television host’s employer, Viacom Corp., would have to report any help it gives to Colbert for political activities outside the “Colbert Report” show. The panel gave the newly registered “Colbert Super PAC” a relatively narrow media exemption applicable only to the humorist’s show. Any assistance from Viacom outside the show must be treated as “in-kind” contributions and reported to the FEC.
Since the 2010 Supreme Court decision allowing unfettered corporate spending in elections, Super PACs like Colbert’s now number over 100. They didn’t exist before the Court’s decision (a point Colbert seems to be making in a comic way.)
“Some people have said, ‘Is this some kind of joke?’ I for one don’t think participating in democracy is a joke.”
..said Colbert to the crowd afterward. When a reporter asked him when the first ad would run, Colbert Responded:
“I’ve got to get some money first.”
I want to sincerely thank you for the honor of your extraordinary and ground-rattling support. Your efforts have been integral to the remedying of these recent events, and the results should remind us of the power of individuals spontaneously acting together to correct injustices great or small. I would also like to acknowledge with respect the many commentators and reporters, including those with whom my politics do not overlap, for their support.
I also wish to apologize to you viewers for having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama. You should know that I mistakenly violated an inconsistently applied rule – which I previously knew nothing about – that pertains to the process by which such political contributions are approved by NBC. 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. 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.
You should also know that I did not attempt to keep any of these political contributions secret; I knew they would be known to you and the rest of the public. I did not make them through a relative, friend, corporation, PAC, or any other intermediary, and I did not blame them on some kind of convenient ‘mistake’ by their recipients. When a website contacted NBC about one of the donations, I immediately volunteered that there were in fact three of them; and contrary to much of the subsequent reporting, I immediately volunteered to explain all this, on-air and off, in the fashion MSNBC desired.
I genuinely look forward to rejoining you on Countdown on Tuesday, to begin the repayment of your latest display of support and loyalty – support and loyalty that is truly mutual.
- Keith Olbermann Says He Didn’t Know About Donations Rule [Statements] (gawker.com)
- Olbermann Offers Apology to Fans, but Not to MSNBC (nytimes.com)
- Keith Olbermann Says MSNBC Suspended Him “Without A Hearing”, Slams “Inconsistently Applied Rule” (mediaite.com)
- Olbermann Apologizes to Viewers in Letter (cbsnews.com)