Sometimes it really is like shooting fish in a barrel, especially when it has to do with Howard Kurtz, who after years of working for the Washington Post, now writes for the Daily Beast.
Howard is tut-tutting today over the egregious hypocrisy of Keith Olbemann:
So is Keith Olbermann now the Worst Person in the World? No, but he made a really dumb mistake.
By donating to three Democratic candidates while covering the midterms on MSNBC, Olbermann crossed a bright journalistic line—even for a commentator whose partisan sympathies are no secret.
The network had no choice but to suspend him, even though he's the biggest draw on NBC's cable channel. "Mindful of NBC News policy and standards," MSNBC President Phil Griffin said in a statement, "I have suspended him indefinitely without pay."
"No choice." No choice at all.
The real forehead-slapper here is that Olbermann donated the legal maximum, $2,400, to Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva on Oct. 28—the same day he interviewed the congressman for Countdown. Viewers, of course, had no way of knowing.
As first reported by Politico, Olbermann also donated the maximum to Arizona Rep. Gabriella Giffords and to Jack Conway, the Kentucky Republican who lost his Senate race to Rand Paul.
It's hard to fathom what Olbermann was thinking, because he must have realized that the donations would show up in federal election records and eventually be made public.
What's more, Olbermann has used the issue of political donations to rip his arch-enemies at Fox News. He pounced on Rupert Murdoch when News Corp., Fox's parent, gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association and another million bucks to the GOP-backing Chamber of Commerce.
Now Olbermann, who's not shy about caustic criticism, faces the inevitable charge of hypocrisy.
Oh, Howard. You really want to go there? You really want to pluck out the splinter in Keith's eye instead of the log in your own?
His mistake is not in the same league as what some Fox contributors have done. Karl Rove raised about $50 million in recent months for an independent group supporting Republican candidates. Dick Morris has raised money, spoken on behalf of candidates and refers to Republicans as "we." Sarah Palin barnstormed the country on behalf of her favored candidates, often of the Tea Party variety.
And one full-time Fox News host, Sean Hannity, has attended GOP fundraisers. Fox allows such activity for talk-show hosts and contributors, whom the network doesn't consider journalists. I've written about this from time to time; few people seem to care.
At CNN, where I host a weekly media program, James Carville and Paul Begala are contributors who also sign fundraising letters for the Democratic Party. If it were up to me, I wouldn't allow any of that.
That's because Howard Kurtz's personal standards are so high. How high are they?