Keith Olbermann Says He 'Mistakenly Violated' Contribution Policy

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MSNBC host says in statement he was suspended for rule he 'knew nothing about.'

NEW YORK -- One night before he is due to return to the air after a two-day suspension for donations to Democratic candidates, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann issued a statement thanking viewers for their "extraordinary and ground-rattling support."

The statement was released to media outlets Monday night by Olbermann's representatives, not by MSNBC.

Olbermann also said that he did not know about the much-criticized company rule barring everyone at NBC News, including MSNBC's overtly opinionated hosts, from participating in activities that could call into question journalistic impartiality.

Olbermann said he "mistakenly violated an inconsistently applied rule"that he "previously knew nothing about."

He also said that he only learned about his suspension when it was reported in the media.

"I was suspended without a hearing,"he wrote. "And I learned of that suspension through the media."

Olbermann's full statement follows:

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.

--K.O.

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