Democrats Complain MSNBC Has 'Double Standard' on Hosts Speaking at Fundraisers

April 10th, 2014 10:02 PM

The Democratic National Committee has accused the MSNBC cable channel of having "a pretty big double standard" regarding its “confusing policy” of forbidding some anchors from attending political fundraising events while others are allowed to speak at similar programs, according to a letter written to Phil Griffin, president of the liberal television network.

Mo Elleithee, the DNC's communications director, indicated that channel executives prevented Ed Schultz -- host of the weekday afternoon program The Ed Show – from appearing at a Democratic Unity Dinner in Broward County, Fla., on March 15, while Joe Scarborough, a co-host of the weekday Morning Joe program, is slated to give the keynote address at next month's Cheshire County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner in New Hampshire.

“Now, I don’t begrudge Joe from speaking at this event,” Elleithee wrote. “But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why he would be allowed to speak at a Republican event, but other MSNBC personalities were not allowed to speak at Democratic events. Seems like a pretty big double standard.”

Elleithee didn't note that Joe's other half Mika Brzezinski sits in the front row at White House events next to Valerie Jarrett enjoying the"praise Jesus" moment, and that doesn't draw Griffin's notice.

He then stated:

It appears by MSNBC standards, a fundraising event is not a fundraising event if it does not call itself a fundraising event, even while raising funds at the event (through “nominal fees”). On the flip side, a fundraising event is a fundraising event when it raises funds and calls itself a fundraiser.

Now that the policy is clear, we will be sure to advise all Democratic state and local party organizations of this distinction so that they can be sure to invite MSNBC personalities only to the “non-fundraising” events, as opposed to the “fundraising” events.

According to MSNBC policies, the network's opinionated hosts can spout their views on the air, but the network does not allow them to raise money for political parties or give to candidates without permission from the channel executives.

In 2010, MSNBC suspended Scarborough and former host Keith Olbermann for giving money to Republican and Democratic candidates, respectively.

But now, “Joe isn’t participating in a fundraiser,” MSNBC spokeswoman Lauren Skowronski said in a statement released Wednesday evening. The network's hosts “often participate in events where there is a nominal fee for registration or tickets that basically cover the cost of the event. There has been no change in policy.”

After MSNBC put out that statement, the Cheshire County Republican Committee announced that ticket prices would be reduced to $25. The amount for admittance will only cover costs, rather than raise funds.

On the other hand, there has been no discussion regarding Al Sharpton, host of the liberal weekday afternoon program PoliticsNation, hosting president Barack Obama at the National Action Network conference this week in New York. 

Obama’s choice to headline the conference underscores the close ties of the two leaders. Sharpton has visited the Oval Office several times during Obama’s tenure. In 2009, Sharpton and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg met with Obama on education initiatives.

In 2010, the president invited Sharpton back to discuss jobs and the state of the economy with other black leaders. Sharpton also took part in the First Lady’s 50th birthday celebration and supported the president’s young black and Hispanic men initiative.

This is the second time Obama has appeared at the NAN convention, also speaking at the event in 2011.

The appearance of other high-profile liberal leaders -- including U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio -- is intended to boost attendance at the event. Can't we guess all these major Democratic stars at a Sharpton event leads to better fundraising?

The conference is held in April “not just to commemorate the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, but to honor his legacy by proactively engaging in dialogue that will spawn change,” according to the NAN website.

Of course, this isn't the first time Sharpton has blurred the line between community activist and cable television host.

Griffin came to the reverend's defense when the liberal host led protests in the Trayvon Martin case while covering it for MSNBC during 2012.

And to think that all this time, Sharpton has had to juggle his cable TV duties, community activism and providing information for the FBI. It's no wonder he calls “ObamaCare” a “godsend.”