The Washington Times - November 5, 2010, 06:49PM

Vermont independent Sen. Bernard Sanders on Friday blasted MSNBC for suspending host Keith Olbermann for donating to Democratic candidates, calling it a violation of the TV man’s First Amendment rights.

“It is outrageous that General Electric/MSNBC would suspend Keith Olbermann for exercising his constitutional rights to contribute to a candidate of his choice,” said Sanders, one of the most liberal members of Congress. “This is a real threat to political discourse in America and will have a chilling impact on every commentator for MSNBC.”

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Sanders said that Olbermann’s views are an important counter-balance to the omnipresent conservative talk radio shows and Fox News. He said the MSNBC host should be immediately reinstated.

“At a time when the ownership of Fox News contributed millions of dollars to the Republican Party, when a number of Fox commentators are using the network as a launching pad for their presidential campaigns and are raising money right off the air, it is absolutely unacceptable that MSNBC suspended one of the most popular progressive commentators in the country,” he said.

“Is this simply a ‘personality conflict’ within MSNBC or is one of America’s major corporations cracking down on a viewpoint they may not like?”

Olbermann made campaign contributions to failed Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway of Kentucky and two Democratic Arizona congressmen before Tuesday’s congressional elections.