Rachel Maddow confirmed on her show last night that the reason Keith Olbermann was suspended was that he did not ask permission from management to make political donations:
“The reason that resulted in Keith’s suspension is that, here at MSNBC, there is an explicit employee rule against hosts making contributions like that. You can do it if you ask in advance and management tells you ‘O.K.’

Maddow also confirmed that MSNBC believes its rules regarding political contributions make MSNBC “better” than FOX News. […]

Specifically, what criteria does management use when deciding whether it’s okay for Olbermann or Maddow to donate to their favorite candidates? Do the candidates have to be Democrats? Do they have to be candidates that management personally supports? From a viewer’s perspective, this rule raises more questions than it answers.

Business Insider: Sorry, MSNBC, You Still Have Some Explaining To Do

It’s a strange case indeed.

Mediaite recalls Olbermann’s lack of sympathy for Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez. I think this is a different enough case from Williams and Sanchez that it’s not hypocritical for Olbermann to criticize them and defend himself, but, at the same time, he knew the network rules.

The weird thing are the rules themselves. Business Insider asks some good questions. Personally, I’d rather the anchors be able to make whatever donations they want, so long as it’s all out in the open.

Also of note, here’s some info from Common Dreams about GE’s donations:

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, GE made over $2 million in political contributions in the 2010 election cycle (most coming from the company’s political action committee). The top recipient was Republican Senate candidate Rob Portman from Ohio. The company has also spent $32 million on lobbying this year, and contributed over $1 million to the successful “No on 24” campaign against a California ballot initiative aimed at eliminating tax loopholes for major corporations (New York Times, 11/1/10).