MSNBC has responded to the claims that Richard Wolffe, who works as a strategist for Washington public affairs firm Public Strategies Inc. and who guest-hosted "Countdown" while Keith Olbermann was away, has a conflict of interest and shouldn't appear on air as a host or an analyst.
Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald wrote of Wolffe's dual role:
This is a conflict so severe that it's incurable by disclosure: who wouldn't realize that you can't present paid corporate hacks as objective political commentators? But the fact that they don't even bother to disclose that just serves to illustrate how non-existent is the line between corporate interests and "news reporting" in the United States.
Keith Olbermann returned from vacation Monday and responded promptly to Greenwald's claim. In a diary on the Daily Kos, Olbermann wrote:
I honor Mr. Greenwald's insight into the coverage of GE/NewsCorp talks, and his reporting on Richard's other jobs. I must confess I was caught flat-footed. I do not know what the truth is; my executive producer and I have spent the last two months dealing with other things (see above) but what appears to be the truth here is certainly not what Richard told us about his non-news job.
I am confident his commentary to this point has not been compromised - he has been an insightful analyst and a great friend to this show - but until we can clarify what else he is doing, he will not be appearing with us. I apologize for not being able to prevent this unhappy set of circumstances from developing.
NBC News has admitted an error in failing to disclose Wolffe's ties, telling Politico, "We should have disclosed Richard's connection to Public Strategies. We will do so in the future." The spokesman added, "Richard has assured us that he does not offer commentary about any of his clients or their interests."