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Olbermann Apologizes To Viewers, Strikes Back At MSNBC [UPDATE]

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Keith Olbermann is apologizing to his fans -- but not NBC News -- for the "unnecessary drama" surrounding his two-day suspension for making political donations.

Olbermann is due to return to work Tuesday night on MSNBC's "Countdown" show. In a statement issued Monday, he says he wanted to apologize to viewers "for having precipitated such anxiety and unnecessary drama."

He was suspended for donating money to three Democratic candidates in violation of NBC News rules. Olbermann says it was an inconsistently applied rule that he had known nothing about before making the donations. He says he was suspended without a hearing after being told that no suspension was contemplated.

An MSNBC spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

UPDATE: Olbermann's full statement appears below:

A STATEMENT TO THE VIEWERS OF COUNTDOWN

by Keith Olbermann

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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Filed by Jeff Muskus