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MSNBC May Cancel Lawrence O’Donnell’s ‘The Last Word’ and It May Be Because of Trump

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OPINION – Message to Liberals: MSNBC Is Not Our Friend

MSNBC is not a “liberal” news network. It is a for-profit vehicle of global telecommunications giant Comcast. Comcast is not in the news business, it is the “you” business. MSNBC, especially NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andy Lack, has made clear the network is in business to sell its viewers to advertisers. Period. What programs it produces and what journalists it employs are merely a means to a desired end: profit. And squeezing out liberals in order to attract more conservatives is MSNBC’s game plan.

Case in point: Network executives, it appears, are preparing to cancel “The Last Word,” hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell, who has been on the network since MSNBC’s inception. O’Donnell’s show is the network’s second-highest rated show, after “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

There are just four weeks left on O’Donnell’s contract, and the network – as it did with Melissa Harris Perry – reportedly has not bothered to reach out to O’Donnell’s agent or even let him know if the show has a future. Usually these negotiations begin months in advance.

According to a report by Yashar Ali at HuffPost (formerly The Huffington Post), part of the reason may be that Donald Trump has been trying to get MSNBC to cancel O’Donnell for years.

Ali reports he spoke with ten sources both inside MSNBC and outside the network.

“If O’Donnell’s contract is not renewed, the news would certainly be welcome to President Donald Trump, who has had a long-running feud with O’Donnell,” Ali reports.

In 2011, O’Donnell called on NBC to fire Trump, then the host and executive producer of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” for pushing his racist and inaccurate “birther” conspiracy against President Barack Obama. In 2015, he also claimed that Trump was lying about his wealth. Trump threatened to sue O’Donnell for making false statements but never followed through on his threat (which O’Donnell had predicted). 

According to three sources, Trump has pressured MSNBC President Phil Griffin to fire O’Donnell on multiple occasions. Griffin alluded to Trump’s push for O’Donnell’s ouster in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter last month, saying, “[Trump] started calling me all the time in 2011 to say Lawrence O’Donnell was a ‘third-rate’ anchor.”  Griffin and O’Donnell enjoy a cordial relationship but Griffin’s power as the President of MSNBC has been diminished by Lack since he returned in 2015. As a result, Lack will be the one to decide whether O’Donnell stays and under what terms. 

“There is a fear, among some at MSNBC, that Lack is making programming decisions in an effort to appease the Trump administration (an accusation that has been made of CNN and Fox News), which may lead to more access to the White House and in turn, conservative viewers,” Ali notes.

Stunning.

If MSNBC executives are making programming decisions based on what President Donald Trump wants, it is not, by definition, an independent news network. And that’s a shame, because there are many, many great, hard working journalists at MSNBC and NBC News.

Regular watchers of the network have seen a stunning increase in conservative voices on MSNBC for the past year. The addition of former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren to MSNBC’s lineup at 6 PM was shocking, but more shocking has been her disappointing lack of ability sometimes to grasp and convey basic facts. 

Ali, writing at New York Magazine last month, reported “MSNBC is in talks with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt about creating a show for him on weekend evenings.” 

At an NBC News town hall after the election, Lack said that the organization should be focused on appealing to America’s heartland, according to people at the meeting. The remark was widely seen as a directive to, as one source put it, “focus on Trump voters.”

Some staffers have inferred a link between Lack’s directive and the decision to pull Today’s first black woman host, Tamron Hall, off the show to make room for former Fox News host Megyn Kelly. Ultimately, Hall chose to leave both NBC and MSNBC — where she had her own 11 a.m. program — rather than accept a diminished role. Lack also hired former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren and gave her the 6 p.m. slot on MSNBC’s weekday schedule. Since Van Susteren’s show debuted in January, the ratings have been, by any objective measure, abysmal. In a rare occurrence for that spot, her numbers have actually been lower than those of her lead-in program, Chuck Todd’s Meet the Press Daily. Van Susteren’s hire was not well-received internally at MSNBC, with Chris Matthews being especially frustrated by the decision, according to two network sources.

In January, the New York Post’s “Page Six” reported: “NBC wants to be ‘the next Fox News,’ insiders say.”

“He believes he’s building MSNBC and NBC into the next Fox. It seems the network wants to take a more conservative tone,” a source said.

Over the past year more right wing commentators have flooded MSNBC’s airwaves, some of the worst among them are Hugh Hewitt and Matt Schlapp – who are, from what I can tell, anathema to many liberal viewers. 

American democracy is in enough danger as it is. Americans need responsible, independent journalists to uncover and deliver the honest truth, not corporations pulling strings based on what the worst President in U.S. history wants.

There are some excellent journalists in front of and behind the MSNBC cameras. They, and the American people, are ill-served by decisions coming from Andy Lack.

To comment on this article and other NCRM content, visit our Facebook page.

Images: Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC via Wikimedia

 

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'DANGEROUS FOOLS'

QAnon Sends Death Threats to Gay Senator for Trying to Make Sex Laws Less LGBTQ-phobic

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image via Wikimedia Commons, Scott Weiner

Democratic California State Senator Scott Wiener has received death threats from far-right supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory after he introduced legislation to reform the state’s sex offender registry to be less queerphobic.

Right now, California law allows judges to refuse to list the full names of certain offenders from the sex offender registry if the judge finds a valid reason to do so—let’s say, for example, if an 18-year-old has sex with a 16-year-old. The rule only applies for offenders who have sex with minor ages 15 to 17 and it only applies to penis-in-vagina sex.

As such, in any cases involving digital penetration, anal or oral sex—sexual methods often used by LGBTQ people—the judge has no choice but to list the offender’s full name without exception.

Wiener wanted to change the law to include all types of sex, and that’s when the death threats started pouring in.

“You’re dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. I’ll publicly execute you. I’m gonna embarrass you. Pedophile,” one Instagram user wrote.

Another wrote, “I’ll come cut your head off and deliver it to your mom if you even considering introducing your ‘bill.’ Got it?”

Others messages were anti-Semitic or accused Weiner of being a child rapist. Because it’s against the law for elected officials to block users on social media, all of his social media channels have to remain open to such threats.

The QAnon conspiracy theory believes that the Trump administration will expose a top-secret international child sex trafficking network run by “deep state” senior Democrats who are determined to stop Trump at all costs. Its theories infamously led an armed gunman in 2017 to enter a gay-owned Washington D.C. pizza parlor, Comet Ping Pong, to investigate “Pizzagate,” the claim that the pizzeria had child sex slaves locked in its nonexistent basement.

QAnon conspiracy theorists have become more active during the COVID-19 lockdown and the runup to the November 3 presidential elections as many U.S. residents find themselves at home without jobs.

“Whether its QAnon or Russian troll farms, these are factories of false info designed to undermine democracy and public discourse, and also to send a message to elected officials that if you pursue unpopular progressive change to help marginalized groups like queer kids, ‘We’re going to target you,'” Weiner told Mother Jones.

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'DEEPLY EMBARRASSING'

“I’m Not a Racist” Says Republican Politician Who Repeatedly Uses N-word to Discuss Black Lives Matter

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Tom Eckerle

Tom Eckerle—a Republican road commissioner for Leelanau County, Michigan—is reportedly resigning after political pressure for repeatedly using the n-word, an anti-Black racist slur, to describe racial justice protestors.

Before a meeting of the road commission started last Tuesday, Eckerle was asked by a commission member why he wasn’t wearing a mask. He responded, “Well this whole thing is because of them (n-words) down in Detroit.”

When Bob Joyce, the commission’s chair, told Eckerle he couldn’t say that, Eckerle said, “I can say anything I want. Black Lives Matter has everything to do with taking the country away from us.”

Let’s be clear: the social aims listed on the Black Live Matters (BLM) website do not mention white people. According to its website, the BLM movement seeks to unite Black communities worldwide to oppose state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism while also create creating healing, empathetic communities free from prejudice.

When asked about his comments during a Thursday interview with Interlochen Public Radio, Eckerle said didn’t realize the public found out about his comments and said, “No, I don’t regret calling it an (n-word). A( n-word) is a (n-word) is a (n-word). That’s not a person whatsoever.”

Eckerle also told the Associated Press, “I’m not a racist. Black Lives Matter is racist. If I believed in Black Lives Matter, I would be racist. … Black Lives Matter has no heart. And that is as offensive to me as the N-word,” before saying the actual n-word again, just to make his point.

“If I could get a few people that, when they see a Black Lives Matter sign up, to think the N-word, I have accomplished what I’m after,” he added.

Eckerle was elected to his eight-year position in 2018. Of Leelanauhas County’s 21,700 residents about 90 percent are white. Black people are less than 1 percent of its population.

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'ANGRY AND APPALLED'

Trump’s Postmaster General Destabilizes Postal Service Just 87 Days Before Presidential Elections

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In a memo released yesterday, President Donald Trump ally Louis DeJoy — who was hired by Trump’s handpicked Postal Service Board of Governors — reshuffled two top executives and 21 to 31 other executives and staffers who represent “decades of institutional postal knowledge” out of leadership roles or into new positions in the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

This move, along with other recent “cost-saving” measures which have slowed down mail delivery and threatened to worsen the service, comes as an unprecedented wave of mail-in ballots are expected in the November presidential elections as voters avoid in-person polling stations to reduce possible COVID-19 exposure.

The USPS was already in financial trouble because of a 2006 law requiring it to pre-fund 75 years worth of retirement benefits — a $110 billion cost. Also, like many U.S. businesses, the epidemic significantly harmed the USPS. Many workers fell ill or began quarantining, causing USPS leaders to spend millions on personal protective equipment, plexiglass and social distancing equipment for offices while its reduced workforce began working overtime at increased pay to help continue services.

New measures instated by DeJoy ban employees from working overtime and making extra trips to deliver mail while reducing hours at different branches nationwide. The Friday memo also said the service would implement a hiring freeze, ask for voluntary retirements, and reduce its operating units and service regions.

These moves are allegedly meant to help the USPS stay financially solvent as it’s expected to run out of money anytime between March and October 2021, despite the recent approval of a $10 billion Treasury loan approved in the upcoming coronavirus relief package.

The moves are also eyebrow-raising seeing as DeJoy and his wife have between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in assets in USPS competitors and contracts who might directly benefit from the USPS’s failure.

People suspect Trump of deliberately sabotaging the USPS as a way to try and sway the upcoming November elections in his favor. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed that mail-in voting increases voting fraud, wants to deny the service billions in federal aid unless USPS quadruples its prices, something that would compel people to use USPS competitors.

The Trump campaign has sued state and local governments nationwide over mail-in ballot rules, and according to Vox.com:

Different states have different laws about how mail-in ballots work. Currently, 34 states — including swing states like Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — require ballots to be received by election authorities by Election Day, so any delay in the mail could lead to untold numbers of votes going uncounted.

“We’ve been doing mail ballots as postal workers for generations,” said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union. “It’s been increasing in popularity. In the last election, 31 million people voted by mail. There’s virtually no fraud.”

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