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NBC News Chair Andy Lack Gives Hyper-Partisan Right Wing Pundit Hugh Hewitt His Own MSNBC Show

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Viewers and Loyalty to MSNBC’s Base Mean Nothing to Andy Lack

Andy Lack, chairman of NBC News and MSNBC, has been on a very personal crusade to turn both networks into Fox News. Over the past two years he’s made sure Republican politicians are given a tremendous amount of air time, and right wing, hyper-partisan pundits are brought on as contributors and even hosts of their own shows. 

Lack hired Megyn Kelly from Fox News. After months of creating a new news show for NBC to compete directly with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Kelly’s show has gone from poor ratings to very bad ratings, in just three weeks. Her disastrous interview with Vladimir Putin kicked of her first episode. Her disastrous interview with Alex Jones her third. The outrage from all sides has been palpable.

Lack also hired former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren. Even a personal plea and endorsement from Rachel Maddow has not been able to get Van Susteren decent ratings. That’s likely because she’s just not good at her job. Van Susteren repeatedly hosts conservatives, and then engages in casual and apparently unscripted conversation with them on air, leading to frequent false claims from the journalist who is expected to know basic facts about the issues she’s reporting. 

There’s also former Bush 43 communications chief and McCain-Palin ’08 senior advisor Nicolle Wallace, who has her own daytime show at 4 PM. Of the three, she’s hands down the best.

And now, Andy Lack has bagged himself another hyper-partisan right wing hack and given him his own show.

Hugh Hewitt, whose analysis is just embarrassingly bad – he went from “Never Trump” to “Trump! Trump! Trump!” – will be getting his own show on MSNBC, thanks to Andy Lack and his dream of re-creating Fox News.

Hewitt will not get his dream job, a weeknight gig on MSNBC, but rather a 30-minute show Saturday mornings.

Expect that to grow to an hour, then to include Sundays, and then to weekdays or even weeknights. 

In April, New York magazine reported, “the fact that he’s on the verge of getting his own program is alarming to some staffers at MSNBC. Among their concerns is that Hewitt, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and Trump supporter, doesn’t represent the values of the liberal network. While Hewitt flirted with never-Trumpism during the campaign — most notably when then-candidate Trump attacked Mexican-American judge Gonzalo Curiel, and after the infamous Access Hollywoodtape was leaked to the Washington Post — he always came back to Trump, and ultimately cast a ballot for him in the November election.”

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.

Last month, HuffPost explained Lack’s desire to jump to the right, and why it is a problem.

Lack, in seeking to make this vision a reality, has an unusual problem for a TV executive: sky-high ratings. Since the election of Trump, MSNBC’s liberal primetime programs hosted by Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell have surged not just in ratings but in the share of the cable news audience they’re capturing. In its earnings call on Thursday, NBCUniversal specifically cited the boost in ratings to “The Rachel Maddow Show” for a spike in profits. Maddow has been the top show on cable news in the key demographic for two months running, an inconceivable achievement at MSNBC.

Tossing those primetime hosts overboard while they’re raking in viewership and revenue has so far proved an elusive task. 

“Hayes, Maddow, O’Donnell ― the entire primetime lineup is doing record numbers and Lack can’t stand it. It makes him furious,” said one senior MSNBC source, echoing the sentiment of many other insiders who spoke to HuffPost only on the condition of anonymity. (An NBC spokesman said Lack is happy with the high ratings.)

Apparently, viewers and loyalty to its base mean nothing to Andy Lack. And that’s a problem.

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Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

 

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‘Giddily Bouncing Off the Walls’: Legal Experts Predict Trump Conviction

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With the jury dismissed for the day after more than four hours of deliberations and a series of notes to Judge Juan Merchan, legal experts are predicting Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will win his case against Donald Trump, and see jurors convict the ex-president on 34 criminal counts. The ex-president is on trial for allegedly falsifying  business records as a means to cover-up a conspiracy scheme to promote his election to the Presidency by “unlawful means.”

“If I were in the DA’s office I’d be giddily bouncing off the walls right now,” attorney George Conway wrote on social media late Wednesday afternoon.

Minutes later attorney Tristan Snell, who helped secure the New York Attorney General’s $25 million settlement in the Trump University civil case, also predicted a likely Trump conviction:

“BREAKING: Trump jury asks for testimony transcripts, including 3 sections from David Pecker and 1 section from Michael Cohen. VERY bad sign for Trump that David Pecker’s testimony landed with the jury and is something they want to focus on. Jury is likely leaning toward GUILTY.”

READ MORE: ‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

National security attorney Brad Moss, appearing on CNN Wednesday afternoon said, “I don’t expect a hung jury but if we get into Friday, or even next week Monday, it certainly would appear that would be more likely what’s going on. But if we have a decision tomorrow, my expectation is it will be a guilty verdict.”

Yale Law School professor of law and professor of philosophy Scott Shapiro offered this short statement:

If Donald Trump is convicted he may be the least surprised, as he appeared to predict a conviction Wednesday morning: “Mother Theresa could not beat these charges,” he told reporters.

The jury returns Thursday at 9:30 AM.

See the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest Felony in American History’: Prosecutor’s Closing Argument Against Trump Praised

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‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has formally refused to recuse from any and all cases involving indicted ex-president Donald Trump or the January 6, 2021 attack on the seat of the American government and American democracy itself. Legal experts and elected Democrats, including the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight responsibility of the nation’s highest court, have demanded the George W. Bush-appointed jurist’s recusal. Now, some legal experts say either the Chief Justice or the Senate Judiciary Committee must intervene.

Justice Alito is standing by his now thoroughly debunked story about why a flag associated with the insurrection and the “Stop the Steal” conspiracy was flying at his home just three days before Joe Biden was inaugurated president, and a different, Christian nationalist flag also associated with those efforts to overthrow the government and disenfranchise 81 million Americans was flying at another of his homes.

Responding to a letter sent to Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Alito in his own letter wrote he was “required” to reject Democrats’ request and not recuse himself, despite numerous legal experts citing both law and precedent, declaring he at least should, or must, recuse himself.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who writes about the courts and the law, pushed back on Justice Alito’s claim.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest Felony in American History’: Prosecutor’s Closing Argument Against Trump Praised

“Alito reads the Supreme Court’s totally voluntary, non-binding ethics guidelines to impose a seemingly mandatory ‘obligation’ that he sit on any case he’s not recused from.”

Professor of law Steve Vladeck, a CNN contributor, appeared to take that one strep further: “Justice Alito’s insistence in his letters to Congress that he has an ‘obligation to sit’ in the January 6 cases *because* the Code of Conduct says so is an interesting data point for those who have insisted that the Code doesn’t impose *any* requirements on the justices.”

Journalist, author, and foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf observed, “Alito, by saying he should not recuse, demonstrates clearly why he should not be on the court in the first place.”

The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro notes, “As with his statement to the NYT, Alito in his response to Congress never disavows the meaning of the upside down flag that flew over his house for days or its link to the Jan 6th riot/Stop The Steal movement that was at its height during this period. Notably, Alito does deny that link with the Appeal To Heaven flag, but not the upside down flag.”

Saying Alito is “really is a piece of work,” attorney and former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa suggested the justice is flipping the script: “Alito does a Reverse Uno, suggesting that people calling for his recusal are trying to influence the outcome of cases before the Court.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog, noted: “That Justice Alito responded *at all* to the demand that he recuse from these cases shows the gravity of his misconduct. But this response changes nothing about the ethical issue here. Since he will not recuse on his own, Chief Justice Roberts should intervene.”

READ MORE: Supreme Court ‘Puppetmaster’ Slammed Over Report He’s Flying Alito’s ‘Theocratic’ Flag Again

Constitutional law scholar and professor of law Eric Segall served up a scathing assessment: “To be clear, if we found a love letter written to Donald Trump from Sam Alito saying, ‘Can’t wait till you’re back in office,’ Alito still would not recuse. He has no moral compass at all.”

The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein suggests Democrats will need to take further action: “Alito’s dismissive response, which [Chief Justice John] Roberts is unlikely to challenge in any way, has placed the ball squarely in the court of @SenatorDurbin, @SenSchumer and Senate Democrats.”

CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere, posting a screenshot of Donald Trump’s response to the justice’s decision to not recuse, writes: “Trump thanks Alito for not recusing himself from cases pending about Trump after Alito’s being criticized for a flag flying at his house that has been interpreted as a sign of support for Trump.”

See the social media post above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Wildly Lawless’: Judge Cannon’s Removal Predicted by Top Legal Scholar

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‘Doesn’t Know Most Basic Rule’: Conway Blasts Cannon Over ‘Perplexed’ Reaction

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon suffered more strong criticism, this time from attorney George Conway who blasted the Trump-appointed jurist over a New York Times report in which, he said, she appeared to not understand the basics of a criminal rule.

Judge Cannon is already under fire after likely delaying until after the 2024 presidential election one of the most important cases in American jurisprudence – an ex-president, his party’s presumptive nominee, running again for the White House, charged under the Espionage Act with unlawful removal and retention of some of the nation’s top classified documents, including nuclear secrets.

On Tuesday, a top legal scholar declared a recent Cannon ruling against Special Counsel Jack Smith’s motion to expand the limits on the ex-president’s release, “wildly lawless.” He also predicted it would result in her removal from the Trump Espionage Act case, also known as the classified documents case.

On Wednesday, attorney Conway responded to a portion of that New York Times profile of Judge Cannon.

READ MORE: ‘Liar’: Critics Question Alito’s Integrity After His Insurrection Flag Story Disintegrates

“The portrait that has emerged so far,” The Times reported, “is that of an industrious but inexperienced and often insecure judge whose reluctance to rule decisively even on minor matters has permitted one of the country’s most important criminal cases to become bogged down in a logjam of unresolved issues.”

“Regardless of her motives, Judge Cannon has effectively imperiled the future of a criminal prosecution that once seemed the most straightforward of the four Mr. Trump is facing,” The Times continued. “She has largely accomplished this by granting a serious hearing to almost every issue — no matter how far-fetched — that Mr. Trump’s lawyers have raised, playing directly into the former president’s strategy of delaying the case from reaching trial.”

Conway was responding to an exchange “that occurred last week when Judge Cannon was debating with Jay Bratt, one of the prosecutors, about a common theory of legal liability called the Pinkerton rule. The rule holds that all members of a conspiracy can be held accountable for any crimes committed by their co-conspirators.”

“Mr. Bratt said the rule would likely apply to Mr. Trump’s dealings with his two co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, employees of Mar-a-Lago who have been accused of conspiring with the former president to obstruct the government’s repeated efforts to retrieve the classified materials,” The Times’ story stated. “Judge Cannon seemed a bit perplexed and asked Mr. Bratt what authority he intended to rely on in applying the Pinkerton rule. Mr. Bratt seemed almost sheepish in having to lay things out for her so simply.”

READ MORE: Supreme Court ‘Puppetmaster’ Slammed Over Report He’s Flying Alito’s ‘Theocratic’ Flag Again

“’So the authority is Pinkerton,’ he said, and launched into a quick explanation.”

Conway, appearing to express shock, wrote: “There are no words for this. Judge Cannon doesn’t know the most basic rule governing criminal conspiracies.”

See the social media post above or at this link.

 

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