Phil Donahue on His 2003 Firing from MSNBC, When Liberal Network Couldn’t Tolerate Antiwar Voices
In 2003, the legendary television host Phil Donahue was fired from his prime-time MSNBC talk show during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The problem was not Donahue’s ratings, but rather his views: An internal MSNBC memo warned Donahue was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” providing “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.”
Former MSNBC host Ed Schultz revealed that he was told what to cover and what not to cover at MSNBC, saying that the President of MSNBC Phil Griffin was a “watchdog.” An example he gives is when he wanted to cover Bernie Sanders announcing his run for president, and Phil Griffin calls him telling him to report on something else.
MSNBC canceled Ed Schultz’s show and removed him entirely from MSNBC. Schultz was informed of this July 2015.
Sen. Bernie Sanders said Thursday that he is “disappointed” in Comcast’s decision to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup, seemingly confirming earlier reports that Schultz’s “Ed Show” was one of several MSNBC programs headed for the chopping block.
“I am very disappointed that Comcast chose to remove Ed Schultz from its lineup. We need more people who talk about the real issues facing our country, not fewer,” Sanders continued. “At a time when a handful of large, multinational corporations own our major media outlets, I hope they will allow voices to be heard from those who dissent from the corporate agenda.”
In a biting resignation letter published in full by CNN on Wednesday, longtime NBC News reporter, commentator, and military analyst William “Bill” Arkin blasted the corporate media network for embracing U.S. “national security leaders and generals” while “ignoring the empirical truth of what they have wrought: There is not one country in the Middle East that is safer today than it was 18 years ago. Indeed the world becomes ever more polarized and dangerous.”
“I find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum reporting.” —William Arkin, former NBC News commentator
Cenk Uygur, like him or hate him, also had some things to say about MSNBC.
He left, he said, because the “head of MSNBC” – who is MSNBC President Phil Griffin – told him that “people in Washington tell me that they are concerned about your tone.”
He suggested that Griffin also told him that “I’d love to be an outsider, outsiders are cool, but we’re not. We’re insiders. We are the establishment.”
During a conversation on Morning Joe today, co-host Mika Brzezinski made an on-air claim that during the election, Hillary Clinton’s campaign wanted her take off television for being overly critical of their candidate.
Mika stated that in response to her continuously making the case on Morning Joe that the Democratic nominee didn’t have the election in the bag, she claimed someone from the campaign contacted NBC to get her tossed.
“I was concerned the campaign was not understanding that perhaps there was an arrogance,” she stated. “They needed to sort of get off their high horse and understand that this isn’t over.”
Brzezinski continued, “I’ll just say it — NBC got a call from the campaign. Like I had done something that was journalistically inappropriate or something and needed to be pulled off the air.”
Following some comments from co-host Joe Scarborough, Brzezinski concluded with “and here we are,” noting that Donald Trump is now the President-elect.
Banfield did herself no favors with a speech at Kansas State University a couple of weeks after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003. She argued that TV networks had failed to show all of the Iraq war’s horrors and questioned the “embed” process, in which reporters were assigned to specific units, a system devised by the Bush administration that has since been questioned by others.
NBC quickly released a statement denouncing Banfield’s comment: “Ms. Banfield does not speak for NBC News. We are deeply disappointed and troubled by her remarks, and will review her comments with her.”
“It was a time when the country was extremely on edge, fearful about other attacks and in many ways blindly trusting in government,” one of her former producers, Kim McCabe, told TheWrap. “And questions weren’t asked often times, not only by journalists but people in our own government. It was unfortunate. Whatever your opinion on the war is, I think there were a lot of lessons to be learned about that blind following and trust in government during such important times.”
Shapiro, who is now CEO of PBS’ WNET in New York, did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. But in 2003, he told the New York Times that “Banfield’s reduced visibility was solely because of her new role as an NBC News correspondent.”
Shapiro then dealt one final blow for good measure. “It’s one thing to be a rising star in cable,” Shapiro said. ”The broadcast network is a different platform with different skills required.”
Banfield says there was no mistaking it, she was being benched.
“For 10 months I had to report to work every day and ask where I could sit,” Banfield told the New Canaan-Darien Magazine in January 2009. “If somebody was away I could use their desk. Eventually, after 10 months of this, I was given an office that was a tape closet. They cleared the tapes out and put a desk and a TV in there, and a computer and phone. It was pretty blatant. The message was crystal clear.”
Examples of when the media shows its true colors on war:
“The rare occasion the media swoons over Trump: when he embraces war” www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/22/positive-trump-media-coverage-when-he-embraces-war
“The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise For Bombing Syria” theintercept.com/2017/04/07/the-spoils-of-war-trump-lavished-with-media-and-bipartisan-praise-for-bombing-syria/
NBC journalist Brian Williams (who years ago lied about being shot down in a helicopter in Iraq ) nearly has an orgasm over “beautiful weapons.” www.youtube.com/watch?v=agSUiItNzz8
CNN host Fareed Zakaria said “I think Trump became president of the United States” after bombing Syria. www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLUvhjRTpwE
Last, but not least, Fox News, which routinely praises Trump and military action. No citation needed. “More war” is the one thing a lot of Pundits, regardless of party, agree on.
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