Former NBC comedy star and MSNBC interview host Alec Baldwin has announced in a New York Magazine cover story that he is quitting public life after being let go by MSNBC over language he used in an on-the-street rant against a photographer. In the piece, Baldwin calls MSNBC star Rachel Maddow a “phony” who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera as she appears to have on-camera,” according to the interview that was published late last night. In late November, MSNBC and Alec Baldwin‘s camp announced jointly that Baldwin’s Friday show was toast: “We are jointly confirming that Up Late will not continue on MSNBC,” the cable network and Baldwin rep Matthew Hiltzik said. Added MSNBC: “This is a mutual parting and we wish Alec all the best.” It was the first MSNBC had spoken about Up Late’s suspension, Baldwin having announced earlier that month the network had suspended his show for two weeks. That came after TMZ posted a video clip in which he was seen tearing into a photographer with what the press reported sounded like at least one gay slur and possibly two, though Baldwin denied uttering the second one, and said he did not realize the first was a slur.
Alec Baldwin Announces Retirement From Public Life In Magazine Cover, Calls MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow “Phony”
UPDATE, 6:41 AM: MSNBC began probation today. MSNBC was put there by the RNC, after network chief Phil Griffin apologized to RNC chief Reince Priebus before Priebus could appear on FNC‘s Hannity to talk about the boycott of MSNBC he’d organized in the wake of the net’s Cheerios ad tweet. Yesterday afternoon, Priebus announced that until he got a personal and public apology from Griffin himself for the tweet on the net’s official web site, suggesting “rightwing”-ers might not like Cheerios’ new Super Bowl ad featuring a multi-racial family, RNC staffers were banned from contact with MSNBC. Priebus said he’d asked all members of the GOP to do same. On the strength of that, Hannity booked Priebus for his show. But Griffin apologized quickly, which left Priebus to tell Hannity he’d put MSNBC on probation: “Now we have to stay on top of it. So you know what? It’s sort of like being on probation I guess. But the fact of the matter is, we’re here, we’re watching them,” Priebus said. He warned that if he sees any more rannygazoo coming from the general direction of MSNBC, “I’ll do it again. I promise you that.”
PREVIOUS, 1:19 PM Thursday: MSNBC says it has let go the employee who tweeted that “maybe the rightwing will hate” Cheerios’ new Super Bowl ad featuring a multiracial family, and that MSNBC president Phil Griffin has personally apologized to Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus for the tweet. Meanwhile, Fox News reported Priebus will give his first Cheerios Tweet-gate interview to Hannity at 10PM/ET. ”The tweet last night was outrageous and unacceptable,” Griffin said in a statement today. “We immediately acknowledged that it was offensive and wrong, apologized, and deleted it. We have dismissed the person responsible for the tweet. I personally apologize to Mr. Priebus and to everyone offended. At MSNBC we believe in passionate, strong debate about the issues and we invite voices from all sides to participate. That will never change. ”
PREVIOUS, 10:45 AM: RNC chairman Reince Priebus says MSNBC’s apology for its tweet about a Cheerios commercial does not go far enough, and is organizing a GOP boycott of the cable news network. MSNBC has deleted the tweet, called it “offensive,” said it “deeply regrets” the tweet. The network apologized and said it “does not reflect the position of MSNBC.” The tweet was about a Cheerios ad running in Sunday’s Super Bowl, featuring the same interracial family used in an earlier Cheerios ad that generated such hateful comments on YouTube that the video’s comments section was shut down. “Maybe the rightwing will hate it, but everyone else will go awww: the adorable new #Cheerios ad w/ biracial family,” MSNBC tweeted, while also directing readers to its report on the ad with video of the ad.
Not enough, says Priebus, who’s trying to orchestrate a GOP-wide boycott of the network until MSNBC president Phil Griffin himself “personally and publicly” apologizes for “this behavior,” telling Griffin in a letter that also made its way to the media that “such petty and demeaning attacks have become a pattern at your network” and jumping to a discussion of how “many of your hosts have personally denigrated and demeaned Americans – especially conservative and Republican Americans – without even attempting to further meaningful political dialogue.” Technically, some of those people are now “former hosts.”
More than four months after MSNBC confirmed that Ronan Farrow would be getting his own show on the cable news network, he finally has a debut date. Farrow’s yet unnamed show will premiere on February 24 at 1 PM ET, MSNBC announced this morning. Also joining the daytime lineup is longtime contributor and Grio.com editor Joy Reid. The recent fill-in host’s own show will also start February 24 at 2 PM ET following Farrow. “Ronan and Joy are two of the most thoughtful and impressive journalists out there and I’m excited for what they will bring to the afternoon,” said MSNBC president Phil Griffin in a statement today. The additions mean some current MSNBC shows will be moved around: Andrea Mitchell Reports will shift to noon, and NewsNation With Tamron Hall will move to 11 AM ET.
Eight months after MSNBC named Brian Shactman new anchor of Way Too Early — its pre-dawn lead-in to Morning Joe — the cable news net has tapped Thomas Roberts to replace him starting Monday. Roberts said in the announcement the job is “right in line with my career goals and aspirations.”
Shactman, meanwhile, said in this morning’s announcement he’d come to the conclusion that “I don’t want politics to be my only focus. … I want to continue to branch out, making sure my career is not solely defined by that.” Shactman got the show when Willie Geist was named co-anchor of Today‘s 9 AM hour.
MSNBC president Phil Griffin said Roberts got the gig because his “unique personality and point of view are just the right mix to lead-in to Morning Joe.” When The Daily Caller reported the openly gay Roberts was replacing Shactman because the left-leaning channel wants the show to be seen as more “diverse,” Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough shot back, to TV Newser, “Despite Internet speculation, he was chosen based strictly on merit and not politically correct considerations.” Roberts has been host of MSNBC Live at 11 a.m. since 2010 and also has been a fill-in host and contributor to Morning Joe, Way Too Early, and NBC’s Today.
Them’s fighting words: “All I know is I kicked CNN’s ass without Jeff Zucker“, MSNBC head Phil Griffin boasts in a New Republic article posted today. “Now I gotta kick his ass, too”. The profile details Griffin’s history with ex-NBC topper and now CNN head Jeff Zucker but positions Fox News‘s Roger Ailes as Griffin’s real target. (A nickname for Ailes’ rival network at Griffin’s office, according to the piece: “Loserville”.) The MSNBC president also revealed designs on evolving his news network into a lifestyle channel “covering fashion, entertainment, sports, and food”: “I’m giving Chris Matthews a [digital] channel to talk about movies and good television shows like Mad Men and Homeland“, Griffin said. As Deadline reported last month, MSNBC came second to Fox News in February’s ratings, with CNN in third.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
After the TCA session, I asked MSNBC president Phil Griffin to clarify the status of MSNBC pundit Pat Buchanan, who has been off the network since October 22nd while making the rounds promoting his controversial new book Suicide Of A Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? The book has been criticized by numerous groups including the Anti-Defamation League for its purportedly racist and anti-Semitic views. Griffin told me after the panel, “I don’t think the ideas that [Buchanan] put forth [in the book] are appropriate for the national dialogue, much less on MSNBC.” Will Buchanan be back at all on MSNBC? “I have not made my decision,” replied Griffin, who did say he will be tinkering with the network’s format as the year goes on. “Pat’s a good guy. He didn’t like [being removed from the air], but he understood.”
On the subject of MSNBC’s 2012 election coverage, Griffin noted after the session that he had expected Fox News’ victory the night of the Iowa Caucus to be far bigger than it was. “It’s just interesting,” he said. “Nobody blew it out. I think it speaks to the country’s reaction to politics today. Given that this was such as Republican event, I thought Fox would just dominate.” (Fox News drew 2.6 million viewers in primetime vs. 1.3 million for CNN and 1.2 million for MSNBC.)
MSNBC said today that it is moving The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell back to its original 10 PM ET/PT slot Monday-Thursday. That’s where it debuted when the show premiered in September 2010 before it was switched to 8 PM in January, and the Ed Schultz-hosted The Ed Show was moved to 10 PM. Now Ed Show will move back to 8 PM. “This move will strengthen the flow of our programming throughout the evening,” MSNBC president Phil Griffin said in a release announcing the move. “As the name implies, The Last Word belongs at the conclusion of our programming day, thoughtfully wrapping-up the day’s political dialogue. Ed’s passionate voice is a perfect kickoff to primetime at 8 PM.” The Rachel Maddow Show remains in the 9 PM slot.
MSNBC today named Al Sharpton as host of PoliticsNation, a new hourlong program topped by the civil rights activist and minister that will air weeknights at 6 PM ET, kicking off the network’s evening schedule. MSNBC president Phil Griffin made the announcement about the show, on which Sharpton “will lead a lively and informed discussion of the top headlines, bringing viewers his take on events in his signature style.” It debuts Monday. The move to bring in Sharpton had been expected as he already was guest-hosting in the hour, filling the slot vacated last month when the network jettisoned Cenk Uygur after it “decided to make a change.” (Later, Uygur claimed he was told to “tone it down” and bring in more Republican guests, prompting him to walk away; at the TCAs, Griffin said he would welcome Uygur back.) MSNBC has been busy shoring up its lineup, inking a multi-year deal with Rachel Maddow and adding The Nation editor Chris Hayes as host of a weekend news block.
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
MSNBC Announces Multi-Year Contract With Rachel Maddow
MSNBC president Phil Griffin, appearing on the cable news network’s Tuesday panel at TCA alongside hosts Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Matthews, said the door is still open to “Young Turk” Cenk Uygur, who abruptly left the network July 20. Griffin said he was surprised by the departure, although he does not feel that the host worked in the 6 PM time slot. “We wanted Cenk to stay at MSNBC; he fits our sensibility,” he said. “I don’t think all good people are going to succeed at 6 o’clock. We were working on a new contract to have him on the weekends; I was disappointed that he didn’t stay and hope we will work out that he comes back. … I have nothing bad to say about him. He was terrific.” Griffin said no decision has been made about putting Al Sharpton in Uygur’s former slot but that the civil rights leader “fits into MSNBC.”
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Tuesday morning’s MSNBC panel at the TCA began with the news that Rachel Maddow, host of The Rachel Maddow Show, has signed a multi-year contract continue doing her show for MSNBC. The openly gay host — who said that growing up as a lesbian in San Francisco during the AIDS crisis whetted her interest in public policy because policy decisions either saved people’s lives or killed them — declined to specify the length of the contract, but described it as “multi-year” and said after the session that it did not include any changes in her role at MSNBC but just called for her to “do what I do for more years.”
NEW YORK – August 1, 2011 – MSNBC contributor Chris Hayes has been added to the network’s weekend lineup as the host of a new weekend morning show. The program, with a focus on politics, will be live on Saturdays from 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. ET and Sundays from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. ET starting September 17. The announcement was made today by MSNBC President Phil Griffin. Hayes, a frequent substitute host for “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” will continue as an MSNBC contributor and will remain part of The Nation as Editor-at-Large.