Category: MSNBC

MSNBC host Chris Hayes apologizes for troop comments

Chris Hayes
Chris Hayes, host of "Up With Chris Hayes" on MSNBC, has apologized for comments he made about American soldiers during a pre-Memorial Day discussion Sunday.

During a discussion of family notification about the death of a loved one on the battlefield, Hayes told his panel, "I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words 'heroes.' Why do I feel so [uncomfortable] about the word 'hero'? I feel comfortable — uncomfortable — about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war."

While Hayes went on to say that he didn't mean to disrespect those fallen soldiers who truly were heroes — and even qualified his statement by saying he might be wrong in his thinking — he set off a controversy nonetheless.

After a day of angry comments from bloggers, Tweeters and commenters, Hayes released a statement on his website, apologizing for his comments.

"On Sunday, in discussing the uses of the word 'hero' to describe those members of the armed forces who have given their lives, I don't think I lived up to the standards of rigor, respect and empathy for those affected by the issues we discuss that I've set for myself. I am deeply sorry for that."


Al Sharpton's ties to Trayvon Martin case beset MSNBC

Alec Baldwin tries out the anchor role (briefly) on MSNBC

MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry brings her analytical POV to cable news

— Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Chris Hayes. Credit: MSNBC.

Time magazine cover: TV networks blur breast image

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[This post has been corrected. See bottom for details.]

TV programs love talking about the controversial new Time magazine cover. They're just a little shy about showing the whole thing. 

For a story about "attachment parenting" — whose leading proponent, Dr. Bill Sears, advocates such extreme parenting techniques as "extended breast-feeding" — the magazine photographed 3-year-old Adam Grumet with his mouth over the partly exposed breast of his mom, Jamie Lynn Grumet.

Time editors have made no apologies, arguing that the point of a magazine cover is to get attention. And attention it got across the TV dial on Thursday — although the image proved a little too much for many.

"I'll tell you why that bothers me," said Mika Brzezinski, cohost of "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, who appeared irritated by the image. "It's a profile of Bill Sears, and that's a young, attractive woman." The cable news network — which has a weekly segment with Time to talk about stories — blurred out Grumet's breast and showed the entire cover only from a distance.

ABC's "The View" likewise lavished attention on the cover but felt compelled to cover up Grument's breast with a black circle.

But not everyone is following that approach. A Fox News spokeswoman told Show Tracker the network — which hasn't yet covered, so to speak, the story — doesn't plan to restrict the image if a segment does materialize - at least on any entertainment or opinion-oriented show (a news piece might be a different matter). A spokeswoman for CNN did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

What do you think of Time's new cover? Should the TV networks edit or avoid showing it?

[11:12 p.m.: This post was updated to include additional clarification from Fox News that it would be opinion or entertainment shows that would not tamper with the image - not necessarily news coverage.]


NBC renews "30 Rock" and "Parenthood"

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Fox renews "Touch," cancels "Alcatraz"

— Scott Collins (

Late Night: Obama's gay marriage announcement wins praise

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Barack Obama vs. North Carolina on Gay Marriage
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Yesterday, President Obama surprised millions of Americans by declaring his personal support for gay marriage. The announcement, which came on the heels of North Carolina's vote to outlaw civil unions and same-sex marriages, was the fodder for much discussion on Wednesday night's talk shows, where hosts like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow responded to both developments with a range of emotions.

Colbert took his usual deeply ironic stance, suggesting that Obama's decision to go "push the rainbow button" represented an instantaneous threat to heterosexual unions everywhere. "This afternoon, your marriage started feeling a little weak, didn’t it?" he asked. "You got the sudden urge to abandon your family and go antiquing up at the cape."

Speaking about the vote in North Carolina, Colbert got a little verklempt. "You just dream of that special day when you can find your soul mate, and together you can celebrate your love of denying people their rights," he said, using a page from his script as a handkerchief.

Colbert also "praised" the outcome because it also helps "preserve traditional straight stereotypes" about gay promiscuity. "I believe gay people should be having hot, sweaty, anonymous man-piles in the basement of techno clubs devoid of the slightest emotional connection, as God intended." Amen to that!

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On "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart began on a more modest note. Just the day before, he had suggested that Obama was "being disingenuous" by not simply saying that he is in favor of same-sex marriage.

The historical import of Obama's announcement, which drew thunderous applause from the "Daily Show" audience, could "in no way be dampened by the codifying of bigotry" in North Carolina -- which, as Stewart pointed out, just so happens to be the state where  Democrats are holding their convention this year.

Stewart was skeptical of the idea that a ban on gay marriage would somehow alter the "historic meaning" of marriage. Even if it did, that might not be such a bad thing, he argued, since "marriage originated as a social construct that allowed family patriarchs to facilitate the transfer of chattel property such as livestock or daughters."

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Perhaps the most subdued response came from MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Although she called Wednesday a "historic day for civil rights in America," she downplayed the idea that Obama's announcement represent a huge about-face -- or flip-flop, if you will -- by the president.

She argued that the Obama administration has been "great on the issue of gay rights" all along, even if he personally hasn't come out in favor of same-sex marriage. Maddow favorably compared the president to predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, who, despite claiming to personally admire gays and lesbians, enacted anti-gay policies in office.

"Ultimately what presidents do is they wield political power," she said. "Even before today, that legacy of that first term of the Barack Obama presidency was already clear. Today he added to that. He added icing to that. The cake was already baked."


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— Meredith Blake



Alec Baldwin tries out the anchor role (briefly) on MSNBC

Alec Baldwin took a guest spin in the anchor seat on "The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell"
Last week, Alec Baldwin played a fake news anchor on the live episode of "30 Rock," alongside real-life anchor Brian Williams. This week, Baldwin was a real-life anchor, reading teasers on "The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell" on MSNBC.

Perhaps with the end of "30 Rock" looming, Baldwin is trying out other careers.

Baldwin was on the show as a guest, but he wound up reading some teaser headlines, with a little spin, in his most serious demeanor. It's probably not Baldwin's fault that some viewers watched waiting for some kind of punch line; as Jack Donaghy on "30 Rock," he's become master of the deadpan line delivery.

Baldwin has long made noises about getting into politics at some point in the future, discussing a possible run for mayor of New York City at one point, though he's continually shied away from making concrete plans. In a post-show discussion posted on, Baldwin kicked those political plans down the road a couple more years, when there might not be as many sitting Democrats in the New York districts where he lives.

O'Donnell publicly defended Baldwin on his show last December, after the actor was booted from an American Airlines flight for supposed bad behavior. O'Donnell said he'd recently flown cross-country next to Baldwin and said traveling with him was "a pleasure." He went on, "I can tell you, that I have never, never seen a more polite person on an airplane than Alec Baldwin."

Such kind words no doubt went a long way to fostering a good friendship between the two. But O'Donnell might want to watch out: "30 Rock" is ending soon, and Baldwin may find that anchor seat a little too comfortable.


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-- Patrick Kevin Day

 Photo: Alec Baldwin. Credit: Paul Morigi / Getty Images

MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry brings her analytical POV to cable news

Melissa harris perry msnbc

As a tenured professor of political science at Tulane University in New Orleans, a columnist for The Nation magazine, and, as of February, host of an eponymous weekend talk show on MSNBC, Melissa Harris-Perry maintains a schedule that would make even the most intrepid working mother break out in hives.

During a lunchtime interview in her spartan office at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, Harris-Perry provides an exhaustive rundown of her jam-packed week. The explanation itself takes close to 10 minutes, during which time Harris-Perry barely pauses to take a breath — much less a bite of her salad.

From Monday through Thursday, Harris-Perry is in New Orleans, where she lives with her husband of just over a year, politician and housing activist James Perry, and her 10-year-old daughter, Parker. Wednesday is her marathon day: She teaches two classes, conducts office hours, then takes a conference call with her team of MSNBC producers while en route to a “Women and Politics” reading group. By noon the next day, she’s on a plane to New York, where she spends the ensuing 36 hours frantically prepping the her show, which airs live on Saturday and Sunday from 7 to 9 a.m. Pacific time. Perry and Parker fly out on Friday evenings and, once Harris-Perry’s show wraps on Sunday, the whole family returns to New Orleans to start the process all over again.

“It really did blow up my entire life,” admits Harris-Perry, 38, whose distinguished resume includes stints at the University of Chicago and Princeton University.

But as a black feminist and academic, Harris-Perry says the opportunity to bring her unique perspective to a broad television audience, particularly during a heated presidential campaign -- and to be one of just a handful of African-American women anchoring a cable-news program -- makes the grueling schedule worthwhile. “It is more than I could ever do with my books,” she says.

Harris-Perry’s windowless office does double duty as a conference room for the show’s production staff. On the wall hangs a white board where words like “Syria” and “Spanx” are scrawled in black ink. The space is evocative of the show Harris-Perry is trying to create, one that mixes political prognostication with thoughtful analysis of cultural trends — especially ones that relate to women and minorities. She’s used the same approach in her more scholarly work, including the book “Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women In America,” published by Yale University press last fall.

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Al Sharpton's ties to Trayvon Martin case beset MSNBC

Al Sharpton is both a hands-on social advocate and a plain-speaking MSNBC talk-show host. But now some critics are wondering where one job ends and the other begins.

Sharpton, a longtime civil rights activist, is taking a leading role in the controversy surrounding Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager shot to death by a community watch captain in Florida last month. Sharpton has led rallies in support of Martin's family and pressed for the arrest of his killer, although he broke away from those activities Tuesday to attend the funeral of his 87-year-old mother.

But Sharpton also hosts a current-events show, "Politics Daily," on a cable-news network, where opinions roam freely but passionate off-hours advocacy of the type Sharpton is engaged in is generally frowned upon. After all, MSNBC is the same network that famously suspended former host Keith Olbermann after he was found to have donated to Democratic political candidates.

Conservatives are zinging MSNBC — which has become a depot of liberal opinion — with relish. Commentator L. Brent Bozell III whacked Sharpton as a "race-huckstering activist" and accused the network of "mind-boggling hypocrisy" for keeping Sharpton but dumping conservative host Patrick Buchanan this year after he published a book that foretold "the end of white America."

But not all the fire is from the right wing. The Associated Press weighed in with a story Tuesday, observing: "Sharpton's dual role would have been unthinkable on television 20 years ago and still wouldn't be allowed at many news organizations. While opinionated cable news hosts have become commonplace over the past decade, Sharpton goes beyond talking." 

But for now, MSNBC is sticking with its host, reasoning that viewers understand where Sharpton is coming from. 

"We hired Al Sharpton to be Al Sharpton," an MSNBC spokesman wrote Show Tracker when asked for comment. "When Rev. Sharpton joined MSNBC, it was with the understanding that he would continue to do his advocacy work.  We're fully aware of that work and we have an ongoing dialogue.  His participation in these events is very public and our audience is completely aware of where he stands on the issues.  It's because of this work and his decades of activism that Rev. Sharpton brings such a unique perspective to our line up."

What do you think of Sharpton's double duties?


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— Scott Collins (

Photo: Al Sharpton, seen here with Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, has mixed advocacy with his MSNBC talk-show duties. Credit: Roberto Gonzalez / Getty Images.


Pat Buchanan gets the ax from MSNBC, blames the left

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan has been dismissed by MSNBC, the left-leaning news network, four months after the channel suspended him.

In an angry post on his blog, conservative commentator Buchanan took his critics to task, writing, "After 10 enjoyable years, I am departing, after an incessant clamor from the left that to permit me continued access to the microphones of MSNBC would be an outrage against decency, and dangerous."

Buchanan says the calls for his firing began with the publication in October of his book "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?" about America's decline, which critics have called racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic.

Upon his suspension, Buchanan quotes MSNBC President Phil Griffin as telling the press regarding his new book, "I don't think the ideas that [Buchanan] put forth are appropriate for the national dialogue, much less on MSNBC."

Buchanan, a former White House communications director under Ronald Reagan and a former Republican presidential candidate, had been with MSNBC as a political analyst since 2002.

On his website, Buchanan called his ouster "an undeniable victory for the blacklisters."

Among the groups he cites as his accusers: Color of Change, Media Matters, the Anti-Defamation League and the Human Rights Campaign.

In the closing of his post, he strikes a conspiratorial note, writing, "I know these blacklisters. They operate behind closed doors, with phone calls, mailed threats and off-the-record meetings. They work in the dark because, as Al Smith said, nothing un-American can live in the sunlight."


Uygur out, Sharpton likely in at MSNBC

President Obama chats with MSNBC's Al Sharpton

Al Sharpton's controversial MSNBC gig praised by NAACP

-- Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Pat Buchanan. Credit: Manny Ceneta / Getty Images

Donald Trump says yes, he'll moderate Republican debate in Iowa

Donald Trump to moderate a Republican debate
A presidential-candidate edition of “The Apprentice”?  Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich sure would give Nene Leakes and Star Jones a run for their money. And we’re sure it’s crossed Donald Trump’s mind (hey, we can totally see the candidates engaging in a project related to birth certificates). But instead,  the real estate mogul is merely planning to moderate a Republican debate.

Trump confirmed to MSNBC’s Tamron Hall a New York Times report that he'd helm a GOP debate on Dec. 27.

“I was asked to do it by a number of people, including some of my friends that are Republicans, strong Republicans,” Trump told MSNBC.  He has signed on to be a moderator at the debate, which will be held in Iowa  and is hosted by Newsmax, a  conservative website and magazine. It will be broadcast on Ion Television, a cable network.

“I thought it would certainly be a little change of pace for Donald Trump, so I'll do something I haven't done before," he added.

Trump considered running for the GOP presidential nomination but dropped the idea to concentrate on his business ventures and TV gig.  And, naturally, he found a way to bring attention back to "The Apprentice,"  saying that he hoped the debate would perform as well as his NBC reality series, which returns Feb. 12. 

-- Yvonne Villarreal

Photo: Donald Trump. Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press

Obama chats with MSNBC's Al Sharpton

President Obama called on a higher power to help him understand what happened — or rather, didn’t happen — as the congressional super committee announced Monday that it failed to reach a deal to cut $1.2 trillion from the national budget.

And then he called Al Sharpton.

Obama spoke to Sharpton on his syndicated radio show, “Keepin it Real With Al Sharpton,” on Monday, saying he was disappointed but hopeful that legislators could reach an agreement.

“It must be my religious faith, reverend, because hope springs eternal … and I continue to believe that at some point, common sense will prevail and we’ll be able to work something out,” Obama said.

The full interview is set to air Tuesday on Sharpton’s radio show, but the new TV host pulled a few key bits of it for the Monday episode of his fledgling MSNBC series, “PoliticsNation.”

During the chat, Obama reiterated his long-held stance on doing away with the Bush tax cuts for wealthy Americans and curbing both domestic and defense spending. He took aim at the Republicans in Congress for being inflexible and “short sighted.”

“There’s no doubt that I’m disappointed that not just Congress generally but the Republicans in particular are not willing to put serious revenue on the table as part of a balanced plan,” Obama said.

The president said Republicans haven’t wavered from their insistence on cutting areas like education and Medicare, “putting more of a burden on people who can least afford it.”

Instead, Obama has proposed asking the country’s well heeled — and he included himself and Sharpton in that group — to pay more taxes to prop up those who are struggling in the economic downturn. He proposed “prudent” and “selective” cuts instead of wholesale slashing, as some Republican lawmakers have suggested.

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Charlie Rose, Gayle King to host CBS' 'The Early Show'

The Rev. Al Sharpton's controversial MSNBC gig praised by NAACP

NBCUniversal knocked for lack of diversity after Comcast merger

— T.L. Stanley

 Photo: Al Sharpton. Credit: Cliff Owen / Asociated Press

Charlie Rose, Gayle King to host CBS 'The Early Show'

Gayle king
Charlie Rose and Gayle King will be joining CBS' embattled "The Early Show" as hosts in what is being described as a complete makeover of the struggling early-morning news series.

Rose, who has an interview show on PBS, and King, who has a morning show on OWN, the network founded by her best friend, Oprah Winfrey, would join current co-hosts Jeff Glor and Erica Hill in a revamp of the show. It would be broadcast on a new set being built on the West Side of Manhattan, said sources who were knowledgeable about the situation.

CBS declined comment. Rose, who is part of the "60 Minutes" news team, could make a relatively easy transition, but the status of King's show at OWN is initially uncertain.

Earlier reports from the New York Times said that Rose and King would be part of a two-hour show that would emphasize hard news and have a more conversational format, like that of "The View" on ABC and "Morning Joe" on MSNBC. The more popular "The Today Show" on NBC and "Good Morning America" on ABC have a multilayered format that mixes news with entertainment and lifestyle features.


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--Greg Braxton

Photo: Gayle King. Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images


The Rev. Al Sharpton's controversial MSNBC gig praised by NAACP

Sharpton naacp

The NAACP is applauding the Rev. Al Sharpton for being named as the host of MSNBC's new show "PoliticsNation." But the civil rights group is remaining mum on the controversy surrounding the hiring and Sharpton's qualifications for the job.

A statement from NAACP President and Chief Executive Benjamin Todd Jealous congratulated Sharpton and characterized the move as "a positive step toward addressing the dearth of African American voices in prime-time news."

The organization in June issued a statement blasting the lack of African American journalists in prime-time news, both on cable and national network news shows.

Said Vic Bulluck, executive director of the Hollywood Bureau of the NAACP: "The addition of Al Sharpton to the prime-time lineup adds a much-needed, unique perspective and is an important step toward diversity in news programming."

However, spokespeople for the NAACP declined to address the fact that Sharpton, who is a renowned civil rights activist, is not a journalist. They also declined to address speculation in various media circles that Sharpton is being rewarded for supporting the merger between NBC and cable giant Comcast, which was opposed by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and other polticians due to what they called NBC's historically poor record in including African Americans in front of and behind the camera.


The Rev. Al Sharpton's new MSNBC gig stirs speculation

NBCUniversal knocked for lack of diversity after Comcast merger

— Greg Braxton

Photo: The Rev. Al Sharpton at a recent NAACP rally. Photo credit: Danielle Robinson/Associated Press.

The Rev. Al Sharpton's new MSNBC gig stirs speculation [Updated]

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the renowned civil rights activist, has been named the host of a new nightly MSNBC series, “PoliticsNation,” that will debut Monday.

Executives for the network said that Sharpton, a frequent guest on the cable network who had been working recently as a guest host of “MSNBC Live at 6 p.m.” and “The Ed Show,” will lead a “lively and informed discussion of the top headlines [and] bring viewers his take on events in his signature style.” The hourlong  series will air weeknights at 6 p.m.

Speculation had increased in some media circles over the last several weeks that Sharpton would be rewarded with a show on MSNBC for his support of the merger between MSNBC parent company NBC and cable giant Comcast. The merger was approved by the Federal Communications Commission in January after being opposed by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and others who contended that NBC did not put enough African Americans in front of and behind the camera.

A spokesman for MSNBC said last week that “Comcast plays no role in either the independent decision making of MSNBC or the selection of its hosts.”

Sharpton and MSNBC executives aren't talking, but both sides released statements.

Said MSNBC President Phil Griffin: “I’ve known Rev. Al Sharpton for over a decade and have tremendous respect for him. He has always been one of our most thoughtful and entertaining guests. I’m thrilled that he’s now reached the point that he’s able to devote himself to hosting a nightly show.”

Sharpton said: “I am very happy and honored to join the MSNBC team as we collectively try to get America to ‘lean forward.’ It is a natural extension of my life and work. We all learn from our pain and stand up from our stumbling and one must either lean to lean forward or fall backwards. I’m glad they have given me the opportunity to continue my forward lean.”

[Updated at 2:30 p.m.: Griffin said in an interview that rumors calling Sharpton's new show a reward are "baseless." He said Sharpton's success as a guest host on "The Ed Show" and the network's 6 p.m. news established him as being worthy of having his own show.

"His success led me to give him the hour," Griffin said. "Period."]


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-- Greg Braxton

Photo: The Rev. Al Sharpton. Credit: Frank Winters / Getty Images




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