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Why MSNBC cancelled Mehdi Hasan’s show

The show's over. Credit: Getty

November 30, 2023 - 10:00pm

Mehdi Hasan is the latest casualty in MSNBC’s rush to quiet its anti-Israel faction. The network just cancelled the Pro-Palestine host’s weekend programme, as well as his show on the streaming service Peacock.

The Israel-Hamas War has exposed the inherent tensions within the Democratic Party’s electoral coalition, and Hasan’s cancellation signals an attempt to placate moderates at the expense of the far-Left.

Hasan tracks to the Left of most Democrats on issues related to Israel. For example, he criticised President Joe Biden for comparing Hamas and Russia, saying that “a lot of people around the world see Russia and Israel the same”. In a contentious interview, the former MSNBC host asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s senior adviser Mark Regev about how many children Israel had killed in Gaza. In response, the New York Post editorial board accused MSNBC of running “interference for Hamas.” 

MSNBC has a potential material interest in moderating its image. It’s currently behind CNN in the weekend ratings, and Hasan’s comments could open it up to the threat of advertiser boycotts. Possibly in recognition of this fact, the network also announced a new weekend ensemble show featuring former RNC chairman Michael Steele — possibly a sign that the network wants to tack to the centre as the election approaches.

It is worth noting, however, that MSNBC did not fire Hasan. He will still give his opinions on the network, and his time slot will be given to another Pro-Palestine host. This isn’t even unprecedented for MSNBC. It fired firebrand host Tiffany Cross before the 2022 midterms, and then spent the entire midterm cycle catastrophising about Republican extremism. 

It will likely do the same thing in 2024. That is, in part, because they have nothing else to cover (an Axios report found that MSNBC mentioned Donald Trump four more times than any other cable network), but it is also a means to hold the network’s coalition together. Very little unites pro-Israel Jews, Muslims, the LGBTQ crowd, black Americans, single women, and high income members of the professional managerial class other than a fear of Trump.

Although he remains in the picture, this conflict has pushed the former President out of the headlines (if only for a brief period). And if the ceasefire doesn’t hold, these divisions will only exacerbate further.


James McElroy is a novelist and essayist based in New York.

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Marcus Leach
Marcus Leach
7 months ago

No. It’s because because videos of Hasan preaching extremist Islamic supremacist, racist and homophobic views have been going viral online for the past week.
Hasan has been exposed as a charlatan who has concealed his Islamic fundamentalism to give himself a platform to preach hate against white people.
If his show was extremely popular he might have survived. But when he’s only pulling in 440,000 viewers a show MSNBC obviously though it was best to shot of him quick.

Last edited 7 months ago by Marcus Leach
Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
7 months ago

Nobody has a problem with genuine Pro-Palestinian attitudes.

The issue is that Pro-Palestinian, more often than not, turns out to be cover for Anti-Israel which proves to actually be Anti-Jew.

I would suggest that the vast majority on the left would probably even kid themselves that they’re only Pro-Palestinian and Anti-Zionist rather than Anti-Israel or Anti-Semitic. Yet one only has to engage such people in the most basic debate about Palestine before the mask slips.

Mehdi Hasan was barely even trying to hide his antipathy towards Israel. Surprised but glad that MSNBC had the nerve to take him off air

Last edited 7 months ago by Paddy Taylor
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
7 months ago

I’m amazed MSNBC is still on the air. The entire network or whatever it is consists of wild-eyed, foaming racists.

Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
7 months ago

I say this as a proud Brit, but all these Brits that end up on US TV these days are the worst of the worst…. Piers Morgan, James Corden, John Oliver, Mehdi Hassan… we’re not sending our best for sure, and I wish America would keep them lol

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
7 months ago

“The Far Left”? He was an ally of Ed Miliband. And tell me how the other side is “moderate”.

Paul T
Paul T
7 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

FLUSH.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
7 months ago
Reply to  David Lindsay

It’s no longer about sides. It’s about the expressions of genocidal hatred coming from those who for almost ten years have used the mainstream media to relentlessly lecture us on our innate privilege and bigotry,