MSNBC is Finally Negotiating with Lawrence O’Donnell. Keep the Pressure on. It’s Working

The soap opera drama surrounding Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract negotiations with MSNBC is heating up. In a good way. Last week an article on the Huffington Post revealed that MSNBC was not actively negotiating to re-sign O’Donnell whose contract expires in June. That news startled his fans and the media world at large.

Lawrence O'Donnell MSNBC

O’Donnell is a core part of the team that is currently burning up cable news. MSNBC’s ratings are reaching record highs. For the past three weeks they have even bested Fox News in the critical 25-54 year old advertising demographic. That was considered unthinkable a few weeks ago. The brightest star in the network’s universe is Rachel Maddow, whose ratings have soared in sync with her stellar reporting on Donald Trump. O’Donnell has nearly matched her success and beaten Fox News perennial, Sean Hannity, on some nights.

Insider speculation has pointed to NBC News chief Andy Lack as the obstacle to O’Donnell’s renewal. Since his ascension, Lack has steered MSNBC to a decidedly more conservative slant. He hired Greta Van Susteren from Fox News. Also dinosaur conservative George Will. He gave former George W. Bush communications director, Nicolle Wallace, her own show. And he’s giving Hugh Hewitt one on the weekend. Why he thinks that any conservative viewers are going to tune in to MSNBC is a complete mystery. They have been trained for years to regard the network as something just this side of Satanic. Van Susteren’s show is already a dismal failure that brings down the programs that follow it.

Lack’s programming moves are disconcerting for several reasons. They make no sense from a business perspective. It is ridiculous to upend a schedule that is showing such success and is still growing. It alienates the core audience that is the foundation of that success. But there is also talk that Lack’s motivation is to suck up to Donald Trump. Considering Trump’s record low standing in the polls, that may be the dumbest reason of all to upset a winning formula.

Shortly after the HuffPost article, another appeared on Showbiz411 with a disturbingly declarative headline. It blared “MSNBC Ending Lawrence O’Donnell ‘The Last Word’ Show Despite Top Ratings (Exclusive).” It’s author, Roger Friedman, began by saying “I can confirm that MSNBC is ending the top rated ‘The Last Word’ with Lawrence O’Donnell.” That, unsurprisingly, created a stir among viewers. Even worse, Friedman cited sources that said “O’Donnell’s tireless criticism of Donald Trump” was the reason for the cancellation.

So here’s the good news. Friedman just published a new article that contradicts his prior exclusive. Apparently the outcry from viewers was so powerful that it pushed MSNBC to the negotiating table. Indeed, there has been a flood of angry viewers swarming Facebook and Twitter in defense of O’Donnell. The result appears to be the first serious talks between the network and its star.

It’s too soon, however, to declare victory. Until there’s a signed contract that locks O’Donnell into his current time slot, fans need to keep the pressure on. But they can do so with the knowledge that such tactics are working. You can call them at 212-664-4444 and email them at letters@msnbc.com.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

There has never been more need for honest progressive reporting on television. The Era of Trump cannot be allowed to dispense the lies and propaganda that are emblematic of that movement. And with Fox News in upheaval (having lost its CEO Roger Ailes and its biggest star Bill O’Reilly to sex scandals), this is not the time to retreat. Activists who are seeking to turn Congress and the White House blue need to recognize that the media battlefield is just as important as the electoral one. Carry on progressive soldiers – to victory.

Preparing to Deal with a Child: That’s How Host Nations View Trump’s Upcoming Visit

Friday morning Donald Trump will embark on his first trip oversees as president. He might regard his departure as a flight from the turmoil he’s created at home. A special prosecutor was just named to investigate his connections to Russia and potential charges of obstruction of justice due to his interference with, and firing of, FBI Director James Comey. Add that to a failing agenda including efforts to repeal ObamaCare, curtail immigration, tax reform, and more. This trip must seem like a vacation to Trump and his exhausted inner circle.

Donald Trump

Unfortunately for him, rest and relaxation are not in the cards. Although, lacking stamina, Trump did reportedly try to pare down his schedule. According to the New York Times he asked to shorten the itinerary from nine days to five. The Times also reported that he “expressed dread” about the trip. More to the point, the upcoming encounters with world leaders present fresh opportunities for Trump to embarrass himself and the nation. He has a disquieting habit of insulting America’s allies and embracing its foes.

From the perspective of the countries that Trump will be visiting, his hosts have a complicated task. They must find a way to be hospitable without being condescending. Given Trump’s painfully ignorant grasp of world affairs and history, that’s a tall order. Consequently, they are making special preparations:

“After four months of interactions between Mr. Trump and his counterparts, foreign officials and their Washington consultants say certain rules have emerged. Keep it short – no 30-minute monologue for a 30-second attention span. Do not assume he knows the history of the country or its major points of contention. Compliment him on his Electoral College victory. Contrast him favorably with President Barack Obama.

“Do not get hung up on whatever was said during the campaign. Stay in regular touch. Do not go in with a shopping list but bring some sort of deal he can call a victory.”

These are tactics aimed at accommodating Trump’s ego and incompetence. They recognize that he needs constant reassurance and flattery. Likewise, they are aware of his preference for “short presentations and lots of visual aids.” But one source summed up the preparations for Trump’s visit with a particularly apt analogy:

“‘It’s kind of ridiculous how they are preparing to deal with Trump. It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child. Someone with a short attention span and mood who has no knowledge of NATO, no interest in in-depth policy issues, nothing. They’re freaking out.'”

It’s more than ridiculous. It’s unbearable that this man is representing the United States in a manner that actually invites ridicule. The world isn’t taking us seriously and are openly mocking us with these preparatory plans. Ironically, Trump told Time Magazine last week that “we were being laughed at by the world.” Then he added “They’re not laughing anymore.” Obviously he isn’t listening very closely. And if he were listening to the American people he would hear distinct whimpering.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.