Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
MSNBC reportedly cut ties with contributor Sam Seder after far-right date rape apologist Mike Cernovich spread a 2009 tweet in which Seder mocked defenders of Roman Polański, a film director charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. MSNBC’s decision to fire Seder comes on the one year anniversary of the shooting at Comet Ping Pong, which Cernovich helped spark by relentlessly pushing the “alt-right”-fueled “pizzagate” conspiracy.
According to a December 4 report by The Wrap, MSNBC “has decided not to renew its contract with contributor Sam Seder after an old tweet emerged … brought to wide attention last month by the pro-Trump journalist and activist Mike Cernovich.”
Seder explained Cernovich’s “smear involves the willful misinterpretation of a tweet that I posted in 2009” that was criticizing rape apologists, but MSNBC sided with Cernovich, who previously asked “Have you guys ever tried ‘raping’ a girl without using force? Try it. It’s basically impossible. Date rape does not exist,” and claimed“A whore will let her friend ruin your life with a false rape case. So why should I care when women are raped?”
In a tweet, Media Matters Senior Fellow Matt Gertz added that the attacks against Seder ignored that when Seder made the satirical joke in 2009, he may have been responding to the media outlets and personalities that were inappropriately defending Polanski at the time.
Important context for the Seder tweet – he tweeted it 9/29/09, at a time when progressives were criticizing WaPo columnists and others for defending Polanski. @mmfa piece from the day before the tweet: https://t.co/9AgVQYbaAs
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) December 4, 2017
The reported termination of MSNBC’s relationship with Seder comes one year after a gunman walked into Comet Ping Pong, a popular family pizza restaurant, to investigate a fringe right-wing conspiracy theory that the restaurant was a cover for a pedophilia ring. Cernovich repeatedly promoted the false claim on Twitter.
By severing ties with Seder, MSNBC has now made the same mistake that former New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd made when she legitimized Cernovich’s harassment campaign against New York Timesreporter Sopan Deb.
MSNBC and The New York Times’ willingness to affirm a conspiratorial right-wing troll’s campaign to smear journalists and media figures sets a dangerous precedent. It threatens the credibility of serious media outlets when they choose to side with personalities like Cernovich who have a long track record of racism, misogyny, conspiracy theories, and misinformation.
Language has been updated for clarity.
Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters