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MSNBC Sides With Rape Apologist, Fires Contributor For Tweet Mocking Rape Apologists

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.

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 racismmisogynyconspiracy theories, and misinformation.

Language has been updated for clarity.



Header image by Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

NBC Will Have A Fiduciary Relationship With The President Of The United States

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters. 

Variety managing editor Cynthia Littleton reported “Donald Trump will remain an exec producer on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice,” creating a conflict of interest for NBC’s ability to provide unbiased coverage of Trump while promoting a show built on Trump’s reputation.

On December 8, Variety reported “Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC,” but “the fact that a sitting president will be on the payroll of a current TV show is another example of the thicket of potential conflicts of interest raised by Trump’s segue from a private businessman and TV star to commander-in-chief.”

Donald Trump will remain an exec producer on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, which is returning Jan. 2 after a two-year hiatus with new host Arnold Schwarzenegger.

[…]

The larger issue for MGM, NBC, and the White House is the payment that Trump will receive for the series. It’s unclear what his per-episode fee is, but it is likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum. NBC has ordered eight episodes of The New Celebrity Apprentice. Trump’s fees will be paid through MGM, the production entity on the show, not NBC. MGM declined to comment on the financial terms of Trump’s deal. A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment. NBC declined to comment.

[…]

The fact that a sitting president will be on the payroll of a current TV show is another example of the thicket of potential conflicts of interest raised by Trump’s segue from private businessman and TV star to commander-in-chief. However, past presidents have published books during their time in the White House, so there is precedent for a president earning royalties while in office. In the case of President Obama’s 2010 book Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, his profits from the Alfred A. Knopf publication were donated to a charity supporting the children of disabled veterans.

In continuing their financial relationship with Trump, NBC will invite skepticism into how NBC and MSNBC can fairly cover the sitting president when there is a financial incentive to protect his reputation and the ratings of the Celebrity Apprentice. Furthermore, Trump and NBC should address the conflict of interest concerns raised by the fact advertisers may help to personally enrich President-elect Donald Trump by purchasing ads during Celebrity Apprentice.

NBC should move to address concerns raised by Variety’s reporting, and publicly state how it will balance its financial relationship with Trump while maintaining the network’s journalistic legitimacy.

Hurricane Matt: Right-Wing Website Trolled Storm Warning, Pushing ‘Conspiracy’

As millions evacuate the west coast of Florida in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, which has already been responsible for 113 deaths across the Caribbean, the curator of the most widely read conservative website, Matt Drudge, irresponsibly peddled a conspiracy theory that federal officials have exaggerated the danger posed by Hurricane Matthew “to make exaggerated point on climate.”

On October 6, Drudge claimed “the deplorables” were wondering if the government was lying about the intensity of the deadly hurricane and also questioned the legitimacy of the National Hurricane Center’s data:

[Twitter, 10/6/16]


[Twitter, 10/6/16]

Drudge also used his website, one of the most widely read sites on the Internet, DrudgeReport.com, to put Florida residents in danger and push the conspiracy theory with a banner titled “STORM FIZZLE? MATTHEW LOOKS RAGGED!,” alongside links titled “IT’S A 4?” and “RESIDENTS NOT TAKING SERIOUSLY…”.

In direct contrast to Drudge, Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott warned those in the hurricane’s path that “this storm will kill you,” while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) described the storm as “dangerous.” Fox News host Shepard Smith warned Floridians that if they did not evacuate “you and everyone you know is dead,” and that “you can’t survive it,” while The National Weather Service for Melbourne, Florida warned residents that the storm was “LIFE-THREATENING,” and “more impacting than Hurricane David and 2004 hurricanes!”:

5 am | Matthew LIFE-THREATENING as it moves up the EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA coast. More impacting than Hurricane David & 2004 hurricanes!

Drudge joined Rush Limbaugh in peddling baseless conspiracy theories about the hurricane, placing their audience in danger. Earlier, Limbaugh downplayed the storm by ranting about “politics in the forecasting of hurricanes because there are votes,” and previously claimed the National Hurricane Center is “playing games” with “hurricane forecasting” to convince viewers of climate change.

UPDATE: Conspiracy theorist and Trump ally Alex Jones retweeted Matt Drudge, expressing support and agreement with his dangerous hurricane conspiracy while adding the white supremacist “altright” hashtag:

 

IMAGE: A man walks among trees damaged by Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares