MSNBC cancels Mehdi Hasan, a truth-teller in a time of crisis

Mehdi Hasan glowering

No high-profile journalist has been more assertive about Palestinian rights than Mehdi Hasan, and MNSBC punished him on Thursday by taking away the TV shows he hosted on the network and on NBC’s streaming service.

Does this mean that standing up for Palestinians is a death sentence in the mainstream media – even at MSNBC?

Hasan is also hands-down the best interviewer in American news right now. He confronts and enlightens. He should be on TV every night.

A signal moment came on November 16, when Hasan cross-examined Mark Regev, senior advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Regev actually tried to deny that Israelis have killed children in Gaza. (At least 5,500 have died from Israeli action.)

Hasan is no supporter of Hamas. To the contrary, he warns that the savage Israeli bombing of Gaza was playing into Hamas’s hands. “You cannot kill your way to victory over a foreign, occupied people,” he said.

But he has been one of the few voices in the media who consistently acknowledges the shared humanity of Palestinian civilians.

He called attention to – rather than covered up – the genocidal language used by some Israeli politicians:

He made the case that being pro-Palestinian is not antisemitic:

And he called attention to the peacemakers:

MSNBC can claim this wasn’t why they sacked him, but nothing will remove the stench of this decision short of returning Hasan to his rightful place as a host of his own show.

The timing also raises the dark possibility that MSNBC was responding to a cancel campaign on the right. Hasan had come under fire recently from Fox among others for being “hostile” to Israel.

Nor is this the first time Hasan has been gagged. Semafor reported on Oct. 13 that he was pulled from the anchor chair “amid America’s wave of sympathy for Israeli terror victims.” He soon returned. And he’s not technically fired now; he’s will ostensibly become an on-camera analyst and fill-in host.

Fox celebrated on Thursday.

Intercept writer Jon Schwarz likened Hasan’s cancellation to one of MSNBC’s lowest moments: in the run-up to the war in Iraq, when it buckled under pressure to appear more supportive of what turned out to be a cataclysmic invasion.

Elsewhere on social media, outrage was plentiful.

As it happens, Hasan was on The Daily Show Wednesday night with temporary host Michelle Wolf, in part hawking his new book “Win Every Argument: The Art of Debating, Persuading, and Public Speaking.”

Wolf asked Hasan about the dangers of speaking out: “There’s been a lot of censorship around Palestinian voices… real censorship, too, on Meta platforms, being prohibited from saying on, I don’t know, satirical news programs. So how are you supposed to argue or debate or even advocate for a people if you’re not even allowed to speak on it?”

“That’s a great question,” Hasan replied. “I am someone who has a show on television, right? Sometimes I’m on social media saying, ‘well, what about the media, right?’ Maybe I can do something different. I do a show on MSNBC. I do a show on Peacock. And my thing is, I’m going to try and platform as many voices as possible. So on my show, we have Israeli government officials. We’ve had people who lost people to Hamas on October the 7th in that horrific attack. And we’ve had ordinary Palestinians from on the ground in Gaza.

“And my worry is that we rightly as a media humanize those victims of the conflict on October the 7th, as we should because what happened on October the 7th is horrific. But we don’t always, as a media, especially in the United States and the West, also humanize the Palestinian people.”

And now they’ll do it even less.


  1. But he has been one of the few voices in the media who consistently acknowledges the shared humanity of Palestinian civilians.

    You’re kidding, right? Wow. This is *all* the MSM has done. At the expense of the actual facts and history as to how we got here. I used to respect and admire you.

  2. I think Mehdi embarrassed so-called journalists by doing the job the way it should be done.

    He was unfailingly polite, always did his homework, and asked sharp but relevant questions. Contrast that with today’s journalists yelling “Are you too old?” at Biden, criticizing Hillary for wearing pantsuits, pretending that Donald Trump hasn’t called for the overthrow of the Constitution, and otherwise turning the word “journalism” into a synonym for “not journalism.”

  3. Letting Mehdi is a very stupid and utterly useless thing to do, not especially because he has an invaluable viewpoint on the entire situation that some others can never have, including a lot of us Americans. Why the F*** let this talented and intelligent man get taken away from doing what he does so well is beyond me entirely. Remedy your ridiculous decision, MSNBC. You are my choice of news source; don’t turn into one of the aggravating and bloviating ‘quasi-news’ channels, PLEASE!!! There are so few decent news channels out there these days
    Kathy Smiley, PhD

  4. How could they cancel Mehdi? Too much truth telling, I guess. Every single news program on tv has a conservative slant to their so-called news and all we have to tell us the truth has been MSNBC. But now, even they are drifting rightward, insisting the people with shows on their platform only talk about the network big wigs talking points, while totally ignoring that not only is trump too damn old, but he is a crazy, mentally unstable, cruel and dangerous authoritarian lunatic. He’s hell bent on destroying democracy in the United States. Staying silent on these topics is helping him achieve those very goals and there will be no coming back from that!

  5. I am all for Mehdi Hasan and his style of incisive journalism. It lives up to the name “journalism” which the softball hosts rarely do.
    Put him back on.
    Come on. Be brave.
    Let him eek out the truth, tough question by tough question.

  6. MSNBC did the same thing to Cenk Uygur, what, 20 years ago? Uygur’s boss explained to The NYT; Cenk was scaring away the guests.
    “Of course we would never ask you to censor your work!” Followed by a non-firing firing.
    The purpose of news, just like healthcare, is to make money. Therefore, the news that makes the most money at the lowest cost is by definition, the best news.

    Elite softball interviews produce the most product at the least cost. Without them, news product makers would have to leave the studio, and look for stuff to report. They would have to get news product by doing interviews and research. This is just not as profitable.

  7. Amen on Hasan and, parenthetically, cable’s abandoned art of honest and effective interviewing. On MSNBC, for example, often long-winded questions put to guests (See Ali Velshi) frequently contain answers, and a primary qualification for being booked is your willingness to reply with these four words: “You are absolutely right.”

  8. On a more serious note;
    The first commenter is, unfortunately, much closer to the mark than my previous comment.
    Hassan is really just doing the job of a real journalist. I agree with Cenk Uygur that Gaza is just a precipitating incident. What MSM wants is a product that looks like journalism but isn’t. Propaganda for the status quo?

    Afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted

  9. The corporate media can’t stand the truth. Especially when it comes to Israel and the war crimes it commits. Once Israel began its campaign of ethnic cleansing turned into genocide they had to fire him. He was speaking the truth. There’s a reason why you never ever ever see guys like Noam Chomsky on corporate media. They cannot abide the truth under ANY circumstances.


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